Blu-ray Slight Return: Louvre Edition
Aleksandr Sokurov remains the go-to director to make films about museums. His one-take Russian Ark (2002) brought to life the Russian State Hermitage Museum on a canvas of two centuries of history. His most recent film, Francofonia (6/28, Music Box), examines the Louvre Museum with an eye on the meaning of art and how its curator hid the buildings numerous artworks during the Nazi occupation of Paris.
While the main characters are Louvre director Jacques Jaujard and the sympathetic German officer who oversaw the museum’s occupation, Franz Graf Wolff-Metternich, Sokurov expands his tale to include Napoleon and a woman named Marianne that seems to be an apparition of liberty. Napoleon after all moved many large statues from ancient Egypt to the museum. All these historical figures move in and out of the corridors of the Louvre and their timelessness makes them seem as if they exist in the same moment.
But Sokurov is not content to just spew facts and has a sub-story that involves his interaction via Skype with the captain of a cargo vessel being tossed in a storm. On board are rare antiquities and paintings that are the blood of human experience. All of these images merge and allows the audience to form a greater understanding of art and those who put their lives on the line to preserve same.
The Blu-ray disc includes an informative booklet, a one-hour behind the scenes featurette that shows Sokurov on the set of Francofonia. Another extra, an hour-long documentary from French television, The Man Who Saved the Louvre, chronicles how Jaujard orchestrated the move of all the art from the Louvre before the German invasion, and how and where the art was moved throughout the course of the war. This disc is highly recommended for fans of documentaries, fans of the history of art, and admirers of polished productions.