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Francofonia 

Wednesday, Apr 27 2016
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Aleksandr Sokurov will always be associated with his single-shot Hermitage tour Russian Ark, but he takes a very different approach to the Louvre in Francofonia, which is as nonlinear as Ark was linear. It's as much a personal essay by Sokurov as a history of the Louvre, with a particular focus on the occupation of Paris by the Nazis during World War II, and the role art has played in war throughout the centuries. There are narrative elements, particularly in his portrayal of the relationship between Louvre director Jacques Jaujard (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), who remained at his post during the occupation, and Franz Wolff-Metternich (Benjamin Utzerath), the aesthete Nazi tasked with looting the since-evacuated collection for his Führer, but Francofonia never tries to hide the fact that it's an artificially constructed movie. We often see the clapperboard at the beginning of a take, the reconstructed historical footage often has the squiggly soundtrack lines visible on the side of the screen, and the footage of Hitler being all "But where is the Louvre?" when entering France is probably not strictly authentic.But what's most impressive is the access Sokurov and his camera got to the great works of the Louvre, thus allowing a closer look than we're ever likely to get in person. And closer than Hitler got, too.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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