The great Russian film, Russian Ark, is a deep meditation on the treasures of culture and the tragedies of history. It is famously filmed in a single continuous shot in the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. It travels in time, fantasies and dreams through Russian history and culture. I thought of it this week after reading M.K. Bhadrakumar’s article on the West’s last waltz in a fragmenting world.
did publish this excellent preview of the summit, “Last Waltz in a World Torn Apart”. He noted how American boorishness, impunity and exceptionalism has wrecked the G20, and broken the hall of mirrors that are the delicate illusions of multilateral institutions.
The near to final scenes of the film show the exit from the grand ballrooms of the flowers of Russian society and culture of the imperial and silver ages. As they descend the beautiful marble staircase of the Hermitage, the viewer knows the catastrophes that will soon consume them. World War. Civil War. Revolution. Social Rebellion. Cultural Destruction. Oppressive Regimes. Repressive Ideas.
I thought of the film this week while reflecting on how the G20 and Western leaders have fallen to earth. The new aristocracy of the West has danced its last waltz, and left the grand ballroom of its virtual palace. They are slowly descending a star-spangled, but rather tasteless, staircase to the catastrophe of an exceptional empire. I am not sure, however, that 100 years from now people will make a film, American Ark, about the grandees of this grotesque republic.
Image Credit: Russian Ark (2002) Still Image