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||IMDB Rating: 6.7/10 from N/A votes
||Release: 11 Nov 2015 /
||Director: Aleksandr Sokurov,
||Synopsis: A history of the Louvre during the Nazi occupation and a meditation on the meaning and timelessness of art.
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"Francofonia" (2015 release from France; 90 min.) is a non-fiction
movie loosely about the Louvre museum in Paris. As the movie opens, we
hear a certain Alexander (that would be the movie's Russian director
Alexander Sokurov) in conversation with a certain Dirk, who is on an
ocean liner with art in one of its containers. It's not long before
Sokurov directs his attention to June 14, 1940, when German troops
overtook Paris, including archive footage of Hitler inspecting the
Eiffel Tower and muttering "Where is the Louvre?" Eventually, we are
introduced to Jacques Jaujard, the Louvre's museum director at that
time, and Count Metternich, entrusted by Hitler to supervise the
Louvre's art collection for the Nazis. At this point we're not quite 15
min. into the movie, but to tell you more would spoil your viewing
experience. You'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest oeuvre from writer-director
Aleander Sokurov, best know for "Russian Ark" (about the Hermitage in
St. Petersburg). In fact it can be said that "Francofonia" is a
spiritual sequel to that movie. Going in, I knew that "Francofonia" was
about the Louvre, but didn't know more than that. And while it is true
that the movie's primary subject matter is the Louvre, it is in equal
measure about the WWII occupation of Paris by the Germans, and a bunch
of other things as well ("why are portraits so important in European
culture, whereas they are non-existent in the Muslim culture?", asks
Sokurov). Even while it's not always clear what the ultimate aim or
direction of the movie is, that's not a problem for me. The only
jarring thing for me was the occasional and unnecessary appearance of
actors impersonating Napoleon (whom we see staring at the Mona Lisa,
while repeating "C'est moi!") and France. And oh yea, we do get to see
a bunch of paintings and other works of art from the Louvre. In the
end, I was surprised how quickly the 90 min. had flown by, so while
this movie is rather strange, it certainly is intriguing and held my
This movie made quite a splash at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.
"Francofonia" opened without any pre-release fanfare or advertising at
my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati a week ago, and the
Thursday early evening screening where I saw this at was one of its
last, as the movie was gone the next day. I was frankly surprised how
many people there were (about 10), but maybe they had the same thought
as I did (better see this before it's gone!). If you are in the mood
for a deeply subjective non-fiction film (but don't call it a
documentary) about the Louvre, I'd readily suggest you check this out.
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