“Who would we be without museums?” In “Francofonia: An Elegy for Europe,” Aleksandr Sokurov’s latest prose-poem-cum-philosophical essay on art and history housed in a world-class museum, the Russian filmmaker alights on the Louvre in 1940 at the onset of World War II as museum director Jacques Jaujard (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) and German officer Count Franz Wolff-Metternich (Benjamin Utzerath) collaborate to keep the assembled artworks from Nazi hands. Napoleon and Marianne, the French national symbol, also go through their paces. (It’s obviously going to be a much richer “night at the museum” than that long-running comedy series.) Digression nests upon digression, and archival footage mingles with Skype-screen passages and dreamy drone-captured images, unlike the swoop of the single-take “Russian Ark” that crammed a world into St. Petersburg’s Hermitage. But the effect is more drenching than daunting, a fluent, warming bath of worthy ponderings. 88m. (Ray Pride)
“Francofonia” opens Friday, May 6 at Siskel. The trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.