Another century has passed on the Old Continent... Large armies are trampling on the heart of civilisation and cannon fire is once again taking its toll. Amidst the massacre and the ruins, everything majestic, magnificent, and sacred, that took millions of minutes and hours of determined labour to build, is wiped out. Jacques Jaujard and Count Franziskus Wolff Metternich worked together to protect and preserve the treasure of the Louvre Museum. Aleksandr Sokurov tells their story. He explores the relationship between art and power, and asks what art tells us about ourselves, at the very heart of one of the most devastating conflicts the world has ever known.
With this sophisticated, complex and thoroughly absorbing film, Aleksandr Sokurov has had another night at the museum reverie, a cine-prose poem or animated installation tableau, weaving newsreel footage with eerie floating images above the streets of contemporary Paris – presumably filmed with a drone – and dramatised fantasy scenes. Thirteen years after Russian Ark, that renowned single-take movie journey through the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg, Sokurov has now alighted on the Louvre in Paris. Francofonia has all sorts of wayward digressions and perambulations around the idea of French and European culture, and the role of the museum in conserving art and promoting the idea of what it means to be human. (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
It will be impossible to neatly package Francofonia into a brief and accurate description, since Aleksandr Sokurov’s dense, enriching meditation on the Louvre and specifically (but not exclusively) the museum’s status during WWII defies categorization. View the trailer and you might think the film is essentially a Sokurovian dramatization of the uncertain relationship between the Louvre’s wartime director and the Nazi officer in charge of preserving France’s artistic patrimony. Watching the film, however, a larger picture emerges, in which Sokurov engages with Paris itself and the philosophical concept of a great museum. (Jay Weissberg, Variety)