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The movie “Russian Ark” was shot in a single sequence at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in 2002, and is considered the longest shot in film history. At the heart of the film, which is a tour through 300 years of Russian history, art, and culture, is Astolphe de Custine, who carries on a silent conversation with the director, Alexander Sokurov, which plays in the background. The film is hard to find online, but this documentary, “In One Breath,” tells the fascinating story of the filming, and also explains Custine’s role in the narrative. In my favorite moment that depicts a 20th century scene, Custine says “Everyone can see the future, but no one remembers the past.”
The Société des amis de Custine is a new association, formed in 2019, dedicated to the works and life of Astolphe de Custine and his fascinating family. Based in France, the Society hosts events, readings, videos, and other activities designed to cast a new light on the importance of this family to the cultural history of France.