Russian Ark (, Russkij Kovcheg) is a 2002 experimental historical drama film directed by Alexander Sokurov. In Russian Ark, an unnamed narrator wanders through the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, and implies that he died in some horrible accident and is a ghost drifting through the palace. In each room, he encounters various real and fictional people from various periods in the city's 300-year history. He is accompanied by "the European", who represents the Marquis de Custine, a 19th-century French traveler.
On a winter's day, a small party of men and women arrive by horse-drawn carriage to a minor, side entrance of the Winter Palace, dressed in the style of the early 19th century to attend a ball hosted by the Emperor Alexander I. The narrator (whose point of view is always in first-person) meets another spectral but visible outsider, "the European", and follows him through numerous rooms of the palace. "The European", a 19th-century French diplomat who appears to be the Marquis de Custine, has nothing but contempt for Russians; he tells the narrator that they are unable to create or appreciate beauty as Europeans do, as demonstrated by the European treasures around him. Each room manifests a different period of Russian history, although the periods are not in chronological order.