How did the Louvre survive the Nazi occupation during World War II?
Francofonia, a new film opening in New York on Friday, dramatizes the relationship between two men from opposing countries as they strive to preserve artwork during wartime. Conservators may enjoy this glimpse into history. View the trailer or visit the website for more about the film.
From master filmmaker Alexander Sokurov, whose film Russian Ark was a love letter to the Hermitage and Russian History, Francofonia is its own cinematic essay on the imperative nature of preserving art and history in the world’s museums. Set against the backdrop of the Louvre Museum’s history and artworks, Sokurov applies his personal vision onto staged re-enactments and archives for this fascinating portrait of real-life characters Jacques Jaujard and Count Franziskus Wolff-Metternich and their compulsory collaboration at the Louvre Museum under the Nazi Occupation. These two remarkable men – enemies, then collaborators – share an alliance which would become the driving force behind the preservation of museum treasures. In its exploration of the Louvre Museum as a living example of civilization, Francofonia is a meditation on the essential relationship between art, culture, and history.
Interspersed within the story of the Louvre under occupation is Sokurov himself, in video conference with a ship’s captain facing rough seas and terribly worried about his precious cargo: art treasures from around the world. In this narrative, Sokurov contemplates the origins of art and the sacred duty of conserving the world’s cultural treasures at nearly any cost, as he recalls the Louvre’s most trying times during World War II and the present day. — from Music Box Films