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In 1940, museum director Jacques Jaujard and German officer Count Franz Wolff-Metternich work together to protect Louvre artworks from the Nazis. The film is a dense, enriching meditation on the Louvre, Paris and the role of art as an intrinsic part of the spirit of civilization.
"Francofonia," a powerful cinematic essay on how art and war are irrevocably intertwined, has an ideal canvas and time peg for its philosophical musings: the Louvre Museum during the Nazi occupation of France.
Using documentary footage and bits and pieces of semi-realist dramatics, [Sokurov] tells of the strange friendship between the Louvre director Jacques Jaujard and the Nazi officer sent to oversee the treasures and possibly relieve France of them.
The Russian director Alexander Sokurov has never been afraid of tackling weighty, often philosophical issues head on, and his latest film Francofonia is as pioneering - and, some might say, unnecessarily uncompromising - as ever.
As Sokurov examines a pivotal point in the Louvre's history and gives us a virtual tour of the magnificent museum, he makes larger points about the vital importance of art throughout human history. This is one of the most beautiful films of the year.