A 5‑Hour, One-Take Cinematic Tour of Russia’s Hermitage Museum, Shot Entirely on an iPhone

In 2002, Russ­ian film­mak­er Alexan­der Sokurov made cin­e­ma his­to­ry with Russ­ian Ark, which dra­ma­tizes a wide swath of his home­land’s his­to­ry in a sin­gle, unbro­ken 96-minute shot. What’s more, he and his col­lab­o­ra­tors shot it all in a sin­gle loca­tion, one both rich with his­tor­i­cal res­o­nance and not exact­ly wide-open to movie shoots: St Peters­burg’s State Her­mitage Muse­um, whose com­plex includes the for­mer Win­ter Palace, offi­cial res­i­dence of Rus­si­a’s emper­ors from 1732 to until the 1917 rev­o­lu­tion. What view­er could for­get Russ­ian Ark’s breath­tak­ing final scene, which opens as the cam­era floats into the midst of a grand ball set in 1913 — tak­ing place in the very hall it would have in 1913?

Now, at least in terms of dura­tion, Apple has gone to the Her­mitage and done Sokurov one bet­ter: its new adver­tise­ment for the iPhone 11 Pro is a five-hour jour­ney through the entire muse­um, shot by film­mak­er Axinya Gog in one con­tin­u­ous take — all, of course, on the phone itself. Like Russ­ian Ark, it con­sti­tutes a cin­e­mat­ic achieve­ment not pos­si­ble before recent tech­no­log­i­cal advances. Sokurov demon­strat­ed the new pos­si­bil­i­ties of dig­i­tal video cam­era that could cap­ture film-like images; Gog demon­strates the new pos­si­bil­i­ties of a cam­era-phone with not only the bat­tery life to shoot five straight hours of video, but at a res­o­lu­tion that looks at least as good as the cut­ting-edge dig­i­tal video of 2002.

Just above appears the trail­er for the ad, which hints that what the full pro­duc­tion might lack in sto­ry­telling ambi­tions com­pared to a film like Russ­ian Ark, it makes up for in not just dura­tion but oth­er human ele­ments. Gog’s cam­era — or rather, iPhone — cap­tures a Her­mitage Muse­um with­out the usu­al crowds, strik­ing enough in itself, but also with the addi­tion of skilled dancers and musi­cians (even beyond those who record­ed the video’s score). This in addi­tion to no few­er than 588 works of art spread across 43 gal­leries, includ­ing paint­ings by Rem­brandt, Raphael, Car­avag­gio, and Rubens. The deep­er you go, the more you’ll real­ize that, even if you’ve spent seri­ous time in the Her­mitage your­self, you’ve nev­er had this kind of aes­thet­ic expe­ri­ence there before. It may sound exces­sive to say “watch to the end,” but if any five-hour video has ever mer­it­ed that insis­tence, here it is.

via Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Romanovs’ Last Spec­tac­u­lar Ball Brought to Life in Col­or Pho­tographs (1903)

Russ­ian His­to­ry & Lit­er­a­ture Come to Life in Won­der­ful­ly Col­orized Por­traits: See Pho­tos of Tol­stoy, Chekhov, the Romanovs & More

The British Muse­um Is Now Open To Every­one: Take a Vir­tu­al Tour and See 4,737 Arti­facts, Includ­ing the Roset­ta Stone

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Brazil’s Nation­al Muse­um & Its Arti­facts: Google Dig­i­tized the Museum’s Col­lec­tion Before the Fate­ful Fire

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of The Uffizi Gallery in Flo­rence, the World-Famous Col­lec­tion of Renais­sance Art

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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