Apple's 'extreme' iPhone ad takes an uncut, five-hour tour of the Hermitage—with battery life to spare

Film of the iconic Russian museum from TBWA/MAL shows what the iPhone 11 Pro can accomplish in one take and a single charge

Published On
Mar 10, 2020

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In an "extreme" demonstration of the "Shot on iPhone" theme, Apple traveled to the halls of Russia’s Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg to demonstrate the capabilities and battery life of the phone—for more than five hours.

A new 4K film shot on an iPhone 11 Pro in one take and on a single battery charge by rising female director Axinya Gog tours through the museum, lingering on the various artworks and capturing various performances set in the institution’s halls and galleries. It clocks in at five hours, 19 minutes and 28 seconds—with 19% battery life to spare.  

TBWA/Media Arts Lab was behind the effort, which seems to riff off a 2002 experimental Russian film from Alexander Sokurov, "Russian Ark." Nominated for a Palme d'Or at Cannes that year, it also took place entirely in the Hermitage, in the museum's Winter Palace, though it was only 96-minutes long and captured on Steadicam. 

According to a statement from Apple, the film strives to be an embodiment of Russian culture—a nod to its tech “tester” culture as well as the country’s various “extremes”—whether that’s the intense weather and landscapes or its history of superior achievements. 

The Hermitage is the second-largest museum in the world, topped in size only by the Louvre in Paris. Comprising six different buildings including former Russian czar home the Winter Palace, its collections include more than three million works.

Among the 588 works featured as the film wanders through 45 Hermitage galleries are paintings from Rembrandt, Raphael (see his exact replicas of his Vatican artworks commissioned by Empress Catherine II at 3:03:50) and Caravaggio (a close-up of his “The Lute Player” appears at the 3:56 mark). Also strewn throughout the film are various dance performances from the Hermitage Theatre contemporary ballet, culminating in a 30-minute finale from Russian pianist and composer Kirill Richter. The film also includes music from Anton Schwarz, MUJUICE, Katushiro Oguri and Gabriel Prokofiev.

The 29-year-old Gog is an award-winning director from Moscow who graduated from Russia’s BKIG and GITIS. She grew up in a museum environment—her mother was an art historian and curator at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery.