Back in 2002, director Alexander Sokurov premiered his film Russian Ark, a 96-minute historical drama shot in one continuous take in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage museum. Almost as fascinating as the film is its making-of doc, where we learn how Sokurov managed to take viewers through 33 rooms of the museum, with more than 2,000 actors and three orchestras, in one take filmed with a Sony HDW-F900 camera.
Now Apple has made its newest ad by creating its own one-take film at the Hermitage. Directed by Axinya Gog, this one is more than five hours long, taking us through the museum’s public collections, featuring artists such as Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio, Canova, and more, as well as live dance, performances, and music, culminating in a 30-minute musical finale from Russian pianist and composer Kirill Richter. Oh, and it’s all shot on an iPhone 11 Pro on one battery charge.
It’s the longest one-take film ever shot on an iPhone, and the brand says there was still 19% of the battery charge left afterwards.
The most obvious question here is, why shoot a five-hour ad? Creative gimmicks and stunts are the bread and butter of marketers, but the best ones actually tie in to the product or brand in a way that makes sense. In this attention economy, a brand stunt can’t just be clever; it has to be followed through to its logical-yet-ridiculous conclusion. You can’t just make a few pieces of streetwear and post photos on Instagram; you need to set up an entire e-commerce shop and make it available to everyone. And you can’t just say your phone’s camera is good enough to shoot a five-hour movie in one take, on one battery charge—you have to make that film.
No one in their right mind will likely watch the entire thing, but much like Lexus’s absurd 60,000-hour doc, that’s not really the point. As with all its “Shot on iPhone” work, here Apple manages to combine creativity with a straight-up product demo in a way few brands do, utilizing one of the world’s great museums to look pretty classy doing it.
See the full film below.