Anyone who still shivers recalling The Revenant or gulag escape movie The Way Back ought to bundle up before watching filmmaker Vadim Sherbakov’s drone-shot The Noor. Even those without a sweater handy should take a gander, however­­– frostbite be damned.

DJI Mini 2 marvel

The 2:17 video is a (nearly literally) breathtaking voyage to the Ice Age, as Sherbakov pilots his DJI Mini 2 over winter-gripped Lake Baïkal. The surface of the eastern Siberia lake – the world’s largest body of fresh water – is frozen so thick it looks unlikely to ever thaw again. Indeed, anyone who has seen Lake Baïkal in summer months will wonder how Sharbakov’s subject could possibly be the same place.

But it’s the footage of the snow- and cold-gnarled coasts and rocks jutting up from the lake that prove particularly impressive. The glacial scenery is so inclement, inhospitable, and uniquely formidable that brief glimpses of passing cars and humans venturing out seem not just out of place, but downright insane. 

Video from the Mini 2 passing between sheer outcroppings, or by cliff ledges sporting bangs of giant icicles inspires wonder, but also tension in such a barren setting. The semi-tantric monotonic music, meanwhile, does nothing to alleviate the feeling a time-traveling Neanderthal or seriously cheesed off wooly mammoth might suddenly appear with no good on its mind.

Or semi-thawed Leonardo DiCaprio, for that matter.

Strap in and button up: It’s cold!

The other Baïkal

Its intimidating effects aside, Sherbakov says The Noor – “more” in the language of Siberia’s indigenous Buryat people – is intended above all to provide an entirely different view to a spot most people only see in warmer conditions.

The region around Lake Baikal is especially popular with tourists in winter. When frozen, the lake is one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Rocky cliffs freeze during the winter storms. The white and blue colored ice is great for photographing.

My main goal as a video maker was to portray Lake Baikal from a slightly different perspective. Today it is a lively place with many tourists and photographers, but I want to show how the area was experienced by people who lived there years ago. I tried to translate the frozen environment, the harsh conditions, and the raw beauty of this place into sound, cinematography, and color. I hope you enjoy it.

It’s impossible not to – despite the frissons of all kinds it will produce.

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