Lake Baikal is equally known among international and Russian tourists. However, it doesn’t mean that the whole area of the lake is suitable for a comfortable and civilized trip. There are parts on the lake (and I can confirm, most of the parts) that are absolutely wild and savage and one should be really courageous to venture and explore them, let alone spend a year there. That’s exactly what the hero of the French film «In the Forests of Siberia» (Dans les forêts de Sibérie) did, and so did the film crew! To put Lake Baikal on the big screen, the French and the Russian film team had to survive in the forests of Siberia, just as the name of the movie suggests!
«Dans les forêts de Sibérie» is a 2016-movie by Safy Nebbou, a French director. The film is based on the book of Sylvain Tesson. The book has the same title, although the storyline of the movie is slightly different from the book pages. It is the same plot, of course, but the film does not repeat everything word by word. The protagonist of the book Teddie is an office employee living in a big city. One day he senses that life in the office was no longer what he desires. He decides to spend three winter months in a lonely hut on the shores of Baikal. Perhaps a weird choice, but Teddie just wants to feel free. However, Baikal weather can be quite unpredictable, especially during winter. A blizzard happens, and Teddie loses its way in the snow and risks being frozen to death. Alexey, a former prisoner, rescues him, and so their weird friendship begins.
The movie was filmed on the desolate parts of Lake Baikal. One of the places is called The Shore of the Brown Bears. Curiously, there was quite a coincidence because the script of the movie had it that while Teddie lived in his hut, a real brown bear visited him.
The Shore of the Brown Bears, as the name suggests, is where the bears live. Apart from them, this part of Baikal is absolutely uninhabited. There are no roads, no villages, no phone service. The Shore of the Brown Bears is located north of Maloe More as the locals call it (the translation of the name is «Small Sea»). Maloe More is situated near the famous and developed Olkhon Island.
Unlike the Baikal water on Olkhon, Maloe More has warm water during summer. This part of Baikal is excellent for fishing. That is how Teddie from the movie survived there - he ate fish from the lake. During winter, he took ice from Baikal and prepared tea for himself. He also used ice to prepare water for his «baths».
Another location where the movie was filmed is Idiba Hollow. It’s also located on Olkhon Island (near the Khuzhir Village).
Idiba Hollow goes all the way to the South-East shore of Baikal. However, it is less wild, and some tourists travel there. Even though Idiba Hollow is perfect for camping, our hero Teddie lived in a small derelict hut that he bought almost for nothing from a local Buryat older man. Teddie shows unprecedented courage staying for the whole winter in this frozen region of Siberia. But, he has no time to be bored or scared. He knows that if he doesn’t get enough firewood, he will be frozen to death in his hut. Or, if he doesn’t entertain himself, he will go crazy living lonely like that. Winters are especially hard in this region. But Teddie doesn’t get discouraged. Instead of freezing, he slides on the Baikal ice as entertainment.
«Dans les forêts de Sibérie» is a tribute to all the humans who love nature and choose to live in harmony with it. If you ever thought that your life as a city dweller is not what you truly desire, you can try to follow the French survival steps and live in the forest of Siberia. If you don't feel ready yet, perhaps just visit the remote filming locations near Lake Baikal, as shown on the big screen!
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