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The Long Take.
May 9, 2007 6:39 AM   Subscribe

The Long Take aka "The Greatest Long Tracking Shots in Cinema".
posted by Armitage Shanks (93 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
That shot in Children of Men inspired some rather cool new 'in-car' automated camera technology (yeah, I'm one of those dorks who watches the bonus features).
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:45 AM on May 9, 2007


One of many clever things about Russian Ark is the way it handles the depiction of time travel--in a given shot the background extras will be wearing costumes from one period, then the camera will move away from them from a moment to watch the protagonist gaze at a painting and deliver a short monologue. When the camera follows the protagonist back to the camera's original position, the background extras will be wearing costumes from a completely different period.
posted by Prospero at 6:48 AM on May 9, 2007


Only a mention of "Weekend"? Am I to surmise that amongst the Ph.Blog set, Godard is no John Woo? Also, a long take is not always a tracking shot.
posted by billysumday at 6:54 AM on May 9, 2007


However flawed as a film it my be (personally I don't agree that it is), Irreversible is a tour de force of long takes and I'm surprised it didn't rate a mention there.
The house party scene in particular is incredibly well-done.
posted by Flashman at 7:05 AM on May 9, 2007


It did rate a mention there (see the end).
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 7:14 AM on May 9, 2007


No mention of Rope? It's meant to look like one long shot. Classic Hitchcock, if not as well known as some of his others.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:16 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Whatever else his faults as he ages, Charlton Heston was a lot better actor in 1998 than he was in 1958. Or maybe it's just that today's characters are more fluid and natural.
posted by DU at 7:16 AM on May 9, 2007


Rope is mentioned in the second paragraph. Are people even reading this thing before dismissing it for ignoring their favorite tracking shot (which sucks).
posted by DU at 7:17 AM on May 9, 2007


I wasn't going to take this seriously unless it had "I Am Cuba". It does- great!
posted by bhnyc at 7:17 AM on May 9, 2007


Man, I knew that YouTube thing would turn out to be useful for something.
posted by hydatius at 7:19 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Charlton Heston was a lot better actor in 1998 than he was in 1958.

I don't know, whatever his faults, he worked, he was the kind of big lug of an actor who gets the job done. he had presence, still has it I think. and he had the balls to allow Welles to change his Anglo character into a Hispanic man (in the script, he was an Anglo with a Mexican wife). Welles turned the tables on it all and got sweet, delicate, sexy pale blonde Janet Leigh as the wife of a Hispanic man. Fifty years ago.

I'd like to think it was Welles's way to get even with all the people who had given him shit for dating so many black or Hispanic women back when it was taboo.

anyway, Welles for the win, as always. I like De Palma a lot, even if it's mostly shtick in a very postmodern way. and Sokurov, well, he's 55 and already in the Old Masters category, God bless him.
posted by matteo at 7:21 AM on May 9, 2007


Didn't X-Files have an episode where except for commercial breaks, everything was a long take? Can't remember which one.

Not that that has the artistic value of some of these.
posted by chundo at 7:22 AM on May 9, 2007


The "Children of Men" entry warns you not to watch the clip if you don't want to see any spoilers-- and then proceeds to describe another spoiler in detail. Seriously, what is wrong with people?
posted by hermitosis at 7:26 AM on May 9, 2007


...still has it I think.

Apparently I meant 1993, not 1998, because that's when Wayne's World 2 came out. I've mentioned this before but I've never been able to get over it. Charlton Heston's 3 minute cameo in that movie is some of the best acting I've ever seen (not that I'm an expert). He's got so much going against him there:

1) It's a screwball comedy (in fact, the SEQUEL to a screwball comedy)
2) Another guy just delivered the same lines a few seconds before, badly
3) Belief has been unsuspended by the "can we get another actor" joke and then the reshuffling of the scene

And then Heston comes on. Myers pretends to get a tear in his eye, but I always almost get a real one. Heston's memory of the girl on Mulberry Street is so painfully real it's just....sorry, I'm a little verklempt.
posted by DU at 7:29 AM on May 9, 2007


Think of it like this... Life is one.long.take. No commercials, no editing, dynamic script changes, and a budget for 70+ years of "filming" that doesn't match the budget of a movie that lasts 1.5 hours.

Ya'll give yourselves a pat on the back!
posted by HuronBob at 7:29 AM on May 9, 2007


Though technically not so difficult, this shot from Birth is one of the most daring single takes I've ever seen--not because it's risky to do but a 2.5 minute shot of a face with no dialogue in this day and age takes some serious confidence on the filmmakers' part.
posted by dobbs at 7:32 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Life is one.long.take.
Not for me. Every night around 12pm I have a fade to black and a jump cut to the morning after.
posted by bru at 7:36 AM on May 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


DU writes "Rope is mentioned in the second paragraph. Are people even reading this thing"

I skimmed it. Sorry.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:37 AM on May 9, 2007


There is a very long shot in Funny Games after some gruesome (unseen) violence. The television is blaring coverage of a car race as the camera holds on the scene for over 5 minutes. At my first viewing, I thought that something was wrong with my VHS tape. When the camera finally moves again you are very aware of what you (and the film characters) have just seen. One of my favorite films.
posted by zerobyproxy at 7:37 AM on May 9, 2007


I agree, dobbs. When I saw that film, and that shot arrived, I kept thinking, "He's going to cut! He's got to! Omigod, he's not cutting! This is so ballsy! DRAMA! Keep going, keep going!" I mean, it wasn't completely like that, but close enough. And I'll admit that that shot/sequence really turned a screw in my brain and my opinion of the entire film became much more favorable.
posted by billysumday at 7:41 AM on May 9, 2007


My first thought when I saw this was of Snake Eyes by de Palma. It has an amazing long tracking shot in the beginning. Of course, it's the only thing good about the movie as the rest of it is a trash. But that first scene passes several on this list.
posted by dios at 7:42 AM on May 9, 2007


Very cool list, though it surprised me not to see any Tarkovsky on there.

The last scene from Nostalghia comes to mind.
posted by Alex404 at 7:45 AM on May 9, 2007


hermitosis wrote The "Children of Men" entry warns you not to watch the clip if you don't want to see any spoilers-- and then proceeds to describe another spoiler in detail. Seriously, what is wrong with people?

I noticed the same thing... I hope that people do see this film, though, spoilt or not. It's SO well-shot.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:45 AM on May 9, 2007


I enjoyed this very much. All the attention paid to Children of Men, both pro and con, is another sign that this is a classic, IMHO.
posted by Mister_A at 7:49 AM on May 9, 2007


Life is one.long.take.
Not for me. Every night around 12pm I have a fade to black and a jump cut to the morning after.


Dude, if you're passing out over lunch hour and not waking up till the next day, it's time to cut out the morning martinis.
posted by dreamsign at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


My first thought when I saw this was of Snake Eyes...

Apparently Roger Ebert agrees (as do many other critics). I had the same thought when I saw the post.
posted by TedW at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2007


Of course, it's the only thing good about the movie as the rest of it is a trash.

"In an otherwise awful movie, the first, uninterrupted 20-some minute tracking shot virtuoso filmmaking, setting up a carefully woven plot that unravels into shit at the first cut."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:58 AM on May 9, 2007


No mention of Floating Weeds? Ozu's not afraid to have a five minute shot where not a goddamned thing happens! It's all long takes, most with a special tripod that puts you at crosslegged level...
posted by klangklangston at 8:02 AM on May 9, 2007


This fight sequence from The Protector is a great single shot. Although the choreography isn't stellar, and it's not quite as arty as the others, it is a good example of the raw power of unedited footage.
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:02 AM on May 9, 2007


klangklangston, it's about impressive tracking shots, not so much what Ozu was going for methinks.
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:05 AM on May 9, 2007


Wot, no Halloween?
posted by ijoshua at 8:12 AM on May 9, 2007


Mister_A, no film that garners a 91% on RT can be all bad ;-)

Yes, it's flawed. So is almost everything. Plot quibbles aside, I still maintain that it's the work of a very brave and uncompromising director. EVERYONE told him that it couldn't be done, and he said 'hide and watch'.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:21 AM on May 9, 2007


Very cool list, though it surprised me not to see any Tarkovsky on there.
The last scene from Nostalghia comes to mind.


Also, the long take at the beginning of The Sacrifice comes to mind, when the little kid ties the man's bicycle down as they are walking to the house (can't find a youtube clip).
posted by lovejones at 8:25 AM on May 9, 2007


I think if you're passing out at 12 [am|pm] (take your pick) and not waking up until the next day you're prob screwed. At least snoozing at noon means you could, in theory, be up in only 12 hours as opposed to 86399 seconds.
posted by mce at 8:28 AM on May 9, 2007


What! No mention of the opening of Firefly, from the panel flying off the ship to following Mal around the rebuilt working set to introduce all the characters and their subplots?
posted by brownpau at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2007


(Er, Serenity, the Firefly movie. Always get those mixed up.)
posted by brownpau at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2007


There is a slight cut in the Serenity opening. It's subtle with a camera swing from Mal to the doctor (since the set is not on 2 levels) but it's smooth enough to be missed.
posted by Dantien at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2007


What, no Timecode?
posted by O9scar at 8:33 AM on May 9, 2007


I'd add two other shots to the list: In Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy," there's a great long shot that backs down from the top of a stairway down into the street. And in "It's a Wonderful Life," the long shot of George Bailey at the train station after he learns his brother has gotten married, which follows him as he stands somewhat stunned, then walks back to the group and congratulates his brother and his bride.
posted by schmedeman at 8:33 AM on May 9, 2007


The moment when I first started to love movies (not just watch them, but absorb them and follow them and study them) was watching that first scene in The Player, freshman year in college during my composition course.

Brilliant.
posted by muddgirl at 8:38 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if I'm more impressed by the editing that went into the blog post, or the fact that everybody here knows enough about cinematography to have an opinion about what's missing. Regardless, that clip from "The Protector" is a fantastic way to wake up in the morning. Dang.
posted by rouftop at 8:39 AM on May 9, 2007


A great continuous take is also to be found at the climactic end of the excellent Night and the City by Jules Dassin. A dozen or so cameras were used used, but it is continuous and amazing for that as nothing could be reshot and it is a very long take. Other shit going on too as Dassin was forced to make the film on a very tight schedule and budget in London due to being blacklisted and his career was cut short at the height of his powers. It stars Richard Widmark, who seemed to be born to make noir. Check him out in Sam Fuller's fantastic Pick up on South Street. A tough gritty no holds barred evocation of NYC in the early fifties. Great stuff.
posted by Skygazer at 8:48 AM on May 9, 2007


i'm a little surprised by the inclusion of the shots from Boogie Nights and Magnolia, as they both strike me as something like homage to the Goodfellas shot. Good stuff none the less.
posted by subtle_squid at 8:56 AM on May 9, 2007


Where's the opening shot to Bonfire and the Vanities? The movie sucked, but that was definitely a top 5 all-time tracking shot.
posted by geoff. at 8:58 AM on May 9, 2007


The ballroom shot from Notorious.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:58 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Simpsons homage to Goodfellas
posted by kirkaracha at 8:59 AM on May 9, 2007


O9scar, thanks for mentioning Timecode. Nichols just rehearsed and rehearsed all of his actors and cameras, then shot it fourteen times over the course of a week, and took the best take, which he then premiered at the DGA theatre in NY, while mixing the sound on the fly during the showing.

My friend and I snuck in for it, and it was about as audacious as filmaking techniques get.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:06 AM on May 9, 2007


I'm glad that they didn't mention Tarantino's segment in Four Rooms. It opened with something like an eight-minute uninterrupted tracking take, but it was pure wankery.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2007


There's actually a good book about the Bonfire of the Vanities filming, and it goes into what a PITA that tracking shot was.
posted by smackfu at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2007


My favorite of all time is the final shot of Kenneth Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing." The shot starts on the wedding party in the courtyard of an Italian villa, moves down a hallway, into a foyer, then out into the garden and then goes up, up, up into the sky over the villa. All, apparently, in one take. It's an amazing shot and I can't for the life of me figure out how it was done.

If anyone knows, please tell me.
posted by ColdChef at 9:16 AM on May 9, 2007


i remember seeing that shot in children of men. the rest of the movie was hard to pay attention to after that. how the fuck did they pull that off? beautiful!
posted by es_de_bah at 9:22 AM on May 9, 2007


oh wait...wait...
they went with the car chase? ok, i can see how it had an interesting dramatic effect there.
but what about the incredibely long one shot action scene at the end taking the main character across a war zone and bringing in half the characters in the movie in one long, breathless breath. surely THAT was worth noting.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:24 AM on May 9, 2007


The one at the end was a more typical long steadicam shot, with a few cuts covered up by computer wankery. Logistically hard, but the filming is just a guy with a steadicam.
posted by smackfu at 9:38 AM on May 9, 2007


OK. Got to the site. Watch the clip from "The Passenger". Tell me how the HELL Antonioni did that. Please, hive mind? Do I have to take this to the green?
posted by The Bellman at 9:55 AM on May 9, 2007


Tell me how the HELL Antonioni did that.

Locke then lays down on the bed, and the camera, with the barred window center-frame, zooms in, past Locke's feet, as we watch much transpire, outside, between the bars, as the set breaks away in two halves on wheels- a trick Antonioni borrows from several Hitchcock films, most notably The Wrong Man and The Birds- and mentioned as such in the film commentary, as the camera breaks through and free of its constraints.

More at wikipedia as well.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:11 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of the comments after the main article mentions it, but the French commando attack in The Longest Day blows me away every time.
posted by LionIndex at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2007


bellman: Just watched the clip. I would guess that they disassembled the bars on the window and reassembled them once the camera and camera operator went through it. You can tell that at the beginning of the shot, the camera operator is moving toward the window but that also, the lens is being pushed in - they are zooming in. So, if they zoomed in far enough, the camera wouldn't have to be past the gating to produce the effect of being able to see through the gating. Once the lens no longer sees the bars, they could pull the gating apart (I'm assuming it was cut in half somewhere), then put it back together once the camera operator moves through it. You'll notice too that the lens zooms out again once they're outside the room. Just a guess, though - they certainlyl could have employed something a little more sophisticated.
posted by billysumday at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2007


And...they did. According to wikipedia. Good link, Armitage Shanks.
posted by billysumday at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2007


Armitage Shanks - Welles did the "camera moving through set pieces" thing in Citizen Kane as well. The famous "pulling back from the window" scene where we see the young Charles playing in the snow, actually pulls back through the table that his Mother will "sign his life away" on.
Also, a tracking shot into the club where we first meet Susan Alexander (I think it's the first time, anyways) goes right through the nightclub sign also.

The fact that he did shit like this on his first attempt at film never ceases to amaze me.


(Oh, and as a side note about the main article, that fight scene in Oldboy made me cheer out loud. Which kinda spooked my wife, since she was the only other person in the room.)

posted by Tbola at 10:28 AM on May 9, 2007


Also, I'd like to retract one of my redundant "also"s from my 2nd sentence. =(
posted by Tbola at 10:29 AM on May 9, 2007


In Pulp Fiction the "stick a needle in her chest" scene.

La Haine features several but my two favs are when they introduce the boxer and the scene where they are sitting outside and the kid talks about "L'Inconnu".
posted by furtive at 10:33 AM on May 9, 2007


"Taxi Driver"

Scorsese has said he believes that the most important scene in Taxi Driver is the one showing Travis on a payphone in a hallway, trying to speak to Betsy. As this one-sided conversation takes place, the camera moves from Travis to a shot of an empty hallway around the corner. No people or motion fill the shot, and the hallway has no visual elements to attract the eye. This camera move prevents us from looking at Travis in his shame at losing Betsy, and the fact that neither participant in the phone conversation is visible conveys the fact that no real communication is taking place. The hallway suggests the path the film will take from this point on. Soon after this conversation, Travis changes from any lonely man to "God's lonely man," on a path toward what he views as his destiny—a path as straight and narrow as the hallway.

Great shot.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:35 AM on May 9, 2007


Touch of Evil has another great long shot, which many people overlook (I know I did for a long time). It's when Welles and co. search the main suspect's apartment and eventually find dynamite that was hidden in the bathroom--or was it? All done in one shot, and on the first day of filming, I believe. Studio execs were getting anxious when afternoon rolled by and Welles had not shot anything--and then--boom!--one shot and he finishes off pages of the script. Welles used many break-away walls for that one, too.
posted by Man-Thing at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2007


The long take in the movie Serenity, mentioned above, technically includes a cheat due to the space constraints. I'm not sure if it counts for a list such as this.

The intent was to make one long take, but the set of the inside of the ship is broken into two parts, on two different soundstages. In order to show the entire ship, it was necessary to do that fast pan from Mal to Simon as they descend down the staircase into the lower level of the ship. To be fair to Whedon, he does manage to do it out of the emotion and intensity of the scene's dialogue in that second. It makes sense on an emotional level to do that pan from Mal to Simon as they descend, even though the real reason is to hide the necessities of staging physics for film.

So even though Whedon was priding himself in the one four and a half minute take near the start of the film, the truth is it's two takes, each of which are a couple minutes long. Also, they had to do that several times to get it right. There were countless variables to navigate to make such a seemingly simple four minutes look so simple. However, if a mistake happened at the end, he only had to start from the stairs leading to the lower level.

Though awesome in and of itself, it may be unfair to other films in cinema history and their longer takes done without such cheats, to place Serenity on such a list.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:45 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


thanks for elaborating on my comment ZachsMind.
posted by Dantien at 10:57 AM on May 9, 2007


They mentioned Weekend, but they showed the wrong clip! While the piano scene is good, the amazing tracking shot of the traffic jam breaks my brain.
posted by rajbot at 11:00 AM on May 9, 2007


Actually multiple people mentioned it earlier Dantien I didn't know who to give proper credit to. =)

Oh. and Timecode is pretty much four long two hour takes if memory serves, but they aren't exactly 'cool' in that the movie wasn't so much cool as it was painful. So I don't know if that counts.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:51 AM on May 9, 2007


chundo - Didn't X-Files have an episode where except for commercial breaks, everything was a long take? Can't remember which one.

I think it was Triangle where Mulder gets stuck in the Bermuda Triangle and travels back in time to WWII and meets an elegantly dressed Scully.

Although this episode is well-known for being a series of four one-offs, Chris Carter says in the episode's commentary track that there are actually 34+ cuts used in the episode, hidden in pans or darkness.
posted by porpoise at 12:31 PM on May 9, 2007


The opening shot of Snake Eyes, as wonderful as it is, does contain at least one (maybe two?) hidden cuts. Still, it's quite a shot, and the movie itself, while poorly written, is nonetheless gorgeous to look at and contains performances of...high energy. Great music, too. Basically, everything about Snake Eyes is ace except for the movie itself.

As for Serenity, it's worth pointing out that Whedon loves long take Steadicam shots, albeit "not in a Brian De Palma way." On the commentary for the Buffy episode "Hush," he points out the long take in the beginning of people just...talking. It's something he loves to do, but the producers tear their hair out at the prospect, because if a scene winds up running slow, then there's nothing to cut out!
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:43 PM on May 9, 2007


Though technically not so difficult, this shot from Birth is one of the most daring single takes I've ever seen--not because it's risky to do but a 2.5 minute shot of a face with no dialogue in this day and age takes some serious confidence on the filmmakers' part.

dobbs, I absolutely agree that this was a magisterial shot and Kidman did a superb job in it. It also recalled the head shots of Marie Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc by Dreyer. I really was awed by Birth and was surprised it didn't receive all that much critical attention.
posted by Falconetti at 1:55 PM on May 9, 2007


Nostalghia by Tarkovsky has been added to the list. Though not a spectacular shot - in the way I Am Cuba is - the shot builds tension and will have you holding your breath. If for any reason so you don't blow that candle out!
posted by Rashomon at 3:50 PM on May 9, 2007


What about Mike Figgis' Timecode? That's four long takes running simultaneously in different corners of the screen. And in order to get the take they wanted they essentially remade the film daily for a fortnight to three weeks until the had they were happy.

The dvd features the first and theatrical takes and the differences are amazing -- different cast members & character motivations, for example as well as greater precision when the earthquakes (which tie the four takes together) hit.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:51 PM on May 9, 2007


Three words for you: Tom Yum Goong
posted by bwg at 4:21 PM on May 9, 2007


All this, and no mention of my favorite cooking scene in film, the final shot of "Big Night?"
posted by dersins at 4:48 PM on May 9, 2007


Tom Yum Goong = The Protecter (not the Jackie Chan movie of the same title).

I have to second the call for The Longest Day's commando attack. That scene wasn't spectacular by today's standards, but it was an aerial shot and involved lots of actual people and explosions. It still amazes me whenever I see it.
posted by infowar at 5:32 PM on May 9, 2007


Great post! I'm a big fan of the long shot. It's the antithesis of hack directors like Michael Bay who just mash together different splices every 2 seconds. Russian Ark didn't make much sense plot (does it even have a plot?) wise, but technically is amazing, especially the finale. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it, and afterwards watch the "making of" documentary. Shows just how close the whole thing came to being a disaster, for a variety of reasons. It's frankly amazing that they pulled it off.
posted by zardoz at 6:57 PM on May 9, 2007



"Taxi Driver"

"Scorsese has said he believes that the most important scene in Taxi Driver is the one showing Travis on a payphone in a hallway, trying to speak to Betsy.'

Little known fact - that scene was filmed in what is now the Late Night with David Letterman theater, aka the Ed Sullivan theater.
posted by vronsky at 7:47 PM on May 9, 2007


Much as I respect Walter Murch, I missed the Mancini bongos counting down the seconds until the explosion in the earlier version of Touch of Evil. Sure, he intercuts them into his montage, and the new soundscape is more spatially dynamic than the old, but I liked the blaring cheese of the earlier score; it set me straight up in noir land.
posted by Wolof at 8:47 PM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


As much as I loved the movie, the shots in Children of Men were not single takes. The visual effects supervisor has stated that they were from multiple takes, stitched together with CG to make them appear like one take.
posted by so1omon at 10:33 PM on May 9, 2007


So is it that we should be impressed with the various ways directors can pretend a long take, creating a seemingly seamless experience of events to help the audience's immersion into a film by hiding cuts through pans or other tricks, or should we only really go ooh and ahh if the long take in question actually is a long take?

Cuz back to the Serenity longtake - it's impressive. In fact I happen to think most all of the shots in that film are darn impressive. But is the longtake impressive cuz it's a long take, or is it impressive despite the fact it's two smaller takes pretending to be a longtake? That the pan hides the fact it's NOT a longtake so well we shouldn't care?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:02 PM on May 9, 2007


What, no (insert obscure movie with long shot here to make me sound knowledgeable about film)?
posted by Poagao at 1:54 AM on May 10, 2007


Cuz back to the Serenity longtake - it's impressive. In fact I happen to think most all of the shots in that film are darn impressive. But is the longtake impressive cuz it's a long take, or is it impressive despite the fact it's two smaller takes pretending to be a longtake? That the pan hides the fact it's NOT a longtake so well we shouldn't care?

On some levels, it's the most impressive, because it's not a very showy shot at all - it does its damnedest to actually (re)introduce the characters and the ship. It hardly even registers as one of those wowie-zowie single shots at all.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:41 AM on May 10, 2007


As for Serenity, it's worth pointing out that Whedon loves long take Steadicam shots, albeit "not in a Brian De Palma way."

I never saw the appeal of Buffy, but my old roommate was addicted to it so I ended up watching an episode here and there. One episode (SPOILER) that opened with a long shot blew me away: Buffy comes downstairs to find her mother dead on the couch, and she goes into shock, wandering sort of aimlessly around the house, crying and muttering to herself, with a camera following her around the entire time. Very well done and effective.

People mention Timecode, and I think it deserves to be on the list as well on a purely technical level. Not one but four realtime shots for a hour and a half. Unfortunately, Mike Figgis is as pretentious as artists can be and the story is unbearably melodramatic.
posted by zardoz at 2:55 AM on May 10, 2007


there was a five minute or so shot that I thought was by far the best thing about Gus van Sant's Elephant - though if you watch the DVD extras, it's pretty clear that it was stitched together.
posted by unless I'm very much mistaken at 5:50 AM on May 10, 2007


The funniest moment in Timecode is the earthquake. That's just fuckin hilarious, but I don't think the movie wanted to be a comedy.

Zardoz, I think it's okay to spoil "The Body" or any episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, since she show's been in reruns for years. =) The episode you refer to is definitely one of the best Whedon ever did. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for nonfans of the series though, as it's far removed from what the show normally did.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:16 AM on May 10, 2007


It's a mix (pt. 2) of regular camera work and CGI, but the tour through the house in Panic Room is cool.

The camera doesn't move much, but there's a long shot in Exorcist III that's extremely suspenseful and creepy.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 AM on May 10, 2007


What Lies Beneath also had some serious show-off shots. They weren't long, long takes, but they were lots of "impossible" ones. Like moving the camera through a bathroom wall, or switching from long heli shots to close-up ones.
posted by smackfu at 7:32 AM on May 10, 2007


Dantien and ZachsMind - Thanks for all the elaboration on the Serenity intro long-take.
posted by brownpau at 7:42 AM on May 10, 2007


Spike Jonze:
Undone (The Sweater Song)
California
posted by carsonb at 9:51 AM on May 10, 2007


I was disappointed that Shawn of the Dead wasn't mentioned until the reader comments. There are not one, but two great single take shots that mirror one another. For a silly movie, it is amazing camera work and direction.

Also, Nthing Children of Men. That shot was astonishing

Dantien : There is a slight cut in the Serenity opening.

so1omon : As much as I loved the movie, the shots in Children of Men were not single takes.

Actually, most of the movies on that list, particularly where the shot is more than 8 minutes, are going to use some form of visual trickery. The reason? Because the film canister could only hold 8 minutes worth of film. It wasn't until the advent of using tape as a storage medium (some of the new HD stuff,) that they have been able to do a really long shot completely in camera.

Using the trick doesn't diminish the shot, sometimes it is necessary to make the shot even possible.
posted by quin at 10:52 AM on May 10, 2007


Shaun of the Dead is one of the greatest silly movies of any genre ever to grace anything anywhere. The long takes that mirror one another not only are long, but they also - get this! They mirror one another! Okay I'm being snarky but it's a great director decision to do those long takes. The jokes that are embedded within both of them wouldn't have worked half as well had the director not gone to so much trouble to do the longtakes.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:01 AM on May 10, 2007


Shaun of the Dead. Blast, I can't believe I didn't catch that.
posted by quin at 11:11 AM on May 10, 2007


No problem BrownPau. I'd be happy to elaborate on every take in that film if ya'd like. =) I'm half tempted to someday do an audio commentary for it. I already did one for BushWhacked but that was back when I was smoking. Should probably rerecord it. ...I also cuss like a sailor on it if memory serves.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:15 PM on May 11, 2007


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