Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"If cinema is sometimes dreamlike, then every edit is an awakening." -Roger Ebert
December 28, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

The long take, an uncut, uninterrupted shot in film, is seen by some as the counter to CGI, the last great field for cinematic art. The linked page features six clips from 1990 on, plus the opening shot from Orson Welles' 1958 film, Touch of Evil. Alfred Hitchcock's film from a decade earlier, Rope, took the long cut further, with the whole film shot in eight takes of up to 10 minutes each, a decision shaped by the limit of the physical recording media. With digital media, the long take could be pushed further, as with Russian Ark, from 2002. The movie was shot in one long take, with the narrative working through the history of Russia, set within The State Hermitage Museum, and captured in one day on the 4th take. If the long takes are a tad long for you, try the "short" long takes that are one-shot music videos [videos inside]

Movies on YouTube:
Rope: part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (end); and the 2001 documentary, 'Rope' Unleashed: part 1, 2, and 3.

Russian Ark with English subtitles: part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (end); and the 2003 documentary In One Breath: Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark: part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

Related, previously: Take One Museum

Music Videos:

Music videos by Michel Gondry (M. Gondry videos, collected previously)

* Lucas - Lucas With The Lid Off, 1994
* Cibo Matto - Sugar Water, 1996 (two one-shot videos in one!)
* Radiohead - Knives Out, 2001
* Kylie Minogue - Come Into My World, 2002
* The White Stripes - The Denial Twist, 2005
* Gary Jules - Mad World, 2006

Other Examples

* Split Enz - Message to My Girl, 1984
* Tommy Shaw - Girls With Guns, 1984
* John Fogerty - The Old Man Down The Road, 1985
* Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush - Don't Give Up, 1986
* Los Prisioneros - Sexo, 1986
* Bruce Springsteen - Brilliant Disguise, 1987
* Pixies - Velouria, 1990
* Vaya Con Dios - Nah Neh Nah, 1990
* Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy, 1991 (directed by Baillie Walsh)
* Guns N' Roses - Garden of Eden, 1992 (directed by Andy Morahan)
* Primus - Mr. Krinkle, 1993
* U2 - Numb, 1993
* Die Krupps - To The Hilt, 1994
* Gin Blossoms - Allison Road, 1994
* Nine Inch Nails - March of the Pigs, 1994
* Tom Petty - You Don't Know How It Feels, 1994
* Lisa Loeb - Stay (I Missed You), 1994
* Weezer - Undone - The Sweater Song, 1994 (directed by Spike Jonze)
* Wax - California, 1995 (directed by Spike Jonze)
* Madonna - Love Don't Live Here Anymore (HD), 1996 (directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino)
* Alanis Morissette - Head Over Feet, 1996
* Spice Girls - Wannabe, 1996
* The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony, 1997
* Ben Folds Five - Kate, 1997
* Green Day - Redundant, 1997
* The Tea Party - Babylon, 1997
* Tic Tac Toe - Bitte küss' mich nicht, 1997
* Die Ärzte - Rebell, 1998
* Semisonic - Closing Time, 1999 (two continuous shots playing simultaneously)
* Smashing Pumpkins - Ava Adore, 1999
* D'Angelo – Untitled (How Does It Feel) (may be NSFW), 2000
* Coldplay – Yellow, 2000
* Green Day - Macy's Day Parade, 2001
* Hawksley Workman - Jealous of Your Cigarette, 2001
* R.E.M. - Imitation Of Life, 2001
* Utada Hikaru - Hikari, 2002
* Ayumi Hamasaki - Daybreak, 2003
* Ayumi Hamasaki - Heaven, 2003
* Christina Aguilera - The Voice Within, 2003
* Jack Johnson - Sitting, Waiting, Wishing (and reversed), 2005
* Wir sind Helden - Nur ein Wort, 2005 (forwards and backwards)
* Gimma - Superschwiizer, 2006
* OK Go - Here It Goes Again, 2006
* Sportfreunde Stiller - '54, '74, '90, 2006, 2006
* Feist - 1234, 2007
* Feist - My Moon My Man, 2007
* Kaiser Chiefs - Love's Not a Competition (But I'm Winning), 2007
* Linkin Park - Bleed It Out, 2007
* The Matches - Salty Eyes (making of and choreography the video), 2007
* Melanie C - The Moment You Believe, 2007
* Miley Cyrus - Start All Over, 2007
* Red Hot Chili Peppers - Desecration Smile, 2007
* Spoon - Underdog, 2007
* The Weakerthans - Civil Twilight, 2007
* Dana Nalbaru - Tu (and making of the video), 2008
* Duffy - Warwick Avenue, 2008
* Feist - I Feel It All, 2008
* Janet Jackson - Rock with U, 2008
* The Last Shadow Puppets - Standing Next to Me, 2008
* Lil Wayne - A Milli, 2008 (one-take shot with post-production stutter-cuts)
* Pigeon. Horse. Sex. Tennis. - Bottle of Wine, 2008
* Vampire Weekend - A-Punk, 2008
* Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma, 2008
* The Vines - He's a Rocker, 2008
* Young Righchus and Max Berry - Ridin', 2008
* Metric - Gimme Sympathy, 2009
* Myriam Fares - Ayam El Shety, 2009
* Electric Indian - Kids These Days, 2009
* Dilated Peoples - Back Again, 2006
* Roller Coaster - Prospect Hill, 2009
* OK Go - WTF, 2009
* Air - So Light Is Her Footfall, 2010
* Die Roten Punkte - Burger Store Dinosaur, 2010
* Erykah Badu - Window Seat, 2010
* J. Cole - Who Dat, 2010
* Liam Frost - Good Things Are Coming Our Way, 2010
* OK Go - White Knuckles, 2010 (previously)
* Säkert - Dansa fastän, 2010
posted by filthy light thief (74 comments total) 101 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great post!

I liked Russian Ark a lot. It's ironic to see it here split into YouTube size chunks.
posted by OmieWise at 11:31 AM on December 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Watching Rope in high school changed my life in a lot of ways and one of the more positive ones* is that it changed the way I watched movies, for the better. It now seems so weird that I watched movies but never paid attention to edits or when the film cannister ended. Ebert says Hitchcock called it an experiment that didn't work. Far be it from me to disagree with two fellows who I generally agree with when it comes to movies, but I will always love it and think it's fantastic. If anyone else other than Hitchcock had made it, it'd be more of a classic (of course, no one but Hitchcock could have made it then.)

* No, I didn't murder anyone.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


David Alford's wonderful but hard to find movie, Adrenaline, was also shot in one continuous take. Super fun.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2010


"Imitation of Life" isn't really a long take. It's all one shot, yes, but the shot is just 20 seconds long--it's rocked back and forth for the duration of the song, and panned-and-scanned to zoom in on specific details.

(That said, it's the most impressive of the bunch, IMO.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2010


Joss Whedon has always been rather fond of oners, and probably the best known example is the opening of Serenity, though there is a hidden cut in there necessitated by the set.

Some other long takes are discussed here as well.
posted by kmz at 11:34 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really liked Russian Ark as well, but the long takes that linger most in my memory are the ones used in Children of Men. I had to remind myself to breath during the entire street battle near the end of the film, since the absence of any cuts just gave that scene an immense amount of tension.
posted by bl1nk at 11:36 AM on December 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


How can you forget the restaurant scene from Goodfellas?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:39 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sugar Water is one of the greatest videos ever. I first saw it on MTV's AMP late at night. I recognized the backwards tracking in some of the shots, but by the time I figured out what was going on, it was almost over. This was in the days before DVR or YouTube, so I had to watch AMP a couple more times the next few weeks, waiting for the video to come up again so I could dissect the action. No, mom, I'm not staying up after midnight to watch TV again, why do you ask?
posted by Eideteker at 11:40 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


How can you forget the restaurant scene from Goodfellas?

Yeah, what I was gonna say. Even though it's "only" three minutes, it's a very complex scene with narrow corridors and lots of moving parts. Bravo to the Steadicam.

Also check out the tribute shot in Swingers.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:45 AM on December 28, 2010


Note: the post title came from Roger Ebert's review of Russian Ark.

And this was all triggered by a Slashdot post which may now have some good comments on long take films (though kmz's link is probably the best single source on long takes I've seen yet). I was holding off in hopes that the sequel to the Den of Geek post would go up, but no luck yet. Anyway, the follow-up comments added to the post.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:46 AM on December 28, 2010


*does double take*
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:48 AM on December 28, 2010


The long-take restaurant scene from Goodfellas is the third video in the second link.
posted by Eyebeams at 11:50 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Shout out to the several long takes in Children of Men. Here's a short feature from the DVD about how they were shot.
posted by vverse23 at 11:52 AM on December 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sweet post. Even having seen many of the videos, I never thought about this as a device much until seeing the closing scene of The Big Lebowski where the guy throws the strike at the end.
posted by substars at 11:53 AM on December 28, 2010


That video I linked to is just crawling with spoilers, of course. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend you watch it before seeing how it was made.
posted by vverse23 at 11:54 AM on December 28, 2010


The party scene in Irreversible is a fine example too.
posted by Flashman at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2010


Agree w/ OmieWise -- if you want to see Russian Ark, don't watch it in YouTube sized chunks. Rent it from your favorite video place or Netflix. It's great, and the bonus material on the disc has some great interviews with info about the shooting of it -- they only had enough time in the Hermitage to do 3 or 4 takes (I forget exactly how many) of the 90-minute film, and the steadicam operator said that he was in such amazing pain near the end that he almost couldn't make it.
posted by statolith at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2010


No mention of Timecode, shot in four 97-minute long shots filmed and displayed simultaneously? Here's the trailer. Oh, maybe it's because it was a boring movie.
posted by Plutor at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why are long takes a problem for CGI? If anything, wouldn't they be even easier there since it's all programmed and needs only one "take"?

IMO the real challenge for CGI is non-cartoony human beings.
posted by DU at 11:56 AM on December 28, 2010


Shout out to the several long takes in Children of Men. Here's yt a short feature from the DVD about how they were shot.

There's a rumor that Alfonso Cuaron's next film will entirely mimic one take and be 3D... more (possibly spoilery) info here.
posted by heatvision at 11:59 AM on December 28, 2010


OK, I'll take this opportunity to ask: How is Rope a good movie? I appreciate the technical achievement of the very long take, but other than that...? I didn't know anything about it when I first watched it, and for the first ten minutes kept waiting for the camera to pull away to the actual protagonists, sitting aghast in the audience of this hilariously awful play.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:00 PM on December 28, 2010


See also Vicious Battle Raps by DJ Format feat. Abdominal.
posted by edheil at 12:00 PM on December 28, 2010


I remember a pretty epic one in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
posted by kersplunk at 12:02 PM on December 28, 2010


Plutor: If I remember right, each of the individual screens had edits, although each screen was showing the same uninterrupted 1:30:00 - occasionally one screen would cut from one long-take camera to another. It's not exactly long-take - much closer to Rope, really. Although the shot lengths are rather long.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:05 PM on December 28, 2010


The opening shot to "Boogie Nights" is shot in this manner. The less-notable Nicholas Cage vehicle "Snake Eyes" does, as well.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:14 PM on December 28, 2010


Wow, that's some lousy grammar on my part.

*ahem*

"Boogie Nights" and the less-notable Nicholas Cage vehicle "Snake Eyes" both have long opening shots of this sort.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:16 PM on December 28, 2010


Edgar Wright is a fan of these as well, and used the effect particularly effectively in Shaun of the Dead twice. Once when Shaun goes down the road to the market early in the film, and then later, Wright does nearly the exact same shot, but after the zombie apocalypse that the main character is completely oblivious to.

I'm particularly fond of these because, unlike the great shots in Children of Men and Serenity where I realize "Holy crap, this is a long shot" I didn't even realize that I was seeing something neat in SotD until the scene was over.
posted by quin at 12:17 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Love the long beginning one-shot scene from Kubrick's Paths of Glory. All hand held.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:19 PM on December 28, 2010


DU: Why are long takes a problem for CGI?

The Den of Geek article takes the stance that almost anything can be done in CGI, taking away the challenge of previously tricky-to-impossible filming tasks, like scenes shot with mirrors. But the long take, done with actual cameras, is still an area of cinematic craft that is strictly human. Of course, HD cameras strapped to RC 'copters can change some of that, though it still takes amazing choreography to pull off a long take.

A CG-rendered long take wouldn't be a feat of human skill and perfection, as you can always tweak and re-do any element in the scene, and re-render the sequence. The long take is akin to newer horror movies that rely on physical special effects, instead of doing everything in post-production with CGI.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:21 PM on December 28, 2010


Thanks for this post, good stuff! This seems like a good place to ask - there's a film with a long single shot I saw once on youtube and could never find again, wondering if anybody knows it . . . it's an asian martial arts / crime flick, probably from the last 10 - 15 years, and the scene involves the protagonist busting in to some kind of massive high-end nightclub and making his way up several flights of stairs, kicking people's asses the whole way as the camera follows him. Anybody know what I'm talking about?

Also I freakin love Rope - watch the sequence in part two linked above, from about 3:30, when the first guest arrives, and the murderer still has the weapon in his hand - watch how the camera deals with his friend noticing this. Watch at around 4:10 where he drops the weapon in a drawer, visually punctuated by the swinging kitchen door. Awful play MY ASS
posted by chaff at 12:36 PM on December 28, 2010


Panic Room opens with a good example of a CGI long take. It's kind of showing off though since it is from when they could just start to pull that kind of thing off.

Nowadays its much more likely they will use CGI to blend together multiple takes, so its seamless and you won't even notice it. No need to pan through a blank wall anymore.
posted by smackfu at 12:39 PM on December 28, 2010


there's a film with a long single shot I saw once on youtube and could never find again, wondering if anybody knows it . . . it's an asian martial arts / crime flick, probably from the last 10 - 15 years, and the scene involves the protagonist busting in to some kind of massive high-end nightclub and making his way up several flights of stairs, kicking people's asses the whole way as the camera follows him. Anybody know what I'm talking about?
Tony Jaa's The Protector?
posted by bl1nk at 12:40 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's a lovely long shot near the end of John Woo's Hard Boiled where the heroes shoot their way across two floors of a gangster-infested hospital. The camera follows them into an elevator at the midway point.
posted by brundlefly at 12:44 PM on December 28, 2010


This is pretty great, and I'm astounded by the encyclopaedic nature of this post – thanks very much for it, filthy light thief. It'll be a fantastic way to while away many hours for me.

However, I can't resist pointing out the greatest director of long shots – Andei Tarkovski. For many of the directors linked here, long shots were gimmicky, or at least a kind of amazing stunt they consciously pulled off. Tarkovski constantly lets shots run for a minute or more; it's simply the way he directs, a more honest, contemplative style that is incredibly immersive. And it's astounding that he was able to pull it off; frequently there are shots in his movies which I can only imagine took a long, long time to film correctly. This justly famous shot from his beautiful last film, The Sacrifice, had to be re-filmed a second time when the camera jammed – and the house, which had already burned down, had to be re-built at great cost. And this sequence, a beautiful one from Mirror that is amazing in its detail and tenor, is so full of incidental, tiny details that it's astounding that they all came out that way. This is what elevates his art – and removes from it the artificiality of so many movies; the director is showing us exactly what occurred, nothing more and nothing less, letting it sit before our eyes so that we can honestly and directly examine it. Wonderful stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 12:45 PM on December 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Awesome post and great additions in the comments. And, uh, I actually liked Timecode, enough to watch it twice in a sitting, although I'm now unable to recall a single moment from it.
posted by Pants McCracky at 12:45 PM on December 28, 2010


Considering it was 1962, the long helicopter shot that was used for the start of the Ouistreham attack in "The Longest Day" has always impressed me with its combinatiion of surprising (long before the Steady Cam) image stability and obvious attention to pyrotechnic choreography as the attackers steadily moved towards the flimsy canal bridge.
posted by Mike D at 12:46 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


chaff asked: This seems like a good place to ask - there's a film with a long single shot I saw once on youtube and could never find again, wondering if anybody knows it . . . it's an asian martial arts / crime flick, probably from the last 10 - 15 years, and the scene involves the protagonist busting in to some kind of massive high-end nightclub and making his way up several flights of stairs, kicking people's asses the whole way as the camera follows him. Anybody know what I'm talking about?

This one?
posted by amyms at 12:48 PM on December 28, 2010


Thanks bl1nk and amyms! I just realized that clip was in one of the OP links, which I would have realized had I looked at them all - MetaFail on my part.
posted by chaff at 12:54 PM on December 28, 2010


To redeem myself somewhat, here's on that wasn't in the post - opening shot of The Player.
posted by chaff at 12:56 PM on December 28, 2010


The opening shot of Bonfire of the Vanities is pretty incredible Stedicam work, including a ride on a golf cart and a trip in an elevator. It's on Netflix streaming so you can shut off the shitty film as soon as there's a cut in the movie.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread inspired me to join MeFi!!

Anyway... bl1nk's suggestion of The Protector sounds right.

I've always enjoyed the corridor fight scene in Oldboy. It's a bit claustrophobic and insanely high energy...
posted by raihan_ at 1:06 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can somebody explain how the "Come Into My World" video was made? The backgrounds look real, but there must be some CGI-ed Kylies in there, right?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:08 PM on December 28, 2010


Theo Angelopoulos uses long takes quite often. The Traveling Players (video) is a close to four hour movie with a total of eighty shots.
posted by BigSky at 1:09 PM on December 28, 2010


Man, this is a great post. Thanks, flt!
posted by box at 1:12 PM on December 28, 2010


In Soy Cuba, "the camera follows a flag over a body, held high on a stetcher, along a crowded street. Then it stops and slowly moves upwards for at least four stories until it is filming the flagged body from above a building. Without stopping it then starts tracking sideways and enters through a window into a cigar factory, then goes straight towards a rear window where the cigar workers are watching the procession. The camera finally passes through the window and appears to float along over the middle of the street between the buildings."

Here starting at 1:42 and pretty amazing.
posted by Danf at 1:15 PM on December 28, 2010


I can't find it on Youtube, but one of my favourites is from In Bruges. It begins with Brendan Gleeson watching the Touch of Evil scene, linked in the OP, and lasts for another 6 minutes. It's mostly dialogue, but the dialogue in that film is so good it's a joy to watch.

Also, anybody who likes to watch long takes needs to watch Béla Tarr's film Werckmeister Harmonies. It's 145 minutes long and consists of 39 shots - all of them achingly beautiful and wonderfully choreographed.
posted by afx237vi at 1:26 PM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Julien Temple's contribution to Aria is also a one-shot but I think he cheats by hiding a couple of edits.
posted by cazoo at 1:27 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great post. I love that sequence from The Longest Day that Mike D pointed out. There really is something to be said for building a big-ass set and then blowing shit up.
posted by marxchivist at 1:39 PM on December 28, 2010


As afx237vi noted above, Béla Tarr is a master of long takes. His Sátántangó is another fine example, and well worth the seven hours it takes to watch it.
posted by vac2003 at 1:44 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can somebody explain how the "Come Into My World" video was made? The backgrounds look real, but there must be some CGI-ed Kylies in there, right?

NO CGI!!!
(from The Works of Michel Gondry DVD, which is amazing). From what I understand, they shot it by going around the block 5 times in one single take, subtly shifting things each time around, and overlaid each rotation onto the other.
posted by jng at 1:52 PM on December 28, 2010


I love this post. Thank you.

Don't forget the 7-minute long take at the end of "The Passenger."

And there are many amazing long-takes in Godard's "Week End" (just one example).

Another great Hitchcock long take (from a list of way too many to count) is from "Frenzy." And yet another, of course, is the perfect take from the top of the grand staircase to Ingrid Bergman's clenched fist (no dialogue) in "Notorious" (starts at 4:00).
posted by blucevalo at 1:53 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


To redeem myself somewhat, here's on that wasn't in the post - opening shot of The Player.

I just watched that again the other night. The opening shot is so wonderfully done and yet, unlike everything listed above, it is constantly aware of itself. The characters are even talking about long single-take shots to open a movie.

"The pictures they make these days are all MTV. Cut, cut, cut. The opening shot of Touch of Evil was six and a half minutes long.

Six and a half minutes?

Three or four, anyway. He set up the whole picture with that one tracking shot. My father was key grip on that shoot.

What about Absolute Beginners? That was an extraordinary shot.

Never heard of it.

It's an English film."

posted by Sandor Clegane at 1:53 PM on December 28, 2010


With no cuts, you are aware that everything you are seeing was actually done

Except that these days, that's not true anymore, either - I have done a bunch of shots where I've stitched together a number of shorter takes into one long shot. The craziest one of these was for the openting credits of New York Minute, (starting at 1:20) where the camera flies from inside columbia university over the city and into a house in brooklyn in one (apparent) take. This example is pretty stylized though, there's lots of times that this is done subtly enough that there would be no way to tell if you hadn't been involved in the production.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:00 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Great f*ckin' post. I love long shots. The "making of" featurette on the Russian Ark DVD shows just how difficult the shoot was. In one scene they move from outside to inside, and they worried about the camera lens fogging up (which it miraculously didn't), the steadicam operator was close to collapse but the dance sequence at the end lifted his spirits, in the end they only had time for one more try, and it went off perfectly. And other complications.

I have no idea what the movie was about, but it was hypnotic. But watch that featurette, it's amazing what they went through.
posted by zardoz at 2:27 PM on December 28, 2010


Sandor Clegane: I just watched [The Player] again the other night. The opening shot is so wonderfully done and yet, unlike everything listed above, it is constantly aware of itself. The characters are even talking about long single-take shots to open a movie.

The reason it is so self-aware is because, as it is currently written on Wikipedia, "the film is loaded with movie references and Hollywood insider jokes and functions as a critique of a movie business that treats artists poorly and sacrifices quality for commercial success." Most movies live behind the the fourth wall; but to critique the movie business, it's easier (and more obvious) to talk about real movies, instead of make up films that could be something else.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:31 PM on December 28, 2010


One of my favorites is this single take shot fight scene from The Protector with Tony Jaa.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:32 PM on December 28, 2010


Maybe it doesn't count, but the opening scenes of Strange Days was one "long take", although it has small edits (but so does the street battle in Children of Men). Strange Days' long takes are even more awesome in that they had to invent a whole new camera to get the takes done.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:44 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember studying the opening scene of 'The Player' in my grade 11 communications class... he quizzed us on what was notable about the opening scene, and the answer was "no cuts"
The Player (1992) starring Tom Robbins - the subject of the film was the Hollywood film industry.
posted by zedumfore at 3:41 PM on December 28, 2010


A pretty exhaustive list of one-take/one-shot music videos, as collected by the antville crowd, is posted on its sister-wiki videoville (where there's also a short list of faux one-takes).
posted by progosk at 3:51 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Plutor: No mention of Timecode, shot in four 97-minute long shots filmed and displayed simultaneously? Here's the trailer . Oh, maybe it's because it was a boring movie
Drats, I was hoping I'd be the first one to mention Timecode, since I was surprised it wasn't in the OP or the first few comments.

I actually enjoyed it and didn't find it boring (of course, I saw it during a Mike Figgis phase, and like Pants McReady I now find I can't remember a damned thing from the movie), but in any event the idea of 4 separate camera crews doing simultaneous 97-minute shots that weave in and out of each other's scenes pretty much cannot be topped from a "long take" perspective.

Pickman's Next Top Model: You might be correct that there were edits/transitions of camera perspectives in individual quadrants (I believe when the cameras would essentially swap who they were following) but again it was as you note the same 1:37:00 of filmed time, and collectively the movie functioned as a single long take seen from 4 different eyes at once. The movie as a whole never "cut" from any given scene I don't believe.

This really isn't something we should be as awestruck by in itself, although for effects-heavy scenes it's impressive enough choreography- although that choreography, especially in the computer age, can be meticulously planned and computer-controlled. After all, every single day in theaters from Broadway to the Podunk Civic Arts Center there are uninterrupted long takes, in every ballet there are highly choreographed long takes, etc. Film still has an advantage since, as Mike Figgis did in Timecode among the others mentioned, they can repeatedly try for the long take and then use their favorite.
posted by hincandenza at 4:43 PM on December 28, 2010


I can't believe I forgot about the shots in Strange Days. I love that movie.
posted by brundlefly at 4:49 PM on December 28, 2010


Opening scene from Johnnie To's "Breaking News"/"Daai sa gin" .

Side note on Rope: whenever the film stock was about to run out, Hitchcock’s cameraman would push in tight on something black—often the back of an actor’s jacket—to give the editor a subtle place to cut.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:15 PM on December 28, 2010


Opening scene from Johnnie To's "Breaking News"/"Daai sa gin" .

Johnnie To is a tremendous film director, I wish he was as well known outside China as John Woo or Wong Kar-Wai. "Breaking News" is among his better films as well.
posted by bobo123 at 5:38 PM on December 28, 2010


The Last Hurrah is a single-shot comedy. It's interesting. I'd tell you more but I fell asleep watching it.
posted by Kattullus at 6:27 PM on December 28, 2010


It's a full length feature film, I should mention.
posted by Kattullus at 6:28 PM on December 28, 2010


Is there a technical reason why a lot of these scenes (such as the Tony Jaa example linked above, or in some of the tracking shots in The King's Speech) tend to use extreme wide angle lenses?
posted by HeroZero at 7:56 PM on December 28, 2010


I think those "some" are idiots. Doing something because it's technically difficult (and demonstrates your mastery to other masters) is putting the buggy before the horse.
The correct "counter" to CGI is to add CGI to your extensive and growing toolkit and make things better than they have ever been made before.

It's like a photographer who has to advertise to the viewer that they don't use any digital processing, because their painstaken masterful darkroom manipulation looks pretty much like beginner class digital work. It's a trap that quagmires artistic growth with masturbation of technical pride.

Long-shots can be an effective effect. The greatest works will include them as appropriate, for those reasons, and leave the masturbation to lessors.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:44 PM on December 28, 2010


One more classic for the music video pile: Ramones, I Wanna Be Sedated, 1980
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:23 PM on December 28, 2010


I don't know if it counts but the opening scene of JDVC has an "unedited" long shot that clocks in at 3 minutes. This is a surprising movie, by the way. If you haven't seen it, watch it.
posted by quadog at 11:36 PM on December 28, 2010


I don't think I've seen it upthread, but there were a number of great long shots in Catch-22.
posted by MarchHare at 1:32 AM on December 29, 2010


Mad about You's The Conversation episode was shot in a single take and originally broadcast without commercial interruption.
posted by Mitheral at 1:38 AM on December 29, 2010


What, no Robot High School?! I love that song/video. Also this post, thanks.
posted by hypersloth at 2:01 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A long take from Blake Edwards.

I'm a big fan of slower and broader editing on dance sequences. If you've choreographed the thing well, you shouldn't need to cut every three measures to keep things interesting.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:30 AM on December 29, 2010


Is there a technical reason why a lot of these scenes [...] tend to use extreme wide angle lenses?

A few reasons that I can think of. Most importantly, wide-angle lenses can be set to keep everything in focus (practically speaking) and then left alone, whereas other lenses might require a second person to adjust the focus during the take. Also, wide-angle lenses can take in a bunch of light, which means that less artificial light will have to be added to the scene. And finally, wide-angle lenses are both smaller and lighter – and for a Steadicam operator doing a long take, I imagine that every extra inch of maneuverability and every extra pound counts.
posted by arm's-length at 12:35 PM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older Last week, UConn's women's basketball team beat Fl...  |  An oldie, but a goodie: Michae... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments