DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: THE LONG TAKE

Friday, 4 May 2007

THE LONG TAKE

The Greatest Long Tracking Shots in Cinema


PLEASE NOTE: YouTube has taken many of the clips off since this original post. I will keep checking for repostings. If you have links for me, please put them in the comments section. Thanks.

NOTE: As many of you know there's a fantastic 5 mins long take in "Atonement". Check it out.

In a director’s cinematic bag of tricks the long tracking shot is the boldest way of making a statement. It’s the flashiest and most attention-grabbing egotistical way of flexing one’s muscle. In most cases it's a narcissistic maneuver, “look-at-me” filming technique, but rare ones, the best ones, serve to reflect and further the story in a way that can’t be reflected with traditional editing.

Let’s examine specifically the long ‘tracking’ take which involves extensive and complicated movements of the camera. The fact is filmmakers have been doing long takes since the medium was invented. In fact the first films didn’t have any edits. Perhaps the first most notable film to use long unedited takes for storytelling purposes was Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” (1948) which was an entire film shot in real time created by seamless cutting together a series of long 8-10 mins shots made to look like one. In 1948 it was a bold and unprecedented experiment for Hitchcock. The film works because its takes place entirely in one room for 80 minutes, so there was limited movement and lighting changes.

The difficulty arises when the camera is forced to move which complicates the logistics ie. Focus changes, lighting changes and hiding production equipment. And so perhaps the first true, universally-accepted “long tracking shot” is Orson Welles’ opening shot in “Touch of Evil” (1958). This shot was a large step up from Hitchcock’s experiment because of the extensive movement of the camera. Let’s start the list with this masterful one:

Touch of Evil (1958) – The Opening Shot - dir. Orson Welles

This shot is perhaps the greatest, because it actually has a specific purpose to its length. The shot starts on a bomb being placed in the trunk of a car. The camera follows the car into the street. As the camera moves back we pickup Charlton Heston walking with his date. Though we’re concentrating on Heston, subliminally, as the audience, the bomb is still in our minds. The sheer length of the take heightens the tension for the payoff at the end. It’s important to note that on its first release Universal placed the opening credits over the shot, which severely retracted from its power and suspense. In a later re-release Welles original intention of the scene was re-instated.





Goodfellas (1990) – The Copacabana – dir. Martin Scorsese

The other granddaddy of the long tracking shot is Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco’s walk through the Copacabana in “Goodfellas”. This shot’s serves to put the audience in the point of view of Karen, who is about to be swept off her feet by the temptation of the gangster lifestyle. This introduction to Henry’s world will counterpoint their eventual downfall later in the film. The movement of the camera through the tight spaces and long corridors while maintaining constant dialogue makes this shot an impressive maneuver and a benchmark in cinema.




Boogie Nights (1997) – The Opening Shot in the Club – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

All of PT Anderson’s films have a bit (sometimes a lot) of Martin Scorsese in them. Boogie Nights is no exception. The opening shot which starts on a marquee and moves down the street and into a 70’s disco serves to introduce to us the ensemble characters. The shot ends on Mark Wahlberg moving in slo-motion triumphantly introducing Anderson’s star character. As a side note, it was rumoured PT Anderson specifically started the shot on the marquee which reads the title of the movie, to make it impossible for the studio to re-title the movie, which was done with his first film – “Hard Eight” (aka “Sydney”).




Raging Bull (1980) – Pesci and De Niro Walking to the Fight – dir. Martin Scorsese

No youtube clips are online yet for this shot, so I’ll describe it. Starting on Jake La Motta and his brother exiting their dressing room the camera follows them down the hall to the arena, where La Motta is to face the Middleweight Champion for the first time. The shot starts in front the brothers as they make their way through the winding corridors and tunnels, then the camera moves in behind as they enter the arena. As they make their way through the cheering crowd and into the ring, the camera lifts in the air to capture the entire arena in a wide shot. In 1980 the steadycam was a new invention, but Scorsese obviously used it to its full potential as soon as he could get his hands on it. This great shot serves the story because it highlights the greatest moment for La Motta – the fight which won him the Middleweight belt.


Oldboy (2003) – The Fight with the Hammer – dir. Chan Wook Park

Perhaps not grandiose in its flare or style - the camera only moves back and forth on one axis - but the impact of the action on screen is awe-inspiring. Fight scenes are usually choreographed around the camera so the punches, kicks and falls appear real and violent. But in one majestic tracking shot Chan Wook Park puts to shame most other fight scenes. It’s a dozen baddies with just one guy, one shot… and one hammer.

BTW: The actual long shot doesn’t start until the 30 sec mark of this clip:



The Player (1992) – The Opening Shot – dir. Robert Altman

Another one of the greats. Altman was actually sending up, or paying homage to “Touch of Evil” and actually references it in the dialogue. The shot takes place entirely outside on the grounds of a Hollywood studio. The camera tracks, and picks up pieces of conversation from several characters, all setting up and providing the backstory for the film. Altman innovatively overlaps the conversations as he moves from one conversation to the next. He frames the star, Tim Robbins, in an awkward shot through an obscured window to his office. Robbins, as Griffin Mill, is taking a pitch from Buck Henry (writer of “The Graduate”) for “The Graduate 2”. Simply hilarious.




Magnolia (1999) – Entering the Studio – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

This shot doesn’t quite have the dramatic impact of “Touch of Evil”, “Goodfellas,” or even “Boogie Nights”, but it’s still a marvel. Anderson combines the techniques of Scorsese and Altman to create a dizzying tour of the television studio where much of the drama will go down. It’s raining and Stanley Spector and his dad are late for their game show taping. It’s a tense sequence which moves at a quick pace with much help from Jon Brion’s hypnotic music cue.





I Am Cuba (1964) – The Rooftop – dir. Mikael Kalatozov

There are half a dozen shots in this film which would make this list. Youtube happens to have the magnificent rooftop shot, which introduces the decadent lifestyle of the Cuban upper class. This shot is important because it provides counterpoint up the plight of the poor farmers and working class Cubans whom we will see in the next scene. Not only is it beautiful but it’s so bold that the shot ends with the camera following a woman into the pool and under the water.

The other shot from the film I would have included is the parade sequence which actually covers a Cuban demonstration by moving up a building, crossing the street in midair, through the top floor of a cigar rolling manufacturer and out the window again moving through mid air. I’m tired just writing this.

Note: This clip has a different soundscape, but you can still see the shot:



Children of Men (2006) – The Car Chase – dir. Alfonso Cuaron

Please don’t watch this clip if you haven’t seen the film as it contains major spoilers. Good, now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss the magnificent chase between Clive Owen and the bunch driving away from the vicious marauders. The shot spins around to show all the characters fighting off the assailants as they drive backwards, avoid bullets and spears etc. No effects were used to create the shot other than a specially rigged car which allowed the camera to hang suspended from the roof and spin and move to capture everyone's reactions. This shot is one of a series of long extended takes in the film – equally impressive is the rescue of the baby in the refugee camp at the end of the film.

Please note, the car scene has been removed since this original post. Therefore, I've included the long take gunfight scene - again spoilers ahead:



Hard Boiled (1992) – The Hospital Shootout – dir. John Woo

During the shooting of “Hard Boiled”, towards the end of a long series of days at the hospital, John Woo realized he was running out of time to shoot the remainder of the action sequences. He decided to ‘compromise’ and shoot the remainder of his scene in one shot, the result is the John Woo version of the long take. It’s almost unbelievable the carnage, gunshots, and explosions he creates with just one shot of the camera. You just have to see it to believe it.




The Protector aka Tom yum goong (2006) - Running Up the Staircase dir. Prachya Pinkaew

It’s no “Goodfellas” that’s for sure, in fact the scene is just ridiculous, but the sight of Tony Jaa leaping up the circular staircase, and throwing guys off the side and down the stairs is just so satisfying and audacious it’s worthy of inclusion on the same list as “Touch of Evil” or “Goodfellas”. Wow. Again, you have to see it to believe it.





Carlito’s Way (1993) – The Subway Chase - dir. Brian De Palma

Brian De Palma has used his trump card too many times (ie.“Bonfire of the Vanities”, “Mission to Mars”, “Snake Eyes”) and so I’m inclined to discount his entries. But “Carlito’s Way” is one of the great long take shots. The shot follows a chase between Al Pacino’s character in flight from a trio of mobsters in the NY Subway system. It’s magnificent choreography punctuated by Patrick’s Doyle grand score.



Russian Ark (2002) – The Whole Damn Movie – dir. Aleksandr Sokurov

Using a sophisticated High Definition camera, Sokurov was able to do what Hitchcock originally wanted to do - stage an entire movie in one shot. “The Russian Ark” is more an artistic experiment than a traditional narrative film, and technically, it’s an achievement, but only a few occasions in the 96-minute running time does the film actually achieve the grandeur the storyline implies. But when it does, it is magnificent – you just have to sit through the really boring parts.

Here's the ballroom scene:




The Passenger (1975) – Locke’s Death – dir. Michelangelo Antonioni
Warning this clip contains spoilers. A rare feat is a final long take shot. “The Passenger’s” final shot is a 7-min long opus which starts inside a hotel room, where we see Jack Nicholson’s character lying on a bed, the camera then pushes in to catch the action outside. It actually goes through the window and outside into the courtyard. By the end of the shot, the camera has turned itself around and is looking into the room where we discover Jack, while out of our sight, has just been murdered. It’s one of the more sly and devious long take shots of this list.





Of course dozens of other films have used long takes including Gasper Noe’s “Irreversible”, Godard’s “Weekend”, and many of Tarkovsky’s and Theo Angelopolis’s films. This is by no means comprehensive. Please chime in your favourites.

Thanks.

ADDITIONS AND AMENDMENTS:

Due to the overwhelming responses I've added some more clips. Please see below.

Satantango (1994) Walking to the Police Station dir. Bela Tarr

Bela Tarr is a master, and sadly I'm not familiar enough of the work to provide ample commentary, but this clip is a beautiful shot:





Weekend (1967) Tracking Across the Farm Dir. Jean-Luc Godard


Jean-Luc Godard's classic, "Weekend" features a series of long tracking shots, as a kind reader pointed out, 'before it was in vogue'. Check this one out.









Breaking News (2004) – The opening shootout - Dir. Johnny To

This highly stylized crime classic opens with a wild shoot out with the police, of course, all in one take. Shades of De Palma on this one.




Strange Days (1995) – The Opening POV Chase – Dir. Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn’s Bigelow’s opening shot is taken from the POV of a robber escaping a robbery. It’s entirely handheld and therefore very jittery and nausea-induces. But it’s lengthy. Judge for yourself.





Nostalghia (1983) – Carrying the Candle – Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky

The Russians/Soviets seem to love their long takes. Here’s a head-turner from Tarkovsky’s “Nostalghia”, which features a man’s numerous attempts to carry a lit candle across a courtyard. It’s not technically amazing, but it’s fascinating how it draws you in. It’s a remarkable example of determination.






Elephant (2003) – John's Walk Through the Halls and Outside – Dir. Gus Van Sant

Elephant has about a dozen long steadycam shots. Here is a key shot, from the brilliant Harris Savides, which shows John walking through the halls and then outside the school. The movement and camera exposure from inside to outside is seemless. Potential SPOILERS here as well.






Kill Bill Vol 1 (2003) – The 5,6,7,8’s – Dir. Quentin Tarantino


Here’s another one of Tarantino’s De Palma homages – the famous 5,6,7,8’s shot. Robert Richardson is at the helm photographically on this one. Enjoy.






Serenity (2005) – The Opening Credits/Walk Though the Ship – Dir. Joss Whedon

By popular demand, here’s the opening of “Serenity”. Capt Mal starts out in the cockpit, then moves back through the rest of the ship introducing us to all the characters. A well-hidden cut occurs midway, but it’s two impressive long takes put together.



Snake Eyes (1998) - The Opening - Dir. Brian De Palma

Ok Ok Ok. I really dislike this film, but people wanted this shot up here. Here's 10 minutes of the opening of Snake Eyes, whose opening shot lasts 20mins or so - too long for a 1000 mag of film, so I think there's a cut in there.





Great Expectations (1999) Kissing in the Rain – Dir. Alfonso Cuaron

Alfonso loves his long takes. This one cleverly spliced a few shots together, but is a great moment nonetheless. Enjoy.





Nine Lives (2005) - William Fichtner Sequence – Dir. Rodrigo Garcia

Rodrigo Garcia’s “Nine Lives” is composed of nine different each showing a part of a woman's life. This one features the great character actor William Fichtner showcased like he should.






Irreversible (2002 ) – At the Club - Dir. Gaspar Noé


Gaspar Noé’s notorious film with Vincent Cassel and Monica Belluci. Here are a couple of segments mended together over a span of a full day and night. All segments are long tracking shots. Warning this clip contains some graphic material. Viewer discreti…. Ahh just watch it, it won’t kill you.






Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) - The Hospital Riot - Dir. Bela Tarr

Just watch your jaw drop with this climatic scene (shot) from "Werckmeister Harmonies". This may contain spoilers as it comes towards the end of the film. But there's no shocks or twist, just one amazing shot. Enjoy







Frenzy (1972) - Tracking out the apartment - Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

A reader wrote in about Hitchcock's fantastic offscreen murder which occurs while the camera tracks back from a woman's flat into the street. It's perhaps one of Hitchcock's greatest moments of suspense. Amazing:






413 comments :

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Anonymous said...

Great list! There is a long shot in The Contender following Christian Slater and Gary Oldman that is also amazing.

Anonymous said...

A few classics that come to mind are the first staircase scene in Welles's "The Magnificent Ambersons," the beginning of "Halloween," and the scene in "Superman" where Superman says goodbye to Lois and flies off to the left, Lois goes inside, she thinks for a minute, there's a knock at the door (to the right), and she opens it to reveal Clark Kent.

Anonymous said...

What about the waterfront attack scene in The Longest Day. Brilliant work for its time and an aeriel shot to boot.

And of course the beginning of Serenity where we follow Captain Mal through the hull of the starship conversing with each crewmember.

Anonymous said...

Where's the Sergio Leone classic "Once Upon A Time In America"? An interminably long opening shot as a phone rings persistently. That's the most memorable one to me.

Jason said...

How about the opening to "The Conversation"?

I'm also surprised that Godard's "Week End" only merits a mention, because when HE did it the long take wasn't exactly in vogue yet.

Rohan said...

Excellent excellent list... Another one I'd absolutely recommend is the opening shot of Johnny To's Breaking News, in which the camera descends from high as we see gangsters enter a building, peek through their window to see what they're upto, see them exit the building to get into their car, tracking to undercover cops who are watching them. Two traffic-cops start making trouble for the gangsters as they're parked wrong. The undercover cops want to get them out of there just so they can see where the gangsters go, but one of the traffic cops notices something wrong in the back of the gangsters' car. A fire-fight begins that lasts for over four minutes, and it's all a part of that one shot. Showy, but brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Wow an actual list I agree with but...
WRONG SCENE FROM BOOGIE NIGHTS!!!
It should be the New Year's Eve scene where William H. Macy's character does the murder/suicide.
Classic.

eric said...

Personally I love the 2-minute shot in Kill Bill Vol. 1 in the House of Blue Leaves while the 5,6,7,8's play 'Whoo hoo'. It follows the Bride into a bathroom stall, moves around the whole house and comes back. Amazing.

The shot in Minority Report where the spyders are released into the building and you see from above all the people in the building (begrudgingly) stop what they're doing and get scanned.

The 4-minute shot in Serenity where we meet all the crew for the first time is brilliant, and it's not just flashy - it's a brilliant way to get a sense of the size of the ship and meet everyone.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to include following Kirk Douglas through the trench in Paths of Glory.

It has several cuts, but I'd still put it right after Touch of Evil for my favorite long take

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o0n0ww5YBk

Anonymous said...

RE: GOOD FELLAS--It's a measure of Scorcese's artistry that he can use a shot like that to make a truly horrible lifestyle so damned attractive. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Serenity" definitely deserves a spot on the list, I agree with the above posters. The way Joss Whedon introduces 9 characters, the size of the ship, the wonderful score, the hillarious one-liners, the background stories from "Firefly" all in 4 minutes is simply outstanding.

Atherley said...

Brilliant! Well-timed, too. I'd just seen Children of Men and the long takes made me think about Russian Ark and the effect of the long take on film actors required to perform "live," as if on stage before an audience. Some of the long takes you mentioned are dominated by photography, which makes it easier on actors unaccustomed to live performance. Russian Ark (yes, the "whole damn movie!, LOL) and the long takes in Children of Men are ACTED more like stageworks than films. The acting in Children of Men's long takes struck me as stiff, tentative, self-conscious, as if the cast were trying too hard not to make mistakes, perhaps because they're not primarily stage actors, accustomed to having only one shot at being "in the moment" in front of an audience. The acting in Russian Ark, on the other hand, was operatic--simply grand.

Anonymous said...

I think the shot in Minority Report was computer-assisted (more than one location/shot made to look like a seamless whole)? Some of these shots probably involved more trickery than others, but then again all movie making is trickery. Maybe this exercise should only count shots involving one camera filming what's in front of it with no hidden seams? (Even some famous continuous shots in Citizen Kane were employing special effects, like the pan-up from the opera stage to the guy holding his nose in a gesture of disaproval... and Rope was contstantly "cheating" to change reels, often clumsily, by making extreme close-ups of the back of somebody's black jacket)

Drew said...

The finale scene outside 111 Archer Avenue in "The Royal Tenenbaums" certainly deserves consideration.

Anonymous said...

There's an excellent continuous shot in the middle of De-Lovely (starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd). Meant to represent Cole Porter's inveterate gay nightclub hopping, here is the description someone put on imdb.com. "The scene where Cole is visiting the gentleman's club during the song "Love For Sale" is a good example. The scene is supposed to be representing three different times where Cole was in the club. Most of the dancers are costume personnel who would perform costume changes on other actors and themselves and then walk back into the shot. Even the singer changes hair pieces and earrings in this shot." Absolutely seamless.

Anonymous said...

The opening of Rashomon is missing.

Anonymous said...

What about the opening shot to Bonfire of the Vanities?

Anonymous said...

So we get a spoiler alert for Children of Men but not for The Passenger? Harumph.

I see absolutely no big deal about Children of Men, that shot or the film as a whole. If the movie didn't have those long shots (a few of which were pieced together), no one would remember it at all. Crams its message down your throat, man.

All that being said, how about the first of 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould?

Anonymous said...

the beginning of 'the man from hollywood' in "four rooms".

Anonymous said...

Do the Hitchcock down-the-stairs crane/tracking shots in NOTORIOUS (Leading to the key in Ingrid Bergman's hand) and FRENZY (down the stairs and out onto the street, where we wait- and wait- and wait for the scream when the strangled woman's body is discovered) count? Because they are surely two of the most amazing shots in cinema history.

Anonymous said...

OK, technically this is a visual effects shot, but the opening of 'Contact' was great - a long pull-back from earth through the solar system, passing planets and stars as old radio waves from Earth play until it goes so far out there is no sound. It ends as a close-up of Jodie Foster's eye. This sequence drew enthusiastic applause when I saw that movie at the Chinese Theater.

'Ed Wood' also had a great visual fx tracking shot as its opening sequence.

Anonymous said...

Many good scenes, thanks for reminding us of them. Another film that should be mentioned is "Nine Lives", each of the nine segments is a single take.

Anonymous said...

The absence of Greenaway is understandable as he generally limits himself to one axis, but there are some shots in The Baby of Macon which blow your mind. Notably the two 10 minute shots of the child being murdered where the Camera passes through gates and continues to move and the rape sequence.

Anonymous said...

The look through the house near teh beginning of Panic Room deserves a mention, even if it was CGI-filled. As does the last shot of Aguirre: The Wrath of God. Still, nice list.

Anonymous said...

Another director that loves the long shot is Quentin Tarantino...i.e. Pulp Fiction when Vincent and Jules arrive at the apartment when they're discussing foot massages. Excellent direction by Tarantino on that one.

cameron said...

Dario Argento's infamous Louma Crane shot from his 1982 film, Tenebrae. Stunning that the shot begins on the face of an actress, moves out of her apartment, up the wall, over the roof and back down the other side of the building completing a 180 all in the same movement. The boldness of this shot was much copied.

Anonymous said...

How about one of the nine sections of "Nine Lives"? Though not as flashy as "Hard Boiled" or "The Protector", the tracking shots are choreographed extremely well.

Tanner said...

Its a great list and a fun read. However, the article, when talking about the "Children of Men" sequence, states that "no effects were used to create the shot". Either way it is an amazing shot but on close examination (and watching the documentary on the DVD) it becomes apparent that there are at least a few.

Alan Bacchus said...

Hey readers; These comments and suggestions are terrific and most could have been included on this list. Indeed, "Weekend" should have been on there, and in fact there is a youtube clip available to post. Sorry. Greenaway is interesting. I didn't think of him. I should revisit that one. And "Serenity" appears to bring out much passion. Sorry about that. I purposefully left off long takes that don't use much movement in them, else this list would be never ending. Therefore, despite some great shots, the Leone stuff, The Conversation I didn't mention etc.

Thanks. Keep 'em coming...

Anonymous said...

"Satantango"
Especially the shot with the owl.

Anonymous said...

no love for linklater?

Before Sunset had some incredible long takes.....the cinematography wasn't outright flashy but it was so smooth and well match with the dialogue.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone likes it but Elephant (Gus Van Sant) is nothing but long takes.

Paul said...

I'm just as much a Browncoat as the next guy. That said, the crew/ship scene in "Serenity" should not be included. Although brilliant and awesome and any superlative you care to apply to it, it is not a single shot.

Whedon's commentary track on the DVD reveals that there is a cut as the camera swings around to follow Mal and Simon downstairs to the infirmary. This was due to the fact that the upper and lower decks were separate sets.

Cool scene, and the end result of a "single tracking shot" is the same, but technically it doesn't count.

PS: I agree with whoever said the New Years scene in "Boogie Nights" is superior to the club scene.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen "The Shining", but I've heard there were a lot of Steadicam takes moving throughout the hotel. Is there one long one that stands out?

lucas said...

you guys missed a big one, but it's probably not your fault...

pick up "cradle will rock," tim robbins' beautiful take on the entertainment biz...

the opening shot stands up to anything on this list, and that is said with the utmost respect to mr.s anderson and scorsese.

Anonymous said...

a movie that probably shouldn't be on this list but has a cool long opening is History of Violence, at the motel. It's not techncially very astonishing, but is still arresting, way tense.

Chanis said...

Great list, but the most beatiful log shot ever made was forgotten: thel last scene in Truffaut's The 400 Blows.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I think of tracking shots, I always think of Greenaway. The Baby of Macon has already been cited -- and that 10 minute tracking shot is indeed extraordinary -- but I think his best one is in A Zed & Two Noughts when the camera slowly pulls back through Oswald's lab to reveal just how obsessive his bizarre experiment has become.

The Cook the Thief etc. has some good ones as well, notably when Michael Gambon goes berserk and tears the restaurant apart.

Audrey said...

Great list. Of course PT Anderson is a must!!

In regards to Children of Men, I personally thought the rescuing of the baby in the Refugee camp was better, but that is just personal opinion.

Audrey said...

Great list!! Of course PT Anderson is a must!!

In regards to Children of Men, I personally think that the rescuing of the baby in the Refugee Camp is better but that is just personal opinion.

tonijl said...

There is a great tracking shot in the new "Grindhouse" in Quentin's movie. In the cafe introducing the 4 girls "Zoe" included. The camera spins round and round the table capturing their dialog for a least 7 minutes, it is amazing. It is a great homage to all the inventive directors before him.

Mr. Harper Brackman said...

What about 'Funny Games' by michael haneke? (I think that's how you spell his name.) The scene where the two hostages free themselves (also dealing with something which I won't reveal) is about 10 minutes long. It's impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Very disturbing film too.

Anonymous said...

Pulp Fiction was mentioned, but not the right scene. The best long shot was the entrance and movement to the table with Vincent and Mia at Jack Rabbit Slim's. Also, Tarantino's first, Reservoir Dogs, has a good one, the torture scene that follows Mr. Blonde to his car and back.

Oi2dwrld said...

Great list, but all "Classics". How about the opening shot to Denial, aka Something About Sex. The way the camera follows the fast paced conversation through multiple rooms while tracking on seven different speakers is amazing. Check this flick out.

Anonymous said...

I like the list however I have to disagree with the one from Magnolia, not because I think it is not a great shot, but because I think there is a better one in the movie, i.e. the shot where we first see the bar where Bill Macy is hanging out for most of the movie and we see the man with whom he is infatuated and the older gentleman who competes with him for the bartender's love

Anonymous said...

Good list of more recent films, but it should be stated that the tracking shot and the moving camera was perfected in the silent era by F.W. Murnau in Germany with his film "The Last Laugh." The second shot of the film tracks through a hotel lobby, coming to stop in front of a revolving door to film the action outside. This film is full of shots that use camera movement and depth, and the first instance of the long take.

Anonymous said...

As I remember there are a great deal of absolutely masteful long shots in the french film "Irreversible" which hold up to any of the shots on the list, and also surpases many of them. There are also a few very succesfull longshots in the 2005 version of "Pride and Prejudice."

Anonymous said...

I totally second the person who mentioned "Elephant". Didn't like the movie as a whole; but the long shots were a unique way to tell the story.

And does Quint's monologue (from Jaws) count as a long shot?

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget Max Ophuls, who perfected the long, fluid take in many of his films. He's the inspiration behind Welles, Scorsese, Hitchcock and others.

Anonymous said...

One that comes to my mind is "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" when Sam Rockwell is taking the tour of the TV station and then is leading tours, all in one shot. The same people come into and out of that shot numerous times.

Great list!

Anonymous said...

You picked the wrong scene from "Russian Ark".You should have used the last one where the guests are descending the stairs of The Hermitage palace in all their finery, a metaphor for the end of Tzarist Russia.
And while the long shot at the end of Kenneth Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing" does not add to the plot, it sure is beautiful.

Matt said...

See, the acting in Children of Men, I did not see as stiff, but more real as to the shock of what was happening. There was to be nothing operatic about the acting in this movie. That said, I think the rescue of the baby sequence towards the end was much more hostile and impressive.

not sure about its TRUE long-take-ness but I'm sure it leaves that feeling: Opening scene of saving private ryan

Anonymous said...

One of the best long tracking shots is during the 'Prom Scene' in Brian DePalma's "Carrie." The shot starts on Sissy Spacek and William Katt having their King and Queen ballot picked up by PJ Soles. Soles wanders through the crowd gathering ballots and then meets her boyfriend/co-conspirator with more ballots. They kiss and then turn in forged ballots made so Spacek and Katt will win. The camera then follows Soles passed the stage where Nancy Allen and John Travolta are hiding underneath ready to pull the rope. The camera then moves behind the stage and finds Amy Irving crashing the prom and then the camera glides up over the stage where the bucket with the pig's blood sits over the King and Queen chairs. The camera then zooms back to Spacek and Katt when their names are announced as the winners. The whole story is told, all the characters are spotlighted and the suspense mounts. Beautiful filmmaking, great storytelling and perfect use of one continuous tracking shot.

Anonymous said...

Although not a cinematic landmark, I was always impressed by the long opening shot of "Working Girl." Mike Nichols circles the State of Liberty, slowly zooms in on New York harbor and the skyline, and then sweeps us right into the ferry.

mike weber/fairportfan said...

The opening shot from "Day for Night" - first we see the shot with no clue what's going on, as the camera tracks around a Paris street scene, occasionally catching glimpses of Jean-Pierre Leaud as he exits the Metro and walks purposefully down the street till he confronts and slaps Jean-Pierre Aumont.

And we hear Truffaut's voice say "Coupe!", and the camera pulls back, revealing that it's all a set.

And, as they do retakes, we see the mechanics of getting a shot like that.

The crane shot that starts on the platform behind the railroad station and soars up overhead, opening up from a tight shot of part of the trackside platform to a superwide view of the town and the huge vistas surrounding it.

There's a move in "Little Shop of Horrors" (the musical) in which, to accomplish the tracking move Frank Oz wanted, they had to mount one crane on another crane to get the camra mobility.

And in Truffaut's "Fahrenheit 451", there's a dream sequence that inverts the "vertigo" shot to show a nightmare vision, as the camera tracks down a long hallway without seeming to get any nearer the far end...

Anonymous said...

No Kubrick?

Anonymous said...

Agree that the awe-inspiring final minutes of Russian Ark would have been a better choice. Few other parts of the film have stuck in my mind, though I have to salute the experiment, and as a whole it left an indelible mark on me. Damn, now I'll have to track it down on DVD...

Anonymous said...

Is there not a distinction between "long tracking shot"--as this list calls for--and a long shot, a single , lengthy shot without movement? While Quint's monologue in Jaws is magnificent, there is no tracking involved.

Anonymous said...

Very glad Russian Ark was on your list-wouldn't have been complete without it!

Anonymous said...

In the opening scene of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West", three gunfighters are waiting at a train station for over eight minutes with almost no dialog, no sound other than the creaking of the turning windmill in the background. And within a minute of the protagonist's arrival, they are dead in a shootout. This is one of the greatest opening long take scenes in cinema history.

RabbiMurph said...

Adding to the few comedies mentioned: Preston Sturges' film "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" has a couple of great walking-and-talking tracking shots. Betty Hutton's character worries to her sister about her impending motherhood, especially because she does not know who the father is. Later she confesses to her friend, played by the wonderful Eddie Bracken, that she somehow got married. Nothing flashy, just great dialog and character development. Long shots like that were rare in 1944 and even more rare in a comedy. The movie is probably one of the most subversive of all time.

Anonymous said...

There is an amazing tracking shot from "Twilight of a Woman's Soul," a 1913 Russian silent film by Evgeni Bauer. What is so impressive is knowing that at that time cameras weighed a ton and were not easily mobile. The scene introduces the lifestyle of luxury the main characters live in and backtracks through a party for 3-5 minutes. All of the extras and scenery had to be put in place as the camera moved. Saw this on a DVD called "Mad Love - The Films of Evgeni Bauer" and highly recommend it to those interested in film history.

Alan Bacchus said...

Again. More great comments.
Once Upon A Time is a GREAT film, including the opening. But its not all one shot, and not a meandering tracking shot.
Kubrick was of course the undisputed master of the tracking shot, but he usually cut them up, and rarely did he have a shot that last long than a minute. The shots in the Shining are indeed great, but not the length of these other films. Perhaps Kurbrick's best long tracking shot is the approach of the platoon to the demolished village in FULL METAL JACKET.

Mike Weber: You comments and addition are thorough. Wonderful thoughts I didn't think of - thanks.
The shot in FUNNY GAMES is static if I believe - but one hell of a shot, that's for sure.
No Love for Linklater? - damn, I LOVE Linklater, but forgot Sunset. Guess I was going for style over substance. BTW: Check out my review of FAST FOOD NATION
http://dailyfilmdose.blogspot.com/2007/03/fast-food-nation.html

Malcolm Sauvage said...

Great list! No mention of Joss Whedon's Serenity though... odd

Matt said...

Great list! Especially for the inclusion of "Children of Men" but I agree that the final scene was more impressive.

"Minority Report"'s Spyder scene was actually done on a soundstage where they built the apartment then set up a crane above it where they were able to lower it and pull it across the set, then I think they added things the camera went through later, but the movements are actually real. In response to a comment way way above mine.

ReelSix said...

Glad that someone finally mentioned Zemeckis' "Contact" but got the scene wrong. The tracking shot that follows Jodie Foster once she detects the signal into the control room is pretty spectacular. Not the longest but amazing steady cam work.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=R14lfb3QnM0

starts around 2:42

Zemeckis has used the long take in almost all of his films and is real master at it. Let's not forget the opening scene of "Back to the Future"...

Anonymous said...

No list like this is complete without mention of Bela Tarr. There is nobody alive who does long sequence shots better. And now that all his films are out on DVD, there's really no good excuse for not seeing them.

Other people who need a mention here: Kenji Mizoguchi - greatest Japanese filmmaker of all time, and he mostly shot his films in absolutely stunning sequence shots.

Hou Hsiao-hsien is a master of the long take as well. The opening shot of Flowers of Shanghai has some of the most incredible and subtle camera movement of all time. It acts as brilliant counterpoint to the flow of conversation in a way I have never seen done before or since.

Miklos Jancso. Another great Hungarian director who worked almost solely in sequence shots.

Glad to see someone mention Ophuls here; he was one of the first, and still is one of the best as far as sequence shots go.

And finally, Tsai Ming-Liang. He's certainly less flashy than the others, mainly because his camera almost never moves, but his composition and use of long takes deserve a special mention.

Warrian said...

The Tracking shot in Brannagh's "Henry V" as he surveys the battlefield after being declared victor is quite stunning and also delivers a sense of 'the cost of war' with images in a way even Shakepeare only hints at with words.

Roni said...

I saw a long time ago a movie called "Elektra" or something like that and I remember it was only about 6 takes..

Anonymous said...

WHAT ABOUT THE OPENING OF PATHS OF GLORY?

Anonymous said...

Not DePalma's best movie, but I think that the opening shot of Snake Eyes deserves to be mentioned. It starts out with the monitor of the reporter during the storm outside then, gradually begins to follow Nicolas Cage around as he goes and interacts with people. Great set up shot for the opening of the film.

Joe said...

How about the brief seconds between when Superman flies off after his 'date' with Lois Lane and seconds later, Clark 9also Chris Reeve) appears at her door?

Anonymous said...

Snake eyes had a great long shot intro to the movie. It is about 15 min long. The Characters walking through a casino. So-so movie great long shot.

Anonymous said...

What about the openning scene of the really good movie "A Hisory of Violence" ? ...
It was a 15 min. long , or arround that.

Big D said...

Thank god someone finally mentioned Brian DePalma's Snake Eyes. The entire first twenty minutes of the movie are one single shot that take us all over a casino as Nicolas Cage interacts with all the different characters, culminating in a boxing match where the inciting incident happens. The rest of the movie is Cage solving the crime.

I would also like to mention, as someone else did, Little Shop of Horrors. Frank Oz displays a brilliant use of uninterrupted reframing rather than commonplace cuts. There's one great shot in particular where Audrey is finishing a very slow, heartfelt song in her bedroom. We start close on the magazine she's reading, slowly pull back to reveal her singing, then slowly pull back out the window to show the street outside her apartment. She finishes the song and a bum walks by, killing the mood. Then the shot slowly moves up to the rooftops and another song starts up from the Greek trio narrating the story, and the shot does not end until they walk off frame.

The Greek trio also doubles as these three street urchins throughout the movie. At one point, the three of them are being chased off the screen, and the shot starts with the last two running off, then goes into an alley where the third is singing in her narrator costume. That kinda reminds me of the Superman/Clark Kent shot.

Also, they had to reshoot the ending and one of the narrator girls wasn't available, so they used a body double and, with clever panning, we never see her face, but the audience probably never noticed. The point is basically how creative Frank Oz is with the camera in this movie.

Cheers,
Diego

Anonymous said...

The opening scene in point break is awesome. Not the credit sequence, but when Keanu goes to the FBI center and has the conversation with John C. McGinley. Long shot walking through doors, people walking in between them and lots of dialogue. Very good scene

Nathan said...

the fact that you gave a spoiler alert for Children of Men, which i couldn't care less about, since the film ends with a giant boat that says 'TOMORROW'... lame!

but really, you ruined The Passenger for everyone, the whole point of watching that insufferable Antonionioni is the final shot, granted, it deserves to be on the list, but you should never have given away the ending.

you fool.

Royster said...

A shout out to the George Clooney directed film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind! There is wonderfully playful camera work in this film. Instead of using cuts or special effects he manages real time "in the camera" effects. One example is when Chuck is on the phone and you see the person on the other end, another is when he first starts working as a page at NBC.

Dominique said...

That shot from Children of Men is absolutely fantastic!!!! I haven't seen the movie and frankly, i was too blown away to care about being spoiled. The continuity and the fluidity of the whole thing is astonishing, especially since this is an action shot. Now i defnitely have to see it!!!!

Anonymous said...

I want to third the nod of the long take with Funny Games. It really is one of the most brilliant moments in all of cinema. One of those things where it's not razzle dazzle, but more about playing with the psychological explorations of the audience. You gotta see it. Haneke recently made a shot-for-shot american remake of the film, slated to come out later this year or early next year. The only change he made was getting rid of this shot. I'm kinda disappointed. So just make sure to rent the German version of the film when you see it.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see foreign-language films included on the list. Usually when "best of" are compiled only American films are included, as if the world of film actually revolves around Hollywood.

Anyway, I only disagree that "Russian Ark" is boring. It certainly is not a typical dramatic narrative, but if you get into the philosophical discussions, and appreciate Russian/Soviet history, it's quite brilliant. One is tempted to say that the final shot is astounding, but the whole film is one shot. The final sequence, as hundreds of people make their way out of the Winter Palace, and the camera slowly follows them out, making its way through the crowd, has to be seen to be believed.

I'm also reminded of the final shot of Elem Klimov's "Come and See." Though it's not a particularly long take, but as the army brigade walks off the camera turns away from them and starts running through the woods to make its way out on the other side. I keep expecting the cameraman to crash into a tree!

In "Children of Men" I believe the long take where the baby and mother are rescued from the building isn't actually one take. I haven't watched the extras on the DVD for an explanation, but you can see that early on blood gets splattered on the lens and is there for a little while - but is then gone. And a hand didn't come into the frame to wipe it off. So there had to be some CGI trickery.

There is also a remarkable long shot in Andrei Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev" when the Tatars lay siege to a church. There are hundreds of extras on horseback doing all kinds of violence to those who weren't able to get inside before the church is sealed off. In one brutal moment a horse climbs some wooden stairs and then falls off, clearly breaking its hind legs. So its rider stabs and kills it with a spear! The camera only pans back and forth, it doesn't move with any of the action. But the amount of activity captured in one take is remarkable.

scorsetinogilliam said...

this is an amazing list of films and good clips and everything but i cannot believe a certain film was left out. a film that is direct tribute to rope with the only cuts concealed so well, i know its Bruce Campbell but Running Time (1997) is an amazing testament to the long take and shouldnt be left off of this list.

Anonymous said...

Van Sant before "Elephant" did "Gerry", wicht is a series of real tedious longshots that only work because you have invested so many time watching them that you feel compelled to stick to how the hell they end.

Collin Whitchurch said...

It is ironic that Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman are all on this list considering when you watch a PTA movie you get the idea that his ideas come from the directorial techniques of Altman and Scorsese. These are all brilliantly choreographed scenes that need worth mentioning. Thanks for pointing them out.

Anonymous said...

OH! And the world guiness record for the first one real long shot movie is a mexican film called "Tiempo Real" (Real Time), about the robery an armored car, very Tarantinesque. I guess it beated "Russian Ark" for months, since both are 2002.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see TIMECODE?

The entire movie is one shot...or specifically it's four 90+ minute shots playing at the same time. Each shot taking up a corner of the screen. That in it's self would have been great but they were filmed at the same time so the actors float in and out of each section plus the cameramen have to hit certain marks to create interesting compositions that play off of the other three segments.

Anonymous said...

i don't think anyone mentioned "timecode" directed by mike figgis. it has FOUR (count 'em - four!) cameras running start to finish simultaneously throughout the film...each taking one fourth of the screen. Now THAT deserves special mention.

Anonymous said...

Where was the opening to Halloween?

Anonymous said...

The orgy scene from Eyes Wide Shut, it's really great too!

Anonymous said...

how about the "foot massage" conversation in Pulp Fiction between samuel l jackson and john travolta? great scene right there.

Anonymous said...

A long take in Touch of Evil that is more impressive than the opening is the interrogation scene with Sanchez.

Some other long takes that come to mind are the opening of Welles' The Trial, the murder of Frank in Godard's Pierrot le fou, Miyagi's death in Mizoguchi's Ugetsu,anything from Max Ophuls' Lola Montes and anything from Tarkovsky.

mike weber/fairportfan said...

I would also like to mention, as someone else did, Little Shop of Horrors. Frank Oz displays a brilliant use of uninterrupted reframing rather than commonplace cuts. There's one great shot in particular where Audrey is finishing a very slow, heartfelt song in her bedroom. We start close on the magazine she's reading, slowly pull back to reveal her singing, then slowly pull back out the window to show the street outside her apartment. She finishes the song and a bum walks by, killing the mood. Then the shot slowly moves up to the rooftops and another song starts up from the Greek trio narrating the story, and the shot does not end until they walk off frame.

That was the shot i was referring to, where they had to mount a crane on a crane to get the combination of moves that Oz wanted.

And i can't believe that i apprently edited my comment before i posted and removed the identification of the soaring crane shot over the railroad station as being in "Once Upon a Time in the West"...

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that no one mentioned the Hitchcock movie "Rope". The whole movie is done as a single take. What it really means is that each reel of film is done as a single take. The transition between reels needs to be done inconspicuously. For example, one transition occurs where the camera moves to the back of a couch and then the next reel of film picks up at the same spot. I don't know of any other movie that uses this technque.

Anonymous said...

In the ending tracking shot of Children of Men, CGI was used to remove the blood because the director felt that it was too much to have the blood there for the full six minutes still remaining of the shot. I read somewhere that he had tried to cut when the blood hit the lens, but no one heard him over the gunfire. I think it's an awesome effect, and it's the only bit of CG in that shot (as far as I know)

Matilda said...

what about the great tracking shot from "Summer of Sam"? great camera work there

Anonymous said...

There's a beautiful shot in "Les Invasions Barbares" (a. k. a. "The Barbarian Invasions") that follows a nurse through a hospital choked with patients.

Anonymous said...

A number of long tracking shots in Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" are certainly of note. Most (or at least a great deal) of the soliloquies are done in a single shot swooping around an enormous castle.

One particular shot I liked, though, was the one involving Rosencrantz and Guildenstern coming to see Claudius and Gertrude. If memory serves, the action starts in the King and Queen's bedroom then moves out of the room and down a hallway. Claudius separates from the rest of the party, and is met (apparently by chance) by Polonius and walks (and talks . . . remember, this is Shakespeare dialogue here) with him until the two of them enter a grand hall filled with fencers as the camera moves round and round.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that no one has mentioned Haskell Wexler's magnificent stedicam tracking shot at the beginning of "Bound For Glory." It blew me away the first time I saw it, since stedicams were so new.

mike said...

Bela Tarr is a master. See Satantango and Werckmeister Harmonies now. Satantango clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8DOQFccj00

Anonymous said...

It's a subtle shot and not nearly as impressive of some of the incredibly long tracking shots already mentioned but one of my favourites is the one take shot in "Poltergeist" during the scene in the bedroom when the spirits jump from the TV set into the house right before the girl says her famous line "They're hEre" Awesome.

Anonymous said...

No love for the opening of Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days? The one where we follow the POV of a robber as he commits the crime, runs from the cops, and plummets to his death from the rooftop.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU14evKo-v4

Or how about Running Time with Bruce Campbell. I think there is ony like ten cuts in the entire movie. I thought the failed robbery sequence in that film was particularly impressive especially the chase afterwards thats all in one shot.

I also remember the first courtroom sequence in Murder in the First being pretty long too as the camera zooms all arounf the courtroom while Christian Slater makes his opening statements.

mr. nice guy said...

the last shot of "the third man." it's a stationary shot, but a long one. and it rips your heart out.

J Arnold said...

There's a nice one in Fritz Lang's "M" where the homeless guys are sorting cigarette butts and an effects shot takes you through the building. Also in "Asphalt," there's a great one that moves along a Berlin street at the beginning. Don't forget the "Touch of Evil" apartment scene where the bomber is being interrogated. It moves through a couple of rooms and reinforces the feeling of claustrophobia. Finally there are a bunch in Murnau's "Sunrise," for example when the city girl leaves her apartment or when the man is entering the swamp.

Fuxoft said...

There is actually cut in the Hard Boiled "uninterrupted shot" you show here. It's at exactly 2:00 before the end, when the camera pans in slo-mo from the guy in white who was just shot.

Fuxoft said...

And the scene from Children of Men you present here contains several complicated CGI effects. The other scene you mention (baby rescue) was actually shot at several different places and then pieced together digitally!

Also, the knife sticking out form Oldboy's back is a digital effect.

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents would cover most of what's gone before ....

I thought the two set pieces in Children of Men were outstanding. Goodfellas, Halloween, Full Metal Jacket all deserve mention.

But I'm surprised nobody mentioned some of the single-take shots in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Genius.

The Weez said...

I'd also suggest "Duel", from back when Spielberg could stage a tense scene without digital effects.

There's a 4+ minute shot that takes place as Dennis Weaver arrives in a diner after having outraced The Truck. Pale, sweaty and shaken, he tries to recompose himself in front of all the customers. The camera follows as he stumbles into the bathroom and mumbles to himself as he tries to form a plan. When he exits the bathroom, he sees that The Truck is now in the parking lot...the driver must be inside the diner! Weaver takes a seat at the bar and scans over each customer, trying to figure out which shady character is his pursuer. The tension and paranoia finally makes him crack, and Weaver has a meltdown in front of all the customers....just as The Truck's engine comes to life. Weaver then realizes that the driver never left the cab...and has been patiently watching Weaver from afar. When the shot finally breaks and we cut back to Weaver, the look of shock and fear on his face is priceless.

It's an amazingly well performed and executed long take.

Anonymous said...

I AM CUBA: the cinematographer did a lot of experimenting with long shots. Using IMDB and the local library, we found another film he shot: "The Cranes Are Flying" (Russia 1957) and there is some tasty camera work in that movie as well. In one shot we start inside a city bus, and end up viewing a parade of army tanks from the sky. Worth taking a look at...also avail on Netflix.

David said...

anything by Greek director Theodoros Angelopoulos...i watched one of his movies and the average length of each shot had to be like 30-45 seconds (out of a two hour movie) another one of his movies is Ulysses' Gaze

Rachel said...

This is a great list. I'm glad to find Touch of Evil at the top. Welles is the man! Some of the other comments have good ideas too. Also, if you haven't yet seen Grindhouse, there is a revolving camera long-take in Death Proof that has to be more than 5 minutes long.
Anyway, I like your list so much I posted it on ListAfterList.com and linked back to you. If you have any other brilliant film lists, this seems to be the place for them. Check it out: http://listafterlist.com/ListResults/tabid/57/ListID/7019/Default.aspx

Anonymous said...

awesome work, son.

Anonymous said...

The second-greatest long take ever (behind Goodfellas) is The Untouchables--during the elevator scene. Come on!!

Anonymous said...

walk the line the bathroom scene.

matts2 said...

The opening of the first show of the last season of _West Wing_ had a breathtaking tracking shot. We followed multiple people as they walked through the offices, going from one conversation to another. It just blew me away.

Anonymous said...

I would also add the scene from Kill Bill Vol. 1 in the hotel where Uma Thurman is walking around and ends up in the bathroom overhearing the woman on the phone.

You should check out an amazing foreign film called Irreversible. It stars Monica Bellucci and the entire film is composed of only like 20 shots. Each scene in the movie is one continuous long take and pretty much the entire runtime of the film is logistically impressive enough to match the other movies on this list, but it's even more impressive in that every single scene is shot that way.

Justin John said...

The last shot of "Electra Glide in Blue". That's the longest shot I have ever seen.

Sandro Bandouri said...

Here are a couple of more flicks with long takes in them:

Michael Haneke's Code Inconnu: every scene consists of single takes, my favorite is the one on the street (I believe it's the 1st one) where there is a fight/struggle.

Timur Bekmambetov's Night Watch:
I know this shot is full of CGI, but I myself don't care and love long CGI loaded takes just aswell. It starts on the wing of an airplane, we see a bolt getting shaken out by a flapping piece of sheet metal, and the camera follows the bolt all the way down to earth, it goes inside the shaft of a building, it clunks a round for a while then falls through a grate and eventually into a cup of coffee being held by a woman. It's not superlong but amazing nonetheless.

I'm certain I know some more but I am drawing a blank right now, I'll be back.

By the way, why haven't the added suggestions been added to the list?

Justin John said...

The longest tracking shot I ever saw was in the movie "Electra Glide in Blue". It was the last shot in the movie.

Yxklyx said...

The opening of The Big Clock (1948) is worth a mention. Technically, it's not a real long take though visually it is. It starts off with a model of a city then zooms in flawlessly to a real life scene inside a building then it moves to a clock whose digital time fades to an earlier time then it zooms out again. So, the shot goes backwards in time!

Anonymous said...

The Staircase scene in the Untouchables wasn't a Long Take a**wipe, it just was a long drawn out scene and a rip off of potemkin to boot, with no real additive value.

the tree said...

I don't know if this counts since it's a TV show, but there's a long tracking shot in one of the first sequences of the Battlestar Galactica pilot. It begins with Starbuck jogging down the hall and then tracks as we're introduced to several of the main characters.

Alan Bacchus said...

Hey Sandro,

I have added a few new suggestions (see way above). I'm only adding ones with youtube clips. If there are any suggestions with clips please add the youtube link for me please.

Thanks again,

Alan

Anonymous said...

The first scene on the ship in Serenity should definately be on this list.

Anonymous said...

Dont know if it has been mentioned, but the near 10 min long take in Tarantino's Death Proof at the diner between the second group of girls was quite spectacular. Memerizing that much dialogue and having the camera was cool to watch. Also seeing Stuntman Mike peeking at them was also cool.

Anonymous said...

I've seen alot of these movies...some of them I haven't.
but 1 opening shot everyone seems to be foregeting is the boxing match intro to the Nic Cage/Gary Sinise thriller "Snake Eyes"

dany boom said...

its true. snake eyes has a rather spectacular shot at the start. as does bonfire of the vanities. depalma uses long takes quite a lot.

the black dahlia. and raising cain - all these shots start somewhere close, expand quite high up. crane down to follow someone, go into an elevator or two, people passing all around ... pages of dialogue ... snake eyes may be the most elaborate of the bunch. the one in bonfire of the vanities ends up in the lobby of the world trade center.

also theres a great long take in private ryan, running up the beach, but the depalma ones are the ones that can compete with the goodfellas take.

love that protector clip !

dan

Anonymous said...

Like Serenity, there is clever splice shot that ties a sound stage scene with second-unit scene together to make it look like a single tracking shot early on in "Escape from New York."

Not sure if the entire thing is long enough to be considered in this list, but the technique of squeezing out longer shots from different scenes with clever splices is probably worth its own blog entry.

Nice list!

Anonymous said...

Swingers has such a shot, and the characters specifically talk about the one in...Goodfellas, I think.

Anonymous said...

Murder in the First also has another great long take shot, where Christian Slater first interviews Kevin Bacon in his 'cage'. The camera prowls around the exterior of the cell, and then eventually enters through the bars as the characters begin to interact, only to exit through the bars as the scene begins to close. It later read about how director Marc Rocco and his crew accomplished it in American Cinematographer magazine: basically in-camera through prop choreography and seamless execution.

Also, the long tracking shot in Contact was actually two shots merged together - the first part taken on location, with the second part taking place on a soundstage. The cut was hidden at the the opening of the double doors. It was described in one of the technical commentaries on the DVD.

There is another shot in Contact that was even more sublime. Immediately after Ellie's father has a heart attack, it tracks her reaction as she runs up the stairs into the bathroom. The camera then pulls away from her and through the medicine cabinet mirror, which then reflects her heading back down the hallway with the pills. As Ellie disappears from the frame, The mirror door slowly closes and reflects on a bottle of nitroglycerine in the cabinet - and there is a slow disolve to the next scene. I remember seeing that the first time and wondering how they did it. Digital trickery once again!

Anonymous said...

What about the shot in Ghostbusters at Louis Tully's apartment, during his party? That was one long shot, and also largely improvised, according to the IMDB.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of DePalma, Phantom of the Paradise - like Carrie - also had a long split-screen shot. No doubt a homage to Touch of Evil, it also involved the placement of a time bomb in a vehicle: this time a prop car being used onstage for the rehearsal of a musical number.

Anonymous said...

How is the final scene in "Big Night" not on this list?

GuyStone said...

Does it have to be famous?

http://www.veoh.com/videos/e147181CHDNZQdX?searchId=563054613163987239&rank=0

Tom said...

West Wing was famous for its walk-and-talk sequences; there are numerous fantastic examples throughout the 7 seasons.

The Battlestar Galactica miniseries opening shot was very well done, but you can probably count on there having been some digital help there.

Pretty much anymovie zemeckis did since Forrest Gump will involve an amazing amount of completely invisible digital maniupulation: there was a fantastic 11-page Cinemascope article on this topic in regards to Contact).

The shot tracking Ellie as she drives into the VLA control building not only was two separate locations, but also included a ton of digital compositing where the speed of the large dish tracking was speed up for cinematic effect. I agree with th poster who previously mentioned the completely impossible in-the-mirror shot: absolutely sublime.

Another fantastic example of great tracking shots in television is the X-files episode "Bermuda Trinalge", where each of the four 11-minute segments was a single shot, with one of those segments actually being spit screen as Fox and Mulder and their past-tense analogs are wandering through a ghost ship/cruse liner (depending on which side of the screen you're lookgin at). When the two sets of characters walk through the same exact spot in the analog sets, but in oposite directions while the frames of the split screens switch sides of the screen... absolutely brilliant! What really pushed it over the edge for me was the wink/nudge the characters make as they look behid them, spooked, as they all cross through the same spot.

But even more impressive was the long take from the second segment which takes place in the FBI building. It starts in the garage and continues through stairwells, elevators, and multiple floors of the building, incorporating quite a bit of movement on the part of the characters.

This is such a fantastic topic; glad I stumbled on this!

Jakob said...

Yes, Snake Eyes has one of the most insane beginnings ever... Needs to be mentioned absolutely!

Mandy said...

I always liked the one in Swingers, its a bit of a take off on the Goodfellas one, but nevertheless, classic.

Anonymous said...

Purists forgive me, but the long shot of the century on 'television' belongs to "Everybody Loves Raymond" and the episode where the camera pulls back from Ray and Debra standing on their balcony in the small Italian town while on vacation. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

The opening from JOHN CARPENTER'S HALLOWEEN is needed!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through all the posts to see if it's mentioned anywhere, but the first 10-15 minutes of SNAKE EYES is one continuous take tracking Nicolas Cage and various other people through the stadium interracting with heaps of people.

Crap film, but this first scene is as amazing as they come.

Anonymous said...

How about THE ultimate, which is the film "Russian Ark."

2,000 Actors. 300 Years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot.

More here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Ark

Anonymous said...

I think Speilberg's "War of the Worlds" needs a mention. When Ray and his kids are escaping the city after the first attack, there is a long dialog scene that takes place in an around a van. Although I'm not sure if it was shot as a single continuous take, it is still an impressive scene as it plays out seamlessly.

And who could forget "Shaun of the Dead"? There are two long shots in this movie, they mirror each other in a before and after of the zombie invasion. Very funny stuff.

"Flight Plan" has a nice tracking shot following Jodie Foster's character as she walks around the airplane. It's probably not as technically impressive or visually impacting as the others, it is still a nice shot.

I think "Twister" had some nice ones, too.

Hit-By-A-Bus said...

Oh! I totally forgot about the van scene in "War of the Worlds"! That was my favourite shot in the whole movie!

I seem to remember spotting a few cuts (I think they were as different cars were passing in front of the camera), but I didn't care. The wonderful swooping camera motions combined with John Williams score really made that scene!

Zodiakos said...

Ack! You must have beat me by minutes, I was going to mention Shaun of the Dead! Two fantastic long cuts for the price of one! (and they are funny, to boot)

Grant said...

There is an amazing shot in Wong Kar Wai's "Days of Being Wild" which follows the main character from outside, up a set of stairs into an interior fight scene which deserves to be on your list. I'm not sure who was the operator, but Chris Doyle was the cinematographer.

SickXtwisted said...

there's a couple nice longshots in here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWJPa0bvWnM

It's from Donnie Darko.

SickXtwisted said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crazyj said...

I agree with the previous comments that give Timecode some props. The movie itself sucked but it really was an amazing feat to intertwine the four separate 90 minute shots together.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, you can't have long shots without mentioning Richard Linklater's "Slacker". the entire film is longshots.

Anonymous said...

How about the long tracking scene in "Full Metal Jacket" where the news filmmakers are filming soliders hunkering down behind some cover over the Trashmen's "Surfin Bird"? Kubrick's whole body of work is one long track scene.
Also a newcomer. I just caught "The Host" by Korean Joon-ho Bong and there is an incredible scene along the river where in the distance a huge mutant monster closes in on its unsuspecting victims and then creates mayhem in real time. The movie is a must for long scene fans. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it mentioned yet, so I'll add the opening living room scene from Kurosawa's "High and Low". This is a masterful long take shot, where the body language and the positions of the characters and camera convey the depth of their emotions and their turmoil. Gondo's simple act of sitting down to begin sewing the ransom bag changes the dynamic of the scene in one of the most subtly powerful moments in cinema.

Another good one (but no where near the greatness of Kurosawa above), is the interrogation/seduction scene from "Sneakers" where the two guys posing as NSA agents get "Bishop" to work for them through subtle threats.

raza said...

Hitchcock's Rope is essentially an entire movie in one take with hidden cuts. My guess is each take is around 10 minutes and all the edits are concealed.

Daniel said...

Any shot in ALAN CLARKE'S film ELEPHANT.

SexySecularist said...

Excellent list.

Woody Allen also has a number of excellent long takes, particularly in Husbands and Wives, Shadows and Fog, and Hannah and Her Sisters. His style is decidedly less flashy, though, so they don't stand out as much. Perhaps the flashiest long take in the Woody Allen canon is the "Makin' Whoopie" musical number in Everyone Says I Love You, which is (if I recall correctly) entirely one shot, which is pretty darn impressive for a no-holds-barred musical number.

Perhaps deserving of honorable mention may be some of the long shots on The West Wing. The rapid-fire dialogue between multiple characters, the maze of hallways, and all of those officeworkers made for some pretty impressive shots. Especially Leo McGarry's trip to his office in the Pilot episode, which let us all know--this show was going to be cinematic in scope and quality.

Anonymous said...

Hitchcock made a film in the 1930's named "Young and Innocent", or "The Girl is Young" (gosh, I really hope this is the one). For the final scene Hitch rented England's largest crane and did a tracking shot at a dance ending up focused on the drummer's face. It was amazing and it needs to be on your list.

Harry said...

there are a lot of long shots in Gaspar Noé's 'Irreversible', e.g. the scene in the gay club.

karl said...

You have to mention Buster Keaton.
Several film come to mind, for example Sherlock Holmes JR. Some really innovative longshots. A must see!

blazesboy said...

More Van Sant: Last Days has many extraordinary long takes, my favorite being the slow dolly from outside the Cobain-like character's window as he's making music. There's a great extra on the dvd showing the crazy track-pulling that went into that shot. Gerry, too, has many stunning, very long takes.

Anonymous said...

The newer version of 'Pride and Prejudice' has some awesome long shots, particularly the party scene halfway through the film.

Anonymous said...

The intro shot of Sleepless Town by Lee Chi Ngai is one of the better ones I've seen. Following Takeshi Kaneshiro through Kabukicho. The last part of the shot is Kaneshiro entering a building and the camera panning up a large building past a huge billboard on the wall with the name of the film before it ends up on the roof with Kaneshiro looking out on over the city.

Highly recommended film if you haven't seen it.
I was not able to find the intro on Youtube..

SexySecularist said...

Although the film itself remains a mixed bag cinematically, Branagh's Hamlet featured some outstanding long takes. Hamlet's big character soliloquies are, as expected, done as long takes, but less expected and perhaps more effective is the way he uses the use of long walk-and-talk takes to preserve the energy of Shakespeare's dialogue without sacrificing a sense of cinematic movement. Not only does it make for some thrillingly dizzy sequences, but it represents an effective innovation in the process of adapting classical theatrical works to the screen. The long takes preserved the sense of acting continuity that a stage work requires, while the walk-and-talk style preserved the sense of forward motion that is so often lost in Shakespeare film adaptations (Olivier's horribly static Hamlet, as an example, which does most of its long takes in moody silence).

Anonymous said...

What - no Alfred Hitchcocks Rope?
The first attempt to do a whole film in one shot?

No David Lean, No Stanley Kubrick. No Kurosaka? There are many examples in Sergio Leone's work too.

Most filmmakers of the last 2 decades are disciples of these guys - so go back and see where it came from - learn from the masters.

Anonymous said...

Rope isn't Hitchcock's only film to be shot in long takes: Under Capricorn (1949), starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton, also consists mostly or entirely of takes that are as long as a reel of film.

Some people really don't like this film, but I (and Cahiers du Cinema) think it's one of his best.

iamscottevil said...

The scene in superman is a great special effect, but I wouldn't call it a long take. The best long take I can think of is the first time brian de palma did the trick in Phantom of the paradise. with two simultaneous cameras moving around the stage. It's techincally masterful. I think they had to do it 30 times to get it right.

that or the opening from start trek insurrection. now that's a long truck.

Dark Sevier said...

Het there, great list. I know it is a work in progress, but might I suggest, what I think is one of the most impressive long shots ever, is the opening sunrise scene of Ctch 22. phenomenal

Charles said...

The opening shot of Missions to Mars should really be up there, it's a fun scene to watch and really makes you feel like you're wandering around at the BBQ.

The remake of War of the Worlds should be on there too, the scene where Ray and the kids are escaping in the van and the camera keeps moving around and doesn't cut once, it's a nice piece of work.

Anonymous said...

What about Spider-Man 2?

Ruggero said...

check out also miklos jancso , an hungarian director who made movies with few long takes , very long and complex takes

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Bryan said...

One more to consider. The nine minute opening sequence of Francis Ford Coppola's One From the Heart.

Anonymous said...

The train station scene from Roy Anderssons film Sånger från andra våningen (2000)is also pretty long and fascinating shot.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120263

eric said...

me again

I can't belive no one has mentioned the awesome shot in NOTTING HILL where Hugh Grant walks down a street and it changes from fall to winter and spring again. A magnificent shot in an okay film.

I agree with whoever said the shot in SHAUN OF THE DEAD where he walks to the newsagents and back without noticing the destruction and corpses all around him.

Sam said...

How about the Coen Brother's "Raising Arisona". I particularily like the running with Daipers and Dogs and the swooping up a ladder into a window scenes but they are just two of many: this film is full of other wonderful tracking and steadicam shots..

Grant said...

'Little Murders' - Alan Arkin & Jules Feiffer's neglected masterpiece - has a great long take for Eliot Gould's confession

fotoTUDE said...

The Ark, Russian made film, ALL of it was a one shot.

You should watch the making of it, simply amazing technology and the DP was almost bleeding by the end of the shoot from the harness that was specially made for this film. They had two guys behind him with a backpack of hardrives and batteries, Crazy stuff,

So yeah ... you definetly forgot the longest one shot of them all nearly 95 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I believe one of the first of the long/tricky shots is in Letter from an unknown woman. Goes from inside the back of a removal van through through the street and up some stairs. Nothing flash, but quite early.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the camera zoom in through the roof in Citizen Kane the most famous of them all?

Anonymous said...

not a classic film but "Point Break" has a good opening long take (several minutes) as keanu walks through a maze like FBI office.

Paul said...

While Children of Men ranks as one of my favorite films of all time (put that in your pipe, naysayers), these long takes are digitally enhanced from several shots.

In particular, this scene you've posted contains a break of transition, in which the window frames of the car, provided "seams" in which they could stitch several takes together. For instance, as the camera pans around, one shot was being used for the action happening in front of the car, and when the camera whips around to the show Moore and Owen, another take is married into the shot, using the edge of the window frame in the car's interior. Add to this, the roof of the car interior is CG (to cover up the camera crew sitting in the rig above, as well as CG ping pong ball for the catch.

Not one take, but damn if it wasnt breathtaking.

Lyco said...

Well, regarding Bela Tarr, you might want to see the opening 11 minute sequence of "Werckmeister Harmonies", arguably his best movie, and one of the most impressive long shots of all time. Well the whole movie is 36 long shots so you might want to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Children of Men is actually one of the most CG effects-heavy movies released. A full 50 minutes of screen-time include digital effects. In the shootout you mentioned, here are a few examples:

* It was made up of 6 takes shot in 4 different locations
* The car had no roof so the roof needed to be reintroduced digitally
* The motorcyclist is digital when he gets hit by the door
* The molotov cocktail is digital
* The windshield breaking is digital

and much much more. It's too bad the FX houses did such a good job, nobody realizes how much work they did!

(oh, and as for the blood "accidentally" splattering on the lense and the director calling cut? Absolutely false. The blood is digital, and they knew they were going to fade it out over time. Oh yeah, and although those exterior shots were in a location, the interiors were shot on a set with greenscreens looking outside. Do some research people!)

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you've left out Woody Allen films. He's essentially one of the most narcissistic film makers in the business and continuously uses long takes in all his films.

And quite well every single time.

Oz Way said...

The Shining?

Manny said...

NINE LIVES (2005): dir. Rodrigo Garcia

Nine Lives is composed of nine different each showing a part of a woman's life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQXWd7tpU1k



Irreversible (2002): dir. Gaspar Noe

A couple of segments mended together over a span of a full day and night. All segments are long tracking shots.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8xqNeuLddQ

Anonymous said...

What about the "Lullaby of Broadway" scene in Busby Berkeley's 42nd Street? A slow zoom on a point of light which grows to become the singer's face and through the face into a big production number. Great music and perfect pace.

Daniel R said...

I know you're probably inundated with suggestions, but I'd just like to add the opening shot (and a few other key shots) of the Michael Haneke film "Caché" (or "Hidden" as it is sometimes known)

The film is about a family who start recieving anonymous video tapes of their house.

The opening shot, onver which some really unusual opening credits are displayed, is actually one of the tapes. There is no music, and we are just looking at an innocuous front door of a townhouse. The sound is also just what one would hear if one placed a microphone on a city street. After about 5 minutes, characters begin to talk over it and fast forward it.

Two other shots that come to mind, though perhaps in a different category, are the opening CG shot from Episode III of Star Wars, and many of the effects shots in 2005's War of the Worlds, where the stated intent was to have unusually long effects shots.

Dwight Stone said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIIA4dBO1Fk
great expectations... not really one shot, but as far as working for the plot and not being a ego move it's one of my favorites...
technocrane FTW!

RichMacD said...

The approaching rider in Lawrence of Arabia. David Lean lamented that he wished he'd had the courage to make it even longer.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Snake Eyes was very bad.

I'm not sure it would've really mattered whether each shot had been 10 minutes or .10 seconds.

It was a mess.

MY suggestion: the closing shot of "Big Night," which I found very affecting.

Anonymous said...

Very nice list. Kudos to you.
The shot in Oldboy is actually two shots married into one. There is a very well hidden cut in there.

Check out the new (double dip) dvd for confirmation.

Anonymous said...

Where are the Kubrick films? He pioneered tracking shots! Just look like Paths of Glory. Eyes Wide Shut had a lot of long complicated takes as well, if you want something more recent.

Dave said...

Terrific list, but I agree that the tracking shot in "Citizen Kane" really ought to be there.

As well, Tommy Shaw did a music video for his song "Girls With Guns" that is a single uninterrupted shot, apparently the *first* take, and in B&W no less... Note that the version available on YouTube is editied, missing the first and last bits.

Anonymous said...

We cannot forget the scene in "DAWN OF THE DEAD" - the lastest remake. Sarah Polley's character is running from her 'turned' husband, jumps into the car and backs away from him, then drives through the neighbourhood that is in the process of going to hell. It's a really nice long take, with lots of movement and so SO many things going on at once, it must have been a nightmare to choreograph.

Ian

Anonymous said...

You added the Oldboy fight scene and not the tower scene from Tom Yum Goong? You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

How about Virginie Ledoyen in "La Fille Seule"? Isn't that film just one long take?

andy said...

Any love out there for the "This is my ship" shot from The Life Aquatic?
as far as length goes, it's not as impressive as copacabana or cuba, but the pairing of the astounding set design that allows Wes Anderson to track in that subtlely child-like way makes it a real winner in my book.

Excellent article - a very fun read.

Alan Bacchus said...

Hey Anonymous:

You haven't read my article. The Tower scene from Tom Yum Goong and Oldboy has ALWAYS been there.

gordy said...

what about Birth? the opening scene where the husband has a heart attack is very dramatic at the end. then, the scene where she's in the theatre and she finally realizes that the kid really IS her husband.

- gordy

Redwitch said...

Excellent list -- and lots of thought-provoking additions. Let me add one of my faves -- the camera following Henry's long walk across the muddy, bloody battlefield in Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V."

Anonymous said...

Another film that falls into the artistic experiment categroy, "Timecode" (2000). The screen is split into four sections, and simultaneous action occurs continuously on all four screens. The sound is louder on the screen where the important action takes place, but while ambitious, the idea of improvising the dialogue left this film feeling rather boring.

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