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:






412 comments :

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Anonymous said...

Wow, no has mentioned the Taxi Driver scene in the garage!? One of the best shots ever.

Anonymous said...

no mention of Full Metal Jacket?

many tracking shots in that, particularly remember the vietnam scenes with guys running up to the village, and the ones with the helicopters and trucks going by

Anonymous said...

Fabulous list. Love this!

A few suggestions:

*I'd concur with the final shot in Big Night. Very interesting take.

*What about the opening of Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio" with Eric Bogosian's run through about a dozen callers? I believe it is a single take, but I may be wrong.

*Isn't the opening of "Sound of Music" a single shot, zooming in on Julie Andrews on the hillside?

rcr484 said...

This really is a great list, but I would tack on the Swingers tracking shot on to the Goodfellas one. Reason being that (a)it's a pretty good shot, and (b)the Goodfellas shot is being specifically referenced by the characters in the previous scene.

Anonymous said...

Where's the opening of Halloween?

Anonymous said...

The Shining did have a long shot - as long as the ones here - the opening scene while the opening credits rolled - the VW on it's way to the Overlook...

Christopher Boffoli said...

Paper Moon (1973) has a really long master shot where the two leads (played by Ryan O'Neal and his daughter Tatum who won the Academy Award for her performance in the film at the age of nine) have this long unbroken dialogue sequence. The scene is most remarkable for the fact that the shot took place in a moving car with a child actor who had to remember pages of dialogue and all the blocking of what she needed to do in the scene. Director Peter Bogdonavich had to do more than 36 takes to get it because Tatum O'Neal kept flubbing her lines. Complicating matters was the fact that it was a period film (shot in black and white) and they only had a limited section of road that was in the period. So whenever Tatum messed up they'd have to stop and reset the process car to the beginning of the road.

Matt Grover said...

Not sure if anyone's already posted this as there's a buggerload of comments but...

The fight scene in Oldboy is not oone shot, it was filmed over four days and digitally stitched together. Brilliant scene, but unfortunatly not one shot.

Anonymous said...

what about the scene between john travolta and samuel l. jackson in pulp fiction? they walk through a whole damn apartment building, and carry on an entire conversation perfectly!

Anonymous said...

I second the x-files and the battlestar galactica comment.

except that the x-files ep isn't "Bermuda Triangle" but rather just "Triangle" :) and the split screen scene wasn't Mulder. it was Scully (of the present and of the 1930).

Anonymous said...

I loved the list. My two favorite of all time are: Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" which I think was shot in three scenes, and the final scene from Taxi Driver.

Anonymous said...

if Hitchcock's Rope is not on this list, then it is safe to disregard the entire list.

Ryan said...

Rope uses tricks to look like one shot...its not, tho.

Glad you included Old Boy. That fight scene is awesome, exhilirating, and wearing.

I love that car chase in Children of Men...I think the shot where he's making his way through combat at the end is more impressive, even if its not quite as shokcing. What an incredible movie.

Ryan said...

Oh, if we're including TV...Buffy has some really great and long tracking shots.

keebler said...

The movie Smoke (1995) has a wonderful long take at the end. Its just one character telling a story to another as the camera zooms very slowly and smoothly, over the course of some six or seven minutes. It really adds to the power of the story, which starts as something of an anecdote and ends as a powerful and personal statement.

pat said...

you didn't include "Sullivan's Travels" which had a very famous long take among film enthusiasts where the director made a bet with the lead actor that he couldn't do the long take in one take.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't have YouTube links, but: Heaven's Gate has a long steadycam shot, following an actor through a crowded area (which was notoriously ruined on one take by an extra asking the actor a question); and there's always the amazing shot that opens The Birdcage, zooming in from far out on the ocean to the inside of a bar on Miami Beach.

Christian said...

what about "Rope" by Alfred Hitchcock?
the whole movie is 3 long shots..quite impressive

Mark said...

The long dolly shot from "Miracle of Morgan's Creek" does not appear to be on YouTube presently, alas.

While deliberate in its pacing, following two characters on a walk along the streets of a small town, it presented some of the technical challenges mentioned above.

In particular, the winding route taken exposed the path of the dolly, so track had to be taken up behind the truck during the shot.

Alan Bacchus said...

Dear All:
Re: ROPE.
Everyone has been commenting about Rope not being there. I hope everyone read my intro where I fully acknowledge Rope as the granddaddy of long takes. BUT, with this list I was specifically citing long meandering tracking shots that pushed the bar HIGHER than Rope. So, in fact Rope is at the top. And this list is composed of everything that is below it.

Iadagnir said...

Could also include the opening space battle in Star Wars Episode III. Yeah, it's mostly CG, but still a pretty good representation of a long take.

This is a great list, btw... Touch of Evil is obviously the classic/gold standard, but I like seeing how a lot of these other films have used this technique too. I also second the motion for the scene in Sullivan's Travels.

Nice list, and great site!

Sammy said...

What about David Fincher??? Panic Room, Fight Club, etc...

Peter said...

I'm rather obsessed with this subject myself, although the single-shot diner scene in Tarantino's Death Proof did reveal for me why a master shot alone does not a scene make. What exactly is he showing off in this gimmick? After all, on stage, actors don't have the luxury of multiple takes and have to get through a scene night after night without flubbing, and Tarantino's constantly circling camera doesn't seem to comment on or enhance the conversation in any way.

The technique is far more impressive when the camera itself is actively participating in the scene. For example, by presenting the action scenes in Children of Men within a single take, Cuaron forces the audience to become a vicarious participant, a documentary witness to the events. The longer the scene unfolds without cutting, the more the tension and immediacy builds, whether or not we're consciously aware of the effect.

Three "ultimate" examples of long takes:

- NINE LIVES, a recent film by Rodrigo Garcia that focuses on key moments in the lives of nine different women. Each of the vignettes is captured in a single, unbroken take.
- ROPE, the Alfred Hitchcock movie disguised to look as though it's filmed in a single take from beginning to end (with disguised breaks every 20 minutes to cover the reel changes).
- RUSSIAN ARK, the 96-minute Aleksandr Sokurov film set in Russian State Hermitage Museum that actually was accomplished in a single shot.

For what it's worth, as impressive as the single-shot action scene sin Children of Men are, there is digital trickery involved to help disguise the cuts (that climactic scene in which blood splatters the lens was actually filmed on three separate locations, then joined in post-production).

Anonymous said...

I didn't get achance to read every comment, but Kubrick's The Shining, towards the end when Jack finally flips and he is walking towards Wendy in that huge room where he types all day and then forcing her to walk upstairs backwards is one hell of a great shot.

Anonymous said...

nevermind about the shining. after posting I just remembered they cut back and forth between each other. sorry.

Jim said...

I'm glad to see Children of Men get respect. It is magnificent.

Pertaining to the tracking shots -- obviously the other classics on the list were an influence; but I must point out the influence of first-person shooter video games. In the way they sustain tension by never letting the viewer get a visual break from the threats which are coming from all sides. Never underestimate extra-media influences.

Off topic, seeing it again the other day, I was once again impressed by the indirect and often cleverly direct visual debt to Saving Private Ryan -- i.e., the tank in the background, peeking around the corner on a rubble-strewn street; the shaky hero briefly collapsing into dry sobs after walking into the foreground; the aforementioned blood-spattered lens.

In general, so many influences and visual cues swirling around in this movie - an instant classic.

Anonymous said...

as already stated, both the scene listed here from children of men, and the ending baby scene are pieced together from numerous different shots..

the first time i'd seen this done, and also mentioned here, is a tracking scene from 'contact' where we follow the main character from outside in the desert, to the inside of a radar facility. The inside shot was actually on a studio set, and the was merged together at a key point.

those of us with discerning eyes will notice the same technique in children of men. Infact, when they are spitting the ping pong ball at each other i believe these are scene cuts - used to mess with the viewer to think "surely they didn't get a few of those in, IN a moving car, and then all the rest of it".. and of course they didn't. In the latter scene of the film you can also see where, on fast camera pans, especially inside the building, something odd goes on with the camera, and some of the clutter in the building distorts; this is stitching of different cuts - and infact the afore mentioned blood splatter is removed in such a cut - not because i think the director didn't like it, but because they could not replicate the chaotic manner in which the blood splattered on the camera for the subsequent shots which probably happened over numerous locations and days.

it also looks like russian ark may use the same technique to stitch together shots when the camera is focusing on nothing much at all, or panning wildly. correct me if i'm wrong. :>

-j.r.brewin.

Anonymous said...

Didn't go through all the comments so apologies if this was posted before...

Anyway, in The Miracle/Canton Godfather by Jackie Chan, there's a terrific longshot when they are renovating the nightclub.

Also, Chinatown with Jack Nicholson...

Anonymous said...

You forgot "Raising Cain" by Brian DePalma. It's the scene that ends with the line, "You should see the look on her face".

Andrew264 said...

Also:

The opening to sling blade, we're billy bob's character talks about the murder to the school girl and the camera just circles.

Plus:

Any of the chase scenes from the evil dead movie where ash is being chased by the unknown creature. There short, but good.

Also:

For tv, there's a episode of scrubs where JD, turk, and elliot, walk in from outside, shoot a basket in a basketball game, and go through the hospitial, it's pretty cool.

Charles said...

There's the steadicam shot in Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" in the restaurant right after Mr Creosote explodes. We follow Eric Idle out of the restaurant, down the city street and into the countryside. The first time I saw the movie as the shot went on and on I just kept laughing harder.

Anonymous said...

Sports Night! TV, yes, but it's the Aaron Sorkin long tracking shots done to perfection -- some are almost 2 mins, which is pretty serious amount of time on a 1/2 hour (22 minute, really) show.

Anonymous said...

Sports Night! TV, yes, but it's the Aaron Sorkin long tracking shots done to perfection -- some are almost 2 mins, which is pretty serious amount of time on a 1/2 hour (22 minute, really) show.

Cessquill said...

Very interesting list, and made me want to catch up on some that have passed me by.

Not entirely in the same theme, but wasn't there a long tracking shot near (or at) the end of Monty Python's Meaning of Life?

I was reminded of the pastiche of Goodfellas from Swingers when reading this. I see somebody's gotten there before me...

Anonymous said...

Miklós Jancsó, mostly for "The Red and the White'.

A piece is here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DzCL4kKb0Q

but not the best for long shots.

Sergey said...

Speaking about Kalatozov, there is an even more fantastic long shot in "The Cranes Are Flying": the camera follows the lead actress running off down the streets and along the train platform - and, finally, flyes up and takes the whole panorama from a high point. Really unbelievable... but I don't know if it's available on the Tube.

sperb said...

Let's not forget Mike Nichols' Catch 22. One of the champs long-tracking shots (if not a classic already).

Andrew Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I agree with the 2 posts about Pride and Prejudice (newer version) There is a shot near the very beginning of the film that follows Lizzie only leave her and go inside the house...then it goes back outside and she is still walking. I think the shot is like 4 minutes but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

i'm surprised no one has mentioned "rush." the opening tracking scene where gregg allman enters the bar, goes upstairs, enters his office, exits bar, gets in car and camera gets on a crane to follow car as it drives away

Anonymous said...

"Time Code" by Mike Figgis, released in 2001 puts four continous tracking shots on screen simultaneously for ninety minutes. The film includes sex, drugs, shootings, and earthquakes.

One take. No edits. An amazing cinematic experiment.

Carrie said...

If Steadicam shots count, "Bound for Glory" as David Carradine threads through the Okie encampment; "Rocky" as the palooka huffs and puffs his way down the boulevard and up the museum steps.

Anonymous said...

What about the super long fight scene in "Tom Yum Goong" (The Protector) with Tony Jaa. One take with so much complex fighting and stunts.
Maybe I missed it or someone mentioned it but when i heard of this list I thought of Tom Yum Goong.

Will said...

Take a look at Larry McConkey's filmography. Larry McConkey was one of the first steadicam operators and is also considered one of the best.

Many of the shots that have been mentioned here have him behind the camera including

Goodfellas
The Bonfire of the Vanities
Silence of the Lambs
Raising Cain
Carlito's Way
Snake Eyes
Kill Bill 1 & 2
The Black Dahlia
Vanilla Sky
Hoffa

and many, many other good movies.

The Snake Eyes scene is actually eight scenes put together
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steadicam

Films featuring notable Steadicam operating

Bound for Glory- Garrett Brown
1st use of steadicam on feature film

The Shining - Garrett Brown Extensive steadicam use, first lowmode

Bonfire of the Vanities - Larry McConkey
Almost 5 minute opening shot

Carlito's Way -Larry McConkey Chase scene in railway station

Goodfellas - Larry McConkey

Much Ado About Nothing-Andy Shuttleworth
Closing scene

Titanic -Jimmy Muro

Bullworth -Garrett & Jonathon Brown
Born On the 4th July -Toby Phillips
Kill Bill - Larry McConkey

Russian Ark - Tillman Buttner
One shot 90 minute film

Andy Shuttleworth also did the steadicam work in Boogie Nights

Garrett Brown is the invetor of the steadicam and also did Rocky, Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones:Temple of Doom

for more check out these sites

The most popular steadicam shots
http://www.steadishots.org/list_popular.cfm

Steadicam history and FAQ
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/steadicam_info.html

Alan Bacchus said...

Will,

You have perfectly capped off this long discussion with perhaps the most important part, credit to the camera op who actually made those shots possible.

Indeed, Garrett Brown is a legend and deserves recognition. I think he has at least 2 Technical Oscars to his name.

I didn't know about Larry McConkey. The fact that he and a couple others did most of these shots shows how difficult a job a steadycam operator is.

Thanks for your comment!

Bob Turnbull said...

Just found this tremendous post...I guess it's mostly wrapped, but just wanted to add that another long tracking scene in "Boogie Nights" (by the pool) has a direct reference to that beautiful shot in "I Am Cuba" that was included. On the commentary track P.T. Anderson mentions that as an homage he not only followed the girl into the pool, but he came out as well and continued...

Anonymous said...

The opening shot in Rashomon had a moving camera on a track as a farmer walked through an intermittently lit forest. It came out in 1950, 8 years before Touch of Evil. Akira Kirosawa is one of the greatest directors ever and his style, techniques, and stories have been blatantly copied by western directors to this day. Give the man his props!

Anonymous said...

Both mentioned, but MUST be included in this list:

The entire movie Timecode, which is actually FOUR simultaneous movies shot uncut.

And, as a total homage to Goodfellas, in Swingers, when they go in the back way to the club.

Macthomson said...

What a glorious thread! I had no idea that there would be so many comments from those who appreciate imagery which actually gives the viewer time to watch the flow of actions developing. Surely this is the antidote to the fast-cutting which became so prevalent in the eighties, thanks in part to the advent of MTV.

And the comments are the voices of a 'broad church', not just fans of Hollywood movies but including respect for foreign filmmakers and those whose medium is television.

Now I just hope that some of the next-gen videobloggers are inspired to emulate and, why not, even simply imitate some of the masterly sequences presented here.

I missed any mention of Eric Rohmer who, if I recall correctly, often did long takes.

And then there is the single-take short which Claude Lelouche made, available on GoogleVideo at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5967384923877111213&q=%22rendezvous%22+ferrari&hl=en
and in better definition here http://www.devilducky.com/media/36571/

Finally, Godard's 1967 'travelling' from "Weekend" will be embedded with insidious regularity in my own blog, just for the inspiration it might provide to others who will be as blown away as I was when I saw it in Paris in May '68. Oui! Mai soixante-huit!

Anonymous said...

snake eyes had cuts. see it again.

I had another film
Les unes et les otres (aka in USA 'Bolero' with james caan ) directed by Claude Lelouch. The take in the station train

Pradheepa said...

Who inspired Orson Welles?

Jean Renoir.

Check out The Rules of the Game.

Anonymous said...

Missing: Opening shot of War of the Roses.

noctos said...

As someone already said, the work of the greek film director Theo Angelopoulos consists of almost only long tracking shots, much like Bela Tarr or Andrei Tarkovsky.

On youtube there's a fragment with Angelopoulos about his famous last shot in "Eternity and A Day" (for which he won the Golden Palm in 1998).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wH8lNwGhPo

Other fine examples of his work are Ulysses' Gaze and especially Voyage to Cythera.


Also missing in your list in my humble opinion:

- the famous last shot of Tarkovsky's Offret with the burning house (they had to redo it btw, its incredibly complex). Watch it here, it starts around 2.57:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je4wtGvEW2w

- the tracking shot from Roy Andersson's masterpiece Songs from the second floor in the trainstation. All I can find on youtube is not a tracking shot but a great long take though:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9mUx4EgLEg

Eric said...

Great post Alan. How about doing a GREATEST OPENING SHOT feature, or even a GREATEST FINAL SHOT feature. Several suggestions for Greatest Opening Shots:

> Star Wars - first a tiny ship, and the the biggest goshdarn ship anyone has ever seen. Still impressive.
> Memento - A polaroid that starts in focus and slowly goes to white. Quietly chilling, and a subtle to mind-trip that's about to come.
> A Clockwork Orange - Alex De Large's face to a wide shot of the whole room. Simple, unsettling, genius.
> Akira - A huge impressive drawing of Tokoyo, followed by a silent (and therefore all the more disturbing) explosion that turns the screen to white.
> Lost In Translation - Scarlett Johansson's ass. Enough said.

Robert Dee said...

While all these seem to deal with the tracking long shot (apart from Rope which is reasonably static in comparison) I'd have to agree that Songs from the Second Floor is OUTSTANDING for its long shots. Whilst the camera does not move (mostly) the use of depth of field, cinematography and mis en scene makes every one of those shots outstanding to watch.

Anonymous said...

I think the tracking shots from The Thin Red Line during the scene "journey to the line" really deserve some recognition here. Although it's not one continuous take, the tracking shots are really spellbinding and used well for a powerful effect. Terrence Malick is a genius.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ozPP8wfclO8

Fernando said...

Not one of the most tricky, but the opening shot of A SPECIAL DAY, in which the camera comes from out of the window and follows Sophia Loren as she walks through her empty house.

Hit-By-A-Bus said...

Dang, someone beat me to mentioning the post-Creosote shot in Monty Python's Meaning of Life.

It's really a great shot, starting with a cleaning lady (Terry Jones) talking in verse to John "Wafer-Thin Mint" Cleese about her experiences while trying to find the meaning of life. Out of nowhere, she suddenly says something quite inappropriate, and the camera moves off to the side of the restaurant to take notice of some of waiter Gaston (Eric Idle)'s observations. He tells the audience to follow him, and the camera tracks with him across the room (past a protesting Cleese), down the stairs, out the door of the restaurant, across a busy street, and down a sidewalk.

A very impressive shot from director Jones.

Harold Tichenor said...

There are some excellent clips from Max Ophuls's films on youtube including one from Earrings of Madame de... (1953) that is a wonderful example of his fluid camera style. I could not find a clip of Howard Hawks' Scarface (1932) in which there is a tremendous long tracking shot through a number of sets up to the killing of Boris Karloff in a bowling alley. Has anyone flagged some of the long dolly shots used by Spielberg? They are definitely a signature of his style: in both Jaws and Close Encounters he executes long, fast tracking shots along foreground fences following the actors' movements.

Matt Tichenor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Tichenor said...

How about in Casino, Scorsese's dazzling steadicam shots that track the flow of money from the casino count room to the bosses back in Kansas City then introducing top Mafia boss Remo Gaggi. Now that is one heck of a challenging sequence, incredible camera work to say the least. May even be better than the Copa scene in Goodfellas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jkqQ-x0nHk

Anonymous said...

Two scenes from Pulp Fiction have been mentioned, but the one I like best is the one in which Butch is sneaking back to his apartment to get his watch. He parks his car a block away and cuts across an abandoned lot to get to his building. The camera is behind him and follows him across the lot and through a narrow gap in a fence. He squeezes through it, rattling the fence, and then, miraculously, we pass through the same too-small gap as well, all in one shot. The feeling it gave me as an audience member in the theater in 1994 was one of bewildering disembodiment. To me, this shot brilliantly translates to film the existential position of the reader of a fictional narrative with respect to the action. Present, experiencing everything, but disembodied.

Anonymous said...

love the list, but no 'Lawrence of Arabia'?!!

Anonymous said...

Incredible opening shot --- 9 minutes long, one roll of Super16mm film --- in a gargantuan Chinese factory, in Jennifer Baichwal's feature documentary MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES, about photographer Ed Burtynsky's work. It opens theatrically at Film Forum in NYC in June.

Anonymous said...

Great list, but what about Quatre Cent Coups (400 Blows). Truffaut used some pretty serious tracking shots in that one..

Anonymous said...

Lots of people have mentioned Hitchcock, but i think the most effective Hitchcock tracking shot was in Psycho when the detective walks into the house, up the stairs to Mrs. Bates bedroom, then gets chased out by Mrs. Bates and stabbed and falls backward down the stairs. I believe Hitchcock commented about the necessity of executing that moment in one shot so as not to cheat the audience into the final reveal. Anyway, great list.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't The Shining start with a long helicopter shot that has to rank somewhere in this list, especially as it is obviously related to the opening of Paths of Glory? Unless I have constructed a false memory of it. Tell me, wise ones.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

The most amazing long take of all time, I think, is Vincente Minnelli's three-minute take in Meet Me In St. Louis where Judy Garland walks around the house turning off the lights. The camera follows her and Tom Drake from room to room without a cut, and the cinematographer has to adjust to all sorts of lighting changes without stopping the take.

Busby Berkeley pulled off some spectacular long takes in The Gang's All Here, like this one. You barely notice that it's all one shot, but it is, and so much had to happen without a cut.

Generally older movies often tended to reserve long takes not for big spectacular sequences but for dialogue scenes -- the idea was to get a lot of pages in the can without a lot of shooting. That's what Welles did in Touch of Evil; his first day of shooting was a five-minute scene done in one take (not the first scene; an interior scene), which got him ahead of schedule. Or the opening scene of Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels.

Anonymous said...

I'll second the call to include the opening shot from Cradle will Rock, Tim Robbin's wonderful film.

Starts backstage in a movie theater, follows a woman being chased out onto the street by the owner, then ascends from the street and enters, via the second story window, into an apartment where a man is writing a song at a piano. Just a beautiful, masterful shot.

Anonymous said...

I'm rather late to the party, but I don't think anyone has mentioned, Gun Crazy.

The bank robbery from the back seat of the getaway car is an amazing example.

Erin said...

Great list!

Patrick said...

In response to Roni, that film is Elektreia, by the Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó. It's been years since I've seen it, but I do remember that it consisted of a handful of long takes, including one where the camera rotates completely around Elektra at fairly close range as she holds a knife up in the air, point down.

Jansco uses long takes in several of his films--it's been so long, that I can't recollect the others specifically. I do recall in The Round-Up and others (Allegro Barbaro, perhaps?) where he makes the vast expanse of the Hungarian plains feel oppresive.

Gene said...

I'll add "1776" to this list -- at the beginning of the first song, there is a long shot following William Daniels coming down from the bell tower of Independence Hall. The camera swivels around and down to follow him, then at ground level it tracks him into Congress, where it then makes a 360° turn introducing the audience to the members of Congress. The shot was made by using a dolly on a forklift; when the dolly comes off the forklift the bump is hidden by a bit of business by William Daniels -- he makes a flourish with his coat.

Anonymous said...

I second the thought that Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon should be included.. the opening long take is brilliant

Auriette said...

Let me join with those who recommend Ken Branagh's "Henry V" -- It's an amazing piece of work. Then check out the final shot in Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing"; completely opposite in mood, and you wonder how the actors kept dancing in the Italian heat.

Anonymous said...

The end scene from 'Les 400 coups' by Truffaut is definitely missing.
Also 'Rope' by Hitchcock should be mentioned, being made with only nine takes (for technical limits), but actually standing as one single long shot.

Great list though!

Anonymous said...

The shot in Lawrence of Arabia where you see him way out on the horizon, nothing but desert and a dot, a magnificent long shot.

Shocho said...

No Robert Altman? Remember that one long take in MASH?

Anonymous said...

Howabout the homage to Goodfellas in Swingers?

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to agree that that Scorsese shot at the Copa is simply astounding ... it just builds and builds, exactly like it's supposed to ... And I second all calls for an Altman inclusion, particularly from the end of Nashville

Tom said...

I'll second the call for the final scene in The Third Man.

My favorite scene in movie history and Reed never even moves the camera.

neofarmer said...

It seems to me there was a musical back in the late 40s or early 50s where the leading male dancer -- a geeky-looking guy -- bounced and sang through the town as though he were on a pogo stick though the only thing propelling him was his own legs. It seemed like the camera tracked for a good four or five minutes without breaking away from the long shot.

Alan Bacchus said...

Again, more great comments and suggestions. Casino's shot is great, but I have 2 Scorsese shots on there, and don't want to overload this with him. Lawrence of Arabia has a couple spectacular long takes (ie. attack on Aqaba), but those are mostly static, and not the long meandering tracking shots we're discussing here. Same goes with "Third Man". All these shots are superb!

PS Altman is represented here - opening of "the Player". Sorry, no MASH or Nashville though

Bethany said...

HELP! In my former life as a film student, I remember a French film with this UBER-long shot of a traffic jam/car accident. I cannot for the life of my remember the name. Anyone?

MoroccoMole said...

Unless I missed it, I'm shocked no one had cited the opening shot of Julien Temple's ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS. Heck, they even talk about it during the long opening shot of THE PLAYER!

Anonymous said...

Wow... what a long and detailed list... wait, what about that one scene from that movie called "GET A F#$@ING LIFE!!!"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bacchus, a friend forwarded your post to me, and it's wonderful enough to remind me of why I like great, smart posts--and this endless thread of comments I just plowed thru reminds me why I never read them anymore. Perhaps you could consider taking a machete to the MANY redundant and off-topic posts which swell this thread to three times its natural size. Still, at the end of it someone finally mentions GUN CRAZY and ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS, so there's always hope. Oh, and the famous tracking shot in Murnau's THE LAUST LAUGH (or DIE LETZTE MANN) actually begins inside a glass elevator going down, then crosses the hotel lobby with the camera mounted on a bicycle.

I saw a dreary New Zealand movie in the 80s called DOGS IN SPACE, and its claim to fame is the inclusion of some remarkable tracking shots, especially one at a party.

I must also concur with the person who mentioned UNDER CAPRICORN, which was Hitchcock's refinement over ROPE; he no longer confined himself to shots that lasted a whole reel, but he orchestrated many amazing tracks that were much more elaborate--especially the extremely long one where a man walks outside the length of a mansion, peering in all the windows, then finally enters the back door (disguised cut on his back) and proceeds through all the rooms he's just spied into, meets the other guests, and they all sit down to the table just as Ingrid Bergman walks down the stairs. Mind-blowing. Several other shots actually CHANGE FLOORS by going in and out of windows! I seem to recall that DOGS IN SPACE does something similar to that, or maybe I'm wrong. I'm sorry I don't have Youtube links for you. I am signing anonymous b/c I don't have an account but my name is Mike B.

Anonymous said...

some shots from odysse 2001 by stanley kubrick are also missing, but all in all a fine idea of collecting longshots !

by gen4sis

Scott said...

Have to add (along with a few other people) the final tracking shot at the end of "Much Ado About Nothing" by Branagh. While the film and the ending don't quite fit (there's always been something slightly askew for me), it's still a marvelous shot.

Scott said...

Have to add (along with a few other people) the final tracking shot at the end of "Much Ado About Nothing" by Branagh. While the film and the ending don't quite fit (there's always been something slightly askew for me), it's still a marvelous shot.

Maxine said...

I know you're getting lots of additions, but one of the most elegant long-shots is the roman bath scene from Fellini's 8 1/2 - it certainly influenced Scorsese's long-shots and is one of the best particularly in terms of intricate, interweaving dialog.

Alan Bacchus said...

Thanks Mike B. for your comment. I haven't actually seen Under Capricorn. But I will definitely have to check it out.

I don't want to erase other comments, but I do wish I knew how to compress them. I'm new to blogger, and haven't figured it out yet. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i don't have time to pore through these comments, but just for the record, not only did the "children of men" shot have cuts, but it was a ripoff of the shot janusz kaminski did in spielberg's version of "war of the worlds". when the principles flee in a minivan, there is similarly the appearance of a single tracking shot, only kaminski's is a 360° pan around, inside, and outside the speeding vehicle. for the true film technician, this sequence is fairly breathtaking in a "how the hell did he do that" way, but as with lubezki's sequence, careful examination will reveal the cuts.

Reliapundit said...

great. hanaks for this.

BUT...

you left out Murnau's SUNRISE.

Which is the best of all time, bar none.

A silent feature.

D. B. Light said...

Can we now say that the long tracking shot has become a cliche?

Anonymous said...

Does Baby Herman's cookie escapade in Who Framed Roger Rabbit count?
The whole scene had to be redone because Roger had birds instead of stars floating around his head after the refrigerator fell on him.

Ace said...

What about the long pulling-back helicopter shot at the end of Lethal Weapon II as dawn breaks on the docks?

I love that shot. The rest of the movie is crap, but if I see the movie's near the end, I watch just to see that long shot.

Come on, include it. You've got other crapp movies on the list.

Anonymous said...

Nice list, but, as a couple others have posted, Absolute Beginners really should be on the list. It's mentioned as a big part of the "joke" in The Player tracking shot.

Anonymous said...

Shot of Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) carrying a dead Chrisian Bale across the battlefield at Agincourt. Wonderful. Dramatic.

Hal said...

Here's another vote for Branagh's Henry V. The great story behind that is, they didn't have enough extras for the take. So the extras are getting up off the field, and running behind the camera then lying back down, so there can be enough "bodies" on the battlefield.

chrislovescats said...

Awesome list. Please consider the tracking footage from "Das Boot" aka "The Boat" ... footage while the sub goes into attack mode, following the crew from their bunks to their stations. The frenetic action sequence is riveting ... almost like shooting a panorama inside a sardine can. Wolfgang Peterson's masterpiece deserves consideration among listers.

esotericsean said...

This is an incredible list! I've seen many of those movies before, but it's nice to go back and rewatch those great shots again.

ricardo said...

Le plaisir (Max Ophuls), Life of Oharu (Mizoguchi), Drums along the Mohawk (Ford)

medusa said...

excelent compilation... i'm laughing 'cause my longer shot is 12 seconds

Sandro said...

I don't if anyone has posted this one already (good chance someone did) but here goes. In Magnolia there's a brilliant 3 minute tracking shot of the whizz kid and his father walking into the tv studio. We even go in to an elevator and go up a couple of floors.

Sandro said...

Never mind people, never mind. I'm gonna go to an eye doctor and have my peepers checked out. The Magnolia shot is already up.

Anonymous said...

Great selection and apologies if the following comments have already been made. The Scorsese shot thru' the kitchen is a direct lift from Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief; excellent nevertheless. In the famous opening track of Altman's The Player, Tim Robbins comments about the long opening tracking shot in Julien Temple's Absolute Beginners.

Anonymous said...

great list, great idea, great comments.

honourable mention for the roughly two minutes on Bob Hoskins face - as his world falls apart - at the end of "The Long Good Friday"

Anonymous said...

Watch this shot from 2 min 25 sec
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppAn0LNU_V8

this was shot in 2002, four years before "Children of Men".

Anonymous said...

I thought the long shot in children of men was when clive owen went to get the girl and the baby back near the end of the movie when he was going through the war torn city am I wrong ?

Anonymous said...

Really nice post. Thanks

Caroline said...

The long takes in Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" are all lifted (in concept) from Alan Clarke's "Elephant" (1989), abotu the "troubles" in Northern Ireland. The long take in the last segment of that films is truly amazing.

Alex said...

Surely the shot from The Life Aquatic, when Ned is following Steve around the ship, is worth a mention? Can't find it on youtube but it shows the ship and the characters so brilliantly

kona said...

i vote for C'était un Rendezvous, 1976.

Anonymous said...

I first watched Good Fellas at the Directors Guild in L.A. with directors, DPs and editors as the audience. 1/3 thru the long tracking shot thru the kitchen muttering began. By the end, the entire place was cheering, on their feet jumping up and down with delight. And that's a tough crew to impress.

Jason W said...

The amazing thing about "Rope" is how few people notice that there are at least four traditional, completely undisguised cuts in that movie. I'm not referring to the "disguised" cuts, where the camera moves behind a chair or something, but to real, honest-to-god edits, like when Farley Granger makes an incriminating remark, and Hitchcock CUTS to a closeup of James Stewart's reaction. It's a tribute to Hitchcock's skill that these cuts generally go unnnoticed, and to his mischievousness that he won't even play by his own rules.

Uttam said...

There were some nice long takes in Wim Wenders' films too -- the one in Paris Texas (I think) where they're crossing a bridge and there's a madman ranting away, and the one in Tokyo Ga where he follows the passengers on the subway. I guess they weren't as complex to shoot as some of the ones listed here though. Also, what about Miklos Jancso?

Youri said...

There's also an amazing sideways tracking shot in Andrzej Wajda's "Kanal".

Reel Fanatic said...

Thank you for posting what might just possibly the best timewasting poat (and I mean that in all the best possibly ways) I've ever encountered .... I just spent my lunch hour watching clips, and will do the same tomorrow ... If I may add one which I believe is, at least in part, a tracking shot, the end of Robert Altman's Nashville, at the Parthenon, is just a stunner

Anonymous said...

Can't believe you got here without mentioning POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, with the long track shot (helicopter arrival all the way down to the customs house) until Meryl Streep fluffs her lines - then we see the director weeeping as his most expensive shot has just been screwed!

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beetlebrox said...

Gosh, this certainly caused a lot of comments...I may have missed a few above me so forgive me if this is repetitious. "Rope" indeed deserves mention, and I think someone has already mention that there were actually three long takes. If you watch carefully you can tell when they occur.
BUT also HITCHCOCK deserves mention for the long take (which I believe I once read that inspired the long take in Goodfellas, although on surface they seem very different) in "FRENZY," wherein the murderer (who is on the killing frenzy, so to speak) lures a girl up to his apartment, but we only go so far to the stairs and then back down to the street where people just go about their usual day. As the poet said: "About suffering they were never wrong/...how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place/While someone else is eating or opening a window or just/walking dully along."

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anonymouse said...

It's an insane compilation you have put together. Thanks a lot. BUT ... actually I have been checking back for updates for several weeks now. When are you adding new stuff?

Anonymous said...

The Touch of Evil shot has a parody/tribute in Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise that tries to one-up the original by doing it using split screen. Like Touch of Evil it starts with a bomb being placed in a car. Another camera is following the action simultaniously from another part of the theatre. The added technical challenge is that both film crews have to stay out of the others shot as the shoot the car on stage from different angles.

James said...

That is a great shot in Touch of Evil. But I have a couple other greate films which have tremendously long shots. Carl Th. Dreyer's "Ordet" (1955) has some shots that are 5 minutes and Gertrude (1966) has a 7-minute long take.

Tom said...

How about that 8-minute shot in Melville's "Le Doulos" of Belmondo at the police station, where the camera does an astonishing 360-degree slow pan around a room filled with mirrors? Melville said that together with the opening of "Army of Shadows," that was his proudest acomplishment.

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Anonymous said...

Found this list because I was looking for a history of long takes. Everybody overlooked Nagisa Oshima's "Night and Fog in Japan" from 1960. It has 44 shots in 107 minutes. Go add. Also check out as many Miklos Jancso films from late 1960s-early 1970s as you can, all employ elaborate, perfectly gliding takes. He's probably the all-time master of the sequence shot. Chantal Akerman comes up with some epic takes in her documentaries. Did anybody cite the obvious, those baffling glides through corridors in Alain Resnais' "Last Year at Marienbad"? Manoel de Oliveira's "The Satin Slipper" has nothing but reel-length shots in its last 4 hours (it's 7 hours total).

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Kip said...

Oh my...
I just watched "Children Of Men" on cable (about 5 or 6 months after everyone else, apparently), and, as a lover of the long take, decided to Google the very same topic - and, lo and behold, look what I've found?!?! I must say (obviously) that I was impressed (or I wouldn't be here)! Acting - stiff? Didn't even notice! That 6 minute shot blew my mind tonight. You can walk through a palace from room to room all you want in other flicks - but to see hand-held action with squibs erupting, gun head-shots, rack-focus nightmares, buildings exploding, indoor-outdoor lighting impossiblities, staircases, a thousand extras, and a blood-splattered lens - - please, show some appreciation!!! WoW!!! There may be some cutting trickery, but after 3 views, I sure missed them! I do think the scene does end a little earlier than you might think (by 20 secs.) When the camera peeks out the window of the building and sees the tanks below, a bomb blast goes off - I think this is a digital cut. The camera comes back in and you get to see a close-up of the baby. Makes sense for a cut - but that still makes 6 minutes!
Great to see this list and so many responses!
There is a film - can't think of the name...mid-90's, a scene on an island...Jamaica...Hawaii... a long take from ground level to a raised house (Swiss Family Robinson-type house)...Spike Lee, perhaps...any idea? Help?
Also, that shot in Carlito's Way comes to mind...Sean Penn leaving the prison - unbelievable zoom from helicopter shot...nice!
Thanks to everyone for paying attention...enjoed the blog!
Kip

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Anonymous said...

to Bethany... it was Jean Luc Goddard's "Weekend"

Anonymous said...

I'm remembering a terrific shot in Coppola's under-rated One From the Heart where we're moseying along outside and then turn toward a building where we look through a window and enter directly into the room.

Anonymous said...

dickI vote Feist's 1,2,3,4 for the finest tracking shots. Highly complex in all ways...it is simply entrancing, superb. The feeling it offers is enriching and joyful.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=9D0aTSkslWY&feature=related

turn up your sound immediately to hear the footsteps...

Anonymous said...

Did you all know know that a traking shot can be used to create 3D film? If you're interested in 3D film (X eyed viewing on a cumputer screen especialy) check out my 3D films made from single camera traking shots on youtube. Look for films posted under my username zeondekilowatt.

A Rope Fan said...

You forgot one of the best ever! Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope", originally a stage play, was a full-length film starring Jimmy Stewart and containing only two shots. There's only one cut in the entire film, near the end, and they put it in because they couldn't get a long enough spool of film at that point to fit it all.

It's a tremendous suspense film, based loosely on the true story of Leopold and Loeb. I recommend it to all cinema fans.

Anonymous said...

PANIC ROOM has the most incredible shot ever!!! (It is actually edited together so it looks like on shot but its awesome)

maria said...

Great list! I especially like Russian Ark after seeing it in film class and was amazed by it. It reminded me of Smashing Pumpkins' video, Ava Adore.

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axeonfluke said...

Wow I was really glad to have come across your blog here. Snake Eyes was a horrible movie but I don't think that deserves an omission on a brilliant shot.

The only addition I can think of is from the recent War of the Worlds by Speilbergh. The shot where Cruise steals the van and they are escaping NYC, my jaw dropped. Now I'm not filmmaker...but I have tried to figure out how it was done and I just can't come up with anything. The camera darting in and out of the car while everybody argues, amazing. Probably one of the most brilliant shots I've ever seen.

Oh and thank you THANK YOU for including Hard Boiled. Best action movie ever.

Liam said...

I'm also late to the party.

The Strange Days opening shot actually has three or four well-concealed cuts, and was shot in three different locations. However, it's still technically amazing, and involved the design and building of a custom film camera, and serious choreography to give it the illusion of seamlessness.

Also, there's a long-ish scene with wonderful camera movements in Ophul's "Letter from an Unknown Woman."

I'm sure there's some bravado tracking/crane shots in Dario Argento's movies that would qualify for this list, too.

mn said...

I realize that this is an ancient post but it's getting some linkage now and I think it's worth adding "Atonement" to the list. There's one, supremely long tracking shot that goes through the beach at Dunkirk that is up there with the bests in film history.

It was kind of jarring since the rest of the film wasn't nearly as technical.

not unpreposterous said...

I just came back to say THANKS to Alan for the great blog entry and to everybody for the informative and fun comments.

But especially thanks to commenter WILL for the neat Steadicam info links.

Omar Cruz said...

I like this blog is fantastic, is really good written. Congratulation. Do you want to see something more? Read it...: Great investment opportunity in Costa Rica: houses for sale, homes for sale, investment property. Visit us for more info at: http://www.jaco-bay.com/

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the long closing shot in the wonderful 1996 movie, "Big Night."

João Vicente said...

Great page.

The link for the "the player" take: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmSGZvf617k

João Saenger, Brazil.

João Vicente said...

for the "i am cuba take":
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=9D0aTSkslWY&feature=related

João Saenger, Brazil.

Dee said...

I'm not too sure if i know what a long shot is, correct me if i'm wrong pls. I recently just watched Gone Baby Gone, which was a great movie, and if im not mistaken in the scene when the girl runs into the quarry off the ledge.. long shot? If im on the right track, i'm sure there are plenty of long shots in the movie Blood diamond, last scene or even in the movie 300, which were in my opinion really great movies. Not only was the acting great, but the picture, settings, scenes and acting, just captivating.
I would also like the add, the person who wrote about Notting Hill, my response to you is that scene was really well done and the movie was not only good but funny!
Delphine

jjho8 said...

Awesome long takes I wish I could watch all of them though. You should put that one long take from Spildberg's War of the Worlds. The one were the camera continually rotates around the van. Even though its aided digitally it is still an amazing very well planned long take.

I-essential said...

Very great list, I love them all. Nice review

Anonymous said...

If we're thinking of impressive tracking shots left off this list, we need to start thinking smaller. Like the small screen.

The West Wing tracking shots are so famous I think they coined the phrase walk and talk. Multiple actors, multiple conversations, multiple rooms, and pages of Sorkin dialogue.

If we're looking for one specific shot, the episode "Five Votes Down" has a tracking shot of Josh and Sam walking nearly the entire White House set and ends with the line "Where are you going? Nowhere, I was following you"

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Well before "Serenity" Joss Whedon did long shots in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The most famous is the third season opener "Anne" on the first disk in the Season 3 DVDs.

The shot starts right after the opening credits with Giles and Willow walking down the stairs in the library and involves multiple primary characters, many lines by extras, plenty of background characters, several characters stepping in and out of the scene, the camera constantly moving and lasts for three minutes and 26 seconds - ending in a slam cut to Buffy by herself. It really shows all of the commotion and activity for the first day of school, and contrasts it to how alone Buffy is by herself.

There's also other long shots in the series, but this is the most significant.

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Great list here!!

Martina said...

A few classics that come to mind are the first staircase scene in Welles's .

Hitesh Patel said...

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GreatestFilmScenes said...

The Touch of evil link is broken. A Youtube video of the opening shot is available HERE

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It a long shot in deed but it is worth a try
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Anonymous said...

How about the long, tedious scene where the fly/insect walks across the wall/ceiling? I forget what old, black-and-white movie that was from.

Anonymous said...

Over a dozen films in this list ,including Serenity(?), but not one Kubrick film?! He was the master of the tracking shot. Besides that though, great list.

Anthony-Masterson Photography said...

"I Am Cuba" has some beautiful long takes. The special features on the DVD goes into great detail about the way they were shot.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058604/

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Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Z-UJDPJOs

From "Atonement", the battle of Dunkirk scene. Amazing the way like soudtrack and music mixed toghether when the soldiers choir sings.

joe mancuso said...

the king of the tracking shot , max ophuls is never mentioned? no kenji mizoguchi? the opening of howard hawks' scarface. the ann rutledge scene in john ford's young mr. lincoln.

bedava film izle said...

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movie trailer said...

it's so old movie and It should be the New Year's Eve scene where William H. Macy's character does the murder/suicide.
Classic.

Darío Gedacht said...

I think you can add this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hffLoBKeHWk

furtive said...

La Haine has an excellent long shot to introduce Hubert Koudé, it's short in black and white, and slowly moves in on him as he's boxing in an underground garage, as the camera gets closer to the punching bag the punches get slower until the camera pans back out and it's Said punching on the bag while Hubert smokes a joint with Vinz.

Another long shot is the scene in Pulp Fiction where they put the needle in Uma's chest.

ozeeya said...

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Dr. Greg said...

Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but props should also go to DePalma for the "figure 8" shot during the prom voting scene in "Carrie," which is a masterful tracking example--and one that almost got DePalma fired from the production because it took so long to do (studio execs wanted him to abandon the single shot approach and replace it with conventional but more clumsy continuity editing). The shot explicitly links the corrupt voting, the student body, and the bucket of blood prank in a seamless, supsenseful, and sophisticated manner. Superb stuff.

Electronic Cigarette said...

good list. Thanks.

marcelofloyd said...

Touch of Evil Opening Shot


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8MqjoFvy4

streaming movies said...

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Gummi Bears said...

Nice review... And keep it up... Nice blog

Pattaya said...

Seeing lists like these makes me realize how few movies I have seen.

Good quotes said...

Nice post, but did you observe that most of all your comments are the same? They copy paste each one from another..

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alureon said...

I would have to say that the long tracking shot in Goodfellas takes the cake for me personally. There is so much personality going on.

The most well orchestrated one however I would say would be Confessions of A Dangerous Mind.

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