SCREEN-L Archives

March 2004, Week 3


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
1.0 (Apple Message framework v612)
text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
Tue, 16 Mar 2004 01:00:05 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
James Monaco <[log in to unmask]>
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (101 lines)
It seems this thread doesn't want to end so I'll weigh in with a few

Deep focus and lengthy takes are two different things that should not
be confused. Both are associated with realism and neorealism but they
have nothing to do with each other besides this.

Associating a long take with real perception is misleading at best.
Normally, we don't experience the real world as one long take. The
closest approximation to real perception would be the zip pan. This is
discussed a little in How To Read a Film.

Films with long takes (Rope being the champ) are as highly stylized as
films with complex montage sequences.

Then you have to differentiate between the long take with a static
camera (no big deal) and the lengthy tracking shot.

That said, the long tracking shot is probably the supreme
technical/artistic feat of filmmaking, like a quadruple double reverse
back flip (or whatever) in diving. I can't think of any montage
--including Eisenstein (Potemkin), Hitchcock North by Northwest),
Kubrick (2001)-- that comes close. The reason is you have to plan it
out and you have to execute it. By definition, you can't fix it in the

Numerous famous lengthy tracking shots have been mentioned in this
thread. But the all-time champ is the opening sequence of Robert
Altman's The Player. It is probably the greatest tour de force in the
history of film.

If you don't know this shot you owe it to yourself (and your students)
to pick up the DVD. It is also available, in  its entirety, on the How
To Read a Film DVD-ROM. It lasts more than eight minutes, sets up the
whole film. and comments on long tracking shots as it goes along.

You could teach a whole film course from this one shot.

More recently, I noticed a stunning "flying shot" (you can't really
call it a "tracking" shot) in Panic Room. We move from the third floor
to the first floor of the house, then the camera flies through the
handle of a coffee pot. It doesn't last very long but it is worthy of
being added to the pantheon list. Does anyone have info on how this was

And who else has additions to the pantheon of tracking shots? Don't
forget Antonioni's track through the window bars  in The Passenger
(also on How To Read a Film), which was  the precursor for Fincher's
coffee-pot trick in Panic Room.

(You are welcome, Gloria!)

James Monaco
Harbor Electronic Publishing
80 East 11th St New York NY 10003
212 777 5463   sales: 800 269 6422

On Mar 15, 2004, at 10:22 PM, gloria monti wrote:

>        I am surprised that the name of Jean-Luc Godard has not come
> up in this thread.  Especially considering his relationship with
> André Bazin.  And Italian Neorealism has only been mentioned in
> passing.
>        I would also like to point out the difference between a long
> take (a shot of considerable length) and a sequence shot (an entire
> sequence made of one shot).  For example, the uninterrupted backward
> tracking shot in Pasolini's *Mamma Roma* and then lateral tracking
> shot (with pans) in Godard's *Weekend* are examples of the long take.
> But Welles's *Touch of Evil, * Jancso's *The Red and the White* and
> (the entire) *Russian Ark* are sequence shots.   As are the opening
> of Anderson's *Boogie Nights,* and the walk through the night club in
> Scorsese's *Good Fellas.*
>        Finally, thanks to James Monaco for clarifying the difference
> between POV and eyeline match.
>        Gloria Monti
> ______________________________
> gloria monti, PH.D.
> cinema studies program
> oberlin college
> 10 n. professor st.
> oberlin, OH 44074
> phone: 440-775-6015
> fax: 440-775-8684
> e-mail: [log in to unmask]
> ________________________
> Hasta la victoria, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero!
> ----
> Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite

For past messages, visit the Screen-L Archives: