The Long Take: Alasdair’s playlist

The theme for 2013/14 is Plan Sequence: the long take.  Beloved of Andre Bazin, who saw the truth of cinema in unedited spatial and temporal relations, as well as countless cineastes who use time, film’s fundamental resource, to bring us closer to the experiences they are recreating.

Alasdair Satchel, who looks after Cinema Cent Ans de Jeunesse in Scotland, has very kindly created a playlist on Youtube of key moments in the history of the Long Take.  Clicking on the list icon in the top left hand corner will take you to the full list, but look out for:

  • the origin of the long take in early cinema: the Lumiere Brothers with their ‘plan fixe; une minute; sans son’ pieces that in their way anticipate so much of what cinema would discover in the next century.
  • the ‘show-off’ (‘m’as tu vu’) bravura of Welles and Altman in the openings of Touch of Evil and The Player.  How these shots are so logistically complex that the only real reason for doing them was… because they could
  • Ditto Goodfellas, snaking through the bowels of the Underworld in the shape of the kitchens of the Copocobana nightclub
  • Where ‘the camera goes for a walk’: a key facet for Alain Bergala, when the camera follows a character but only so far – here in The Passenger, but also in sequences from Murnau’s Sunrise
  • The long take and physical performance – you need uninterrupted time for the full unfolding of physicality, in Fassbinder’s Lola, but for younger viewers, the sequences in Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Junior.
  • Sheer uncompromising existential confrontation of the abyss, as only the Russians can, in Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Mirror
  • And ditto the uncompromising confrontation of humanity, in Herz Franks 10 Minutes Older
  • And the scope for jeopardy in the long take: how long can the camera hold us suspended in Hitchcock’s Rope, especially when we know the dead guy, and subject of everyone’s conversation, ‘s body is in a trunk in the foreground of the shot
  • And if you like a gentler, but no less excruciating, type of jeopardy, try the clip from Swingers, with Jon Favreau hashing up several attempts to explain himself to an answerphone..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s