The single take (or long take if you want to get specific) is one cinematography trick that is incredibly powerful. Whether being used to make the movie feel like a stage play (like its earliest usage in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope), establishing layouts (and showing off) like in Panic Room or escalating tension without breaking the action in Children of Men, a single take without any cuts is tricky to pull off but damn impressive when done well.
While not from a movie, my favourite use of this single take technique is from season one of True Detective. If you haven’t watched the show, I don’t want to give you any spoilers, and if you have, you know exactly which scene I’m talking about. All I will say is it’s one of the most dramatic, white knuckle, edge-of-your-seat scenes. With the single tracking take, the camera never breaks away from the actors, and as the situation escalates and the camera pans around but never cuts to anything else, you feel like you’re right there. Everything came together perfectly in that scene.
So whether it’s an impressively choreographed unbroken fight scene in Oldboy, an Oscar winning shot from Gravity or nearly an entire damn movie like Birdman, what has been your favourite single take?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.
Last Updated: August 5, 2015