Friday, January 20, 2012

One Long Look...Children of Men [2006]

      Today I want to begin a recurring segment on FILMclatter called “One Long Look...” where I feature spectacular examples of camera work in some of my favorite movies.  The only requirement then is that the shot must be really long.   A long take is hard to come by in movies these days.  And even when it does show up, most viewers don't expect the long take and fail to recognize the sot for what it's worth.  Not to get pretentious and say that film isn’t what it used to be, because that argument is long and boring, and rather useless.  Editing has its place in movies and without it we would have far less cool car chases at our hands.  On the other side of the spectrum, the long take has its own purpose and splendor in the movies.  A chase scene filmed entirely in one take would be a spectacular feat but it would be pretty boring to watch.  There are no cuts and generally no tricks; a long take is exactly what it sounds like.
      And that may sound boring, but in the first segment of “One Long Look...” I would like to feature a shot from the 2006 sci-fi film Children of Men.  The word 'boring' has never been associated with this movie.  Set in the year 2027 we are taken into a future filled with chaos where humans can no longer pro-create and the world's future looks bleak.  Known as one of the most spectacular feats in filmmaking history, this six minute single shot allows viewers to follows one man in and out of dilapidated buildings, dodging bullets, running for his own life as well as for the sake of humanity.  It is an unusual scene in that fast cuts and editing would normally heighten the unsettling and dramatic quality the director is trying to achieve.  But this is clearly not the case here. 


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