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11.15.2013by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Long Take Scenes of All Time (Video Edition)

As directors move away from celluloid to digital filmmaking, some of the greatest camera tricks of all time are easily accomplished via technology. Back in the day, if you wanted a long tracking shot, you actually needed to build track to make it happen. When you see one of these shots, it takes your brain some time to register just how intricate the creation of it would be. Sometimes you have to watch it more than once to soak it all in. In the history of film there have been countless amazing single/extended/tracking shots but here are our favorites. If you have another great scene that didn't make the cut, feel free to add it to the Talk Backs below.

#10 - Touch of Evil

The grandaddy of all single take scenes, Orson Welles' noir starring Charlton Heston is a classic that deserves to be recognized alongside CITIZEN KANE. The opening scene runs over 3 minutes and was an rare cinematic accomplishment in 1958. The result is a tense swing through a small town right before tragedy strikes. Perfectly designed and executed, this is a sight to behold and a good way to set the tone for this list.

#9 - Strange Days

Kathryn Bigelow's scifi thriller opens with a very different type of long take. The opening sequence of the movie throws us into the perspective of a SQUID user, the device that allows people in the film to experience the memories of another person. Shot with a steadicam, the scene may not be that unique anymore since we are used to found footage movies, but back in 1995 it was very inventive. The shot still holds up all these years later and serves as a cool reminder of how dated the 1990s have become. MiniDisc, anyone?

#8 - The Shining

THE SHINING has lots of memorable scenes, but none quite as technically amazing as the long tracking shot of Danny riding his big wheel around the Overlook Hotel. The scene may culminate in the creepy twins asking him to come and play, but the continuous shot of Danny riding is an amazing sight to behold. Stanley Kubrick had to have a custom made Steadicam designed to achieve the low angle on the shot in what has become a textbook example of the long tracking shot.

#7 - Magnolia

For 135 seconds in MAGNOLIA, Paul Thomas Anderson gives us a single unbroken scene that follows young Stanley Spector as he traverses the studio where the quiz show What Do Kids Know? is being taped. Not a monumental plot moment, but an beautifully choreographed scene that lives up to Anderson's epic tale. Anderson has used similar long takes in BOOGIE NIGHTS and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but the scope of MAGNOLIA's interconnected narrative works perfectly with a scene like this.

#6 - Hard Boiled

Action movies are hard enough to direct without removing the ability to edit. But John Woo was able to pull off an amazing feat with the hospital scene at the end of the movie. After shooting for 40 days, Woo and his team decided to film the sequence as a single five minute take that elevates the tension and may be one of the best action scenes ever put to film.

#5 - Snake Eyes

Brian De Palma has frequently used long takes to build tension in his films, but the almost thirteen minute opening sequence to SNAKE EYES takes the cake. While the rest of this Nicolas Cage movie may be utter crap, the opening itself is enough to make the movie worth seeing. See if you can figure out where De Palma was able to adjust the scenes to make this whole complicate sequence work so well.

#4 - Kill Bill

Not the longest take on this list but definitely one of the more entertaining ones. As The Bride confronts O-Ren and her army at a Tokyo nightclub, Quentin Tarantino lays out the setting and the characters with a sweeping tracking shot that goes from high angles to low and follows multiple characters. This may be the closest thing to ballet we will ever see filmed by Tarantino and it is quite amazing to watch.

#3 - Children of Men

Take the complexity of any long take and combine it with a moving vehicle and you get Alfonso Cuaron's mesmerizing sequence from CHILDREN OF MEN. A specially designed car was used that allowed crew to slip in and out of the vehicle, remove the windshield and replace it, and still get around the entire car as if it were really happening. There have been few uses of practical camera tricks in the last decade as impressive as this feat.

#2 - Goodfellas

If TOUCH OF EVIL is the grandfather of long takes then Martin Scorsese's GOODFELLAS is the next generation. Giving us the perspective of being alongside Ray Liotta as he brings Lorraine Bracco to the Copacabana club both propels the plot and the character into the gangster lifestyle. Shot eight times, Scorsese was forced to film this way since the club wouldn't allow them to enter the short way. The result is movie history.

#1 - Oldboy

Unlike every other long take on this list, Park Chan-wook's hammer fight sequence in OLDBOY is not from the perspective of being behind the characters. OLDBOY instead gives us a side view of the one on twenty-five face-off from a side view. We see Oh Dae-su fight off his opponents and also suffer at their hands. This scene only took three days to film and uses only practical effects aside from the CGI knife. A masterpiece and the rare long take from a different perspective.

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+0
6:01PM on 11/17/2013
Is it just me, or does it look like when they get to the kitchen they walk in a circle and exit out the same door they came in through?
Is it just me, or does it look like when they get to the kitchen they walk in a circle and exit out the same door they came in through?
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+3
10:30PM on 11/16/2013
The staircase fight scene from The Protector could have found a place on the list. It's certainly more entertaining than, say, the Kill Bill long shot which is largely transitional.

Not to mention The Player's opening sequence, which was a semi-spoof of the tracking shot from Touch of Evil (notice the similar sounding music).
The staircase fight scene from The Protector could have found a place on the list. It's certainly more entertaining than, say, the Kill Bill long shot which is largely transitional.

Not to mention The Player's opening sequence, which was a semi-spoof of the tracking shot from Touch of Evil (notice the similar sounding music).
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8:29PM on 11/16/2013

Breaking News

The opening to Johnnie To's Breaking News is the best long shot in cinema history!
The opening to Johnnie To's Breaking News is the best long shot in cinema history!
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+0
2:25PM on 11/16/2013
What do they by "the club wouldn't allow them to enter the short way"? If they're using the club to film a scene, Scorsese could obviously shoot it any way he wanted to.
What do they by "the club wouldn't allow them to enter the short way"? If they're using the club to film a scene, Scorsese could obviously shoot it any way he wanted to.
Your Reply:



8:29AM on 11/16/2013

Leone?

Should we have a Sergio Leone clip? Include Superman the movie. The part where Jor El watches his son leave Krypton and the roof top scene of You Only Live Twice. Lewis Gilbert is a visual director.
Should we have a Sergio Leone clip? Include Superman the movie. The part where Jor El watches his son leave Krypton and the roof top scene of You Only Live Twice. Lewis Gilbert is a visual director.
Your Reply:



12:39AM on 11/16/2013
I haven't seen this film in many many years. I've never seen a making-of for "Strange Days" either but after looking at the video, I doubt this shot was accomplished with a Steadicam. It seems too... unsteady to be a Steadicam. I can always be wrong but I would go with some kind of shoulder support. A cool long take nonetheless!
I haven't seen this film in many many years. I've never seen a making-of for "Strange Days" either but after looking at the video, I doubt this shot was accomplished with a Steadicam. It seems too... unsteady to be a Steadicam. I can always be wrong but I would go with some kind of shoulder support. A cool long take nonetheless!
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5:10PM on 11/15/2013

Sooooo.....

You guys basically went and recycled the exact same article topic that IGN did about a week ago? Oh wait, yours is a video edition, and half of them are movies that were mentioned in the comments section, while the other half is the SAME FUCKING MOVIES, so it's totally different, right? RIGHT? Here's the link to the original article. [link]

Laziness in journalism, has achieved a whole new level. (...or is this considered, in some way, plagiarism??...hmmm).
You guys basically went and recycled the exact same article topic that IGN did about a week ago? Oh wait, yours is a video edition, and half of them are movies that were mentioned in the comments section, while the other half is the SAME FUCKING MOVIES, so it's totally different, right? RIGHT? Here's the link to the original article. [link]

Laziness in journalism, has achieved a whole new level. (...or is this considered, in some way, plagiarism??...hmmm).
Your Reply:



+3
4:29PM on 11/15/2013

Atonement

should have been in the list
should have been in the list
Your Reply:



1:44PM on 11/15/2013

Atonement

you have to have the beach scene from Atonement....
you have to have the beach scene from Atonement....
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+0
1:37PM on 11/15/2013

You know this sequence is great when your mom makes you watch this scene as a young kid

My mom loves Goodfellas, I remember when I was really really young, she insisted I watch this famous sequence and see how it was shot. Watching sequences like this is how I fell in love with movies and filmmaking. Solid list!
My mom loves Goodfellas, I remember when I was really really young, she insisted I watch this famous sequence and see how it was shot. Watching sequences like this is how I fell in love with movies and filmmaking. Solid list!
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1:14PM on 11/15/2013
I was expecting this to be in here as well as the shot later where they flee to the hospital. Absolute brilliance.
I was expecting this to be in here as well as the shot later where they flee to the hospital. Absolute brilliance.
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1:09PM on 11/15/2013

What about...

Suprised not to see the Player, Serenity, Rope, Gravity, or Boogie Nights on the list. Serenity and Boogie Nights both do a great job in opening scenes to introduce all of the characters in one shot.
Suprised not to see the Player, Serenity, Rope, Gravity, or Boogie Nights on the list. Serenity and Boogie Nights both do a great job in opening scenes to introduce all of the characters in one shot.
Your Reply:



12:50PM on 11/15/2013

What about...

Suprised not to see the Player, Serenity, Rope, Gravity, or Boogie Nights on the list. Serenity and Boogie Nights both do a great job in opening scenes to introduce all of the characters in one shot.
Suprised not to see the Player, Serenity, Rope, Gravity, or Boogie Nights on the list. Serenity and Boogie Nights both do a great job in opening scenes to introduce all of the characters in one shot.
Your Reply:



+0
12:38PM on 11/15/2013

Decent list

Where is Jean Luc Godard's Weekend on this list?
[link]
Where is Jean Luc Godard's Weekend on this list?
[link]
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12:29PM on 11/15/2013
Seriously, how do you forget Russian Ark, seeing as how the entire 90 minute film was done in one shot?
Seriously, how do you forget Russian Ark, seeing as how the entire 90 minute film was done in one shot?
Your Reply:



12:05PM on 11/15/2013
Sure, it has hidden cuts like Snake Eyes, but I'm pretty partial to the ship re-entry and dialogue sequence after the title card in SERENITY
Sure, it has hidden cuts like Snake Eyes, but I'm pretty partial to the ship re-entry and dialogue sequence after the title card in SERENITY
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+0
11:04AM on 11/15/2013
I must of missed the disclaimer saying that Gravity wasn't going to be on this list. Probably cuz it uses CGI for background and such, but still had some long takes
I must of missed the disclaimer saying that Gravity wasn't going to be on this list. Probably cuz it uses CGI for background and such, but still had some long takes
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11:04AM on 11/15/2013
Good list. I also love the 7 minute opening shot/gunfight from Johnnie To's Breaking News: [link]

And I think Russian Ark qualifies for this too.
Good list. I also love the 7 minute opening shot/gunfight from Johnnie To's Breaking News: [link]

And I think Russian Ark qualifies for this too.
Your Reply:



10:46AM on 11/15/2013

War Scene

I agree with violentcop5. The war scene at the end of the movie is a much more impressive long take.
I agree with violentcop5. The war scene at the end of the movie is a much more impressive long take.
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+0
9:42AM on 11/15/2013

The secret in their eyes

I think after Children of Men, the football stadium scene of The secret in their eyes is my favorite. [link]
I think after Children of Men, the football stadium scene of The secret in their eyes is my favorite. [link]
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9:21AM on 11/15/2013
How did the 3 minute opening of Boogie Nights not make this list? [link]
How did the 3 minute opening of Boogie Nights not make this list? [link]
Your Reply:



8:24AM on 11/15/2013
Could've at least given Hitchcock's Rope an honorable mention. There's about ten continuous takes making up the entire film.
Could've at least given Hitchcock's Rope an honorable mention. There's about ten continuous takes making up the entire film.
Your Reply:



8:07AM on 11/15/2013
This is a great list. One that's virtually always forgotten is the scene from the first Superman movie. Superman and Lois return from their flight, have a conversation, Superman flies away the camera still rolling all in one move follows Lois into here apartment no edits at all. There is knocking at the door she opens it up and there is Clark. All one shot. It's what makes the film so great and makes you believe Superman is Clark and Clark is Superman. Brilliant film making.
This is a great list. One that's virtually always forgotten is the scene from the first Superman movie. Superman and Lois return from their flight, have a conversation, Superman flies away the camera still rolling all in one move follows Lois into here apartment no edits at all. There is knocking at the door she opens it up and there is Clark. All one shot. It's what makes the film so great and makes you believe Superman is Clark and Clark is Superman. Brilliant film making.
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-4
7:48AM on 11/15/2013

Do you guys make a habit of copying Filmdrunk?

Honestly, most of the shots you highlighted were exactly the same, not to mention the identical theme.

I prefer the Stedicam shot from Raising Cain to Snake Eyes....no hidden cuts in that one.
Honestly, most of the shots you highlighted were exactly the same, not to mention the identical theme.

I prefer the Stedicam shot from Raising Cain to Snake Eyes....no hidden cuts in that one.
Your Reply:



6:41AM on 11/15/2013
I'm surprised they forgot that awesome one in Tom Yum Goong
I'm surprised they forgot that awesome one in Tom Yum Goong
Your Reply:



5:26AM on 11/15/2013
I guess my idea of a take and yours are different, to me one take is one shot unbroken, with no cuts, wipes, transitions. Several of these takes had edits.
I guess my idea of a take and yours are different, to me one take is one shot unbroken, with no cuts, wipes, transitions. Several of these takes had edits.
Your Reply:



5:01AM on 11/15/2013

Forgotten, as always...

I knew this scene would be left off the list. It only predates Mr. Welles' movie by about 21 years, and it was by the legendary Mr. Hitchcock. (Forgive the blackface - it *was* 1937...)

[link]
I knew this scene would be left off the list. It only predates Mr. Welles' movie by about 21 years, and it was by the legendary Mr. Hitchcock. (Forgive the blackface - it *was* 1937...)

[link]
Your Reply:



5:00AM on 11/15/2013
Fnatastic part but have to say the war sequence later on was also very impressive.
Fnatastic part but have to say the war sequence later on was also very impressive.
Your Reply:



4:59AM on 11/15/2013
Crazy to think this was made so long ago and hardly anyone can rival this awesome action sequences (asides from Children of Men).
Crazy to think this was made so long ago and hardly anyone can rival this awesome action sequences (asides from Children of Men).
Your Reply:



7:36AM on 11/15/2013
The Children of Men takes are spectacular, but many of them have several hidden cuts.
The Children of Men takes are spectacular, but many of them have several hidden cuts.
4:58AM on 11/15/2013

Yes!

I remember seeing this in the cinema back in 95 and being absolutely blown away by this opening. Very undderrated movie as well, happy to see Bigalow is ontop nowadays.
I remember seeing this in the cinema back in 95 and being absolutely blown away by this opening. Very undderrated movie as well, happy to see Bigalow is ontop nowadays.
Your Reply:



4:34AM on 11/15/2013
Russian Ark.
Russian Ark.
Your Reply:



4:32AM on 11/15/2013
What stuns me about this movie is that they were unable to complete a visual effects sequence but the event was still referred to in dialogue. Talk about confusing.
What stuns me about this movie is that they were unable to complete a visual effects sequence but the event was still referred to in dialogue. Talk about confusing.
Your Reply:



4:16AM on 11/15/2013
the scene with Eric Bana in Hannah where the camera follows him in to the car park was pretty cool.
the scene with Eric Bana in Hannah where the camera follows him in to the car park was pretty cool.
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+2
3:05AM on 11/15/2013

Javier Bardem

SKYFALL
SKYFALL
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2:53AM on 11/15/2013
Hunger.
Hunger.
Your Reply:



2:38AM on 11/15/2013

I don't care

I like Snake Eyes! I thought it was good schlock.

Also, Children of Men has several great, single shot scenes. The finale really sticks with you. What an underrated film.
I like Snake Eyes! I thought it was good schlock.

Also, Children of Men has several great, single shot scenes. The finale really sticks with you. What an underrated film.
Your Reply:



2:11AM on 11/15/2013
Really? No Atonement?

[link]
Really? No Atonement?

[link]
Your Reply:



+2
1:55AM on 11/15/2013
I'm pretty partial to this one myself
[link]
I'm pretty partial to this one myself
[link]
Your Reply:



1:03AM on 11/15/2013
I have to say I'd figure Altman's opening scene from The Player would've been on this list. Almost 8 Minutes long, more than 50 actors, all shot on a crane. Say what you will about the movie, this shot is is a technical marvel. [link]
I have to say I'd figure Altman's opening scene from The Player would've been on this list. Almost 8 Minutes long, more than 50 actors, all shot on a crane. Say what you will about the movie, this shot is is a technical marvel. [link]
Your Reply:



10:18AM on 11/15/2013
It's also very appropriate considering Fred Ward keeps talking about Rope and Touch of Evil.
It's also very appropriate considering Fred Ward keeps talking about Rope and Touch of Evil.

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