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Ranking The 20 Greatest, Most Celebrated Long Takes

by Jessica Kiang
March 27, 2014 2:39 PM
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5. "I Am Cuba" (1964) Director: Mikhail Kalatozov DP: Sergey Urusevsky

Without a doubt one of the most beautiful films ever shot, it's astounding that "I Am Cuba" was so long neglected, following the negative reaction to its initial release in the Soviet Union and Cuba. It took valiant efforts of film conservationists such as Martin Scorsese to get it restored to its former glory, which is characterized by several mesmerizing long takes, notably one that ends up underwater in a hotel pool. But we're choosing to showcase this shot, which one would have thought impossible with the technology of the time, in which a protest march turns into a funeral procession and we follow in and out of buildings, high above the streets. 

4. "The Player" (1992) Director: Robert Altman DP: Jean Lepine

Featuring Welles's "Touch of Evil" lower on this list than the Altman-directed long take that literally references it may seem a bit sacrilegious, but hey, we're iconoclasts. And also, this shot is just an absolute blast, a witty inside-baseball look at the workings of a film studio in a film about filmmaking in which everyone works in the film industry and everyone only talks about films. It's a little like Playlist Towers in that regard, only everyone's better looking and it's sunny. While the meta, look at me! nature of extremely long takes is sometimes an issue, this one is in service of an extremely meta film, so it gets a joyous pass. 

3. "The Passenger" (1975) Director: Michelangelo Antonioni DP: Luciano Tovoli

Many of these shots contain a "how did they do that?" element, which is often part of the problem, as regards something that distracts you from the story. But we'll suggest that that distraction is part of the reason the penultimate shot of Antonioni's enigmatic identity-swap drama works as well as it does. As the camera first follows Jack Nicholson around the hotel room, then ventures out through the bars to the courtyard outside, the discomfort of the "impossible" move is part of what is puzzling about the sequence and it sets up an uncanny sense of "things happening beyond our ken" which is perfect reflection of watching the business of the courtyard while an offscreen death is occurring. Still amazing, still unknowable.

2. "Goodfellas" (1990) Director: Martin Scorsese DP: Michael Ballhaus

Well. We could write a novel about this shot, and about all it represents and everything it has influenced since, but really it's simply an example of as close to perfect a long-take shot as has ever existed in film. It tells us so much about the characters, and their relationship, it establishes so much of a world and a mood, and it does all that so stylishly and with such fluidity and dynamism that it should surely feel a million times rehearsed. And yet the real genius of this shot (and why it rides so high on this list, when "Raging Bull" has terrific examples too, as has late entry "The Wolf of Wall Street") is that it feels natural—the complexity of the shot never, ever, detracts from its vitality. Compared to other, impressive but more stately long takes (some of which we've shouted out here), this is a peerless example of virtuoso filmmaking whose technical virtuosity feels like the last thing on its mind. 

1. "Children of Men" (2006) Director: Alfonso Cuarón DP: Emmanuel Lubezki

And here we are, breaking our one-entry-per-director guideline, not for Tarkovsky or Kubrick or PTA or Scorsese, but for Best Director Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón. But there's no getting away from the flat-out amazingness of this scene, which famously required days to shoot, whole new rigs to be built and which at one point Cuarón was convinced they hadn't got because of blood splatter on the camera lens. But as much as the technical heights it scales cannot be underestimated ("Gravity" after all, was hugely complex but somehow more controllable than this shot with all its variables of vehicles, characters, performance, timing etc), most impressive to us is the fact that this scene is one which, the first or second time out, we didn't even register as a one-take wonder. So wrapped up were we in the story that the craft only ever worked on us in a completely subconscious manner (as opposed, for example, to the other fantastic, emotional long shot of Clive Owen walking through the ruined hospital with the baby, whose length and grace we actively noticed). This long take, that breaks so many long take "rules" (like how the truly shocking moment happens not at the end but in the middle) is for us simply the supreme example of masterful, accomplished filmmaking being put in service of sky-high dramatic stakes. 

Notable by their absence are a few no-brainer films that we excluded because they almost feel like they have a different agenda. So “Russian Ark” which is of course all one take, Hitchcock’s “Rope,” which is stitched together to give the impression of takes even longer than they actually were, Mike Figgis’ “Timecode,” with its real-time split-screen long takes and Michael Snow’s “Wavelength” which is an experiment in long takes, do not appear but are all instructive for devotees of this sort of thing.

And there are some that just missed the cut: the introduction of the ship and its inhabitants in Joss Whedon’s “Serenity” is a terrific example of establishing geography and character with wit and economy; Tarantino’s voyage around the teahouse in “Kill Bill Vol 1” is a fun ride; Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant” and “Last Days” both contain several very long takes (some might say tryingly so); as does Robert Siodmak’s “The Killers.” Hitchcock examples from “Frenzy” and “Young and Innocent,” the first-person intro of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” and the initial, journey-through-the-galaxy intro to “Contact” were all also considered, while long takes that are more static, such as those that characterize the work of Michael Haneke or Steve McQueen’s along with very long takes that are more about dialogue or monologues than action or camera hi jinks, such as in Linklater’s “Before”  trilogy or one-man-shows like “Bronson” we’re also saving for another day. 

But let us know the favorite one of yours that we missed, or how you feel about striking the balance between form and content in film criticism, below. 

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  • Steve | July 31, 2014 6:14 AMReply

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a really good tracking shot in the middle. Everyone should go check that out.

  • PPaul | May 5, 2014 6:37 PMReply

    Can't believe that no one has mentioned Rodrigo Garcia's Nine Lives. Nine discrete (but connected?) stories, each shot in single takes. The supermarket scene with Robin Wright and Jason Isaacs is a really impressive single take.

  • MattL | April 15, 2014 4:53 PMReply

    You guys need to update your #1 choice [Children of Men - car chase scene] with a note or take it out all together. The scene was not a single shot. It was MADE to look like a single shot but actually was a few shots, over many days and different locations, digitally edited to look like a single take seamless shot.

  • chris | April 15, 2014 4:50 PMReply

    I compiled frames from many of these long takes in a series called Shot Stitches. Check out my stitch of Children of Men:

    Also on the site are stitches for Oldboy, Taxi Driver, and True Detective

  • Grego | April 15, 2014 12:59 PMReply

    As mentioned below, I think you guys missed the point of Seitz article. He was only asking that you describe how the filmmaking applies to what you're getting out of the movie. Not asking you to give a list of ingredients per se. And no, writing for the viewer is not what a critic should be doing. They should be writing about the film itself on a film by film basis.

  • Sam | April 14, 2014 4:15 AMReply

    Such a pity that the unforgettable opening scene of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) isn't here.

  • Jack | April 12, 2014 10:01 PMReply

    Not a bad list but you forgot one of the most important films in this category of long takes: Russian Ark. The whole movie is shot in one take how can you leave that off?

  • Jilly | April 10, 2014 4:42 PMReply

    Opening sequence of Boogie Nights? You meet almost the entire cast in a single shot, ending on Mark Wahlberg

  • martijn | April 9, 2014 2:34 AMReply

    Gaspar Noe's work with Benoit Debie in Irreversible and Enter the Void deserve a mention as well.

  • Gabe Rodriguez | April 9, 2014 1:33 AMReply

    What about Nicole Kidman taking her seat at the symphony in "Birth"?!

  • @RickAtTheMovies | April 8, 2014 9:56 AMReply

    There's a beautiful long take in Sam Fuller's 1956 western FORTY GUNS, when the protagonists walk along Main Street discussing their options in dealing with their opponents, meanwhile chatting to various establishment owners. For over 2 minutes the camera follows them effortlessly displaying the entire length of main street, finishing the shot off with Barbara Stanwyck and her forty men stampeding into town in impeccable timing.

    Also, Frank Borzage has two long takes complementing each other in his 1928 film STREET ANGEL.

  • MDL | April 7, 2014 8:45 PMReply

    Good list. The biggest names missing are Miklos Jancso who - well before fellow Hungarian Bela Tarr - was the master of long take shots and Theo Angelopolous whose films are almost exclusively long takes. Also Kenji Mizoguchi did many long takes in his films.

  • ThisGuyThat | April 6, 2014 10:01 AMReply

    "Sparked off by a well-written, interesting and articulate post by Matt Zoller Seitz over on RogerEbert with which we disagree so violently we may have dislocated something" -- how on EARTH can you disagree with an article that calls on critics to stop being lazy bastards, educate themselves and actually do their job? Perhaps because then you'd actually be required to do yours?

  • Spencer | April 16, 2014 4:58 PM

    Yeah you guys really missed the entire point of the article Seitz wrote. He said PROFESSIONAL critics should have some sense of how the sausage is made, that way if they enjoy it they can try and explain why. Was it because of the dash of pepper? The long gestation process? Other such sausage things? Not just, "it tastes good" which is about as far from criticism and film analysis as you can get.

  • no | April 11, 2014 11:44 PM

    "The writers of this article wasted a lot of timed debating nothing." No one really cares about Seitz and all that boring hoo-ha. That was all side-dish.

  • maicol | April 11, 2014 9:02 PM

    The writers of this article wasted a lot of timed debating nothing. Seitz isn't asking them to describe how the sausage is made. He's asking that critics recognize form in their reviews. Too many times I've read reviews that focus on plot and character when talking about a movie that is clearly working on a purely visual/aural mode (i.e. "there's not enough character development in Van Sant's Elephant"). These kinds of reviews are real head-slappers and I get Seitz's frustration in regards to that. A film critic should know that a film like Elephant is aiming for formalistic rigor whether they like it or not and should make that clear. Just the other day Dana Stevens wrote a review for Nymphomaniac and it drove me nuts because she takes snarky pot shots at the goofiness of the plot yet fails to mention any of the intentional formal jokes Von Trier exercised throughout the film. I wasn't so crazy about the film myself but if it's going to be critiqued the least it deserves to be understood. If you're going to talk about narrative stakes in regards to a film that's clearly a post-modern experiment then you're completely missing the point. I'm all for visual literacy in modern film critique.

  • Felip | April 6, 2014 12:21 AMReply

    Nothing from Theo Angelopoulos?

    Not the rape scene from "Landscapes in the Midst"? Or the bus scene from "Eternity and a Day"? Or the end scene from "Ulysses' Gaze"?

    I thought you folks were into cinema?

  • chardday | April 4, 2014 7:04 PMReply

    mmmmmuch further down the list, but clocking in at the high end of the length spectrum at seven minutes, the proposal scene from something called "Straight-Jacket"


  • Theo Holen | April 4, 2014 5:46 PMReply

    True detective episode 3 ending

  • colton | April 5, 2014 1:19 PM

    episode 4 dude

  • Jimmy arms | April 3, 2014 2:20 PMReply

    The film kind of sucks but silent house should get an honourable mention.

  • Robert | April 2, 2014 10:24 PMReply

    Much as I like Panic Room, that is not a continuous shot. It's broken up by CGI and fades to black.

  • Larry Gross | April 2, 2014 6:17 PMReply

    The long elaborate sequence shot depicting a child memory image of a fire, in Tarkovsky's Mirror.
    The midnight snack chat between Agnes Moorhead and Tim Holt in Ambersons "Don't bolt your food George."
    The long poignant dialogue between Theresa Wright and Macdonald Carey in Shadow of a Doubt.

  • Christopher Derrick | April 1, 2014 5:26 PMReply

    They either choose the wrong or failed to recognize the other long take in TOUCH OF EVIL that is just as impressive (perhaps more so because of how critical it is to the story); when Vargas discovers that Quinlen framed Sanchez... to skip this means that real research wasn't done.

  • Dave | April 3, 2014 9:24 PM

    I don't believe they do "research" on this site; this is "laptop internet criticism", so obviously all opinions are subjective, clearly limited by knowledge and personal frame of reference. How else to explain the high-school-senior-omission of Gasper Noe's long-take masterpiece, "Irreversible". They're all too busy self-congratulating themselves on another list while watching "Flashdance" and "Jules Et Jim".

  • Terry Scot | April 1, 2014 1:46 PMReply

    Have you seen "The Longest Day"???? There is an incredible huge moving battle fought and filmed in one very long take.

  • Matthew McInerney | March 31, 2014 10:25 AMReply

    The long take in the metro in Haneke's supremely underrated CODE INCONNU is definitely my favourite long take. So simple, but it is incredibly powerful, watching as Juliette Binoche's character is assaulted. The formal rigidity and distance of the shot makes it seem like documentary, but it also highlights how helpless both she is as a character and we are as the audience.

  • Erik Rikard | March 31, 2014 7:18 AMReply

    It is a great list and I suppose by saying it's the 20 greatest takes that points it to being a subjective list. But if we can't contest such subjectivity then cinema would be no fun. So kudos on the list as I said but I think two sequences from Andrei Tarkovsky's Nostalghia deserved being included - the 9 minute track shot of the transporting a lit candle and the 2 minute 17 seconds breathtaking final scene reveal. Thanks Peter Scarlet for directing me to UGETSU - it was brilliant. Thanks also to Viggo Strydom for directing me to BREAKING NEWS and FAUX DEPART - outstanding long takes.

  • Peter Scarlet | March 30, 2014 4:37 PMReply

    Three startling omissions from three not-to-be-missed films:

    SUNRISE (directed by F.W. Murnau, USA, 1927, cinematography by Charles Rosher and Karl Struss) - the extraordinary and mysterious trajectory followed by the peasant character known only as "The Man" (George O'Brien)as he stumbles through the swamp toward a fatefully erotic encounter with the vamp from the city (Margaret Livingston).

    THE CRIME OF M. LANGE (directed by Jean Renoir, France, 1936, cinematography by Jean Bachelet) - a 360 degree pan around the courtyard that is the center of the united creative energies of the publishing cooperative who are the film's focus, as their childlike leader, Amédée Lange, shoots the evil capitalist exploiter Batala (Jules Berry) who, having fled from the police, returns to reclaim the business he wants only to exploit for profit. "A work touched by divine grace," wrote François Truffaut, and André Bazin, his mentor, wrote a brilliant analysis of this sequence and of the entire film.

    UGETSU - (Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan, 1953, cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa) This film contains many unforgettable sequence shots, but perhaps the most moving is the climactic return of Genjuro the potter, who had abandoned his home and was seduced by a princess who turns out to be a ghost. He returns at the end to discover his wife, whom we believe had died, is there and cooking him a meal to mark his homecoming; as he sleeps, she mends his kimono. But he awakens to discover that she too, is a ghost.

  • MDL | April 7, 2014 8:39 PM

    I second Mizoguchi. Many of his films have long takes. But few people have seen his films.

  • Erik Rikard | March 31, 2014 7:19 AM

    Thanks Peter. Ugetsu was brilliant.

  • Sadie | March 29, 2014 11:01 AMReply

    The Body is Buffy the Vampire Slayer???

  • Alberto Farina | March 29, 2014 7:06 AMReply

    Great list - I confess I went through it half-hoping I could find it was missing some fundamentals and I am glad to say that for what it's worth I found it comprehensive, balanced and informative. If I may offer a few not-too-obscure contributions myself, here are my 2 or 3 cents:

    Mike Figgis's boundary-pushing "Timecode" (2000) is not a particularly satisfying movie when it comes to whatever plot it tells, and yet it provides 4 simultaneous, interconnected, uninterrupted, 90-minutes long takes that run on 4 quadrants and at times create striking combinations between one another. Check it out if you can.

    "I guappi" (1974), a ho-hum Pasquale Squiitieri drama about the heydays of neapolitan Camorra, has an interesting closing long sequence that while it's nothing special on a technical level does hold some interest in the fact it begins in a Court of Law in the late 19th Century and it ends in the streets of Naples in the 1970s, somehow inferring not much has changed in a few decades.

    Olivier Dahan's Edith Piaf 2007 biopic "La mome", besides providing Marion Cotillard the chance for an Oscar-worthy performance, also has a cool long take that brings the protagonist from a happy wake-up call with her lover kissing her awake in a wonderful sunny day to an eerie slide into a nightmarish but real situation as we slowly realize, along with Edith, that she has but imagined the nice part and that in fact her lover has died in a plane crash.

  • jfc | March 28, 2014 9:44 PMReply

    I was expecting Children of Men to make the list...I just wasn't expecting that scene. Great list though. It's a treat watching these scenes.

  • lee | March 28, 2014 6:16 PMReply

    Russian Ark was one shot, though there is one cut.

  • Jim D'Arcy | March 28, 2014 5:40 PMReply

    Kenneth Branagh"s 1989 film of Shakespeare's "Henry V". A complicated 4 minute take as Branagh [King Henry V] , after the battle of Agincourt, walks through the battlefield surveying the dead, wounded, scavengers, and camp followers, all the while carrying the dead body of a trusted page boy [a very young Christian Bale] on his shoulder. With the melodic underscoring of composer Patrick Doyle, this makes for one of the most rousing, memorable sequences in film.

  • Joey Jones | March 28, 2014 4:50 PMReply

    Boogie Nights?

  • Mark V | March 28, 2014 5:13 PM

    "Boogie Nights" swimming pool shot was "borrowed" (as graciously admitted by the director himself) from "I Am Cuba", which was properly included on this list, as it is any list of great long takes. To include "Boogie Nights" on this list would have been redundant.

  • Adam C | March 28, 2014 4:45 PMReply

    I was going to say 'Rope,' but the dude below me clearly got to it first.

  • Omar Ipodriguez | March 28, 2014 2:38 PMReply

    R O P E

    Where is ROPE?

    Hitchcock's masterpiece is an ENTIRE FILM THAT IS ONE LONG TAKE

    I honestly wasn't surprised as I clicked along and it wasn't on the list, because I expected it to be #1! The only two cuts in the entire movie are simply for changing reels, and he goes out of his way to point out 'I didn't have to cut right there, but I was forced to switch reels'

    You need to see ROPE and then re-publish this list, it literally is lacking the greatest long take ever.

  • Michael | June 28, 2014 5:28 AM

    You are exaggerating a bit. A reel is only ten minutes long so Hitchcock had to cut eleven times in the movie. Five of these cuts are quite obvious, the other six cuts are hidden by tricks like blocking the camera with a character in the foreground.

  • MAN | March 28, 2014 3:39 PM


  • Bryce | March 28, 2014 1:56 PMReply

    I can't believe The Place Beyond The Pines intro wasn't on there! that was just ridiculous.

  • blitz | March 28, 2014 1:54 PMReply

    The mayonnaise conversation in pulp fiction

  • Chaakles | March 28, 2014 1:43 PMReply

    Scarface (1932) opening shot.

  • Viggo Strydom | March 28, 2014 1:41 PMReply

    Hej. I am a big fan of long takes or what we can also call One Shots. Hong Kong directors have used it brilliantly and there are a films that have surpassed Hard Boiled in their ambition and execution in particular Johnnie To's 'BREAKING NEWS'. I feel there are some better examples missing from this list and as a critical cinephile it is really important to recognise short films that have used the long take/one shot excellently since they do not have the budgets or stars like To, Scorsese, Tarantino . Can i suggest to my fellow cinephiles and indiewire to check out Shekhar Bassi's 'FAUX DEPART'.

  • Erik Rikard | March 31, 2014 7:21 AM

    thanks Viggo. The long take in Breaking News and the completely one short short film Faux Depart were outstanding.

  • John | March 28, 2014 1:29 PMReply

    I'm surprised Singin' In The Rain isn't on here.

  • marcelo | March 28, 2014 12:50 PMReply

    I would mention one of the penultimate scenes from Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien, where Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdu share a hilarious, and hilariously vulgar, drunken conversation about their trip and their relationships that lasts 6 minutes or so and ends with the trio dancing, and since nobody mentioned it the tracking shot at the end of Royal Tenenbaums that ends with Royal and Chas finally bonding after Royal presents Chas with a new dog--the emotional highlight of the film in my estimation...

  • MauStal | March 28, 2014 12:35 PMReply

    No Polanski's "Cul-de-Sac" ? That 7 minute take is awesome.

  • Buddy | March 28, 2014 10:53 AMReply

    Neither of the celebrated shots in Children of Men are single takes. From Wiki: 'Visual effects supervisor Frazer Churchill explains that the effects team had to "combine several takes to create impossibly long shots", where their job was to "create the illusion of a continuous camera move." Once the team was able to create a "seamless blend", they would move on to the next shot. These techniques were important for three continuous shots: the coffee shop explosion in the opening shot, the car ambush, and the battlefield scene. The coffee shop scene was composed of "two different takes shot over two consecutive days"; the car ambush was shot in "six sections and at four different locations over one week and required five seamless digital transitions"; and the battlefield scene "was captured in five separate takes over two locations".'

  • Sharlto | April 13, 2014 11:35 AM

    I see you can use Wikipedia. While you aren't wrong, that visual effects were used to accomplish parts of the car ambush, you should probably hav scrolled down and read this:

    "Cuarón's initial idea for maintaining continuity during the roadside ambush scene was dismissed by production experts as an "impossible shot to do". Fresh from the visual effects-laden Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Cuarón suggested using computer-generated imagery to film the scene. Lubezki refused to allow it, reminding the director that they had intended to make a film akin to a "raw documentary". Instead, a special camera rig invented by Gary Thieltges of Doggicam Systems was employed, allowing Cuarón to develop the scene as one extended shot. A vehicle was modified to enable seats to tilt and lower actors out of the way of the camera, and the windshield was designed to tilt out of the way to allow camera movement in and out through the front windscreen. A crew of four, including the director of photography and camera operator, rode on the roof."

    While it may have been several takes mixed together, it was filmed all at once, several times over. "It took fourteen days to prepare for the single shot in which Clive Owen's character searches a building under attack, and five hours for every time they wanted to reshoot it." Don't sell Libenzki short, he did incredible single-take work.

  • Christopher Binder | March 28, 2014 10:12 AMReply

    Any of the ten shots that make up Talking to Strangers.

    I don't like it when people do these kinds of lists because they always do a diservice to whoever is left off.

  • Peter | March 28, 2014 9:29 AMReply

    What about "Russian Ark" (2002)??? It is because the whole movie is one big long shot (96 min) it didn't end up in this ranking?

  • Buddy | March 28, 2014 11:06 AM

    Read the whole article.

  • Gerard | March 28, 2014 7:23 AMReply

    I am not an expert, but I think the fourth-wall breaking scene in JCVD, where Jean Claude van Damme litterally rises up, out of the scene he is in and talks about his life as a moviestar, deserves mentioning here. Who would expect a scene like this in a film like that? Who would expect Van Damme to be such an accomplished actor to be able to pull this off?

  • Alex | March 28, 2014 3:55 AMReply

    I think Kidnapped (2010) deserves some sort of mention, the whole film is only 12 long takes and they're all so damn intense. Agree that something from Irreversible or Enter the Void should be included. The club long take in Irreversible is cut together from different shots but the camera roves through the whole place in such an unnerving, disorienting manner that it feels like entering a nightmare in a striking way that left a permanent imprint in my mind of a twisted hell.

  • bohmer | March 28, 2014 12:23 AMReply

    That's the perfect list really.

  • honest rob | March 27, 2014 11:12 PMReply

    No "The Player"?
    C'mon! Parody on top of craft!

  • Honestly | March 28, 2014 8:18 AM

    It's number 4.

  • Ada | March 27, 2014 10:27 PMReply

    What about Nicole Kidman's full-on close-up in Birth?

  • Glazer | March 27, 2014 11:50 PM

    YES! THIS!

  • Eyeswired | March 27, 2014 10:17 PMReply

    Don't forget Raging Bull's long tracking shot from the dressing room, down the corridor, into the auditorium and through the expectant crowd and finally into the boxing ring.

  • Brian | March 27, 2014 10:11 PMReply

    I remember hearing that Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien once comically referred to the Kodak 10 1/2-minute film magazine as "a form of censorship," though I can't seem to find any reference to it now.

  • Tarr | March 27, 2014 10:14 PM

    That's a Bela Tarr quote.

  • J | March 27, 2014 10:08 PMReply

    I believe the 'blood on the camera lens' story belongs to the other long take in Children of Men, the assault on Bexhill - not to downplay this incredible scene, which I didn't even realize was a long take until someone told me. I noticed the other one.

  • Jeff | March 27, 2014 10:07 PMReply


  • Bridget | March 27, 2014 10:02 PMReply

    I'd include Magnificent Ambersons party scene.

  • Brian | March 27, 2014 10:01 PMReply

    Miklos Jancso's 1969 feature "The Winter Wind" runs 80 mins and contains just 12 shots.

  • Lou | March 27, 2014 9:43 PMReply

    A list of long takes without one from McQueen (dir.)?! At the very least, the 17 minute scene in Hunger of the discussion between Fassbender and Cunningham has to be here. And then there is the running scene in Shame or Northup's near lynching in 12 Years a Slave...

  • Tanita | April 16, 2014 7:53 AM

    Agreed, I definitely thought of Steve Mcqueen's 'Hunger' also.

  • JetJ | March 27, 2014 9:33 PMReply

    Definitely agree! That long take in Children of Men blew my mind away. I think Gaspar Noe's work on "Irreversible" and/or "Enter the Void" was worth mentioning and I loved what Steve McQueen did with the long take in "Shame" and in "Hunger" but I still agree with this list. Great article!!!

  • Reini Urban | March 28, 2014 3:09 PM

    I second JETJ. Great scenes.

  • James | March 27, 2014 8:56 PMReply

    Can't argue with Children of Men... That dropped my jaw when I saw it...amazing Lubeski!

  • stp | March 27, 2014 8:50 PMReply


  • Read | March 27, 2014 7:56 PMReply

    "while long takes that are more static, such as those that characterize the work of Michael Haneke or Steve McQueen’s along with very long takes that are more about dialogue or monologues than action or camera hi jinks, such as in Linklater’s “Before” trilogy or one-man-shows like “Bronson” we’re also saving for another day. "

  • Mark | March 27, 2014 7:49 PMReply

    I was expecting Russian ark to place, at lest.

  • dan | March 27, 2014 7:43 PMReply

    Steve McQueen much?

  • Rory | March 27, 2014 7:41 PMReply

    Claudia Cardinale's arrival in Once Upon a Time in the West?

  • DG | March 27, 2014 6:51 PMReply

    Good article but i have to disagree about one thing, which is that the opening scene in Boogie Nights should have been on the list over the Magnolia long take, not just because it's more fun, but because it's both a technical and narrative brilliance, introducing virtually every major character of the movie in one go and changing POVs several times. Basically everything you need to know about the movie is established in one take, which is quite amazing. Also LOVE the barn burning scene in The Mirror but I see now that you mentioned that

  • MAL | March 27, 2014 4:53 PMReply

    Glad you included Werckmeister Harmonies. That hospital scene (and the movie itself) made me feel that I was truly in a dream that I could not escape (not that I wanted to but if I did!). Tarr's work is built on this styling and there are oher more extreme examples, but that one is the most emotionally powerful and truly (and literally) mesmerizing.

  • Slen | March 27, 2014 4:48 PMReply

    Everyone said that long take in the True Detective episode was mesmerizing and nail butting. I thought it was showboating and a waste of time. Scene felt like it was trying too hard to be this scene that everyone will gush on about. What was the point? It held no dramatic weight due to knowledge that we know these characters make it out of the situation, alive.

    I await replies telling me I'm a moron and objectively wrong.

  • moronandobjective | March 28, 2014 10:54 PM

    You are a moron and objectively wrong.

  • Slen | March 27, 2014 11:54 PM

    Personally, it had no tension due knowing the outcome of the main characters. Whether the biker got out or if they got caught, it didn't matter to me. Knowing there was half a season left, I knew that there is still more to explore. So if the biker died halfway through, I know there could have been a written direction from Nic P.

    I still like most of Cary's work. Sin Nombre is mostly great and Jane Eyre has a great visual pallette. But he tried too hard in that scene. It doesn't mean he's shit. It just means he did a bit of showboating to get people on the edge of seats. It worked for most. It didn't for me.

  • Anonymouse | March 27, 2014 7:15 PM

    i think you are correct in that the scene was a bit of showboating on fukunaga's part but disagree that there was no tension. the getting out of the neighborhood with the skinhead alive and undetected - i believe the detectives were acting against orders/out of the rez type of activity - was gripping.

    on a sidenote, i never understood the idea behind criticizing a piece of art, particularly fiction, as "trying to hard." i've had arguments with friends over this. same as criticizing a piece as pretentious. i think if an artist is not trying too hard, his work is not worth watching/reading/viewing.

  • a | March 27, 2014 4:25 PMReply

    how is the touch of evil opening shot only at 8?

  • Jay | March 27, 2014 3:50 PMReply

    The levee scene in Memories of Murder.

  • alex | March 27, 2014 3:46 PMReply

    Enter the Void.

  • Jeremy | March 27, 2014 3:44 PMReply

    I agree with Brace. The dinner scene in 4 Months 3 Weeks And 2 Days is astounding. It gives off so much ever-tightening, ever-intensifying tension. When that phone rings, it's like a knife in the gut. And you can't take it out. A little surprised you guys didn't include this film, as there are definitely other examples from it than this one. It's a film built upon very impressively staged, long takes. Good list nonetheless.

  • Nathan Duke | March 27, 2014 3:31 PMReply

    The scene in "Hunger" when Michael Fassbender meets with the priest.

  • Andy | March 27, 2014 3:15 PMReply

    Very good article. Finally a list in which I completely agree with the top choice.

  • brace | March 27, 2014 2:50 PMReply

    the dinner scene in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

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