10 Of The Most Impressive Long Takes In Movie History

1) Children of Men

Children of Men

Cuarón first began to grab people’s attention with his appreciation for uninterrupted takes in 2006’s Children of Men. There are actually several long sequences dispersed throughout the film where the action unfolds before us without any cutting, which makes the world depicted by the movie all the more real and terrifying, but the one scene that understandably gets the most attention is its most memorable: the car chase. At this point in the movie we’ve already become slightly braced for unexpected explosiveness after the literal explosion of the film’s opening (single shot) scene.

But it’s hard to be truly prepared for what unfolds here. We see a car inexplicably on fire, which we later learn is part of a designed ambush by a mob, which results in one of the characters we thought was going to be a principal player getting shot by a gunman through the windshield, and a flight from police that ends with two cops being shot in cold blood.

The lead character played by Clive Owen gives the best response to the latter development: a simple, dumbfounded, “Why did you do that?” It’s that kind of stunned disbelief that captures the precise tone that a long, unbroken take elicits. And it’s his perspective that we’re seeing things from, primarily. That we’re put inside the car with these characters is one of the most remarkable qualities of this sequence. We’re put in their positions, as though this hoard of people is attacking us, and all we can do is stare, amazed and terrified.

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