Alfonso Cuaron’s GRAVITY Filled with Long Shots; Unbroken 17-Minute Opening Confirmed

     April 11, 2012


Alfonso Cuaron crafted some remarkable unbroken shots in Children of Men, and it was previously rumored that he would be upping his game for his new movie, GravityBack in 2010, we reported that the movie would open with a single, 20-minute shot.  Today, we’ve learned that while the opening scene will be an unbroken 17-minute shot (way to slack off, Cuaron).  Additionally, long takes will run throughout the film.

Hit the jump for more.  The sci-fi drama stars Sandra Bullock as an astronaut who fights to return home after her space station suffers a catastrophe.  Gravity opens in 3D on November 21st.

children_of_men_movie__image_alfonso_cuaron__1_gravityImmersed in Movies [via The Film Stage] reports that Chris DeFaria, and executive producer and VFX lead on many Warner Bros. films including Sucker Punch and I Am Legend, revealed to an audience at 5D | FLUX conference at USC that Gravity only has 156 shots in its two-hour runtime, and many of the shots run “six, eight, 10 minutes long.”

Of course, it’s possible some of these shots don’t involve much camera movement.  I would be shocked if every long take required the same amount of insane planning and precision as the climax of Children of Men.  There could be a scene like the 16-minute continuous take of the conversation between Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham‘s characters in Steve McQueen‘s Hunger.  Nevertheless, scenes like those present their own challenges since the cast and crew have to keep the tension, and audiences are accustomed to short takes and dynamic camera angles.

DeFaria also mentioned that the film’s design and long-takes came from trying to reverse engineer a live-action movie from an animated picture’s freedom of movement:

“Instead of trying to create real people and what they’re doing, let’s turn it around and create almost an entirely animated film and then backwards engineer the people into that film,” he explained. “As a matter of fact, let’s not even engineer the people into the film, let’s engineer their faces. So you’ve got these little faces inside these little helmets. But there was a big hiccup that we came to I didn’t realize until later, which was that we began building it as an animated film and Alfonso had an idea that he wanted the shots to be incredibly long, and I said, ‘How long?’ And he said he wanted the first shot to be really long. And I said, ‘You mean, 40 seconds?’ ‘No, 17 minutes.’”

I absolutely love it when a director has the vision to dream big, and more importantly, has the talent to realize that vision.  I admire Cuaron for embracing this challenge, and I have faith that he’s managed to master his challenge to create a captivating and compelling picture.


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