Long takes are a staple of filmic language that, when employed correctly, can both dazzle and enrich. They are virtuoso feats of technical derring-do, mounted and mastered by technicians and craftsman working at the top of their respective game to choreograph a beautiful, eye-popping moment. But it’s not enough to be technologically astounding. The best long, unbroken takes, are the ones that draw us deeper into the story, reveal something new about the characters, or get information across with an economy of dialogue or unnecessary exposition. The long take that combines form and function are truly awe-inspiring.
The long take (or “oner”) has seen proliferation in the digital age, when Oscar-nominated movies like 1917 can appear to be shot in a single, unbroken shot and TV dramas (like the first season of True Detective) managed impressively complicated long shots. But if there are more of them these days, that means that the ones that really pop, really mean something, are fewer and farther between.
So, presented below are a collection of incredible and incredibly long takes that continue to delight.