Focusing On Spielberg’s Use of the Long Take

Vimeo user Tony Zhou has put together an excellent, eight minute look at Steven Spielberg‘s use of one shots throughout his filmography and the best part is Zhou doesn’t approach it strictly from an educational perspective, but also injects his own opinion in there keeping things lively… “This is probably the most jerked-off-to type of shot in filmmaking.”

One overlooked aspect of Spielberg is that he’s actually a stealth master of the long take. From Duel to Tintin, for forty years, he has sneakily filmed many scenes in a single continuous shot.

In conjunction, he also offers two additional videos showing the examples he uses in the video, only in real-time rather than sped up, as he does for the video itself. Zhou doesn’t come across as a Spielberg fanboy, but more as someone who appreciates what Spielberg accomplishes as a filmmaking technician and stresses the difference between Spielberg’s ability to keep his one shots busy even if the camera is static, largely thanks to location, setting and the use of practical effects.

For as much as we tend to focus on Martin ScorseseJoe Wright and Alfonso Cuaron for their long takes, I felt this was a refreshing look at the shot, especially in the way Zhou examines it. He notes the difference between whether a filmmaker is being a showman or if they’re doing it to keep the audience engaged, even if no one notices what you’ve done. Give it a watch, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

The number of Spielberg movies included are endless such as Saving Private RyanSchindler’s ListJawsRaiders of the Lost ArkMinority Report and Jurassic Park. He even throws Always in even though he calls it an awful movie.


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