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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sullivan claims to have found the "mother of all tracking shots" - you know, the shots that are never interrupted by a cut, and are amazingly difficult to pull off. His is from the 1958 Orson Welles thriller Touch of Evil.

He's wrong for three reasons.

The Welles shot is impressive in its scope - from the close-up of the bomb ticker being set to the wide crane shots. But it doesn't follow anyone, meaning there are really little to no physical impediments for the camera or cinematographer to deal with. Without any significant obstruction or tight quarters, it's not even up to Scorsese's club scene from Goodfellas.

That leads me to a second point. There's hardly any dialogue until the end, which is a pretty easy shot. Without any dialogue to make the shot even trickier - most of it's done from a crane, where impediments and lines aren't much of an issue - I can't respect it as the "mother", so to speak.

Thirdly, if need be, many shots in the sequence could have been replaced (starting with the opening crane shot in which the car goes behind the building and an edit could've easily been attempted, if necessary). So much of the sequence is comprised of set pieces - staging in which Welles could have easily told all actors to return to their "first positions" and picked up the shot from there. Continuity wouldn't have been an issue - take the video at 1:07, for instance. The cart obscures the car completely, and there's no one else on the street. Perfect pickup point.

Oh, and there's a fourth reason. Because this scene is the mother(f*cker) of all tracking shots:

Tony Jaa in the The Protector - thanks to Steadicam, nearly four minutes of kicking ass.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yeeesss, and it counts!" Thank you for bringing this up. I totally agree with you on this point. I'm looking forward to his next film. Cool site...I found it on Jemele's site.

July 10, 2008 at 9:45 AM  

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