Just art for art’s sake?
Any opinions about the importance of it?
There are quite a few long takes threads out there but in the sense of the way you posed the question around efficacy and use, I guess one of the lesser talked about functions of the long take is how limiting rather than how freeing it is. A long take forces the perspective of the viewer and thus, in its own way, becomes more claustrophobic than freeing, more about the limitations of the space its in than the expansiveness.
Hence, The Shining.
Also, the opening of Weekend.
“A long take forces the perspective of the viewer and thus, in its own way, becomes more claustrophobic than freeing, more about the limitations of the space its in than the expansiveness.”
I was just thinking today of how oppressive Abderrahmane Sissako’s static, long-take perspective is. He uses it perfectly to construct these block spaces that needle people into a smaller and smaller space, but he doesn’t usually offer the agency of that style; a la Naruse’s use of similar compositions to push characters into a destructive breaking point (even that seems a melodramatic description, but…). So there’s a dour feeling created by these films, but it never seems to come naturally. Which is the absolute perfect manner to discuss post-colonial Africa and what makes his films so incredibly moving and complex.
It’s not the technique, it’s always the use of it.
What of long takes in documentary? Ogawa, Hara, Wiseman, Wang, Wu and many other great documentarists use long-takes to convey an opposite from the aesthetic qualities of their use in many “fiction” films. Really Wiseman’s use of the long-take is as astounding as any filmmaker’s in history. And that’s not even mentioning Loznitsa, Benning, Hutton and Lockhart…
I agree with Wu, not all long takes are created equal. The purpose of say the long take intro to Touch of Evil or the long take walk into the club in Goodfellas are both quite different than the opening scene of Werckmeister Harmonies, or any scene in 10 Skies. They can be used to create a greater sense of reality, or a sense of being trapped in one space, or the sense that you are exploring an area with a character through their own eyes, or in many many other ways.
A long take forces the perspective of the viewer and thus, in its own way, becomes more claustrophobic than freeing
Ultimately it depends on the content. For example, the long take during the funeral in I Am Cuba doesn’t force the perspective of the viewer because its so rich with details, there are so many things going on at the same time that the viewer can decide what he wants to pay attention to.
Yeah, in and of itself long takes don’t have a particular meaning. It depends on what you do within a take.
Without motivation, it is merely masturbation, as the saying goes.
I just saw Uchida’s Souls in the Moonlight and his style of filmmaking, coming from the old conservative pre-war Nikkatsu style (the most famous practitioner of this style in the west would be Kenji Mizoguchi), saw no other means to approach most scenes other than in one single long take. There’s no motivation for them because there’s not an alternative seen by these filmmakers (though, Sword of Doom was based on the same material and shows a much more traditional approach to the “action” film in terms of form). It’s not masturbatory because it contains the information necessary to push a narrative. It’s just different from the more readily accepted modes of filmic storytelling in the western world.
Really it’s much more common that a filmmaker that uses a quicker cutting style has much less justification or motivation for it as it’s just a more readily understood and acceptable method (the pre-war Shochiku style was very much influenced by western cinema and had much more edits and quicker pacing). Just by the mere fact that a filmmaker breaks from that means they create an assumption of motivation for doing so.
Then there’s Peter Hutton, who basically uses long takes as a method of moving landscape photography, starting the shot when he’s got the frame and then cutting the camera once the light has shifted.
@ DT: “without motivation it is merely masturbation”. Really? Why should a character or an apple be motivated at all. Why does it have to exist a previous motivation for someone or something to exist. Bah. Long takes are just takes who are long. Lengthy in duration. What’s good? What’s GOOD. Have a hard time deciding what it is good and what is it not. An image as a value per se. Outside of value. Maybe one day robots will shoot pictures too and we (his slaves) will have nothing but that. Film is Film.