Five Awesome Long Take Scenes in Movies

The long take, or long shot, is when a long sequence of film is made without stopping the camera.  The effect can be used to evoke a huge array of emotions and actions.   This too has actually been used in Hollywood for quite a while but it was so revolutionary at the beginning that it took some getting used to before it really took off in the mainstream.

Here are five great uses of the long shot….

Strange Days Intro


This is a most uncomfortable scene but a great way to introduce a film.  The movie, in case you haven’t seen it is a Kathryn Bigelow special and takes an interesting “dystopian” view of the future (well back then it was the future).   It explores the black market of “fantasies” and shows a strong divide between the poor and rich.  P.S. this scene was shot with a handheld camera which is why it’s kind of nauseating.

Boogie Nights Opening Scene


Starting from the title of the movie, we move through the street and into the club Boogie Nights.  It’s the first 2:57 of this clip.  There is actually one other scene where it’s an extremely long take.  Remember the “Jessie’s Girl” scene?  Yup.  Paul Thomas Anderson is the man.  Personally I still think this is his best film.

Last Days


In case you are unaware of this movie, the entire film is done using long takes.  And since it’s about Kurt Cobain it’s almost appropriate in a way isn’t it?  The long take in this movie is used to display feelings of despair and loneliness and boy does it work.

Hard Boiled Hospital Scene


This famous action sequence in a burning hospital, is shot with a single handheld camera  in which Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung alternately fight off enemies in frantically choreographed action.  The scene actually lasted over 2 minutes.   It’s pretty cool how the scene takes place in multiple rooms and has tons of activity.

Goodfellas Club Scene


Remember how they spoofed it in the movie Swingers?  This is one of the most famous long takes in movie history.  What makes this scene pretty awesome is that it takes an audience point of view.  Ah screw it, if you haven’t seen this movie you’re an idiot.