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Related: film criticism - film theory


Girish is an American film critic and author of the popular film blog with the same name.

Girish on the long take

Related: long take

In one of the more interesting film blogs, girish has a piece on long takes, which has been of interest to me since seeing Russian Ark. From the intro:

"Some of my favorite filmmakers both past and present — Renoir, Hou — use long takes, so I thought it might be a good idea to spend some time reflecting on this valuable stylistic device."

Girish then moves on to introducing positions of established film theorists, emphasizing the long take's relation to realism in cinema:

"The first great champion of the long take was André Bazin. To him, film was the “art of reality.” He once wrote: “All the arts depend on the presence of man; only photography lets us delight in his absence.” What he meant was that by not interposing oneself between the camera and the subject, the filmmaker had the potential to truly capture reality. As V.F. Perkins put it: “[A] sonnet or a sonata created a world which might reflect the subjective vision of its maker; film recorded the world which existed objectively.”

For Bazin, silent movies contained two streams. The first—best exemplified by the Russian school, most prominently Eisenstein—employed the power of cutting, resulting in images that didn’t speak for themselves through the reality they captured and showed, but instead were made to speak what the filmmaker wanted them to say. The second stream consisted primarily of Stroheim, Murnau, Flaherty and Dreyer: “here the image counts in the first place not for what it adds to reality, but for what it reveals of reality.”

Bazin believed that the long take was ideally suited to capture the rhythms and complexities of reality, while preserving its unity in space and time. Chopping up an action or event with cuts was to disrupt this unity and undermine cinema’s ability to be faithful to reality. Thus, it was important to him that Flaherty showed the length of time that Nanook waited to capture the seal. Using cuts to compress this event would not give an authentic sense of the activity of the seal hunt."

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