Based on the 1929 play by Patrick Hamilton, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 thriller has gained notoriety for two things, its homosexual subtext and its long takes. Hitchcock’s film, therefore, is cut into ten segments. Each section is up to ten minutes due to the length of a film camera magazine and the reels had to be changed in the cinema after every two segments. It’s described as one of Hitchcock’s most exciting experiments as well as one of film history’s most exciting experiments.
Paths of Glory
When you think of Stanley Kubrick and long takes you probably think of A Clockwork Orange but believe it or not Kubrick had honed the technique somewhere else. In 1957’s Paths of Glory, an anti-war film starring Kirk Douglas as General Dax. The long take follows the men and the General in the trenches. It’s shocking and goes on an uncomfortably long time. You get so acquainted with the scene you can almost smell the fear on the men.
Jean Luc Goddard’s dark comedy, Weekend follows Corrinne and Roland as they make a disastrous road trip. As they drive down the roads of France, they meet strange people and the Roads are blocked. Godard uses a tracking shot to follow a particularly long traffic jam to its horrible conclusion. From people sitting on the roves of their cars to fixing them to the nasty end where there are dead bodies and blood everywhere. It’s shocking how calm the characters are as they simply drive past.