Long Take

The Long Take

One of the hallmarks of both this past week's film, Children of Men, and this coming week's film, Goodfellas, is the use of the "long take," or the use of a shot or shots of longer duration than the norm. Did you notice this while watching either film? What was the effect? This article provides additional examples and critical commentary on the use of this device. What do you think? How does this device affect your experience of mise-en-scène?

Long take follow-up

This article by film scholar David Bordwell is a detailed critical discussion of the purposes and uses of the long take.

The following is a compilation of long takes from Children of Men:

Children of Men - every shot 45 seconds or longer from Refocused Media on Vimeo.

 And here is a feature on how the long takes were accomplished:


Here are links to the excerpts we watched in class: Russian Ark (1 & 2), Big Night, Citizen Kane, The Long Good Friday, Birdman, and Children of Men

Formal Analysis of GRAVITY part 1

The task (which we will discuss in class on W 5/20):

  • Write an analysis of the use of the long take at the beginning of this week's film. Address the following points:
    • How does the use of this extended shot affect your experience of mise-en-scène?
    • In particular, how does the movement of the camera affect your experience of mise-en-scène?
    • Where do your eyes go? What visual elements are used to guide your attention?
  • I have provided a pair of excerpts as references (the first excerpt shows more of what happens before the debris arrives, and includes what is shown in the second). Remember, the DVD is available on reserve at Hamersly Library. The library also has a Blu-ray copy for checkout. Unfortunately, it does appear to be available to stream.


  • I will look first at the precision and formality of your language. Be as specific and as technical as possible.
  • I will also be look at how clearly you explain your interpretation in visual terms. Being articulate is more important than being "right."
  • I will also be looking at how carefully your analysis is composed and edited and that you have addressed each of the required points for each image.
  • I think that one to three single-spaced pages is a reasonable guideline for length.


  • You should submit your assignment via Moodle by T 5/26 at 5:00 pm. Additional details on Moodle.
  • This assignment is worth five (5) points.

The images: