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3rd December 2013

Top 5: One Take Scenes

It’s a risky business, but sometimes one shot is all it takes to make movie magic. James Moules gives us his top 5 one take scenes

5. Atonement

Ever wanted to know what it would be like to have been at the Dunkirk Evacuations? In this scene, Joe Wright gives you the closest thing you’ll get to actually being there. As Robbie Turner arrives at the evacuation site, he is presented with what some may call hell on earth. Nothing is left to the imagination.

4. Children of Men

Alfonso Cuarón (who may or may not be appearing later on this list) used several impressive long takes in this chilling, post-apocalyptic movie, but the one that everyone remembers is the now famous car scene. A normal drive along a country road turns quickly into a nightmarish chase sequence. It’s a scene that is not so much viewed as lived.

3. Touch of Evil

Tick tock tick tock. We follow a time bomb from the moment it is planted to its explosion three minutes and twenty seconds later. Only Orson Welles could have pulled this one off so effectively.  

2. Goodfellas

Mobster Henry Hill leads Karen through the nightclub where his fellow criminals are, and in this three minute tracking shot, she falls for both Hill and the gangster lifestyle. And who wouldn’t after seeing this scene? Good job, Mr Scorsese.

1. Gravity

The opening take of Alfonso Cuarón’s latest is a whopping seventeen minutes long – that’s right, seventeen minutes. And this isn’t just seventeen minutes of a still camera recording two people talking in a room. It’s seventeen minutes of following space shuttles in orbit, George Clooney flying with a jetpack and satellite debris smashing everything in its path. It’s not until Sandra Bullock goes spinning off into the void that the camera first cuts.

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