One of the hallmarks of great cinematography is the long take. An unbroken camera shot is a trick that can sneak up on the audience member, immersing them into the world of the scene before they even realize it.
Such an effect requires precise coordination and rehearsal from everyone involved, from the director to the cinematographer, the actors, and even the crew, but the impact it yields is undeniable.
Used to build tension in important conversation, or add intensity and movement to an action set-piece, there are many ways a long take can be utilized to enhance a film and even immortalize a scene as iconic.
10. La La Land
The camera effortlessly glides among sun-kissed, dancing explosions of primary color. Filmmaking so effervescently joyous and energetic is hard to come by, which is why something like La La Land is so special.
Director Damien Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren shot La La Land on Super 35mm with an anamorphic 2.55:1 aspect ratio, calling back to the days of shooting in classic CinemaScope style. The result is a film filled with rich colors painting a wide, vibrant frame. The opening musical number, taking place in jammed Los Angeles traffic, boldly declares the film that is about to unfold.
Both an ode to the pursuit of one's dreams and a musical celebration of optimism in the face of challenge, La La Land's opening shot features hundreds of people, all strangers to each other, emerging from the frustration of a traffic jam on a hot day into a dance. The dance is a unification; the music awakens an energy that unifies both young and old, man and woman, into solidarity. If the charm doesn't pull you into the dance, Chazelle and Sandgren's muscular filmmaking definitely will.