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The tracking shot: film-making magic – or stylistic self-indulgence?

by Jonathan Romney.


In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s new movie, Birdman, a faded movie star, played by Michael Keaton, tries to reinvent his career by staging a Raymond Carver adaptation on Broadway. It is a virtuoso showboat, tipped for Oscars, most forcefully for its lead actor. But Birdman is actually about something other than its ostensible subject: the miraculous ability of today’s digital movie cameras to go wherever film-makers choose – up, down, sideways, on the ground, in the air – and for as long as they choose.

Birdman is a marathon of long-take athleticism. As the movie follows its characters around New York’s St James Theater, the camera bobs in and out of dressing rooms, careers up and down corridors and staircases, even vaults into the sky; and, in one astonishing sequence, follows Keaton’s character as he shambles in his underpants through a crowded Times Square. It’s all done in what appears to be one fluid 113-minute continuous take (with brief coda appended), although considerable legerdemain is used to splice the shots together with hidden edits.

Read the rest of this article from The Guardian.

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