When I say the phrase, “one-shot” what comes to mind? Does it wander to action movies and shooting? Sports?
I’ve always said that when watching movies and TV I always try and look deeper into what is being presented onscreen; what is in the background, how did they get this particular shot, what could they have done differently, subtle nuances in the character’s actions. All of these not-so-prominent factors help build and support the overall story that is being told. It’s in these subtleties that I judge if a movie or show is successful or not because the larger picture might not be great, but the effort that a film or show puts into the little details can make up for that loss and still allow it to shine in some way.
What exactly am I talking about?
Take for example, Sin City, I didn’t particularly love the movie. I understood its background; coming from a graphic novel split into two three book series for the screen and adapted for film with some of the shots being an exact recreation of the graphic novel portrayal. However, it was truly an achievement in CGI and green screen in my opinion. First, it was shot entirely on Robert Rodriguez’s sound studio, which doubles as his garage. He had Frank Miller, the author of the graphic novel, sitting off-camera writing in extra scenes and providing insight as they shot, Thirdly, the use of color (or lack thereof in most shots) was absolutely stunning and for as many problems as the movie had in my mind, these particular things helped save it for me. I appreciated the effort that it took to make this movie happen.
Enter the ONE-SHOT aka Long Take/Shot. There is no other feat in cinema or television that floors me more than the art of the one-shot. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it is simply when a shot does not cut, but runs continuously until the scene is completely finished. To me, there is no greater thing you can achieve than to accomplish this successfully. As I’m writing this, several come to mind; Oldboy, The Protector, Atonement, Scrubs and the most recent being True Detective (ep. 4) and the opening shot of Gravity. To call this method an art form is not doing it complete justice. When watching anything on a screen, I purposefully look for things like this and when I see them, it sounds silly, it restores my faith in Hollywood to make quality TV and films. So here are some of my favorite one-shots (that I can remember) in no particular order.
Hatchet. Hair. And anger. What more could a person want? This was probably my first time ever noticing/appreciating the one-shot. It was truly a moment of beauty in Oldboy and one of two major moments in an excellent movie. Enjoy!