It’s the blockbuster computer-generated-special-
effects season. So it’s a good time to revisit the most awe-inspiring, technically accomplished moments in cinema that don’t rely on digital trickery — long, long tracking shots, in which the camera moves through space, capturing a scene without a cut. Directors can make these sequences extremely complicated — and breathtaking — by choreographing elaborate maneuvers for the actors. At its best, as in the car chase from Children of Men, the long tracking shot can become a film’s pièce de résistance.
Now a film buff and filmmaker named Alan Bacchus has collected a number of clips of great long tracking shots online. He’s posted most of the film-geek classics (such as the opening of Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil), but we were happy to discover a Thai martial-arts film, The Protector, in which the hero fights his way up a staircase in a sequence that’s as graceful as a ballet and as chaotic as a barroom brawl.
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