Are Children of Men’s Long Takes Worth the Effort?

As we discussed in class, a major talking point about Children of Men are its long shots. Instead of using multiple shots, director Cuaron decided that long shots were better suited for certain scenes, such as the car and the battle scene near the end of the film. But what effect do these long shots accomplish? Were they worth the extra effort and man hours?

The primary long shot in the movie I want to focus on is the scene in the car. As our main characters are bonding while driving down the road, they are suddenly interrupted by a flaming car that forces them to go in reverse. Shooting this scene was very challenging, and the take we see in the film is actually the last shot they had at getting it right before losing that shooting location. When blood splattered onto the camera, Cuaron actually yelled “Cut!”, but an explosion happened at the same exact time, saving the shot. So what does the long take accomplish here that individual shots couldn’t? I personally think the long take was used just to be impressive. I do not think that the average viewer would even notice that it was all done in one take, and that individual shots would have accomplished the same result. However, I am glad that they did the long take because it is very impressive to watch and wonder how they pulled it off. I do think the long take did effect the quality of the acting though. With individual shots, you can make sure that each line is delivered in just the right way, but with these long takes you have to obviously make some sacrifices. I thought that a couple of lines, including one of Julian’s and one of Miram’s, sounded a bit forced.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the long takes and thought they were very visually impressive. With that being said, I don’t think the average viewer would be able to tell a difference between individual shots and these long takes. Do you think the long takes were worth the effort?


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