Early on in 2014, the HBO gothic noir True Detective took the world by storm. You remember, right? Everyone was saying “time is a flat circle” and geeking out on Southern-fried philosophizing? Anyway, perhaps the moment the show achieved critical mass was episode four, which concluded with a bravura six-minute scene shot in one unbroken take. This bold scene got a lot of attention, which is exactly what it was meant to do. Highly stylized directors like Alfonso Cuarón and Paul Thomas Anderson often include such moments as flashy flourishes, and newly minted Academy Award winner Steve McQueen employs sustained takes for a haunting effect. As a new video essay postulates, however, one of the most acclaimed directors ever is quietly the master of the long take too.
Created by film buff Tony Zhou of movie worship website Every Frame a Painting, “The Spielberg Oner” is a deep dive into the oeuvre of the man who directed Jaws. The “oner” is an industry term for long takes in movies, and it’s yet another cinematic element that Spielberg reigns supreme in. Rather than showboating with his oners, Spielberg apparently uses them in more subtle ways that serve the scene while going virtually unnoticed. Zhou’s video revels in sped-up versions of some key scenes from films like Saving Private Ryan and Raiders of the Lost Ark, with a clock in the corner counting down their duration.
By the end of the video, not only is the point made, but your weekend plans will also probably be updated to include a revisiting of some classic Spielberg fare.
See the main explainer video above and full examples below.