What: An incisive look at the way Alfonso Cuarón deploys his legendary one-shot sequences.
Who: YouTubers The Royal Ocean Film Society
Why we care: One-shot sequences are deceptively difficult to execute and almost always impressive. Think of that four-and-a-half minute unbroken fight scene in Creed, courtesy of Ryan Coogler, or the stunning six-minute real-time robbery in True Detective’s first season, brought to you by Cary Joji Fukunaga. As a new video demonstrates, however, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón’s usage of this technique is unsurpassed in contemporary filmmaking.
The video kicks off with perhaps Cuarón’s most famous one-take shot, which still makes cinephiles wonder how he possibly managed to execute it: the final, bloody escape scene from 2006’s Children of Men. From there, The Royal Ocean Film Society dives into a career-spanning overview that runs from Great Expectations in 1998 through Roma 20 years later. The video provides helpful commentary and context about what makes each of Cuarón’s celebrated long takes stand out–the way that they all seem to have a purpose beyond just dazzling the keen-eyed viewer–and how the filmmaker has evolved his techniques. (It’s worth noting that Cuarón was his own director of photography on Roma.)
Finally, although Cuarón’s frequent director of photography, the highly sought-after Emmanuel Lubezki (whose role in achieving some of these shots cannot be underestimated) is only mentioned nine minutes in, the video stands as a testament to what great cinematography can help achieve–and therefore an indictment of the Academy’s decision to present the award in that category off-air this year.
Have a look at the full video below.