Every Shot 45 Seconds or Longer in “Children of Men”

One of the notable features of Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film “Children of Men” is Cuaron’s use of long, single-shot sequences, including a complicated urban warfare shot that’s nearly eight minutes long. Refocused Media examined the movie and found that there were 16 shots longer than 45 seconds. The 31-minute compilation video above shows all of the shots in chronological order.

Obviously, you should see the film if you haven’t already. My point in doing this is to demonstrate the effect of a long take in a variety of narrative uses, and to give an idea of what a 45+ second shot looks and feels like when directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

It was also recently revealed that Cuaron’s upcoming film “Gravity” has a 17-minute long opening take, and an average shot length of 45 seconds.

(via Doobybrain)

P.S. If long shots are your thing, then Russian Ark is your kind of movie.

  • BarkerClayton2

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  • Chicago Nick

    You can also look at Mike Figgis’ Timecode for how to do long shots – 4 of them at the same time.

  • OSAM

    One of my absolute favourite films.  Did my undergrad thesis on it actually.  Amazing to see it getting some love.

  • Terry H

    Technically, this is incorrect.  Many of these ‘single take’ shots were blended from multiple captures during different days.  Still, very impressive.

  • Joey Duncan

    Are you sure about this? I remember watching an interview with the director (or somebody of the like) talking about them being a “single shot”

  • Refocused Media

    Well *technically* this is every shot that lasts 45 seconds or longer — as presented within the film — regardless of how it was achieved. ;)

    But yes, a handful of them did make use of digital stitching (most notably the car ambush sequence, which I think is a stitch of 6 different shots). I tried to word my description to focus on the length of the shot as experienced by the audience, not necessarily claiming that each was a 100% uncut long take with no digital assistance. Apologies if I wasn’t clear enough! 

    Thanks for watching everyone, hope you all enjoyed it. As a huge fan of the film, I’m just happy to share it with others.

  • OSAM

    The car ambush scene was genius: There really was no way to get that full wraparound pan, so they had to stitch.  But it’s still one shot movement.

  • Damian Monsivais

    Great film By Alfonso Cuaron. Then his work in The tree of Life was just aw inspiring. Great Mexican Cinematographer. But still Bella Tarr’s films seem to be king in the realm of Long takes

  • stanimir stoyanov

    Any ideas about the lighting in the 8-minute-long scene? Certainly reflectors are very hard to impossible to handle in such situations?

  • OSAM

    I don’t think they bothered; It’s all just natural or bare light.  It’d be damn-near impossible to do it any other way.  Besides, it works with the film’s tone and style.

  • jdm8

    I really liked Children of Men.  That might be a small part of why.  It’s the anti-Michael Bay.