For Andre Bazin, cinema can be understood as ‘the art of reality’ (1960). The use of long take is able to show the reality itself. In today’s cinema, different kinds of technologies are applied to film production. As Stephen Prince mentions that nothing ever happens for the first time in film history, and we can learn about contemporary imaging modes by keeping in mind the bridge between art and science that gave birth to the movies (2012,11). I will use Yin Li’s the Knot as an example to show what happens if modern science and technology meets the long take.
In the opening sequence of the Knot, the director shows cityscape of Taipei in the late 1940s by a 6-minutes-long take. It seems difficult to capture these scenes in one take because the camera should be able to move through walls or in the sky. In fact, such a long take uses digital synthesis technology to put 8 different shots together. Related to this, the roofs and birds in this scene are made by 3D technologies. This might not be referred to as long take in the traditional sense. On the other hand, in terms of visual impact, it looks like a long take because it hides cuts and edits.
With the wide use of digital technologies in cinema, the definition of ‘long take’ has changed. Take the long take in the Knot as an example, it is not the one which takes a long time to shoot without cuts and keeps consistency between space and time. Instead, this sequence concentrates on social background in a particular time period. By this reason, the using of long take can be understood as a method to enhance the sense of reality and bring audience back into Taipei in 1940s.
See the long take in the Knot on
Stephen Prince. Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality. New York: Rutgers University Press, 2012
Bazin, André, and Hugh Gray. “The Ontology of the Photographic Image.” Film Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 4, 1960, pp. 4–9