SPOILERS FOR CHILDREN OF MEN
“Children of Men” directed by Alfonso Cuarón, starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore is about a nearby future in which women have become infertile, where our main protagonist is asked by his old-lover to help transport a girl, who’s miraculously become pregnant.
There are many things of this movie that you can talk about, because of the good directing. But I’ve chosen one scene in particular that really stood out to me. This scene is mostly known as “the car” scene, in which all of our protagonists are cramped into one car and are driving down the road. Doesn’t seem exiting, does it? Well it is. The whole thing, for about four minutes takes place in one continuous take, or is at least made to look like it was done in one take. You’d think that the scene must’ve been ugly-looking, because of the limited movement of a camera in a tiny car, but by building a complex machine, they were able to capture one of the best long takes that I’ve seen. I’ll also put a link to the scene at the bottom of this blogpost, and keep in mind that the scene does contain a spoiler to the film, and that some things written in here contain spoilers!
Now, why did this scene in particular stood out to me? This scene stood out in particular, because of the fantastic cinematography and tension-building. The cinematography in that scene reached that level of goodness, because it constantly managed to keep the framing right. Like said before, you’d think this wouldn’t be true, but they managed to do it. The color grading, the shot compostition, everything from the scene looked absolutely gorgeous.
The tension-building was also something that I mentioned. This is because the build up to the action that has yet to come was done brilliantly. Alfonso Cuarón first showed us that Theo and Julian were really close before – we knew this already, but here he explores it a bit more – and he also shows them in quite a relaxed state. He showed us that there could be that tiny bit of joy in this dark futuristic setting. But then. Then a flaming car roles down and panic starts to occur. The beep of the car works as the tension-building score on its own: the high monotone pitch. Beep. Now, because you are more invested with the characters, you are on the edge of your seat, because you don’t want anything to happen to them. You care for them. Then, terror happens. One loud gunshot drains away all the sound: more tension. From loud noises we go to silence with the beep tone again. Just to show the contrast again, just like before; then: peace to violence; now: loud noises to silence.
But when you think it’s over, when you think you can finally breathe again, the cops arrive as well. Everything seems to be going fine, when Luke suddenly shoots them. Bang. This comes as shock, because we were thinking it was going to go well. Luke asked for the passports of our protagonists, so you’d think that it would just go by, without any problem, but it cost a man’s life. The brilliant part of the scene is also that it doesn’t need any music to build up tension. It needs visuals and that’s something that I found very impressive. And that’s why this scene is one of my favorite long takes.