So here we are for Part II of the list of some of my favourite tracking shots – if you haven’t already done so, check out Part I in which I cover numbers 1 – 3!
4. Tarantino films
Quentin Tarantino is famous for his dialogue-heavy scenes – just look at the opening of Reservoir Dogs – and the camera, although it remains running for a lengthy period of time, it stays relatively static. These aren’t technically ‘tracking shots’ just lengthier conversations, I guess. Take this scene from Pulp Fiction, where the camera follows Vincent Vega’s entrance into the theme restaurant ‘Jack Rabbit Slims’. Notice how it’s almost reminiscent of the club scene from Goodfellas.
It’s shots like this that make me pay extra attention to the extras in the background, as it’s them that make the scene more believable. There’s another little tracking shot later on in the film where Butch (played by Bruce Willis) goes back to his flat to get his father’s watch. Now this clip is nothing spectacular in terms of cinematic achievement, it’s just a nice streamlined scene. By choosing not to cut at all during his ‘walk’ it just makes it all the more interesting.
N.B. I feel as though I should put a ‘This Contains Strong Language’ warning at the top of this section, but it’s Tarantino – what did you expect?
Here’s a clip from Kill Bill: Vol. I that I like as I think it’s quite clever. Here we have Beatrix Kiddo (sorry if I spoilt the name for you) entering the House of Blue Leaves where O-Ren Ishi is. What this scene manages to do is show us all the different interlinking characters we have in play: Beatrix, the proprietors of the nightclub and Sofie Fatale. All this set to the infuriatingly catchy ‘Woo Hoo’ by The 22.214.171.124’s (as themselves) plus a whole dancefloor full of Japanese people shaking want their mammas gave them. Brilliant.
5. The Protector (Tom-Yum-Goong)
Martial arts films are awesome. I love watching kick-ass fights (see The Raid for insane fights) done by brilliant martial artists. But what dispapoints me is when films have these professional fighters but don’t make the most of them: they either have really weak fight scenes, or make the scenes so cut up that you can’t tell what’s going on. If these guys can just fight for 5 minutes uninterrupted, then why not set up a camera and let them at each other. And that is exactly what Tony Jaa (Google him, this guy is the business) was allowed to do. For this next clip, taken from the film The Protector, I don’t even know the premise. All I suppose I can say is it features Tony Jaa kicking the proverbial shit out of people in a hotel lobby. It’s beautiful.
6. Music videos
Music videos are an artform by their own right. Gone are the days when a music video used to be the band simply playing their song, perhaps interspliced with some storyline related to the lyrics. Nowadays music videos are weird, scary and are considered to be ‘mini-movies’ in themselves. Thanks, Lady Gaga.
Tracking shots have been used during dance numbers for many years now – some of the greats like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire demanded to film some of their dances in just one take: else what would be the point?
This first music video is for the song ‘Bad Motherf***er’ by Biting Elbows. And it is freakin’ awesome. It’s first person POV of a man escaping from some people that want to kill him. Seriously, you should check this out:
The next video is a little more sedate. It is for the brilliant electroswing (again, Google it) song ‘Sing Sing Sing’ by Jazzbit. The music video itself is sort of a combination of the scenes I’ve mentioned from Goodfellas and Kill Bill: Vol. I – just one long tracking shot through a nightclub showing different people’s perspectives. Check it out below:
So there you have it: my little list of tracking shots that I think are list-worthy. I hope you enjoyed watching the many clips I’ve posted – if you have any more tracking shots you’ve seen that you think are good then leave a comment! And, while you’re here, why not ‘Like’ Twisted Fish on Facebook? It’s just on the left there? You see it? That’s right, just press that little ‘Like’ button. Now you may leave.
Till next time, folks!