The Long Take in Modern European Cinema

Chris Marnoch

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis examines the long take, as both a practical technique and a critical concept, in modern European cinema. Starting with the advent of Italian neorealism, modern European cinema rose to prominence in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, in collective movements such as the French New Wave, New German Cinema and the new cinemas of Central and Eastern Europe, and in the innovations of many individual filmmakers across the continent. The stylistic developments of this period sought to challenge classical cinema’s conventional practices, such as analytical editing, and the long take became a particularly popular option for filmmakers at the time. The innovations of the long take in modern European cinema revolve around three critical issues, each elaborated in the work of a particular writer: an increased realism based on the respect for spatial and temporal integrity (André Bazin), an emphasis on duration resulting from a crisis of action (Gilles Deleuze), and the dedramatisation of narrative action (David Bordwell). This thesis rigorously examines the ideas of these writers in relation to concrete examples, and tests the extent to which their theories provide a comprehensive explanation of the long take in modern European cinema. The thesis also considers the practice of the long take in greater depth by exploring how its broadly defined qualities are reflected in different ways and put to different purposes in a number of individual films. This is done through the detailed analysis of key long-take films of the period, by filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky, Miklós Jancsó, Jean-Luc Godard and others. By focusing on a specific stylistic feature within this broad area of study, the thesis intends to further understand the critical significance of certain directorial decisions, and to contribute to aesthetic debates surrounding this important period of film history.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Leigh, Jacob, Supervisor
Award date1 Oct 2014
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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