I remember after watching Birdman last year, I thought that there was no film like it. There is no way a feature-length film could be composed of only a single shot – imagine how many takes that would take, how much planning would be needed beforehand (as if pre-production already weren’t daunting enough), and how meticulous every person on set would have to be! That’s why even Birdman had several cuts (albeit hidden); however, I was shocked to see that Birdman is not the first of its kind even in concept. In fact, Alfred Hitchcock pushed the boundaries of the time more than half a century ago by utilizing shots nearly the length of the roll of 35mm film (ten minutes) in his 1948 film Rope, and Russian Ark (2002) did something very similar, except took full advantage of digital advancements and shot the full 96-minutes on one Steadicam shot.
This brings to light one of the questions posed in the last page of our textbook: “Will greater access to filmmaking tools help individuals to create new forms of film art, and new methods for creating that art?” (448). I believe that no matter what kind of technologies are available to the filmmaker, he’ll always find ways to express himself the way he wants; the effect I got as a spectator from Rope and Russian Ark was very similar. I felt as if both made terrific use of the space and explored every inch of it while also allowing the spectator to focus on the characters’ actions and words. It didn’t matter so much that some of the transitions in Rope were hidden behind the characters’ dark backs, because what was most intriguing in the end was the successful execution both on the technological front and the storytelling front.