Updated on February 10, 2009, 5:09 AM - Written by Tim Buttner
With a movie such as Elephant (2003), from acclaimed indie director Gus Van Sant, where there are a cornucopian number of Steadicam shots throughout the picture, because the movie is mainly told through Steadicam shots, it becomes difficult to select one as significant and distinguishable from the others in terms of aesthetics and level of difficulty. The whole movie had one Steadicam operator. A frequent collaborator with Van Sant, Matías Mesa created an atmospheric style to his operation that is similar to his other collaborations with Van Sant on Gerry (2002) and Last Days (2005). The shots are long and uninterrupted. Often these shots feel poetic, which creates a new visual language for the critics and audience to interpret and form their own meaning. Yet, does this assist in telling the story?
A specific shot of interest is one where we follow the school jock, Nathan, as he travels across the school. In it he strolls down one hallway, up a flight of stairs, down another hallway, outside, back inside, and to the school office. The shot lasts two minutes and fifty-seven seconds, and is accompanied by Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig Van Beethoven, which had begun in the previous Steadicam shot, which had a long intro to Nathan and the beginning of his journey.
The shot continues a feeling that, we the audience, are traveling in the same direction as Nathan. This feeling is a motif that runs throughout the movie, because the last shot is on Nathan and Carrie, the girlfriend he meets in the shot in discussion, fleeing into a cooler from the gunman who, after killing his partner, stalks down to the freezer and discovers them. Well, that may not necessarily be the last shot of the movie, but it is when it comes to involving the charact...