Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Greatest Single Shot In The History Of British Film

The Guardian have claimed that Atonement contains what they consider may be the single greatest shot in British film. Er... okay, but excuse me... that's completely nuts.

Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice is such a wretched disaster of a film I have a complete and utter conviction Atonement will ascend to mediocrity at best. The idea of it containing the greatest shot in Brit cinema is laughable.

So, what is this shot? The Guardian describe it like this:

It's a beach scene at Dunkirk, when the dazed James McAvoy makes it back from his mission in France only to stumble into the chaos of the British army in disarray. Wright introduces us to the carnage with a magnificent tracking shot that winds its way through a minefield of devastation.

Oh, I see. I get it. It's one of those.

Period set dressing and costumes - check. Extended tracking moves - check. Explosions and chaos - check.


If you don't share my doubts, you can download the Guardian's podcast in which Wright discusses his apparently mindblowing shot.

Okay, I'll come back to this apparent masterpiece of film craft once I've actually seen Atonement and I can knock it with authority, but in the meantime - what of the other, genuine contenders for the title of Greatest Single Shot in British Film?

Well, as far as tracking shots go, there's several in the canon of Alan Clarke that deserve serious consideration. In fact, there's several in any one of Clarke's later films.

But let's forget tracking shots. They're seldom the best shots in a film - not least because they're incredibly hard to keep constantly relevant.

How about something from early Hitchcock? An embarrassment of riches there, of course. I'm very fond of the final moments of Blackmail, but I won't go into details about them here - that film has an ending I'm so keen to keep from spoiling, I've routinely lied about it for almost two decades.

The big reveal in The Crying Game certainly has the content if not necessarily the form to enter the hall of fame too, I feel.

I'll leave this open to you for now. I'm very keen to get your suggestions. British films only, remember.


Anonymous said...

perhaps the opening scene in made in britain (alan clarke)

just titles and tim roth walking with that delicious punk music in the back

Anonymous said...

How bout a few scenes from Children of Men?????

Brendon said...

I didn't think Children of Men was a Brtish film...

Not Ultros said...

The Wicker Man? Final shot?

Just me?

The shot in Mona Lisa with a dead Michael Caine clutching a bunny rabbit also hits all the right notes, if you ask me.