I have always loved tracking shots. When done right, the fluidity of the camera movement, the timing and work that goes into them results in cinematic magic. Some however are more successful than others; here is a list of my personal favorites.
Kill Bill Vol. 1
The first time I think I was ever really aware of a tracking shot was in in my all time favorite move Kill Bill. I first realized I liked the shot well before attending film school, and before I even knew what a “tracking shot” was. The almost 2 minuet shot is relatively short compared with some of the other more famous ones, but still worth mentioning. The ambitious shot was done after 17 takes, but was completed in one day. “I got bounced around pretty good,” said Larry McConkey the veteran steadicam operator, “I never actually hit the ground, but I hit just about everything else.”
This is perhaps the most famous shot on the list, and the most well known. This iconic opining shot was however actually an accident. At this time in Scorsese didn’t even like to use steadicams, however when he was not allowed to go through the front door, he had to improvise. He decided to do the long shot through the back door to “symbolize Henry’s whole life being ahead of him, doors opening to him. It’s his seduction of Karen and it’s also the lifestyle seducing him.” This shot took eight painstaking takes to get right.
This film has two iconic tracking shots, the first taking a page form Goodfellas. It takes us around the Club and introducing us to many of the main characters in the film in a 3 minuet seen. Then next shot was later on in the movie during a house party, it follows William H. Macy looking for his wife, and ends with the double murder of his wife and her lover, and his suicide.