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In episode four of True Detective, there was a 6-minute long, single take, tracking shot sequence.

What is the longest, scripted, single take (no cuts) sequence in movies / television?

I am not considering live shows (sketch comedy, reality television, improv, talk shows, etc.), or presentation style shows (documentaries, how-to shows, etc.). Answers are not restricted to any particular recording media, just length of the single take and that the content be of intent. Taking the True Detective sequence as an example, it was a 6-minute long action sequence where there are were no cuts made, and the camera followed the complex, scripted sequence with no cheats or trickery involved.

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Not really a tracking shot, but the extended take in Old Boy was around four minutes long. Definitely not a record, but it deserves mention since it was a fighting scene. –  jessecurry Feb 12 at 20:47
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All the movies in the Before {Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight}-trilogy have long takes, and I believe at least one clocks in at around 13 minutes (source) –  Pål GD Feb 12 at 23:32
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My favorite is Robert Altman's the Player. Not a record, but very well done. –  MattBianco Feb 13 at 9:00
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Hitchcock's "Rope" was filmed without a visible cut - but I guess you are looking for "real" single takes –  a_horse_with_no_name Feb 13 at 21:43
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@MeatTrademark - not needed for me; unlike some , I review new answers constsntly. –  JoshDM Feb 14 at 13:25
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8 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I guess the key here is using the word film in your title.

With film you are limited to the length in a canister and no amount of creativity can change that. With digital video this constraint goes out the window. So for film, it looks like Snake Eyes wins at just over 13 minutes. For digital video, Agadam looks to be a clear winner, endorsed by the Guinness Book of World Records at 2 hr 3 min 30 sec, beating out 7333 Seconds of Johanna by 27 seconds.

EDIT If @NapoleonWilson is correct, and DePalma used cuts, then The Player – Opening Shot: 8 minutes, 5 seconds might be the winner, and I hope it is, because it talks about other opening shots during the shot.

All these directors owe a debt of gratitude to Hitchcock for trying it in the first place. Rope was a very difficult and singular goal to strive for and he did a remarkable job given the technological and financial hurdles he had to overcome.

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Yet the scene in Snake Eyes was composed of smaller ~5 min takes with hidden cuts and thus similar to Rope, as explained in this answer. It wasn't an actual 13 min take and is thus unlikely to win anything in the context of this question. –  Napoleon Wilson Feb 14 at 12:25
    
I was not restricting to film as in the media used, just the context of the product. –  JoshDM Feb 14 at 13:19
    
@NapoleonWilson Thank you for clarifying that. Back to drawing board... –  Meat Trademark Feb 14 at 13:54
    
But, wouldn't Agadam be the longest? –  JoshDM Feb 14 at 14:41
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Well then, you got a two-for-one answer! :) –  Meat Trademark Feb 15 at 2:45
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There have been movies where the entire movie is a single take.

The best I can find based on quick research are Russian Ark at 96 minutes, and Timecode at 97 minutes. Timecode is actually a quad-split screen film (four different videos running in four different quadrants of the screen), each of which is a single take shot, running for the entire movie. I included Russian Ark if you wanted something that has a more direct narrative and doesn't change focus to a different story in a different part of the frame by upping the audio track for that frame.

Update: Had I bothered to look a little further down in my Google search, there is evidently a new king for longest single take film. It's a Swedish film called 7333 Seconds of Johanna. The film is 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 3 seconds long, and was filmed with Guinness World Record officials present the entire time.

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The opening scene of Snake Eyes wasn't a single take, though, as explained in this answer. –  Napoleon Wilson Feb 14 at 12:31
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This shot from The Protector is around 4 minutes single take. Not quite as long as some of the ones already mentioned, but I think it is worth noting since it is a martial arts movie and the scene involves an incredible number of stunts that all had to be performed correctly to get in a single shot.

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I don't know "The longest shot" in all of the movies but I remember this movie Children Of Men directed by Alfonso Cuarón which has few long shots,

The length of the long takes: Long take in the car when Julian is shot - 3:58, Long take of the birth - 3:11, Long take of the siege - 6:18.

And Quentin Tarantino has a way of filming long shots.

His films will often include one long, unbroken take where a character is followed around somewhere.

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There's a horror movie called Silent House, I think there's two or three cuts in it but they are all pretty cleverly hidden, besides that the movie is a continuous shot, probably about 30-40 minutes at a time.

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It's not longer than the movies listed above, but the TV show Mad About You had a single take, commercial-free, 20-minute long episode called the "The Conversation". I haven't seen it since it was aired, though, so I don't remember if the camera was fixed or not.

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There is a long shot moving through the entire restaurant in Waiting... - probably not the longest but still a pretty cool shot.

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