Must Watch: Examining Five Tracking Shots from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Films


The following video created by Kevin B. Lee for “Sight & Sound” takes a close look at five specific tracking shots from five of director Paul Thomas Anderson‘s films — Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and There Will be Blood.

Lee adds commentary to each as they play along with an animated representation of the camera movement in the lower left hand corner of the screen as the scene plays in the upper right hand corners. He brings up one of the criticisms I’ve heard against Anderson’s Magnolia, which is the camera was working more to show off what it could do rather than telling the story and it also begs the question, “What’s more difficult, the long tracking shot moving great distances or the one that only pushes along over a matter of just a few feet?”

I haven’t watched Anderson’s films enough to have picked up on it before, but the back-and-forth movement of Adam Sandler‘s character in Punch Drunk Love as seen when he’s on the phone in the video below mimics the exercise Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) put Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) through in The Master. I haven’t taken the time to consider the similarities in the characters, and I would want to watch both films again before doing so, but I’m certain it opens yet another door for discussion.

Check out the video below, you won’t be disappointed.