Tag Archives: the Before Trilogy

Richard Linklater’s Brilliant ‘Before’ Trilogy

20 Feb

Many people justifiably went ballistic last fall over the opening shot of Gravity, a 17 minute tour de force by Alfonse Cuaron, Sandra Bullock and company. It’s one humdinger of a shot and will be regarded as one of cinema’s great triumphs for years to come. Gravity’s opening shot, however, has nothing on the dizzying, electrifying long takes rampant in Richard Linklater’s brilliant romantic trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

before_triptych

Take for example ‘the car scene’ near the start of the third film, Before Midnight. Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse  (Ethan Hawke) drive through the countryside of Greece having a conversation that will resonate throughout the film. This, too, is a very long take, 15 minutes, but without the aid of special effects or 3D to cover any breaks or mistakes or to keep the audience enlivened. There’s no need. What we instead have are two actors and a director working at the peak of their powers creating a single take as breathtaking as anything in Gravity.

Please understand, I don’t mean to disparage Gravity, a mind boggling film that, like Life of Pi before it, will change filmmaking as we know it. But this amazing ‘Before Trilogy’, hailed by A. O. Scott of the NY Times as “the great romantic epic of a generation’, dazzles the heart and mind in a completely different way.

If you have not seen the films, each written by Linklater, Deply and Hawke, an intro: Eighteen years ago came the wonderful and surprising Before Sunrise wherein two strangers, Celine and Jesse, meet on a morning train to Vienna and end up spending 24 hours together. We watch as they walk around Vienna, see the city, have coffee and talk. They also fall very much in love. The movie was famous for its long takes of the two characters simply walking and talking (that’s pretty much the entire movie) and also for taking place in a 24 hour time frame. Before Sunrise ends as the sun comes up, Celine headed to Paris, Jesse to the US. They must decide if or how they will continue their relationship. We see their decision as Celine gets on a train but we are left in the dark as to what then becomes of the two.

Click the link below the photo to continue!

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

Continue reading