Celebrating 40 Years of the Steadicam
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is having a retrospective running from December 16th through January 3rd in honor of one of cinema’s greatest tools, the Steadicam. Spanning 29 films, plus a talk with the inventor of the Steadicam, Garrett Brown, the series has some amazing films displaying some magnificent Steadicam work.
For those who don't know, the camera operator-mounted stabilizer was developed by Brown in 1975 before first being used in Hal Ashby's 1976 film Bound for Glory. Featuring scenes of the camera, operated by Brown himself, moving through crowds of Dust Bowl refugees, the film earned an Oscar for Best Cinematography for Haskell Wexler, thoroughly making an impact on the industry. That same year, Brown worked on Marathon Man and Rocky; in Marathon Man the Steadicam was used for its pivotal running sequences, while in Rocky the device was used to film the iconic run up the flight of stairs at Philadelphia's Art Museum.
Stanley Kubrick, after seeing some early test footage, was convinced by Brown to use the Steadicam in The Shining. Undoubtedly, it's in part thanks to the Steadicam that The Shining is seen as a horror classic; unnerving is the trek through the hallways the camera makes as it follows Danny on his Big Wheel then later as it follows the axe-wielding Jack through the icy maze.
Acclaimed directors like Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino would go on to use to Steadicam to create some of the most memorable moments of their filmmaking career. The restaurant long take in Goodfellas, the Grand Central Station chase in Carlito's Way, the entire opening of Boogie Nights, and Butch's quest for his watch in Pulp Fiction; each sequence benefits from the perfect, god-like Steadicam work.
What's incredible about the FIlm Society's Steadicam retro is along with the "Greatest Hits" I just mentioned, the series also highlights some films you wouldn't immediately think of when thinking of the Steadicam. La haine, The Hunger, Strange Days, and even Xanadu get their own screenings, each filled with their own unique take on the use of the Steadicam.
The entire lineup is below, and if you're in the area, I strongly recommend you attend a few of these screenings. Also, the man himself, Garrett Brown will be in attendance, introducing screenings of Bound for Glory, Marathon Man, Rocky, and The Shining.
After Hours (1985)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Altered States (1980)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Bound for Glory (1976)
Carlito’s Way (1993)
Coup de torchon (1981)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
La haine (1995)
The Hunger (1983)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Kaili Blues / Lu bian ye can (2015)
Let Each One Go Where He May (2009)
Marathon Man (1976)
Millennium Mambo (2001)
The New World (2005)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Raising Cain (1992)
Russian Ark / Russkiy kovcheg (2002)
The Shining (1980)
Strange Days (1995)
Werckmeister Harmonies / Werckmeister harmóniák (2000)