What are some great examples of slow motion in film and video?
July 10, 2008 1:30 PM   Subscribe

What are some examples of great slow motion in narrative cinema and experimental video?

I'm doing a video project later this summer and I'm planning on slowing down archival footage (not mine, I'm using existing footage since it would be impossible to shoot my content). In terms of inspiration, can the metacrowd suggest some great film & art slow motion pieces? While I am interested in stuff like Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho, this project IS NOT about recontextualizing a narrative film! I'd love to get some suggestions about stunning slow motion material that I could check out for inspiration.
posted by serial_consign to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Stunning work by Bill Viola, The Passions. He shot actors in various emotional states at 250-300 fps. Then slowed them down so that 1 second of real life is something like 3-5 minutes of footage. The frames are also jiggered (technical term) to have very smooth and totally imperceptible swaps. So that, standing in front of one, where a guy is about to burst out laughing say, you can tell that something is happening, things are changing. But you can't tell where / when / how.

His other video work is cool, but those pieces have stuck with me a very long time.
posted by zpousman at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lots of sequences in KOYAANISQATSI were in slo-mo. Great film.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:46 PM on July 10, 2008

Best answer: Ernie Gehr's Eureka certainly fits the bill.

And there are many experimental films that were shot at regular speed (24 fps) and deliberately slowed down to "silent speed" (18 fps): Joseph Cornell's Rose Hobart and Warhol's Blowjob, for example.

Jonas Mekas plays with slowing down his own footage in interesting - and very beautiful - ways, at least in the few of his films that I've seen - Birth of a Nation, particularly.
posted by bubukaba at 1:56 PM on July 10, 2008

Response by poster: @zpousman I was thinking of Bill Viola when I wrote the question. His "elemental" stuff is kind of related to what I think I'll be doing..
posted by serial_consign at 1:57 PM on July 10, 2008

Not exactly what you're searching for, but this and the related videos were all the rage on the intertubals a while back.
posted by cashman at 2:31 PM on July 10, 2008

I kind of like how it's used in this Interpol video.
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on July 10, 2008

Muybridge--see the Wikipedia article.
posted by neuron at 3:14 PM on July 10, 2008

Best answer: Maya Deren, the mother of avant-garde filmmaking, tended to use slow motion in her films, Meshes of the Afternoon and At Land being her two most famous . She discusses slow-motion in her essay/manifesto "An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film", the full text of which is included here in Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde.

Jean Cocteau
also uses slow motion to great effect in Orphee (translated to Orpheus in English).
posted by tinatiga at 3:44 PM on July 10, 2008

David Lynch had a fantastic slow motion shot in Inland Empire. Laura Dern is running in slow motion, then the video suddenly speeds up. It was really startling.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 4:17 PM on July 10, 2008

posted by rbs at 5:17 PM on July 10, 2008

Planet Earth has spectacular slow motion nature shots.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:58 PM on July 10, 2008


I remember the scene where Gallo is thinking about killing the kicker and time slows down until it's almost stopped. Great moment.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 4:45 AM on July 11, 2008

Some may scoff, but the scene in "Carrie," where Sissy Spacek and William Katt are walking up to be crowned king and queen of the prom, is shot in slow-mo and is incredibly heart-breaking, because we all know what is coming. The suspense is incredible.

Also, the opening credits, with slow-mo shots of the girls in the locker room is beautiful and sexy as well.
posted by Work to Live at 7:39 AM on July 11, 2008

Wes Anderson looves slow motion, and I think he does a good job with it.

There's slow motion in this clip from the beginning of The Darjeeling Limited, starting a little after 40 seconds in. Also, this clip from the ending of the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

They might be less artsy and more narrative than you'd like, but I hope they can provide some inspiration. The beginning and end of the slow motion sequences are very well chosen, imo.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:06 PM on July 11, 2008

Best answer: Gus Van Sant's latest, Paranoid Park, had some great uses of slow-mo, especially in conjunction with depth of field.
posted by zusty at 8:01 PM on July 11, 2008

Response by poster: Some great feedback and ideas in here folks. Thanks for all the suggestions.. I'm going to spend some time tracking down all this stuff now. I've been looking for an excuse to see Paranoid Park. :)
posted by serial_consign at 1:16 PM on July 12, 2008

Wait a second, no one has mentioned slow motion punches to the face yet? Something is dreadfully wrong. The sword slicing the tomato was pretty good, but this was featured on the blue!

Also, seconding Bill Viola's Passions, it's incredibly engrossing.

The Matrix's "Bullet Time" sequence qualifies as well, although it may not be very, uh, inspirational in your case. The appropriate nod has to be given here to John Woo's use of slo-mo in shoot-outs.

The WP article on slow motion also references Vsevolod Pudovkin's The Deserter. There might be something of interest in the external links list on that page, too.

It seems to me that most of the homages to Eisenstein's Odessa Steps sequence involve slo-mo, even though the original, IIRC, doesn't.

Lastly. does something like Martin Arnold's Passage à l'acte fit the bill? It is quite drawn out, but not in the typical slow-motion fashion.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 4:01 AM on July 14, 2008

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