Film.com Staff March 18, 2013
[Via MTV] If there’s any one word to describe “The Place Beyond the Pines” — an epic new drama that re-teams Derek Cianfrance with his “Blue Valentine” star Ryan Gosling — it’s “ambitious.” Chronicling three generations of crime and punishment in the upstate New York city of Schenectady, Cianfrance’s new film plays like a wildly cool but deathly serious cross between “Goodfellas” and “Cloud Atlas”, as we watch the fallout from a bank heist gone wrong play out over more than 15 years, beginning with Gosling and eventually involving the likes of Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan and more.
But Cianfrance isn’t exactly coy about his ambition — in fact, the very first shot of “The Place Beyond the Pines” makes it abundantly clear that the film isn’t interested in doing things the easy way. The opening shot is a total mind-blower, and it’s a credit to Cianfrance’s engaging storyline that you don’t spend the 140 minutes that follow just sitting there and thinking to yourself, “How did they do that!?”
(mild spoiler warning)
The first thing we see is the back of Gosling’s bleach blonde head as the camera follows him through the clatter of a busy fairground. And … actually, it’s probably best to let Cianfrance take things from here. MTV recently sat down with the filmmaker, who opened up on he accomplished a seemingly impossible trick.
“Director Derek Cianfrance wanted an opening shot that reflected the film’s size, so he and his director of photography, Sean Bobbitt, conceived a five-and-a-half-minute take that followed the stunt cyclist played by Gosling through a busy fairground and ended with him inside a globe of death with two other motorcyclists.
‘We were shooting in an active fair,’ Cianfrance told MTV. We had to put our circus tent and the trailer exactly five minutes and 30 seconds in walking distance away from each other. That was the time we had slotted for our title sequence. We timed everything out, and we did this take.’
But as anyone familiar with the hysteria that Gosling can generate by walking through a crowd, one does not simply have one of Hollywood’s biggest stars waltz through an active fairground, and the ‘Place Beyond the Pines’ crew had to prepare for that. ‘It was kind of a nightmare,’ Cianfrance said. ‘We had a number of our ADs out on the set that day, and they’re all wearing these big Dr. Seuss hats. They were crucial in pulling people’s attention away from Ryan. That was a big challenge with a shot like that. Once someone looks at the camera, it ruins the shot.'”
Of course, that wasn’t even the hard part. Head on over to MTV to read how they shot Ryan Gosling driving a motorcycle around two other riders in a steel “Globe of Death.”
The Place Beyond the Pines rolls into theaters on March 29.
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