In an era that is saturated with lavish and complex camera movement,
Steve McQueen stands out for implicating the contrary. McQueen often
employs the static shot in crucial situations, a technique that
partially defines the unique style of the director’s three
feature-length films: 12 Years a Slave, Shame, and Hunger. Rather than using a slow dolly or handheld
movement to convey poignancy, McQueen chooses to simply leave the camera
be. In doing so, he urges us to fully absorb the moment–there are no
pans to guide us away, or even a rack focus to slightly divert our
attention. McQueen seems to especially favor the static shot during
gruesome struggles and times of extreme distress. He often lingers on
these moments for extended periods of time, yet the camera remains
motionless. Like the characters, we cannot escape the moment and we are
forced to endure every second.
Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.