Somewhere between blatant homage and honest character introspection exists Paul Thomas Anderson’s visual style. Seemingly from the moment he appeared on the major Hollywood scene with Boogie Nights, he’s been called something of a “rip-off” of other filmmakers, namely Kurbrick, Scorsese, and Altman. Perhaps more challenging is that Anderson does little to deny the influence of great American filmmakers on his own work and, while some may write him off as pastiche, he’s managed to carve out a style all his own. To my mind, what makes Anderson as interesting as those filmmakers is the depth of the subject matter he takes on. While story might be a vessel for getting at greater cinematic ideas, there’s also a commitment to classic, human drama that I don’t find as prevalent in some of Anderson influences.
This wonderful 9-minute video breaks down some of Anderson’s most impressive unbroken tracking shots. The voiceover gives you a nice overview of what Anderson was attempting with the movement while the diagram shows the actual path of the camera moving with the actors. This is comprehensive look at this oft-revered but rarely analyzed contemporary director. Kudos to the creator. Enjoy.