Notting Hill – four seasons in one minute

Almost all films will need to show a passage of time at some point.  It could be as simple as cutting to a clock as it transitions 15 minutes later,  or a short montage that shows a couple connecting shots before moving on.

In this example from Notting Hill, Hugh Grant’s character; William Thacker needs alot of time to get over having his heart broken. The scene shows the passage of an entire year compressed into just over a minute,  and what makes it stand out even more is the fact that on screen it appears a single long dolly shot. One article ( mentions that the shot was actually built from 4 different shots where matched shots were used to disguise the transitions.

I really liked that this particular scene is able to tell quite a few stories without a single line of dialouge. William Thacker is passing through the year almost in auto pilot,  he’s not really aware of the happenings around him. He is so focused on his feelings that the year has come and gone in an instant.

The shot starts with a pregnant lady looking at clothes in the foreground.  The same lady is seen at the end of the scene holding a baby,  and William is now feeling like he is over his problems and can move on and he continues out of the shot.

There a few more clever cues such as his sister meeting a new man,  only to be breaking up “months” later.  The produce on display changes as per the seasons and of course we see the changes in the weather.

The sound track; Bill Winter’s “Aint no sunshine when she’s gone” provides the perfect tune to convey the story and accompany the well planned and well thought out visuals.


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