Alan Bacchus’ blog, Daily Film Dose, has an excellent thread running on the film technique of The Extended Tracking Shot. In his words:
In a director’s cinematic bag of tricks the long tracking shot is the boldest way of making a statement. It’s the flashiest and most attention-grabbing egotistical way of flexing one’s muscle. In most cases it’s a narcissistic maneuver, “look-at-me” filming technique, but rare ones, the best ones, serve to reflect and further the story in a way that can’t be reflected with traditional editing.
Here’s your 3-min taste from Scorsese’s GoodFellas: