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Film editing

Related: director's cut - montage - film - edit

People: Sergei Eisenstein (theory of film editing) - Joseph Cornell ('remix' of a Hollywood film) - Bruce Conner (editing of found footage)


Film editing is a style of editing audio-visual material, and reflects one of two dominant theories of conveying information in the cinema--that conveying information in film is done by juxtaposing one image with another to produce a third idea. After D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, the early Russian filmmakers took up this approach to film communication. It seemed to agree with their revolutionary ideas and seemed also to be the artistic expression of the Hegelian Dialectic. (See also the Kuleshov Experiment.) Sergei Eisenstein attempted to create a scientific basis for editing, which he referred to as "montage." Film editing is practiced by film editors. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_editing [Sept 2004]

In motion picture terminology, a montage (literally "putting together") is a form of movie collage consisting of a series of short shots which are edited into a coherent sequence. Viewers infer meaning based on context; Lev Kuleshov, in his Kuleshov Experiment established that montage is one way of leading the viewer to reach certain conclusions about the action in a film. David Griffith was one of the early proponents of montage, introducing cross-cutting to show parallel action in different locations, and codifying film grammar in other ways as well.

In his earlier works Sergei Eisenstein regarded montage as a dialectical means of creating notions. By contrasting unrelated shots he tried to provoke associations in the viewer, which were induced by shocks. In effect the film was aimed at transcending the level of mere presentation of realities and at explaining the conflict character of reality and the reasons underlying this conflict. This form of editing is known as intellectual montage.

Montage can be seen in the Naked Gun films, frequently to lead the viewer to draw incorrect conclusions. For instance, in one of the films, Frank Drebin is in a shootout with another character. The viewer sees a series of closeups showing the two peeking out from behind objects to fire at each other, followed by a wider shot showing the two to be about six feet apart. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montage [Sept 2004]

Slow cutting

Slow cutting is a film editing technique which uses shots of long duration. Though it depends on context, it is estimated that any shot longer than about fifteen seconds will seem rather slow to viewers from Western cultures.

A famous example of slow cutting can be found in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). In a segment that lasts three minutes and fifteen seconds and contains only three shots, the main character is followed as he peruses the length of a futuristic record store, meets two young ladies, and brings them back to his apartment.

Another example is Alfred Hitchcock's film Rope (1948) consisting of only eight cuts. Each cut lasts as long as the complete length of a reel of film from that time (about 10 minutes). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_cutting [Jan 2006]

The Cutting Edge - The Magic of Movie Editing (2004) - Wendy Apple

The Cutting Edge - The Magic of Movie Editing (2004) - Wendy Apple [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Editing is what makes film a film." That audacious statement is made at the beginning of this 2005 documentary about the art of film editing. After listening to many editors and directors, movie novices as well as cinephiles may agree. Kathy Bates narrates this whirlwind history of the art punctuated by dozens of scenes to illustrate the effect of film editing in heightening reality and making a visceral impact on the filmgoer. In fact, the profession seems to be run on "a gut feeling" whether it's clipping a few frames, or 20 minutes of the final act (which we learn happened with Lenny). James Cameron illustrates the importance of a frame as we see a scene from Terminator 2 with 1 frame out 24 missing (24 frames representing one second of film). Or as Quentin Tarantino states, "musicians have notes, editors have frames." It's fascinating to see how editing--the process of assembling the film after it's been shot--can save films, make performances better, and become the ultimate jigsaw puzzle. The last concept is demonstrated as we return time and again to the most well-known editor of the time, Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient), as he edits a few scenes from Cold Mountain in front of us. We see how he works with light, covers mistakes, and controls emotion. For those who wished for a sequel to the excellent documentary on cinematographers, Visions of Light (1993), here's the next step (although made by different folks including first-time director Wendy Apple). Now, anyone want to tackle art directors? --Doug Thomas

Product Description:
Bullitt's dynamic editing, highlighted by its twisting, squealing, hill-leaping chase sequence that leaves viewers whooping and woozy, earned a 1968 Best Film Editing Oscar and helped make the film an action classic. How do film editors work this kind of magic? This fascinating program lets you in on the secrets. "What makes a movie a movie is the editing," says Zach Staenberg, Academy Award-winning* editor of the Matrix trilogy. Closeups, flashbacks, parallel action, slow motion, juxtaposition of images - these are just a few tools that make clips from Birth of a Nation to Pulp Fiction, The Battleship Potemkin to Gladiator indelible. Narrated by Kathy Bates and with interviews of a who's who of contemporary directors and editors, The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing is, shot for shot and frame after frame, reel magic. --Amazon.com

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