Philosophy Of Nonlinearity

Perhaps the most useful way to suggest a philosophy on nonlinearity is to begin with an operating principle related to expectations. Just as nonlinear editing has been called random access editing, sourcing shots, scenes, and sounds on an as-needed basis, we can view the narrative style of the nonlinear narrative as having an equally random quality. A does not follow B cause is not followed by effect. The result is an altered narrative shape sufficiently unpredictable as to create a spontaneity...

And Continuity

Much has been written suggesting that the art of film is editing,1 and numerous filmmakers from Eisenstein to Welles to Peckinpah have tried to prove this point. However, just as much has been written suggesting that the art of film is avoidance of editing,2 and filmmakers from Renoir to Ophuls to Kubrick have tried to prove that point. No one has managed to reconcile these theoretical opposites this fascinating, continuing debate has led to excellent scholarship,3 but not to a definitive...

Conclusion

This book covers the theory and practice of editing from the beginning to the 1990s. We have far surpassed the skepticism that Rudolph Arnheim expressed when he said that technological changes such as sound could add nothing to the advancement of the silent film. Sound is now an artful addition to the repertoire of the film experience. This is also true of video. Although they are different technologies, film and video have begun to merge. Movie screens are now smaller and television screens...

Dialogue And Character

Black Sunday (1977), directed by John Frankenheimer, is the story of a terrorist plot to explode a bomb over the Super Bowl. The plot is uncovered by an Israeli raid in Beirut, and the story that unfolds contrasts the terrorists' attempts to carry out the attack and the FBI's efforts to prevent it. For the authorities, this means finding out how the attack will be conducted and who will carry it out. Dalia (Marthe Keller) and Michael (Bruce Dern) are the primary terrorists. She is a...

Dialogue And Plot

The direction of a dialogue sequence is influenced by the genre, and certain genres (the melodrama, for example) tend to be more sedentary and dependent on dialogue than others. The action-adventure genre, which is less reliant on dialogue, offers an example of more fluid editing. In The Terminator (1984), James Cameron used an interesting dialogue sequence to advance the plot. Reese and Sara Connor are being chased by the Terminator. Their car weaves and crashes throughout this sequence. They...

Editing I

What I have called the MTV influence on editing is principally associated with that phenomenon of the past 20 years, the music video. Initially viewed as a vehicle to sell records, those 3-30 minute videos have captured a young audience looking for quick, evocative visual stimuli presented as a background for the aural presentation of a single song or series of songs. Although this style of film was further popularized by films such as Flashdance (1983), the form has its roots in more...

Filmography

Addams Family, The (1991), Barry Sonnenfeld, United States Adventures of Dolly, The (1908), D. W. Griffith, United States Age d'Or, L' (1930), Luis Bunuel, France Aguirre The Wrath of God (1972), Werner Herzog, West Germany Alexander Nevsky (1938), Sergei Eisenstein, USSR Alfie (1966), Lewis Gilbert, Great Britain Alice in the Cities (1974), Wim Wenders, Germany Aliens (1986), James Cameron, United States All About Eve (1950), Joseph Mankiewicz, United States All That Jazz (1979), Bob Fosse,...

Fourth Edition

AMSTERDAM BOSTON HEIDLEBERG LONDON NEW YORK OXFORD PARIS SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SINGAPORE SYDNEY TOKYO Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK Copyright 2007, Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,...

General Goals Of The Sound Edit

The first task that the editor faces is determining the narrative point of the scene. The narrative point must be supported or, more precisely, surrounded by sound. In a film like Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (1965), which was a dramatic re-creation of the Algerian struggle for independence from France, authenticity is central to our involvement with the film's story. Because the film was composed entirely of re-created footage (not news-reel footage) of the war, the sound effects...

Want to live

In I Want to Live , Wise again dealt with a story in which the inner life of the character comes into conflict with society's view of that person (Figure 5.1). In this case, however, the consequences of the difference are dire. In the end, the main character is executed by society for that difference. Barbara Graham enjoys a good time and can't seem to stay out of trouble. She perjures herself casually and thus begins her relationship with the law. Figure 5.1 I Want to Live , 1958. 1958 United...

Ideas about society

The coming of sound was closely followed by shattering world events. In October 1929, the U.S. stock market crash signaled the onset of the Great Depression. Political instability led to the rise of Fascist governments in Italy and Germany. The aftereffects of World War I undermined British and French society. The United States maintained an isolationist position. The period, then, was unpredictable and unstable. The documentary films of this time searched for a stability and strength not...

Ideas and Sound

Just as a visual juxtaposition or a cutaway can introduce a new idea or a new interpretation, so too can sound. Chapter 20 discussed how the narration altered the meaning of the opening visuals in Memorandum (1966). Any of the elements of sound music, sound effects, dialogue can accomplish this. The juxtaposition of different sounds or the introduction of a sound cutaway can be as effective as a visual in introducing an idea. This concept is so important that this chapter is devoted to it....

Music

The broadest generation of ideas develops from the musical decisions of the filmmaker. The mixture of Home on the Range and the music of Edward William Elgar in Humphrey Jennings's Listen to Britain (1942) suggests that patriotism and culture are a potent mix that suggests national strength. If Jennings had selected only the music of the upper class or of the lower classes, that sense of unity and strength would not have resulted, and the purpose of the film it was a propaganda piece for...

Narrative and style

Style in and of itself can contribute to the narrative or it can undermine the narrative if it is not clearly dramatically purposeful. The elements of style most obvious to the viewer, are compositional elements camera placement, movement, the juxtaposition of foreground and background people or things, the light, the sound, and, of course, the editing. Whether the filmmaker relies on the editing, the pace, to explain the narrative, or she avoids editing, moving the camera, using the planes...

Narrative Conventions

The international advances of the 1950s and the technological experiments in wide screen and documentary techniques provided the context for the influence of television and theatre in the 1960s and 1970s. The sum effect was twofold to make the flow of talent and creative influence more international than ever and, more important, to signal that innovation, whether its source was new or old, was critical. Indeed, the creative explosion of the 1950s and 1960s was nothing less than a gauntlet, a...

Notesreferences

Identification and the goal-directedness of a main character have particular editing implications, with respect to the use of the close-up, subjective camera placement, and movement and pace. Each of these editing choices creates a more emotional or dramatically meaningful experience. This classic approach to editing has less relevance in the nonlinear narrative. 2. See Ken Dancyger, Global Scriptwriting (Boston Focal Press, 2001), Chapter 1 for definitions of each narrative tool. 5. Patricia...

Origins

Although Luis Bunuel's early antinarrative experiments in Un Chien d'Andalou (1929) and L'Age d'Or (1930) bear certain similarities to the contemporary music video, the more critical shaping device is music that has a narrative as well as emotional character. This means that we have to look to the two early Beatles' films, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help (1965) for a starting point in the mid-60s. Very quickly, the Lester films were joined by John Boorman's film with The Dave Clark Five,...

Pare Lorentz And the plow that broke the plains

A more critical view of society was taken by Pare Lorentz in The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936), a film sponsored by the Resettlement Administration of the U.S. government. Lorentz looked at the impact of the Depression on the agricultural sector. The land and the people both suffered from natural as well as human-made disasters. The purposive message of the film is that government must become actively involved in recovery programs to manage these natural resources. Only through government...

Robert wise

Wise is probably best known as the editor of Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Within two years, he codi-rected his first film at RKO. As with many American directors, Wise spent the next 30 years directing in all of the great American genres the Western (Blood on the Moon, 1948), the gangster film (Odds Against Tomorrow, 1959), the musical (West Side Story, 1961), and the sports film (The Set-Up, 1949). He also ventured into those genres made famous in...

Television

No post-war change in the entertainment industry was as profound as the change that occurred when television was introduced. Not only did television provide a home entertainment option for the audience, thereby eroding the traditional audience for film, it also broadcast motion pictures by the 1960s. By presenting live drama, weekly series, variety shows, news, and sports, television revolutionized viewing patterns, subject matter, the talent pool,1 and, eventually, how films were edited....

The Comedy Director

Comedy may be a difficult genre to direct, but there are some directors who have been superlative. Aside from the great character comics who became directors Chaplin, Keaton, and, in our time, Woody Allen a relatively small number of directors have been responsible for most of the great screen comedies. Ernst Lubitsch was the best at coaxing more than one meaning from a witty piece of dialogue. His films, including Noel Coward's Design for Living (1933), Samson Raphaelson's Trouble in Paradise...

The Documentary

Griffith and his contemporaries were part of a growing commercial industry whose prime goal was to entertain. This meant that the ideas presented in their films were subordinate to their entertainment value. Griffith attempted to present conceptual material about society in Intolerance and failed. Although other filmmakers such as King Vidor (The Crowd, 1928), Charlie Chaplin (The Gold Rush, 1925), and F. W. Murnau (Sunrise, 1927) blended ideas and entertainment values more successfully,...

The Early Sound Film

A great many innovations in picture editing were compromised with the coming of sound. The early sound films have often been called filmed plays or radio plays with pictures as a result of the technological characteristics of early sound. In this period, however, there was an attempt to come to grips with the theoretical meaning of sound as well as an attempt to find creative solutions to overcome its technological limitations and to return to a more dynamic style of editing. It is to these...

The Framework

If there is no main character, no resolution, what are the goals of the editing of the nonlinear film The first goal must be to assure that the narrative coheres, that it holds together. Each of the narrative tools of character, structure, genre, and tone may be used, but it is structure that is most critical in a macro sense.2 The structural option most directly applicable to the nonlinear film is a shaping device. The murderous career of Mickey and Mallory is the shaping device in Natural...

The moment as eternity the extreme closeup

There is perhaps no sequence in film as famous as the shower scene in Psycho.1 The next section details this sequence more precisely, but here the use of the extreme close-up will be the focus of concern. The shower sequence, including prologue and epilogue, runs 2 minutes and includes 50 cuts. The sequence itself focuses on the killing of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a guest at an off-the-road motel run by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). She is on the run, having stolen 40,000 from her...

The setup

The Set-Up is the story of Stoker Thompson's last fight. Stoker is 35 and nearing the end of his career he is low on the fight card but has the will to carry on. He fights now in a string of small towns and earns little money. This screen story takes place entirely on the evening of the fight. Stoker's manager has agreed to have his fighter lose to an up-and-coming boxer, Tiger Nelson. But the manager, greedy and without confidence in Stoker, keeps the payoff and neglects to tell Stoker he is...

The short film

The short film and its relationship to the short story, as well as to the world of the visual arts, has yielded many explorations of form, the creations of particular styles. The work of Luis Bunuel, Maya Daren, and the more recent work of Stan Brakhage and Andy Warhol are marked by a number of characteristics we now find in the MTV style. So too video art. The antinarrative position of Bunuel, and the stream of consciousness visual style of Maya Daren have far more in common with the MTV style...

The Sound Edit And The Dramatic Core

Every film has a central idea that drives the story. This dramatic core may be reinforced by the film's sound. It is useful to find a powerful sound idea to support that dramatic core from the perspective of the sound. The sounds of nature deployed by Jean-Jacques Annaud in The Bear were mentioned earlier. Clint Eastwood used jazz improvisation in Bird (1988), the story of Charlie Parker. Performance pieces punctuate the film, but beyond that, the improvisation dictates the dramatic structure...

The Sound Edit And The Picture Edit

To understand the goals of the rough sound edit, it is critical to understand the goals of the picture edit because they must proceed in tandem. They should help to clarify the narrative, and they should support the emotional character of the scene. The deployment of particular types of sound can help the audience maintain a sense of time and place and can clarify the movement from place to place. It is useful to use special sounds as motifs for particular characters. Sound should help create...

The theatre

Like the musical, the theatre became an important influence on film with the coming of sound. Many plays, such as Oscar Wilde's The Marriage Circle (1924), had been produced as silent films, but the prominence of dialogue in the sound movies and the status associated with the stage provided the impetus for the studios to invite playwrights to become screenwriters. Samuel Raphaelson, who wrote The Jazz Singer, and Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, who wrote The Front Page (1931), are among those...

Theatre

If the influence of television in this period was related to the search for immediacy, the influence of theatre was related to the search for relevance. The result of these influences was a new freedom with narrative and how narrative was presented through the editing of film. During the 1950s, perhaps no other filmmaker was as influential as Ingmar Bergman. The themes he chose in his films relationships (Lesson in Love, 1954), aging (Wild Strawberries, 1957), and superstition (The Magician,...

Time And PlacE

Pace can help establish a sense of time and place. Examples from Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) and Barry Lyndon (1975) were discussed in Chapter 10. Kubrick exploited pace to the same extent in the battle for Hue in Full Metal Jacket (1987) (Figure 26.1) as he did in his earlier Figure 26.1 Full Metal Jacket, 1987. Courtesy of British Film Institute. Figure 26.1 Full Metal Jacket, 1987. Courtesy of British Film Institute. works. The pace of the sequences, the cinema v rit camera...

Timing

One element of pace is the timing of particular shots. Where in a sequence should a particular close-up or cutaway be positioned for maximum impact When is a subjective shot more powerful than an objective one What is the most effective pattern of crosscutting between shots or juxtapositions within shots These are editing decisions that directly affect the issue of dramatic effectiveness. The editor's understanding of the purpose of the sequence as a whole helps her make these decisions. The...

W S Van Dyke And the city

In the late 1930s, the American Institute of Planners commissioned a film about the future city to be shown at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. W. S. Van Dyke and Ralph Steiner, working from a script by Henwar Rodak- iewicz and Lewis Mumford (and an outline by Pare Lorentz), fashioned a story about the future that arises out of the past and present. The urgency of the new city is born out of contemporary problems of urban life. The images of those problems are in sharp contrast to the...

Kubrick New Worlds And Old

Stanley Kubrick has made films about a wide spectrum of subjects set in very different time periods. Coming as they did in an era of considerable editing panache, Kubrick's editing choices, particularly in 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) and Barry Lyndon (1975), established a style that helped create the sense of the period. 2001 A Space Odyssey begins with the vast expanse of prehistoric time. The prologue proceeds slowly to create a sense of endless time. The images are random and still. Only...

Where we are nowthe state of the mtv style

Because of the volume of music videos produced to promote records and because TV stations and international networks welcome programming that appeals to the 15- 25-year-old audience, MTV is not only here to stay, it is a powerful force in broadcasting. Its interrelationship with advertising underpins its influence. Consequently, we must view the MTV style as a new form of visual storytelling. Part narrative, part atmosphere, sound intensive, and image rich, the form has a remarkable appeal to...

Dramatic discovery cutting on motion

This sense of punctuation via editing is even more compelling in a brief sequence in Spellbound. John Ballantine (Gregory Peck) has forgotten his past because of a trauma. He is accused of posing as a psychiatrist and of killing the man he is pretending to be. A real psychiatrist (Ingrid Bergman) loves him and works to cure him. She has discovered that he is afraid of black lines across a background of white. Working with his dream, she is convinced that he was with the real psychiatrist who...

Rouben mamoulians Applause

As Lucy Fischer suggests, Mamoulian seems to 'build a world' one that his characters and audience seem to inhabit. And that world is 'habitable' because Mamoulian vests it with a strong sense of space. Unlike other directors of the period he recognizes the inherent spatial capacities of sound and, furthermore, understands the means by which they can lend an aspect of depth to the image.2 Applause (1929) is a tale of backstage life, and it creates a world surrounded by sound (Figures 2.8 and...

The orthodoxy of the visual the chase

The famous cornfield sequence in North by Northwest (1959) is unembel-lished by sound (Figure 6.1). Without using music until the end of the sequence, Hitchcock devoted a 91 2-minute sequence to man and machine Roger Thorndike (Cary Grant) chased by a biplane. As usual in Hitchcock's films, the death of one or the other is the goal. In this sequence of 130 shots, Hitchcock relied less on pace than one might expect in this type of sequence. In a sense, the sequence is more reminiscent of the fun...

Altering Meaning Away From The Literal

The imaginative documentary uses the tools of editing to fashion a unique interpretation from documentary footage. That this can be done is a tribute to the power of editing and to the imagination of such filmmakers as Robert Flaherty, Humphrey Jennings, and Lindsay Anderson. The editor has many options for creating a new interpretation of reality. The editing style of Leni Riefenstahl in Olympia (1938) is an excellent example. Sound offers many options, as does the juxtaposition of sequences...

Vaudeville

In the work of Griffith and Vidor, narrative goals affected editing choices. In the subsequent work of Eisenstein and Pudovkin, political goals influenced editing choices. Vaudeville, as in the case of the documentary, presented yet another set of priorities, which in turn suggested different goals for editing. Vaudeville, whether associated with burlesque or, later, with the more respectable theatre, offered a different audience experience than the melodramas and epics of Griffith or the...

The downgrading of the plot

It's not that this new audience is disinterested in plot. The success of films such as Amy Heckerling's Clueless (1995) and Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility (1995) with a young audience is proof that the narrative drive and energy in both of these love stories appeals to that audience. Ironically, both are based upon the novels of Jane Austen. But these films, although popular, are not icons to this young audience. Those filmic icons are Reality Bites, Natural Born Killers, and Slacker (1991)....

WENDERs mixing Popular And Fine Art

Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas, written by Sam Shepard, demonstrates Wend-ers's role as a director who chooses a visual style that is related to the visual arts and a narrative style that is related to the popular form sometimes referred to as the journey. From The Odyssey to the road pictures of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, the journey has been a metaphor to which audiences have related. Wenders used the visual dimension of the story as a nonverbal roadmap to understanding the characters, their...

West side story

Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (1961) is a contemporary musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Instead of the Montagues and the Capulets, however, the conflict is between two New York street gangs the Sharks and the Jets (Figure 5.2). The Sharks are Puerto Rican. Their leader is Bernardo (George Chakiris). The Jets are American, although there are allusions to their ethnic origins as well. Their leader is Riff (Russ Tamblyn). The Romeo and Juliet of the story are Tony...

David lean

Through his experience in the film industry, including his time as an assistant editor and as an editor, David Lean developed considerable technical skill. By the time he became codirector of In Which We Serve (1942) with Noel Coward, he was ready to launch into directing. As a director, he developed a visual strength and a literary sensibility that makes his work more complex than the work of Robert Wise. Lean's work is both more subtle and more ambitious. His experience as an editor is...

The Early Comedy Of Role Reversal

The Lady Eve (1941), by writer-director Preston Sturges, tells the story of a smart young woman (Barbara Stanwyck) who is a professional gambler. She meets a rich young man (Henry Fonda) aboard an ocean liner. She determines their fate they fall in love. When he learns that she is a gambler, he breaks off the relationship. Ashore, filled with the desire for revenge, she dons a British accent and visits his home. She convinces him that, because she looks so much like the first woman, she must be...

The unity of sound

The remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) is commendable for its use of style to triumph over substance. If Psycho is the ultimate audience picture, filled with killing and nerve-wrenching unpredictability, The Man Who Knew Too Much is almost academic in its absence of emotional engagement despite the story of a family under threat. Having witnessed the killing of a spy, Dr. McKenna (James Stewart) and his wife Jo (Doris Day) are prevented from telling all they know when their son is...

International Perspectives

Griffith was the first great international filmmaker and that the drop in European production during World War I helped American production assume a far greater international position than it might have otherwise. It should not be surprising, then, that in 1918 Griffith and his editing innovations were the prime influence on filmmakers around the world. In the Soviet Union, Griffith's Intolerance was the subject of intense study for its technical achievements...

Editing Concerns

Beyond understanding the characteristics of the genre he is working with, the editor must focus on the target of the humor. Is it aimed by a character at him- or herself, or does the humor occur at the expense of another Screen comedy has a long tradition of comic characters who are the target of the humor. Beyond these performers, the target of the humor must be highlighted by the editor. If the target is the comic performer, what aspect of the character is the source of the comedy It was the...

Style for its own sake

It is not always the case that style supports the narrative. Often style is presented as a substitute for a weak narrative or is, in the view of the director, a necessary overmodulation simulating the thematic extremes of the narrative. To be specific about style, we need only look to films such as Fellini Satyricon (1970) or Cornel Wilde's Beach Red (1967) to see style overwhelming the content. On the other hand, in each case, the style spoke to the director's view of ancient Rome or about...

Radio

Whether film or radio was a more popular medium in the 1930s is related to the question of whether film or television is a more popular medium today. There is little question today that the influence of television is broader and, because of its journalistic role, more powerful than film. The situation was similar with radio in the 1930s. Radio was the instrument of communication for American presidents (for example, Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats) and for entertainers such as Jack Benny...

The Return Of Miseenscne

As a style, mise-en-sc ne is associated with Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941) and Touch of Evil (1958), with Max Oph ls in Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) and Lola Mont s (1955). These filmmakers, building upon the work of F. W. Murnau in the 1920s (The Last Laugh, 1924), essentially moved the camera to avoid editing. The elegance of their camera movement recorded performance and added a more subtle editorial direction. In Welles' case, a sense of aesthetic virtuosity was created in the...

Altman the freedom of chaos

Robert Altman is a particularly interesting director whose primary interest is to capture creatively and ironically a sense of modern life. He does not dwell on urban anxiety as Woody Allen does or search for the new altruism a la Sidney Lumet in Serpico (1973) and Prince of the City (1981). Altman uses his films to deconstruct myth (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 1971) and to capture the ambience of place and time (The Long Goodbye, 1973). He uses a freer editing style to imply that our chaotic times...

The Technological Revolution

Film and video, the two most technology-dependent art forms of the twentieth century, have witnessed a profound acceleration in change, the shift from analog to digital-driven technology. The implications are enormous. In pre-production, computer software is available for pre-visualization of scenes. Color and design opportunities, in essence computer animation, deepens the predictability of the potential elements of an image. During production, nonlinear editing allows for rapid assemblies...

Experimentation with sound

Francis Ford Coppola's entire career seems to have been driven by a need to innovate and to find artistic solutions to narrative goals. Early in his career, he used music to suggest that You're a Big Boy Now (1966) was more than a story of one teenager, but rather like George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973) the story of an entire generation. In The Conversation (1974), he elevated the sound effect to the equivalent of dialogue. The film's lead character is a private investigator who...

An Early Dialogue Sequence

As stated earlier, the very first dialogue sequences were visually structured to facilitate the actual recording of the sound. Consequently, the mid- to long shot was used to record entire dialogue sequences. As the technology developed, more options complemented the midshot approach to the dialogue sequence. But as important as the technology proved to be, the creative options developed by directors were equally effective in broadening the editing repertoire of the dialogue sequence. By...

Amplification

The process of amplification can expand the realism of the film to embrace emotional as well as physical realism, or it can alter the meaning of the visuals to suit the intended vision. The process, then, is not so much emphasis as it is expansion or alteration. Perhaps no task of the sound editor is more important than the decision about physical realism versus emotional realism. The opposite extremes are present in two cinema verite documentaries. Roman Kroitor and Wolf Koenig's Lonely Boy...

Evolution of pace in filmmaking

Eisenstein opened the door on the issue of pace and a wide variety of filmmakers walked through that door. King Vidor effectively used pace to build an aesthetic tension in the march through the woods sequence in The Big Parade. Walter Ruttmann used pace to capture the energy of the city in Berlin Symphony of a Great City. And Frank Capra used pace to energize his dialogue-heavy narrative in You Can't Take it With You. The great leaps forward, however, would await the 1950s. In that decade,...

The Role Of The Editor

It is an overstatement for any one person involved in filmmaking to claim that his or her role is the exclusive source of creativity in the filmmaking process. Filmmaking requires collaboration it requires the skills of an army of people. When filmmaking works best, each contribution adds to the totality of our experience of the film. The corollary, of course, is that any deficit in performance can be ruinous to the film. To put the roles into perspective, it's easiest to think of each role as...

The Case Of The Thin Red Line

Terry Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998) is a war film about the battle for Guadalcanal. War films, whether they focus on a battle, a war, or a patrol that is a minor piece of a war, have a beginning, middle, and end. The end or resolution addresses whether the main character survived or did not. The tone of such films usually varies, ranging from patriotic films such as Guadalcanal Diary (1942) to the antiwar polemic of films such as Too Late the Hero (1970), a Pacific war film made while the...

Feminism and antinarrative editing

Although some female directors have chosen subject matter and an editing style similar to those of male directors,5 there are a number who, like von Trotta, have consciously differentiated themselves from the male conventions in the genres in which they choose to work. For example, Amy Heckerling has directed a teenage comedy from a girl's perspective. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) breaks many of the stereotypes of the genre, particularly the attitudes about sex roles and sexuality....

Intensity the closeup

In Notorious (1946), Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) marries Alex (Claude Rains) in order to spy on him. She works with Devlin (Cary Grant). Alex is suspected of being involved in nefarious activities. He is financed by former Nazis in the pursuit of uranium production. He is the leading suspect pursued by Devlin and the U.S. agency he represents. Alicia's assignment is to discover what that activity is. When she becomes suspicious of a locked wine cellar in the home, she alerts Devlin. He suggests...

Cinema verit

The wide screen forced filmmakers to give more attention to composition for continuity and promoted the avoidance of editing through the use of the foreground-background relationship. Cinema verit promoted a different set of visual characteristics for continuity. Cinema verit is the term used for a particular style of documentary filmmaking. The post-war developments in magnetic sound recording and in lighter, portable cameras, particularly for 16 mm, allowed a less intrusive filmmaking style....

Action

Because film is a visual medium, movement, which was originally the novelty of the medium, has naturally become its showpiece. Nothing better illustrates the power of movement in film than the action sequence. Action sequences are a key reason for the success of the Western and gangster genres. Whether it features a chase, a showdown, or a battle, the action sequence has a visceral appeal for audiences. This type of sequence is not confined to the genres where action seems natural, however....

The Elevation Of Cinema Verite

Cinema verite, beginning with its ideological underpinnings in the work of Dziga Vertov (see Chapter 1), has been principally viewed as affiliated with the documentary. Indeed, together with the personal documentary and the educational-political documentary, cinema verite is one of the 3 principal ideologies of the documentary. Its affiliation with the dramatic film dates from the 1960s the British kitchen sink dramas, the New Wave films of JeanLuc Godard, and the docudramas of Peter Watkins...

Word About Film Examples

When Reisz's book was published, it was difficult to view the films he used as examples. Consequently, a considerable number of shot sequences from the films he discussed were included in the book. The most significant technological change affecting this book is the advent of the VCR and the growing availability of films on videotape, videodisc, and now on digital versatile disc (DVD). Because the number of films available on video is great, I have tried to select examples from these films. The...

Changes In The Use Of Narration

Although narration is totally absent (by definition) in cinema verite, it is a formative presence in the other genres of documentary. Narration, as one of the three layers of sound (dialogue and music are the others), is a very powerful tool. As we will see in our discussion of Clement Perron's Day After Day (1965) in Chapter 28, The Sound Edit and Creative Sound, narration has the capacity to alter the meaning of the visual. The classic role of narration, the Voice of God, was essentially...

Randomness upon pace

One of the remarkable elements of editing is that the juxtaposition of any grouping of shots implies meaning. The pacing of those shots suggests the interpretation of that meaning. The consequence of this is seen in microcosm when a random shot or cutaway is edited into a scene it introduces a new idea. This principle is elaborated where there are a number of random shots in a scene. If edited for effect, the combination of shots creates a meaning quite distinct from the sum of the individual...

Imitation and Innovation

In this chapter, we explore a new phenomenon, the movie whose style is created from the context of movie life rather than real life. The consequence is twofold the presumption of deep knowledge on the part of the audience of those forms such as the gangster films or Westerns, horror films or adventure films. And that the parody or alteration of that film creates a new form, a different experience for the audience. This imitative and innovative style is a style associated with the brief but...

The Closeup And The Long Shot

Griffith created a pattern of fragmentation of shots that differentiated long shots, or shots that established location and context, and close-shots, or shots that were emphatic, emotional, and intense. Eisenstein built on Griffith's innovations by using the juxtaposition of images to create conflict. In effect this meant a polarization of the kind of shots used, with Eisenstein using more close-ups than had been the practice. Those directors who sidestepped mise-en-sc ne and chose to be...

Innovations of Sound

In the era of digital Dolby sound, a logical question to pose is whether the technical innovations in sound, which have been considerable, have led to a new aesthetic, or at least to a number of innovations that broaden the sound repertoire. The answer is no and yes. Before we discuss those innovations, it's useful to look at how we have gotten to where we are in sound. As mentioned earlier, the earliest use of sound in film quickly progressed from novelty to creative deployment in the work of...

Leni Riefenstahl And olympia

It would be simple to dismiss Leni Riefenstahl's work as Nazi propaganda (Figure 3.9). Although Riefenstahl's Olympia Parts I and II (1938) are films of the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin and hosted by Adolph Hitler's Nazi government, Riefenstahl's film attempts to create a sensibility about the human form that transcends national boundaries. Using 50 camera operators and the latest lenses, Riefenstahl had at her disposal slow-motion images, microimages, and images of staggering scale. She...

Past Reliance On Linearity

In the period where film and video narratives were popular cultural forms intended for the largest mass audiences on an international as well as national level, linearity as a narrative principle was critical. The codes of linear narrative the goal-directed main character, the antagonist so superior in his counter-goal as to make a hero of the main character, the linear plot veering from point to counterpoint with an accelerating speed, and, of course, the inevitable resolution which justified...

The Wartime Documentary Imagination And Propaganda

The remainder of this chapter provides a more detailed examination of Humphrey Jennings's Listen to Britain (1942). It explores how Jennings edited his film to be more than a record of everyday life in war-torn Britain (Figure 21.1). Figure 21.1 Listen to Britain, 1942. Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive. Figure 21.1 Listen to Britain, 1942. Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive. Listen to Britain was one of many documentaries made during World War II. The most...

Innovations in Documentary II

Fahrenheit 9 11 (2004), by Michael Moore, represents a watershed in documentary film history. On one level, having earned almost 200 million, including ancillary revenue, it is the most commercially successful documentary of all time. Earnings rivaled the vast majority of dramatic films made in 2003. On another level, however, the film demarks the adoption of dramatic-entertainment values as opposed to the educational-informational values more often associated with the documentary. Fahrenheit 9...

Interior life as external landscape

The premise of many of Resnais's narratives that the past lives on in the character was very much the issue for both Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni. They each found different solutions to the problem of externalizing the interior lives of their characters. When Fellini made 81 2 in 1963, he was interested in finding editing solutions in the narrative. In doing so, he not only produced a film that marked the height of personal cinema, he also explored what, until that time, had been...

The importance of feeling states

One of the central features of the MTV style is the importance of creating a definite feeling state. This is not an issue of the need to challenge the primacy of plot. Rather it begins with the close relationship of the MTV style with music. Music particularly without lyrics synthesizes human emotion. The brain processes sound. It was Bergman who faster than images stated the goal of the film experience it should be like music. This equation of music with heightened emotional experience was...

The Sound Edit and Clarity

In the picture edit, the rough assembly begins the process of narrative clarification. The goal at the end of the rough picture assembly is a clear narrative in which performance and story progression can be evaluated. The goal of the rough sound edit is equivalent to achieve believability of performance and a progressive sense of the story. Issues of dramatic emphasis and metaphor are left for the fine cut for sound as well as visuals. The fine-tuning of the sound edit is discussed in the next...

Role Reversal

In 1982, Blake Edwards wrote and directed Victor Victoria. In the 40 years between The Lady Eve and Victor Victoria, the balance between the verbal and visual elements of comedy shifted. Today's films have a much greater variety of visual humor. Victor Victoria is the story of a young performer, Victoria (Julie Andrews) who is not very successful in 1930s Paris until she meets a gay performer, Toddy (Robert Preston), who suggests that she would improve her career if she pretended to be a man...

Dreamstates subjectivity and motion

Perhaps no film of Hitchcock's is as complex or as ambitious as Vertigo (1958), which is the story of a detective, Scottie (James Stewart), whose fear of heights leads to his retirement (Figure 6.2). The detective is hired by an old classmate to follow his wife, Madelaine (Kim Novak), whom he fears is suicidal, possessed by the ghost of an ancestor who had committed suicide. She does commit suicide by jumping from a church tower, but not before Scottie has fallen in love with her. Despondent,...

Alexander Dovzhenko Editing By Visual Association

In his concept of intellectual montage, Eisenstein was free to associate any two images to communicate an idea about a person, a class, or a historical event. This freedom was similar to Vertov's freedom to be playful about the clash of reality and illusion, as illustrated by the duality of the filmmaking process in The Man with a Movie Camera. Alexander Dovzhenko, a Ukra-nian filmmaker, viewed as his goal neither straight narrative nor documentary. His film Earth (1930) is best characterized...

Artificial Reality

To understand this imagined reality more deeply, its best to consider the operational choices different filmmakers have used to achieve an imagined reality by pushing artifice. Consider five options as pathways to what I will call artificial reality. These pathways are the use of video rather than film, the use of constructed artifice, the use of the imagined over the observational, the use of spectacle, and the use of special effects. Each of these options is clearly artificial. At times, the...

The wide screen

To give some perspective to the wide screen, it is important to realize that before 1950 films were presented in Academy aspect ratio that is, the width-to-height ratio of the viewing screen was 1- -1.33 (Figure 7.1). This ratio was replicated in the aperture plate for cameras as well as projectors. There were exceptions. As early as 1927, Abel Gance used a triptych approach, filming particular sequences in his Napoleon (1927) with three cameras and later projecting the images simultaneously....

Sequencesmemorandum

This chapter uses a single film, Memorandum (1966), to examine the documentary. Memorandum was produced at the National Film Board of Canada. Donald Brittain and John Spotton directed it, and Spotton also photographed and edited the film. The documentary examines the Holocaust from a retrospective point of view. The film centers around the visit of a concentration camp survivor, Bernard Lauffer, to Bergen-Belsen, the camp from which he had been liberated 20 years earlier. In April 1965, Lauffer...

The Case Of Listen To Britain

The British war documentary ranged from direct, narration-driven films such as Desert Victory (1943) to the nonnarrative treatment of Listen to Britain. Jennings's treatment of a Britain under assault from the air and under threat of invasion was unhurried and indirect. As Alan Lovell and Jim Hillier write, It is a most unwarlike film. Its basic motivation is a balance between menace (to a culture rather than to material things) on the one hand and harmony and continuity from the past on the...

The Artists Of Nonlinear Narrative

The contributions of Porter, Griffith, and Vidor to the history and practice of film editing is that they created a series of editing choices that underpinned linear narratives the close-up to articulate clearly the goal of the main character, a cutaway to provide an analogy for what the character was thinking about, and pace to provide an emotional rhythm for the clash of the main character's goal with the barriers to that goal. All these choices, including extreme long shots, camera...

The Personal Documentary

The personal documentary is different from the social political documentary or the cinema verite documentary. The cinema verite documentary, which is rooted in the philosophy of filmmaking of Dziga Vertov, suggested that the great strength of the documentary and of film was its capacity to capture real life events as they happen. For Vertov, this represented the highest aesthetic of the medium. The result is films such as The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), which was the inspiration for a...

Obliteration of time and space

In order to create feeling states and to downgrade plot and its importance, the filmmaker must also undermine the gestalt impulse to make sense of what we see. To put in another way, the viewer will organize a pattern of sounds and images into a progression of thought, an applied linearity, even if one is not available on the surface. To counteract the impulse to organize those images and sounds into the narrative that may not be present, the filmmaker must challenge the impulse more deeply....

Breaking expectations

Perhaps no filmmakers represent as great a break from expectations as a trio of filmmakers with the independent filmmaking spirit Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Oliver Stone. In his work in Raging Bull (1980), Martin Scorsese uses a metaphor to create a style. This tale is of a man whose aggression was so great that prizefighting was simply an extension of his life. The metaphor Scorsese borrows is from opera. Many nineteenth-century operas included a ballet within the opera. Using the music...

Mixing Genres

Since the 1980s, writers and directors have been experimenting with mixing genres. Each genre represents particular conventions for editing. For example, the horror genre relies on a high degree of stylization, using subjective camera placement and motion. Because of the nature of the subject matter, pace is important. Although film noir also highlights the world of the nightmare, it tends to rely less on movement and pace. Indeed, film noir tends to be even more stylized and more abstract than...

Rhythm

In general, the rhythm of a film seems to be an individual and intuitive matter. We know when a film does not have a rhythm. The jerkiness of the editing draws attention to itself. When the film has an appropriate rhythm, the editing appears to be seamless, and we become totally involved with the characters and the story. Of course, intuition alone is not enough. Some practical considerations help determine an appropriate length for particular shots within a sequence. The amount of visual...

Became Directors

One of the more interesting career developments in film has been the transition from editors to directors. Two of the most successful, Robert Wise and David Lean, are the subject of this chapter. Is it necessary and natural for editors to become directors The answer is no. Is editing the best route to directing Not necessarily, but editing can be invaluable, as demonstrated by the subjects of this chapter. What strengths do editors bring to directing Narrative clarity, for one Editors are...

Melding past and present alain resnais

Hiroshima Mon Amour Movie

For Alain Resnais, film stories may exist on a continuum of developing action the present , but that continuum must include everything that is part of the main character's consciousness. For Resnais, a character is a collection of memories and past experiences. To enter the story of a particular character is to draw on those collective memories because those memories are the context for the character's current behavior. Resnais's creative challenge was to find ways to recognize the past in the...

Theoretical issues concerning sound

The theoretical debate about the use of sound was a deliberate effort to counter the observation that the sound film was nothing more than a filmed play complete with dialogue. It was an attempt to view the new technology of sound as a gain for the evolution of film as an art. Consequently, it was not surprising that the first expression of this impulse came from Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Grigori Alexandrov. Their statement was published in a Leningrad magazine in 1928.1 Eisenstein, Pudovkin,...

Peckinpah alienation and anarchy

Sam Peckinpah's career before The Wild Bunch 1969 suggested his preference for working within the Western genre, but nothing in the style of his earlier Westerns, Ride the High Country 1962 and Major Dundee 1965 , suggested his overwhelming reliance on editing in The Wild Bunch. The-matically, the passing of the West and of its values provides the continuity between these films and those that followed, primarily The Ballad of Cable Hogue 1970 and Junior Bonner 1972 . Peckinpah's later films,...

Dramatic time and pace

In real time, the killing of Marion Crane would be over in seconds. By disassembling the details of the killing and trying to shock the audience with the killing, Hitchcock lengthened real time. As in the Odessa Steps sequence in Potemkin, the subject matter and its intensity allow the filmmaker to alter real time. The shower scene begins with a relaxed pace for the prologue the shots of Crane beginning her shower. This relaxed pacing returns after the murder itself, when Marion, now dying,...

The case of Tampopo

The MTV style was used to create a chaotic context for the main character in Saving Private Ryan. The result is to pose the question How will he survive rather than the traditional question about the main character in a war film Will he survive In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the MTV style realigns our expectations of the kung fu adventure film. And in Life Is Beautiful, the MTV style reiterates the central theme of the narrative. In each case, the MTV style has had a relation to the...

Film Continuity Begins

The pivotal year in Porter's work was 1903. In that year, he began to use a visual continuity that made his films more dynamic. Melies had used theatrical devices and a playful sense of the fantastic to make his films seem more dynamic. Porter, impressed by the length and quality of Melies's work, discovered that the organization of shots in his films could make his screen stories seem more dynamic. He also discovered that the shot was the basic building block of the film. As Karel Reisz...

The Case Of The Ice Storm

Ang Lee's The Ice Storm 1997 takes place in upper-middle-class suburban Connecticut. The time is 1974 just prior to Nixon's resignation. The narrative focuses on two families, the Hoods and the Carvers. Both have two teenaged children. The families are dysfunctional in the sense that no one seems to be able to help one another. Consequently Ben Hood and Janie Carver are having an affair their children Wendy Hood and Mikey Carver are trying to echo their parental units. The others in the...

On Editing II

In the last chapter we explored the characteristics of the MTV style in editing. Whereas linear narratives proceed by focusing a viewer's identification with a main character, the MTV approach proceeds using a less specific focus. Consequently, pace, subjectivity, and the close-up are not used to build an identification with the main character. In the MTV style, they are used to generate a less specific intensity. Pace and subjectivity in general are not used to move us up a dramatic arc...