cut here
March 19, 2007 4:36 PM   Subscribe

The Cutting Edge - The Magic of Movie Editing BBC documentary on the technique and art of editing film. With commentary from Scorscese, Spielberg, and many more. Google vid.
posted by vronsky (33 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
The blog this is from,, has a bunch of great documentaries.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 4:49 PM on March 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, that blog is gold. Thanks!
posted by basicchannel at 4:59 PM on March 19, 2007

This looks good, vronsky. Looking forward to checking this out soon as I have the time. Thanks for the post!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:00 PM on March 19, 2007

(this is good) Thanks Vronksy!
posted by honest knave at 5:33 PM on March 19, 2007

This was posted at Videosift a couple of weeks ago. Juat brilliant.

Tarantino is interviewed at length, too, so there's some language NSFW.
posted by maudlin at 6:08 PM on March 19, 2007

I love editing. I'm 8 minutes in and this is good. Scorsese musing on the creation of the art form, especially. Speilberg and Cameron musing on the importance of a single frame. This is really good.
posted by Brainy at 6:09 PM on March 19, 2007

The Spielbeg post-mortem on Turkish Star Wars was rather timely.

(seriously, looking forward to this ... thanks)
posted by itchylick at 7:15 PM on March 19, 2007

Editing is fascinating, I'm definitely going to watch this. Thanks.
posted by octothorpe at 7:28 PM on March 19, 2007

See, sometimes a thing receives no snarks because is deserves no snarks - the reaction to this was so positive in the first few posts I went and watched.

And I'm really happy I did.

One-link Post to Video Completely Worthwhile: film at eleven.
posted by abulafa at 7:46 PM on March 19, 2007

BT, for those who need a little more quality from their media.
posted by squirrel at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2007

This link was rare, in that I watched it before even looking at the comments. Seriously, I feel bad for saying this, but I almost always check comments before reading a link.

[this is awesome]
posted by ninjew at 8:31 PM on March 19, 2007

Huh. I want to watch this , but it tells me it is not currently available.
posted by nola at 8:40 PM on March 19, 2007

Thanks, vronsky!
(And squirrel!)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:07 PM on March 19, 2007

This is really great...thanks!
posted by Falconetti at 9:07 PM on March 19, 2007

As an editor, I'm always amazed how little anyone ever talks about it. Like on the MTV show "Making the Video" I was always amazed how they would spend 28 minutes showing Jay Z in front of a green screen, then they would "send it to post," then 5 seconds later it would be done. As if that's all it took.

Of course, now everyone wants to edit because it's so cheap to do. I have friends who started their own editing schools because they can get people to pay them exorbitant amounts just to learn "how to do it." Wish I was that smart.

Anyway, great link.
posted by fungible at 9:17 PM on March 19, 2007

This was interesting. I feel like I've been learning a lot about the power of editing (and music) in film from watching those re-cut film trailers like Brokeback to the Future--thought about it again in the scene in the documentary that talks about audiences responding to the same footage of an actor juxtaposed with different images as if the actor was doing something different.

I wish the documentary had had more examples. I'd have liked to see a scene cut two different ways, for instance, to illustrate some of the points being made. They kept talking about "one frame makes all the difference." I'd have been interested to see an example to make that case.
posted by not that girl at 9:32 PM on March 19, 2007

Anyone interested in the topic should read The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, by Michael Ondaatje.
posted by languagehat at 5:26 AM on March 20, 2007

Don't forget Walter Murch's book In The Blink of An Eye. I was very interested in the way Walter Murch edits, and the way it is very much a physical experience for him. Its strange, this movie was on my to-watch list and I just started watching it yesterday, and then comes this post.
posted by phirleh at 6:23 AM on March 20, 2007

As an editor, I'd just like to say that, while true for the most part, the idea that good editing should be invisible is by no means an absolute.

Certain cuts should be felt. At least once a movie there should be a cut that that feels like getting punched in the stomach. See Junebug for about 15 examples.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:16 AM on March 20, 2007

I'm an editor, too... I wonder how many editors are on MeFi. There's a certain kind of editor/computer nerd overlap (with graphics and visual effects folk, too), so it makes sense.

The thing about invisible editing is that it's about the effect desired. If you want a sequence to be in seamless continuity, i.e. make it feel like the viewer is present in a scene, and that it's unfolding in real time, then, yes, you want the editing to become invisible.

On the other hand, there are lots and lots of times when continuity is not what you want at all, and then it's totally appropriate for the editing to call attention to itself. Music video, commercial and trailer editing is often of the later variety. Documentary can be, as well.

But if you're in the middle of a scene, and you don't want to intentionally cause what Brecht called alienation, then it's best for the editing style to recess.

I like the metaphor of being punched in the stomach. A good edit can definitely do that...
posted by MythMaker at 12:35 PM on March 20, 2007

I'm still working my way through this (watching it at work, while I render).

Walter Murch has some GEMS. Something like "I carry the viewer's attention around like a cupped handful of liquid, trying desperately not to spill it."
posted by nathancaswell at 1:11 PM on March 20, 2007

And he has just compared the director to the human immune system. Fabulous. I talk in metaphors and similes a lot too, is this something we all do?
posted by nathancaswell at 1:13 PM on March 20, 2007

Well, there's not a great grammar to describe what we do. I mean there is, but in some ways it's very rudimentary. Yes we can talk about jump cuts or continuity, but much of what editors do has to do with the maintence and manipulation of emotion from moment to moment, and I'm not sure there are words for everything I do.

I mean, one can use the language of the gestalt psychologists, and talk about phi effect, or use words like eye trace - but that's only part of what Murch is talking about with the cupped handful of liquid metaphor.
posted by MythMaker at 1:22 PM on March 20, 2007

And I agree that Walter Murch is THE MAN. He's the editor's editor. I could absorb what he did in Apocalypse Now or THX 1138 for days.
posted by MythMaker at 1:24 PM on March 20, 2007

This was interesting, thanks for the link. I just watched all of it. And yes, that's one of the things that you remember. (There was some inevitable bullshit as well - the Hollywood movie editor is like a Talmudic scholar, yeah, sure...) Scorsese seems smart and likable, and I could listen to him talking about film a lot more, while George Lucas seems, well... I expect even less of him after seeing him here.
posted by Termite at 2:38 PM on March 20, 2007

I challenge you to make it through all of his introductions to the deleted scenes in The Departed.

Seriously, it's like 5-6 minutes of the same inane prattle over and over and then 15 seconds of deleted scene.

Great movie though.

And great editing per usual by Ms. Schoonmacher.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:58 PM on March 20, 2007

k,not h. i am ashamed
posted by nathancaswell at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2007

IMHO, this little documentary is half an introductory film course. God, I love listening to Scorcese and Thelma talkin'. Thanks, great post.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2007

Scorscese screened an old, rough edit of "Itialianamerican" in a documentary class I took at NYU film. To say he was regarded as a god incarnate would be an understatement.

Fans of his should definitely not miss this.
posted by vronsky at 3:26 PM on March 20, 2007

boy, vronsky, maybe fans of Scorsese's should remember how to spell his name, huh? I hate it when I do that!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:46 PM on March 20, 2007

posted by vronsky at 3:52 PM on March 20, 2007

Excellent, vronsky! Thanks. :)
posted by nickyskye at 5:26 PM on March 21, 2007

Followup: The EVT blog has been cease-and-desisted by the BBC or Google. Poof. Gone.
posted by cgc373 at 9:36 AM on March 30, 2007

« Older Laptopalooza   |   Map collection of the Boston Public Library Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments