978-1457663543 Chapter 5

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
The Film Experience: An Introduction 4th Edition
Authors
Patricia White, Timothy Corrigan
CHAPTER 5
EDITING: RELATING IMAGES
KEY OBJECTIVES
Understand the artistic and technological evolution of editing.
Examine the ways editing constructs different spatial and temporal relationships among images.
Detail the dominant style of continuity editing.
Identify the ways in which graphic or rhythmic patterns are created by editing.
Discuss the ways editing organizes images as meaningful scenes and sequences.
Summarize how editing strategies engage filmic traditions of continuity or disjuncture.
CHAPTER OVERVIEW
Chapter 5 is the third of four chapters that identify the formal and technical powers associated with the different
elements of film form: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound. It begins with a short historical,
industrial, and cultural overview from the period of early cinema and classical editing styles, to a closer look at the
development of other editing techniques, including Soviet montage, continuity editing, and digital editing. It then
examines the formal aspects of editing, namely cuts and other transitions like fade-ins, fade-outs, and dissolves; techniques
for editing narrative space and time; as well as graphic editing. Finally, the chapter suggests some of the ways editing help s
to create filmic meaning. Students learn that editing styles are not simply neutral ways of telling stories, but methods of
conveying different perspectives on art and realism.
TEACHING THE OPENING VIGNETTE
The opening vignette for this chapter includes a description of an exciting scene from The Bourne Supremacy
(2004) in which Jason Bourne attempts to guide his contact, via cell phone, away from assassins in Waterloo
Station. It might be useful to point out that it is the combination of editing and the desperate telephonic exchanges
that makes what would otherwise be a standard crowd scene an especially exciting sequence. Indeed, film scholar
Ned Schantz has observed that the cinema and the telephone have a peculiar kinship (see his interesting essay
“Telephonic Film” in Film Quaterly, Vol. 56, no. 4, Summer 2003, pp. 23-35). Not only are their origins in the
history of technology nearly contemporaneous, the telephone and cinema collaborate in the staging of a variety of
powerful narrative effects, particularly suspense. It would be instructive to show in class an early telephonic film,
D.W. Griffith’s The Lonely Villa (1909), discussed on p. 170, along with this sequence from The Bourne Supremacy.
Both are examples of how alternating shots can heighten tension in a dramatic sequence. Further, both examples
demonstrate how the technologies of cinema and telephone embed the viewer in a frenetic relay of narrative
messages. It is worth noting that while the Bourne films rely on a much more fast-paced editing stylea difference
students will immediately noticethey nevertheless rely on basic principles of editing rooted in the Classical
Hollywood style, to which Griffith contributed so much.
TEACHING THE CHAPTER
Editing describes the art of connecting two different shots or film images. This fundamental practice has
produced a vast array of strategies associated with different historical, cultural, and aesthetic perspectives. Unlike the
other topics covered in Part 2, editing is a practice without a physiological correlative. The rapid -fire succession of images
we see out the window of a moving vehicle comes the closest to the practice of editing in our waking lives. In sleep,
however, dreams may be characterized by leaps in time and space that resemble the editor’s craft, transforming the known
world into something new and strange.
The challenge in teaching this chapter, even if you are not taking a historical or chronological approach to film,
is to make students conscious of how editing, the most distinguishing technical and formal element of film practice,
can construct images, locations, patterns, and rhythms that are impossible to achieve in real life. It can be useful to
look at examples from early single-shot cinema like The Kiss or the innovative crosscutting in The Birth of a Nation
(1915) when discussing the evolution of editing. Contrasting such films with examples of Hollywood continuity
editing, Soviet montage, and MTV-style jump cuts allows students to see how editing overcomes the physical
limitations of human perception to create a world, not just from other angles, but also more quickly and with greater
complexity than normal human vision allows.
From a Historical Perspective
1919-1929: Soviet Montage:
Assign a short supplemental excerpt from Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov
(University of California Press, 1985), such as “The Council of Three” from the section Kinoks: A Revolution (1922)
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where Vertov describes building a room from twelve different walls by editing footage shot in various parts of the
world.
1990s-Present: Editing in the Digital Age:
Ask students to make their own Vertov “rooms” on Vine or Instagram.
From a Formal Perspective
The Cut and Other Transitions:
Distinguish between a fade-in and a dissolve by likening the former to a student
going from class to class during a single day and the latter to a student leaving a class that meets once each week and
then leapfrogging ahead to the next class. Alternatively, show the original theatrical trailer for Casablanca (1942) in
class. Ask students to count how many optical effectsdissolves, wipes, irisesare used.
180-Degree Rule:
In addition to screening the sequence from The Big Sleep (1946) discussed in the text, consider
showing a useful (and fun) scene from the animated movie Paprika (2006). As the detective sits with Paprika in an
empty movie theater, he explains the 180-degree rule to her by tracing visible dotted lines in the space between
them. The “camera” then shifts to a position behind their heads to illustrate the spatial discontinuity the rule is
designed to prevent.
Teaching Technical Vocabulary and Key Concepts
An approach to evaluating comprehension could be to conduct cinematic “dictees” during class: students watch a film
clip, then alone or in groups describe it using as many terms from the chapter as they can. Ask them to present their
“translations” to the rest of the class.
Students frequently struggle with the distinction between montage and Soviet montage. To illustrate the former as
they are likely to construe it, show them the montage” musical number in Team America: World Police (2004). Exposing
the class to the polemical and poetic prose style of Dziga Vertov can help students understand why Soviet filmmakers
wanted to emphasize the constructed nature of their images. Similarly, students can learn to appreciate the political ends to
which these practitioners hoped to put disjunctive editing.
“Suture” can also be a puzzling concept for students to grasp in the abstract. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
(1982) offers an exaggerated example of how editing can insert viewers into a specific place and point of view in a film.
Show the sequence from The Big Sleep (1946), featured on p. 145 of the main text, to tie suture into the
textbook’s discussion of shot/reverse-shot editing patterns.
TEACHING HISTORY CLOSE UP, p. 172
In addition to working with her husband Dziga Vertov on The Man With the Movie Camera, Svilova was editor
of several of Vertov’s Kino-Pravda shorts and assistant director on Enthusiasm (1931) and Three Songs of Lenin
(1934). She went on to direct her own films, including the short docuemntary Nuremberg Trials (1947). Consider
pointing out that many celebrated male filmmakers have collaborated with talented women. Every single film by
Cecil B. DeMille was edited by the great Anne Bauchensthe first female to win an Academy Award for Best
Editing (in 1941, for her work on DeMille’s North West Mounted Police). Martin Scorsese has worked regularly
with the three-time Academy Award winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, The Aviator, and The
Departed). An editing teacher at the University of Southern California, Verna Fields edited such classic films as
Lucas’s American Graffiti (1973) and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (for which she won the Academy Award for Best
Editing). Sally Menke edited most of Quentin Tarantino’s films before her death, and Alisa Lepselter has edited all
of Woody Allen’s films since Sweet and Lowdown (1999). Yet as the History Close Up box notes, these women
make up an historically small percentage of the world’s editing talent.
Discussion Question: While still unpardonably low, the percentage of women editors working in Hollywood
(roughly 20% of all members of the Editors Guild are women) is miuch higher than the percentage of women
writers, or directors, or producers. Why might this be?
TEACHING THE VIEWING CUES
The Cut and Other Transitions, p. 177
Count the shots in the scene from Chinatown (1974), available online. What is the motivation behind each cut? What
overall pattern do these cuts create? What effect do they have on the scene?
Note the beautiful rhyming compositions in the shot/reverse shots here. In each there are two people arranged
foreground (important) and background (not) along a diagonal that underscores the slanting shadows cast by the
venetian blinds. Jake and the first Mrs. Mulray occupy the same space in their respective frames, but Jake is dressed
in the off-white of ignorance (not innocence), and his offscreen glances at the black-clad woman opposite him are
not returned.
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This Viewing Cue makes an excellent basis for a short writing assignment. In class, consider screening a short silent
film to model the shot-by-shot breakdown. The absence of spoken dialogue can make it easier for students to concentrate
on the cuts. Ask the class to clap each time there’s a cut to a new shot.
The Cut and Other Transitions, p. 180
Look for examples of transitional devices besides cuts. What spatial, temporal, or conceptual relationship is being set up
between scenes joined by a fade, a dissolve, an iris, or a wipe?
While students will be able to come up with examples of transitional devices (such as the wipes used by George Lucas
in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope) you may wish to show the scene from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws
(1975) where a nervous Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is keeping a watchful eye on the simmers at Amity Beach.
Spielberg uses an unconventional combination of wipes and cuts to create a seamless alternation between Brody and his
point of view as people walk past the camera.
Continuity Style, p. 180
Estimate the number of shots in a scene from Tangerine (2015), then watch the scene, clapping with each cut. Were more
shots used than you had imagined?
As an interesting exercise, have students watch Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903), discussed on p.
169, and the train robbery sequence from Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969). Clapping along to the former will
make for a very quiet room. But ask students to clap along to the latter, while paying special attention to how many of the
editswhile crucialmight otherwise go unnoticed. Then tell students that Porter’s film, in its entirely, lasts 12 minutes
and is composed of just 14 shots, while the sequence alone from Peckinpah’s film lasts 8 minutes but has 190 shots a
telling illustration of how advanced the Classical Hollywood style of editing has
advanced. Today, an average film has around 1,000-1,200 shots. The Wild Bunch, which in many ways set the
standard for the editing style of today’s action films, has more than 3,400.
Shot/Reverse Shot, p. 184
Does the film you watched most recently in class follow continuity patterns, such as the 180 -degree rule? Locate an
example, and identify other ways that spatial continuity is maintained.
One example you can screen in class: The scene in the diner in Paper Moon (1973) in which Tatum O’Neal’s Addie
and Ryan O’Neal’s Moses bicker about her money. This scene maintains spatial continuity through
shot/reverse-shot editing patterns. However, it subtly cheats the 180-degree rule by flipping the image on a match on action
without disorienting the viewer.
Rhythm, p. 195
Time the shots of the sequence from The General (1927) available online. How does the rhythm of the editing in the
sequence contribute to the film’s mood or meaning?
Like Buster Keaton, Fred Astaire was a gifted physical performer and insisted on long shots and long takes that
documented his prowess. To make the concept of rhythm easier to grasp, screen the “Never Gonna Dance”
sequence from Swing Time (1934) in class. Talk about the length and framing of each of the shots of Fred Astaire and
Ginger Rogers dancing and where the cuts come. In this scene, no lyrics are necessary to understand the
movement from melancholy to elation: these two are meant to be together, come what may. Just look at them dance! Two
fun facts to share with students (from Arlene Croce’s terrific The Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Book): the dancers did so
many takes that Ginger Rogers’ shoes filled up with blood. And, one take of the final shot went
perfectly—until Astaire’s toupee flew off during his final spin!
Scenes and Sequences, p. 196
What is the temporal organization of the film you’ve just viewed for class? Does the film follow a strict chronology? How
does the editing abridge or expand time?
Umberto Eco’s short essay “How to Recognize a Pornographic Movie” (collected in How to Travel with a Salmon
and Other Essays, Harcourt, 1995) provides a humorous illustration of how editing expands or abridges time: “Go into
a movie theater. If, to go from A to B, the characters take longer than you would like, then the film you are seeing is
pornographic.” Or talk about Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood (2014), which he shot with the same cast for a week
each year over a twelve-year span.
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Montage, p. 207
Does the editing of the film you’ve just viewed for class call attention to itself in a disjunctive fashion, setting up
conflicts or posing oppositional values? If so, how and to what end?
To inspire lively discussion, show the sequence from early in Breathless (1960) in which Michel gives Patricia
a ride in his car. Ask students about what effects the jump cuts and the refusal of shot/reverse -shot patterns during
their conversation have on the viewer. What connections can they make to the disjunctive editing practices in the
film shown for class?
TEACHING THE FORM IN ACTION
Editing and Rhythm in Moulin Rouge! (2001), p. 197
Fred Astaire insisted when he began making films that his entire body be in the shot when he danced. Most of
his musical numbers unfolded across a limited number of long takes. The idea was to display his skill and make it
clear to viewers that there was no trickery involved. Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001) turns that convention
on its head and inside out, in part because its stars are not as talented song -and-dance men (and women) as their
musical predecessors. Play the song “Lady Marmalade” in class and ask the students to clap to the beat. Then play
the “Lady Marmalade” sequence from Moulin Rouge! and ask them to clap at each cut. Prepare for cacophony!
Finally, play the video for Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit” (1991) and have the students clap at each cut. What
rhythms are produced? How do they affect our sense of spatiotemporal continuity?
TEACHING THE FILMS IN FOCUS
Patterns of Editing in
Bonnie and Clyde
(1967), pp. 200-201
Consider assigning students the December 8, 1969, Time magazine cover story about this movie or Pauline
Kael’s October 21, 1967, New Yorker review.
Discussion Question 1:
How does each piece advance an argument about Bonnie and Clydes place in the film
culture of the day?
Discussion Question 2:
Select a scene that is edited to convey spatial and temporal continuity. How does it contrast
to the patterns the editor uses to suggest the psychological space that Bonnie and Clyde inhabit?
ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS
Alternative Activity
FILMS CITED
An American in Paris (1951)
Ballet mécanique (1924)
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Big Sleep (1946)
The Birds (1963)
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
The Bling Ring (2013)
Blue Jasmine (2013)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The Bourne series (2002-2016)
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Boyhood (2014)
Breathless (1960)
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Broken Blossoms (1919)
The Cheat (1912)
Children of Men (2006)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Clueless (1995)
Crooklyn (1994)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Early Summer (1951)
Easy Rider (1969)
The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (1927)
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Fight Club (1999)
Flashdance (1983)
The Flicker (1965)
Flowers of Shanghai (1998)
Fury (1936)
The General (1927)
The Graduate (1967)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Happy Together (1997)
Hard Boiled (1992)
The Harder They Come (1972)
Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)
The Hours (2002)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) In
a Lonely Place (1950)
Inception (2010)
Jeanne Dielman, 83 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) Kill
Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Kinoks: A Revolution (1922)
Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
L’Avventura (1960)
Life of an American Fireman (1903)
The Limey (1999)
Living Playing Cards (1903)
The Lonely Villa (1909)
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Meeting of Two Queens (1991)
Memento (2000)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
A Movie (1958)
The Namesake (2006)
The Notebook (2004)
Olympia (1938)
Paper Moon (1973)
Paprika (2006)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Psycho (1960)
Rear Window (1954)
Russian Ark (2002)
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Saboteur (1942)
San Francisco (1936)
The Scarlet Empress (1934)
The School of Rock (2003)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Stagecoach (1939)
Strike (1924)
Swing Time (1934)
Top Gun (1986)
Trip to the Moon (1902)
Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The Way We Were (1973)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Winter’s Bone (2010)

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