Part IIIa

Constructing and Refining Scenes

image Introduction

Motion pictures cast a spell on us. When a film is “working,” it transcends its origins as a series of disconnected moments and feels instead like a seamless experience, a smooth roller coaster ride that pushes us through space and time in a dynamic and satisfying way. Up through the 1950s, the language of editing in mainstream Hollywood filmmaking to achieve this effect was remarkably conservative. “There was almost a formulaic way of presenting films,” says editor Carol Littleton in The Cutting Edge, a 2004 documentary about film editing. “This film language was very strict, and in editorial ...

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