Chapter 19The Art of Documentary Editing

Today, the idea of editing—juxtaposing images with one another, and with sounds—is so much a part of our media experience that it can be hard to even notice the cuts between shots in a documentary. It is worth stopping to remember, however, that the very first films, the Lumière Brothers’ snapshots of life at the end of the nineteenth century, consisted of only one shot. These “actualities” ran about a minute long, and did not have any edits, but they did accurately document everyday activity, events, and places of the time. Le Repas de Bébé (1895) consists of one shot of Auguste Lumière, his wife, and baby daughter having breakfast in the countryside, while Barque Sortant du Port (1896) consists of a ...

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