COMM 202 - Ch 1 Editing and the Silent Film


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Lecture notes from Ch. 1 of "The Technique of Film Editing."

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COMM 202 - Ch 1 Editing and the Silent Film

  1. 1. THE TECHNIQUE OF FILM EDITING Chapter 1: Editing and the Silent Film
  2. 2. THE BE GINNINGS OF FIL M CONTINUITY  The Lumiere Brothers • Record any common event, no matter how mundane. • Baby at the Lunch Table, • A Boat Leaving Harbour. • Watering the Gardener • The first-time the Lumiere’s exercised conscience control over the material.  George Melies • Cinderella (1899) • Enlarged the scope of film beyond the single shot. • Used the very limited Theatrical presentation style.
  3. 3.  Edwin S. Porter • One of Thomas Edison’s cameramen. • The Life of an American Fireman (1902) • First ever use of stock footage to tell a story. • It implied that the meaning of the shot could be changed based on the context of the edit. • Director can convey a sense of time to the viewer. • The Great Train Robbery (1903) • Parallel editing used to tie together action with no physical connections. • Significant advance in simple continuity of action. • Evolved the simple method of action continuity. • Relied heavily on actors’ gestures to convey variations in dramatic intensity. • Presentation was limited by technology.
  4. 4. GRIFFITH: DRAMATIC E MPHASIS  D.W. Griffith • Expanded on Porter’s methods. • Developed into a subtle instrument for creating and controlling tension. • The Birth of a Nation • Extreme long shots for purely dramatic effect • Use of cut-aways to build/prolong tension. • Lincoln’s Assassination scene. • Constructs the scene around four groups of characters. • Although the main action is broken up, no discontinuity because all the characters are established as present in the same space.
  5. 5.  D.W. Griffith (cont’d) • Griffith’s fundamental discovery • Film sequence composed of incomplete shots whose order and selection are governed by dramatic necessity. • Intolerance (1916) • Use of close-ups • Feature facial expressions of actors in greater detail. • Flashback • Allows viewer to better understand a characters motivations • No longer had to stage scenes in their entirety. • Break down scenes in small, manageable setups • While this new methodology made staging of spectacle scenes easier, it increased the demands on the actor. • The director now had more control.
  6. 6.  D.W. Griffith (cont’d) • The director now responsible for: • Conveying the effects in a scene. • Choosing the order and manner of consecutive shots thus highlighting or flattening a scene. • Timing a scene with the length of shots for dramatic impact. • “Griffith’s Last Minute Rescue” • Cutting rate was increased towards the climax, giving the impression that the excitement was steadily mounting.  Sergei Eisenstein • Acknowledged Griffith’s contributions to editing • Drew parallel between Griffith’s methods and existing literary devices. • Believed it was up to the young Russian directors to expand on Griffith’s concepts. • Ultimately surmised Griffith misunderstood the nature of editing.
  7. 7. PUDOVK IN : CONSTRUCTIVE E DITING  Pudovkin and Kuleshov • Pudovkin • Film Technique; book by Pudovkin • Formulated theory to be used as general guide, called Constructive Editing • Each shot must make a specific point. • Scornful of directors who tell their story in long shots only. • Kuleshov • Editing is more than telling a continuous story. • With suitable juxtaposition, shots had meaning that they lacked on their own. • Experimented with shots in different context. • Used same shot of actor in 3 different combinations and viewers perceived 3 different emotions. • Instead of the message being delivered by the actor, it is delivered by the edit.
  8. 8. E ISE NSTE IN: INTE L L E CTUAL MONTAGE  October and Old and New • Films more about commentary than continuity and plot. • Story provides structure to build exposition of ideas.  “While conventional film directs emotions, [intellectual montage] suggests an opportunity to direct the whole thought process as well.”  Main weakness, obscurity resulting in lost meaning.