Editing, Walter Murch & his rule of six

“Your film: three lives and two deaths. It is born in your head, it dies on paper; it is brought to life again during shooting, where it is killed on film; and then resurrected in the editing, where it opens up like flowers in water.” Robert Bresson 

Why do you cut?

The cut represents a total and instantaneous replacement of one field of vision with another.

Why does editing work?

In the Blink of an Eye

  • What causes you to blink?
  • The blink is either something that helps an internal separation of the thought to take place, or it is an involuntary reflex accompanying the mental separation that is taking place anyway (2001: 60-62)
  • A Single Man (2009) Tom Ford
  • To cut is to have a new thought in cinema?
  • Not so much putting together, as discovering a path

Attempt to produce the greatest effect in the viewer’s mind with the least amount of things on screen. Try and do the most with the least

Suggestion is always more effective than exposition

Walter Murch & his Rule of Six (In order of importance)

Emotion – a cut that is true to the emotion of the movement

Story – a cut that advances the story

Rhythm – a cut that occurs at a moment that is rhythmically interesting and “right”

Eye-trace – A cut that respects “eye-trace”. The concern with the location and movement of the audiences focus of interest within the frame.

Two-dimensional Plane of Screen – A cut that respects “planarity” -the grammar of three dimensions transposed by photography to two. The questions of stage line, etc.

Three-dimensional Space of Action – A cut that respects the the three-dimensional continuity of the actual space.

Murch, W. (2001 [1995]) In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspec8ve on Edi8ng Film, Beverly Hills: Silman-James Press.



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