Q3 2018

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64 CINEMONTAGE / Q3 2018 CUT / PRINT Film and Video Editing Theory: How Editing Creates Meaning by Michael Frierson Routledge Focal Press, 2018 Softcover 327 pages $44.95 ISBN # 978-1-138-20207-8 by Betsy A. McLane P ost-production professionals are regularly asked why they select specific picture cuts or sound transitions. Those with successful careers know how to discuss, and sometimes defend, their choices in language that producers and directors understand quickly. There are times, however, when a simple explanation is unsatisfactory. There are also times when it seems that no answer will explain why a cut does, or does not, work. Enter here Michael Frierson's text, Film and Video Editing Theory: How Editing Creates Meaning, a masterful summation of far-ranging thoughts from cinema's major editing theorists. It may seem that theory has little place in Hollywood's fast-paced post industries, but consider that virtually everyone who ever makes a cut is aware of Russian film director and theorist Sergei Eisenstein's examples of montage — most famously the Odessa Steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin (1925) — and also has seen the results of the "Kuleshov effect" (the projection of the same close-up of actor Ivan Mozhukhin's face, intercut with shots of a bowl of soup, a woman in a coffin and a child playing, which caused audiences to marvel at the performer's sensitivity and range). Less well known is that Eisenstein categorized six types of montage, and that he and his contemporary fellow filmmaker Lev Kuleshov held opposing views of what constituted good editing. It may well be that no producer today is interested in hearing the details about either approach, but editors who understand them, and can translate that understanding into their work, can justify choices, even if only for their own satisfaction. The ideas compiled in this book might make a day's work in the editing room more meaningful. For students and novices, Frierson has created an essential book. It details, in chapter order, the motion picture editing theories of Herbert Zettl, Noël Burch, Edward Dmytryk, Walter Murch, ACE, CAS, MPSE, David Bordwell, Eisenstein, André Bazin, Andrei Tarkovsky and Maya Deren, and concludes with a section on "Rhythmic and Graphic Editing." One might quibble with the order of the chapters; they are not arranged chronologically, but the author helpfully cross-references among them. Thankfully, he also acknowledges the beginnings of cinema editing, chiefly in the chapter explaining Burch's classification scheme that editors "can use to examine particular edits and think about how they articulate space and time of a particular film." Key classic examples here are films by Vittorio De Sica, Jean Renoir and Orson Welles. The contributions of Edwin S. Porter and D.W. Griffith in transforming cinema from stage-like representations of separate actions, made coherent to the audience only through a live Editors: DoYou Know Your Fabula from Your Syuzhet?

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