20 – Editing essay (Continuity and Montage editing assignment)

Intro – Talking about what I am going to discuss

Classical Hollywood Continuity Editing- Griffith and Porter

Classical Hollywood Continuity Editing – Explored

Russian Montage Editing – Kuleshov and Eisenstein

Russian Montage Editing – Explored

Classical Hollywood Continuity Editing – Modern

Russian Montage Editing – Modern

Comparison

Conclusion

The History of Film Editing

In this essay I will be exploring the differences between Continuity editing and Montage and editing and talking about some of the people who have influenced the styles of editing. I will also be showing how these styles of editing can still be seen today and comparing the differences of editing. I will be offering reasons for why editing in the 21st century is different to the past.

So where to start? Well with two men who are considered as the founding fathers of classical Hollywood continuity editing editing; Edwin S. Porter and D. W. Griffith. In 1902 Edwin S. Porter made a film called ‘Life of an American Fireman’ and this ‘was the first American motion picture that used editing to give coherence to a non linear storyline’ (Rooney, Dalton) and one year later Porter made another film, this time called ‘The Great Train Robbery’ and this was the first film ‘to have the scenes move forward in a forward pattern to tell a story’ (Rooney, Dalton). This was a box office hit. Porter is most famous for his cross editing’ and ‘continuity editing’ Porter did not work much longer in the film industry as in 1916, he left the studio ‘due to high tensions between Zukor and Frohmann over business and creative matters’ (Rooney, Dalton). So he returned to working with and building film equipment. Along with Edwin S.Porter was D.W.Griffith and he was first affiliated with the movie industry as and Actor, and he then went on to become a Director. His company ‘The BioGraph Company’ was the first company to shoot a movie in Hollywood. ‘Griffith was the first to believe that feature length films could be financially viable’ ‘Birth of a Nation’ was a box office hit in 1910. Griffith went on to co-found ‘United Artists’ Griffith continued to make films until the early 1930’s, but none of them were anywhere near as successful as Birth of a Nation. Both of these men ‘set guidelines for which to follow creatively and artistically in order to make a film more aesthetically appealing’ (Roony, Dalton). Griffith used lighting and camera placement in Gangster films to ‘Heighten the mood or create tension’ (Rooney, Dalton). And ‘Porter was often credited with creating the initial techniques and Griffith for perfecting them’ (Rooney, Dalton).

Let’s take a closer look at the classical Hollywood continuity editing. Classical Hollywood continuity editing ‘has become paradigmatic because of the global dominance of Hollywood cinema’ (Bordwell, et al) , and that ‘filmmakers anywhere face a choice between two alternatives. Either they succumb to the classical Hollywood style and follow its example, or they revolt against it and try to consciously subvert the norms of that style’ (Bordwell, et al). So what exactly is Classical Hollywood Continuity Editing? Continuity editing began in the early 1900’s. It is a style of editing that ‘enables the viewer to read the story efficiently’ (Whittaker, Tom). This is done by the types of shots that are seen during the video, the camera shows many different details of what is going on (eg. A man pulling out a packet of chewing gum. The camera would get a close up of the hand pulling out the packet of chewing gum instead of showing the full body of the man/woman pulling out the chewing gum). The continuity style also answers the viewers questions. This is because it shows the viewers just where the character’s in the film are with several different shots. Rather than jumping into the thick of it. The continuity editing style shows the emotions and responses of the character’s by using reverse shots. This is when for example two people are having a conversation and the camera keeps changing between the two character’s because this is again establishing for the audience because you can see how they react to things and this is also a way of getting to know the character’s better. Another technique used in continuity editing is that the camera shows things as they should be. One thing that confuses the audience is when they see something that does not match the previous shot in response (e.g If someone looks at a car from head height, then it would be strange if the camera then followed it up by showing the car from directly above). Another technique of continuity editing is the 180 degree rule. The 180 degree rule ‘is where there are two people in the scene and they always have the same left right relationship in the shot’ (?) Continuity editing also uses reverse shots. The reverse shot is used so that you can see both sides of something (e.g ac onversation, this also allows the viewer to understand character’s and emotions better). Continuity editing also uses a match on action. This shows the same thing from multiple angles. Two people may be talking in a large room and the camera may change angles several times. During a scene, the establishing shot must always be used before changing angles. Because this is continuity and not montage, there are several ways in which the scene can change to another. The standard way of changing the scene is by placing the next scene next to it o the timeline, but it jumps very quickly and feels strange so scenes can also be changed in other ways. One way of doing this is by fading the scenes together. They can also be dissolved or screen wiped. Crosscutting is also used, in case two events ae happening simultaneously, because this may again match with whether something seems out of place.

This essay has two different viewpoints in terms of filmmaking and it is now time to explore ‘Russian Montage Editing’ and in particular two very important men; Lev Kuleshov and Sergei Eisenstein. Lev Kuleshov thought up the ‘Kuleshov effect’. The Kuleshov Effect was an experiment that featured a man named Mozhukhin sitting still without expression. The camera showed the man before changing over to show a bowl of soup, a women in a coffin and a child with a toy bear, while switching back to the man after showing each one. ‘The audience marveled at the sensitivity of the actor’s range’ (Kubrick Corner). Kuleshov also did an experiement where a jailed man is shown an open cell door, and another shot where a starving man is shown a bowl of soup. Then the shot’s were switched over between the jailed man and the starving man. But there was no noticeable difference. Because Kuleshov was all about montage and the acting was of less significance to him, ‘he came to call his actor’s model’s, indicating the lack of significance he attributed to them’ (Kubrick Corner). Sergei Eisenstein believed that through editing you could achieve a ‘tertium quid’ (third thing) ‘that makes the whole greater than the sum itself’ (Sherwood, Sam). He also believes that there are five types of Montage – Metric, Rhythmic, Tonal, Overtonal and Intellectual. Metric Montage is about the length of clips in a montage. Rhythmitic is about the synchronization between music and video. Tonal is about gaining emotional responses through lighting etc. Overtonal is about the ‘texture of objects in the shot’ (Sherwood, Sam). Intellectual is about using widely recognized objects and symbols.

Montage Editing uses lots of short clips, closely placed together. This means that the viewer does not fully know what is going on because they can only see short snippets of the scene as a whole, however this is what montage is all about because by seeing lots of short clips, closely placed together, it creates emotion for the viewers. This is because by showing two short clips together that signal the same thing, it will trigger the viewers emotions. By doing this, it will all importantly create a terquim quid, which is a third thing that is not shown put implied through the two clips. Montage editing uses lots of close-ups. Montage editing also uses lots of jump cuts. Jump cuts are where you change the view of the camera during a scene and often this happens in conversation. The (speeking) line will be started with one camera shot and finished off with another. This is used to change the tempo of the scene. So Juxtaposing is used to create the terquim quid. Montage editing was used because actors were not as important to the directors because they would combine hem with other things to create the terquim grid.

Here are some examples of continuity editing in 2oth century films.

Blade Runner (1982)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

In Pulp Fiction, the editing has been done a little differently. The same shot lasts for about a minute before the camera keeps reversing between two shots for about a minute and a half. In modern films there are allot more jump cuts in scenes and this is one way of showing that it is true. In The Shawskank Redemption the camera keeps changing between two shots until 2:44. Another example of how less jump cuts were used in the 20th century. Blade Runner is a very good example of an establishing shot.

Here are some examples of montage editing in 2oth century films.

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Citizen Kane (1941)

Breathless (1960)

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

Rocky (1976)

These all demonstrate different ways that montage editing is used. In Battleship Potemkin, close ups are used of various people, and the location, but it doesn’t really show the guards, this is the terquim quid. Two images together creating a third meaning. It often shows someone looking at something/one, so the emotion is the third meaning. In Citizen Kane, it uses fading to jump between two shots instead of using invisible editing like with continuity editing. In Breathless lots of jump cuts are used to demonstrate the passing of time. In The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Close Ups are used to create a terqium quid. In Rocky, jump cuts are used to demonstrate the passing of time.

Here are some examples of continuity editing in modern films. All these clips are of conversations between two people sitting at a table.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

Skyfall (2012)

Looper (2012)

They all start with an establishing shot (apart from Looper as the scene is part way through), so the viewer knows who is there and what is happening. In all of the clips the 180 degree rule is used. The camera does not cross the invisible line between the two characters. The camera changes between the two characters several times in all of the videos. If this is compared to Pulp Fiction, then you can see the difference in the amount of jump cuts that are used.

Here are some examples of montage editing in modern films.

Limitless (2011)

Black Swan (2010)

In Limitless, a montage is created to give the impression that time has passed. And in Black Swan a montage has been used to create the feeling of using drugs.

Here is a comparison of ‘Star Wars’. The original trilogy were made between 1977 and 1983, with the prequel trilogy being made between 1999 and 2005. So there were 28 years between them. between ‘A New Hope’ and ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ Over the years, the amount of shots used in a scene has increased and I will be comparing these two scenes to analyse that and see if that is true in the case of Star Wars.

The Empire Strikes back (1980)

Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), from the first second that the Lightsabers are drawn, there are about 26 jump cuts within the first minute (00:46 – 1:46). In Revenge Of The Sith (2005), from the first second that the Lightsabers are drawn, there are about 38 jump cuts within the first minute (00:18-1:18) One reason why there are more jump cuts now is because the technology has improved, so it is easier and quicker to edit. The Empire Strikes Back had a budget of $25 million and The Revenge Of The Sith had a budget of $113 million.

http://neecap.blogspot.co.uk/2006/09/edwin-s-porter-dw-griffith-are.html – Rooney, Dalton

http://faculty.washington.edu/mlg/courses/definitions/classicalHollywoodcinema.html – Bordwell, et al

http://cinetext.philo.at/reports/sv.html – Trischak, Evamaria

http://samsherwoodmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/sergei-eisenstein-lev-kuleshov.html – Sherwood, Sam

http://kubrickfilms.tripod.com/id21.html – ?

https://film110.pbworks.com/w/page/12610293/Soviet%20Montage – Dupaix, Air

http://www.slideshare.net/tomwhittaker1978/continuity-editing – Whittaker, Tom

http://faculty.cua.edu/johnsong/hitchcock/pages/montage/montage-1.html – ?

http://filmandvideoeditingbd.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/180-degree-rule.html – ?

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEMQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmedb.byu.edu%2Ffiles%2Flesson%2FTheDevelopmentofSovietMontage.pdf&ei=r8SIUsvuHJOqhQfMzYBw&usg=AFQjCNGf32KKyHLiDjnXmg9T5HWAIN6Y0w&bvm=bv.56643336,d.d2k – ?

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2 Responses to 20 – Editing essay (Continuity and Montage editing assignment)

  1. simonsylvester says:

    Okay, Archie. At the moment, this is a Distinction level essay being held back to Merit level by some simple mistakes. These are easy to fix and shouldn’t take you long. First of all, you’ve misunderstood what a jump cut is; it’s not merely a ‘quick cut’, but a cut or cuts usually within the same camera angle that serve to accelerate time or show disorientation. If you search for ‘Breathless jump cut’ you’ll find lots of material discussing jump cuts. You’ll need to redraft your essay to make sure this vocabulary is correct. Secondly, I’d like to see your strong video examples integrated into the essay, rather than tagged onto the end. This will illustrate your points in a much stronger way. You probably don’t need so many video examples, either, though I salute your film knowledge. You have written exceedingly well with your sources, bringing authoritative quotes to bear in your own writing. This looks and feels professional, though you need to tweak your references – don’t forget the year of publication is it’s known! Generally, however, this is a great essay – well done.

  2. kendalcollegefilm says:

    Okay, Archie. At the moment, this is a Distinction level essay being held back to Merit level by some simple mistakes. These are easy to fix and shouldn’t take you long. First of all, you’ve misunderstood what a jump cut is; it’s not merely a ‘quick cut’, but a cut or cuts usually within the same camera angle that serve to accelerate time or show disorientation. If you search for ‘Breathless jump cut’ you’ll find lots of material discussing jump cuts. You’ll need to redraft your essay to make sure this vocabulary is correct. Secondly, I’d like to see your strong video examples integrated into the essay, rather than tagged onto the end. This will illustrate your points in a much stronger way. You probably don’t need so many video examples, either, though I salute your film knowledge. You have written exceedingly well with your sources, bringing authoritative quotes to bear in your own writing. This looks and feels professional, though you need to tweak your references – don’t forget the year of publication is it’s known! Generally, however, this is a great essay – well done.

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