Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing


Everybody knows about the director’s role in making a film. The French even went to far as to call him or her the “author” of a film. (What’s French for bullshit?) Most people are aware that a film has a writer, who begins the whole insane, marvelous collaborative process that is movie-making. Real movie lovers know the cinematographer is responsible for much of the look of the film. Most people don’t know much about the production designer, who is equally responsible. As for the film editor … people know a film is spliced together from a lot of little strips, but most people assume it’s mostly the director who does that, and the editor is just a technician. And that was true in the early days, when it was classed among the “non-artistic” jobs. Anybody can splice a film, right? But eventually the artistic contribution of this neglected art form was recognized—mostly by the honest directors, who didn’t glorify themselves by riding the stupid auteur bandwagon—and the editor came into his (or, more often than in other film professions, her) own. Cinematographers got their craft showcased in the excellent Visions of Light, which Lee and I both adore. Now comes this one, and though it’s not in that rank, it’s quite good. The director got a lot of real heavyweight directors to appear, from Steven Spielberg to Quentin Tarantino, Jodie Foster to Martin Scorsese to Thelma Schoonmaker. (Who? I hear you ask. Well, she’s not a director, but she won three Oscars, and cut Woodstock, Raging Bull, and The Departed, among many others. Oh, that Thelma Schoonmaker.) And every single director is lavish in his or her praise of the cutter. Couldn’t do it without them. Highly recommended.