Crowdsourcing my Film Studies paper:Film Editing in The Matrix

Well, not really- I’ve already written it, and expect to not make all that many major (content) changes, except perhaps to add a more proper introduction/conclusion. But I am actively soliciting comments here. The length is a little more than it really needs to be, so be brutal in telling me what to cut. Also need to know if I’m being too flippant- some parts really seem to read like a blog post- in some areas, since this is supposed to be something I’m graded on for 25% of the marks of a 3 credit course.

Principles of Editing with reference to “The Matrix”

Principles of Editing

Editing is a crucial part of the filmmaking process; the editor exerts almost as much influence on the final look and feel of the film as the director. He has the responsibility of putting the film together. The director gives the editor the raw material to use and the editor uses it to piece together the scenes into a film. The director and the editor must work hand in hand and have the same vision in order for the editing process to work. The editing of a film consists, among other things, of managing the transitions, control of time (pacing), and putting together the shots or rushes.

There are several different styles/methods of editing such as continuity, synthetic, associative, intellectual etc. Continuity editing is the predominant style of editing in narrative cinema and television, where the priority is on making the viewer unaware of the inherent discontinuities in the production of the film and in establishing a logical coherence between shots. However, it is hardly the only style that is used. Cross-cutting (cutting back and forth between shots of spatially unrelated places) conveys a sense of spatial discontinuity to show the viewer events that are happening in separate, parallel locations, perhaps to juxtapose something in an interesting way. Usually this is done in such a way as to minimize viewer disorientation. The jump cut (a cut between two shots that are so similar that a noticeable jump in the image occurs), however, is a deliberate device of disorientation. Other types of cuts are Axial cut, Cross-cutting, Fast cutting, Jump cut, Long take, Match out and Slow cutting. Some of the types of Film transitions are Dissolve, L- cut and Wipe.

A transition is anything that moves the film from one scene to another. There are a number of types of transitions that are used, wipe, flip frame, fade-out/fade-in, and dissolve. A wipe uses a vertical or horizontal line to wipe away the old scene and bring in the new one, the flip frame simply flips the screen from one scene to the next, the fade occurs when a scene fades to black before the new scene begins, and the dissolve is when a scene gradually dissolves into another scene­. These transitions provide smooth ways to move from one scene to another and are used to make a film appear fluid.  Editing is also used to modify or shape the timing and rhythm of the film. An editor can edit a scene or shot in a way that can alter our sense of how much time is passing. For instance, when shooting a man walking an editor can show each step, cutting to a close up of the man’s face and hands, thus slowing down the pacing and making us pay attention to the man: it serves as a cue to the audience that he is an important character. By using short quick shots sandwiched together the editor can compress time. Another way a film uses time is with the use of slow motion, which we will be covering in grater detail below, since The Matrix makes extensive use of a variant of this technique. Slow motion can be used to intensify emotional quality, to exaggerate fatigue, suggest superhuman strength, or emphasize grace of physical action. This ensures that the film keeps the rhythm of the scene and the film.

I know this is a little dry, the good(or at least, better) parts are after the jump Continue reading