From a terrific site called filmslie.com: “The Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was one of the first to use the term in his theory of montage. He argued that an editing of two shots has the ability to create meaning beyond the sum of the individual shots. In other words, he recognized the potential of editing to transform the cinematic language. In an interview, Francis Ford Coppola said for him editing is the defining characteristic of cinema. His description of editing sounds similar to Eisenstein’s: ‘[Cinema] combines so many other art forms, as do theater and opera, but the essence of cinema is editing. It’s the combination of what can be extraordinary images, images of people during emotional moments, or just images in a general sense, but put together in a kind of alchemy. A number of images put together a certain way become something quite above and beyond what any of them are individually.’
So here is a short clip that attempts to explain the roles of the editor in a very visual way. The idea that probably stands out the most is: ‘The less you notice our work, the more successful we have been.’ It depicts editing as the complex and arduous process, which if done well appears seamless and natural to the audience.” —What Film Editors Do, Coppola about Editing & the Basics of Eisenstein’s Film Montage
Speaking of Eisenstein, here’s a peek inside the thinking of the greatest director in the early history of Russian cinema. Sergei Eisenstein is arguably the most important single figure in the history of movies. He was certainly the most versatile. The director of the masterpieces ‘Battleship Potemkin’ and ‘Alexander Nevsky,’ Eisenstein also wrote ground-breaking essays on film art and taught classes on motion picture production. In this book (‘Notes of a film director’) Eisenstein writes about himself and his films, about film directing and about artists he has worked with. The last chapter is his own drawings and sketches. The book is available for free from the Internet Archive [pdf]. The biography of Sergei Eisenstein is also available at Internet Archive.
Walter Murch have also something to say on this matter, “Several compilations of interviews with American film editors have been published in the last decade, but ‘Fine Cuts: The Art of European Film Editing’ is notably the first collection to focus on European editors with their inspiringly diverse ways of assembling film. It also features illuminating guest appearances by a number of European directors — Godard, Varda, Tarkovsky, Truffaut, Mackinnon, Tarr — offering their insights into the editing process. What gives all of these interviews their complexity and warmth is not only the ten different nationalities, but even more so the richly diverse and ‘uncinematic’ family backgrounds of the editors collected here. Had they followed in their parents’ footsteps they would have instead become teachers, pilots, tailors, doctors, farmers, chemists, vegetable sellers, astronomers, bookkeepers, salesmen, road workers, dry cleaners, dentists or civil servants. Luckily for the readers of this marvellous book, and for world cinema, they took another route and — to use Godard’s evocative description of film editing — transformed chance into destiny, making the varied circumstances of their lives a reflection of montage at its most sublime, when accidental moments are propelled by structure into inevitability.”
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