The Cutting Edge : Magic of Movie Editing  

Posted by Aj

This truly is a wonderful documentary, its informative and clearly shows what is for many, something of an invisible art. We can clearly see the contribution made by the Directors, Actors, Cinematographers and the sound engineers. However the role of a film editor has never been really understood or fully recognised. While watching the documentary the directors and editors were able to show exactly what goes in the editing room.

Going through the history of editing, how it all came to be and the changes it has went through so far was very interesting. There were interviews with some of the legends of the film industry which included editors and directors. This also made sure you had a clear perspective of how a movie comes about from the both the angles. "Cutting Edge" really does prove that editors can make or break a film as in the end it all comes down to the hands of the editors to put the movie together and make viewable by the audience.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 at Tuesday, February 16, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Interim Online Review 16/02/2010

Hey Aj,

Another thin two week's work - and one story idea. It's a shame you missed the workshop, as I think your classmates and I could have done much to revitalise your narrative. Currently, you don't have a story - but rather a series of mundane events - put simply, a character gets drunk, crashes and ends up in hospital.

The End.

So what?

See what I mean?

You could enliven the story by reversing the timeline - start with an old woman in a hospital bed, and through a series of flashbacks we realise that she was a witch; likewise you could play some fun games with famous witches; for instance, the musical Wicked is an imagining of the Wicked Witch of the West's past - before the events made famous in the Wizard of Oz; perhaps your witch got drunk and crashed her broomstick because she didn't get the part in the famous movie?

The key making this both witty and original is to consider her back-story - that is, the events running up to her stay in hospital - and then revealing them in a more innovative and interesting way - I'd suggest non-linear. I'd also suggest that you pull your finger out and start doing some actual work on this, because what is very clear is that your take on this unit so far is deeply superficial and underwhelming and you have about 3 weeks to turn that around.

Regarding the essay - see the following 2 posts for general advice re. how to approach it, and importantly, how to cultivate a more formal writing style.

16 February 2010 at 18:11

“1,500 word written assignment that analyses critically one film in terms of the relationship between story and structure; you should consider camera movement, editing, and the order of scenes”

While the essay questions asks you to analyse one film in terms of the relationship between story and structure, you are nonetheless expected to contextualise your analysis – and that means you have to widen your frame of reference to include discussion of other, related films and associated ideas – and also the ‘time-line’ within which your case-study sits.

So, for example, if you are focusing on a scene in a contemporary film which makes dramatic use of montage editing and quick-fire juxtaposition of imagery (the fight scenes in Gladiator, the beach landings in Saving Private Ryan, the bird attacks in The Birds…) no discussion of this scene would be complete without you first demonstrating your knowledge of the wider context for your analysis – i.e., the ‘invisible editing’ approach as championed by W.D. Griffith, and the alternate ‘Eisensteinian’ collisions adopted by Russian filmmakers (and now absorbed into the grammar of mainstream movies). In order to further demonstrate your appreciation for the ‘time-line’ of editing and its conventions, you should make reference to key sequences in key films – ‘The Odessa Steps sequence’ from Sergei Eistenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (as in scene in the Cutting Edge documentary, but also viewable here in full

Also – if further proof were needed of the influence of this scene, watch

The Cutting Edge documentary, as shown on Monday 15th Feb, is viewable on YouTube at

If you choose to quote from any of the ‘talking head’ sections (Ridley Scott, Walter Murch etc.), in support of your discussion, ensure you put the documentary’s original details in your bibliography (as opposed to the You Tube url). For official title and release date etc. visit

Put simply, whatever film you choose to discuss, you will need to link it to its ‘ancestors’ and also, where appropriate, to its ‘children’ – i.e., what influenced it/what it influenced.

Regarding the ‘language of editing etc.’ the following site is useful – if ugly!

I suggest you use it only as a starting point for focusing your research parameters – not as the fount of all knowledge (it isn’t!).

Something that keeps coming up is how to cite websites using the Harvard Method:


16 February 2010 at 18:11

Stylistically, many students’ essays still lack the required formality and tone for a University level written assignment. Many of you write as if you’re ‘chatting’ to your reader or writing a blog entry. This is inappropriate and you need to cultivate a more appropriate style if your discussions are to be authoritative and properly presented. Below are some suggestions re. use of language; take note and use!

Use good, formal English and grammar,


Use objective language: e.g. rather than 'I find it difficult to identify ...'

'It is often difficult to identify...'
'It can be seen that...
'There are a number of...'

Adopt a cautious academic style; avoid conclusive statements: e.g. use may, might, it seems that, appears to, possibly, probably, seemingly, the evidence suggests that, it could be argued that, research indicates...

Avoid assumptions and generalisations: e.g. everyone can see, everybody knows, public opinion is...

If you make a statement, always present evidence to support it.

Within your essay you will be hoping to demonstrate or prove something. You will have a point of view that you wish to convey to your reader. In other words, your essay should 'say' something.

You should support what you wish to say with a reasoned argument and evidence.

A reasoned argument consists of a series of logical steps you make in order to lead to a point where you can form some sort of judgement on the issue you have been examining, or come to some sort of conclusion.

Paragraphs are organised in order to build your argument in a series of logical steps

A typical paragraph is concerned with a single step in your argument

The first sentence of a paragraph is the topic sentence. It clearly states which step in your argument you intend to deal with in this paragraph

Subsequent sentences explain, define and expand upon the topic sentence

Evidence is offered

Evidence is commented on

A conclusion may be reached

Try to make each paragraph arise out of the previous paragraph and lead into the subsequent one

Below are some useful ‘linking’ words and phrases that suit the formal tone of an academic assignment – get used to using them to structure clear, articulate and confident sounding sentences.

To indicate timescales:
when, while, after, before, then

To draw conclusions:
because, if, although, so that, therefore

To offer an alternative view:
however, alternatively, although, nevertheless, while
To support a point:
or, similarly, incidentally

To add more to a point:
also, moreover, furthermore, again, further, what is more, in addition, then
besides, as well
either, not only, but also, similarly, correspondingly, in the same way, indeed
with respect to, regarding

To put an idea in a different way:
in other words, rather, or, in that case
in view of this, with this in mind
to look at this another way

To introduce and use examples:
for instance, for example, namely, an example of this is
such as, as follows, including
especially, particularly, notably

To introduce an alternative viewpoint:
by contrast, another way of viewing this is, alternatively, again, 
rather, another possibility is..
conversely, in comparison, on the contrary, although, though

To return to emphasise an earlier point:
however, nonetheless, despite, in spite of
while.. may be true
although, though, at the same time, although.. may have a good point

To show the results of the argument:
therefore, accordingly, as a result
so, it can be seen that
resulting from this, consequently, now
because of this, hence, for this reason, owing to, this suggests
 that, it follows that
in other words, in that case, that implies

To sum up or conclude:
therefore, in conclusion, to conclude, on the whole
to summarise, to sum up, in brief, overall, thus

16 February 2010 at 18:12

Thanks for the advice phil, yes i was kind of stuck on the story idea a bit. thanks for the ideas for the story, i am going to rethink the story and see what i can come up with quickly. would you say it was unwise to make the witch a young women rather than old one?

17 February 2010 at 12:47

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