Best Film Editing
Sequences of All-Time:
From the Silents to the Present


Introduction



Best Film Editing Sequences
(chronological order)
Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
Best Film Editing Sequences of All-Time: Film editing could be called 'film construction' and has been regarded by many as the 'invisible' art behind some of the greatest motion picture sequences of all time. Film editing is a skilled art - the selection and integration of a sequence of shots taken from thousands of feet of film to establish a structure, tempo, mood, or style.

This survey of the best examples of film editing stretches back to the earliest silent films. The very first films were called actualities - they were short, single-shot films with a stationary camera, viewing a scene (a train pulling into a station, workers leaving a factory, etc.), without editing of any kind. The art of film editing (originally called "cutting" since it involved splicing together pieces of nitrate or celluloid) first developed in the films of Parisian Georges Melies (e.g., Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) (aka A Trip to the Moon)) and Edwin S. Porter (e.g., Life of an American Fireman (1903) and The Great Train Robbery (1903)). Editing involved the manipulation of time and space to tell a story.

The concept of montage (aka collision editing or "putting together") -- rapidly juxtaposing various shots (or sequences), often conflicting images, in order to evoke a mood, emotional response, or derive new meaning, etc. - was an experimental approach toward editing taken by Soviet filmmakers in the 1920s (see Battleship Potemkin (1925)). The word montage has also taken on the added meaning of a compressed sequence of narrative material, condensed in time.

As cinema progressed, classic scenes of masterful film editing appeared, such as the following:

Many of the most memorable film-editing sequences are highlighted in this multi-part tribute to one of the least understood of the cinema's technical arts.

To learn more about the art of film editing, it's also essential to know some of the technical terminology, i.e. cross-cutting, dissolve, cutaway, reverse cut, jump cut, etc. See this site's illustrated Film Terms Glossary.


Best Film Editing Sequences
(chronological order)
Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10



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