Sequences of All-Time:
From the Silents to the Present
|Film Title/ Director & Editor and Film Description|
The Man with a Movie Camera (1929, USSR)
d. Dziga Vertov
At the end of the decade, this influential and creative avante-garde film from experimental cameraman/director Dziga Vertov employed some of the first uses of the split screen, montage editing, extreme close-ups, and rapidly-filmed scenes in its view of Moscow and other cities.
Every modern movie convention was demonstrated in this film, as it showed the roles of the cameraman and the editor in the creation of a film during one day.
It was an excellent example of a "city symphony" documentary. Regarded as "pure" visual cinema, its views of Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and of Soviet workers and machines contained radical editing techniques, special visual effects, wild juxtapositions of images, freeze frames and double exposures.
d. Orson Welles
(Best Film Editing Nominee: Robert Wise)
This highly-rated classic masterpiece from director-star-producer Orson Welles brought together many cinematic and narrative techniques and experimental innovations (in photography, editing, and sound) to reconstruct the title character like building a jigsaw puzzle. The innovative, bold film is still an acknowledged milestone in the development of cinematic technique, although it 'shared' some of its techniques from many earlier films.
Its components brought together the following aspects:
strange camera angles
backlighting and high contrast lighting
"Xanadu miniature" with dissolves, fades, superimpositions
low angle with view of ceiling
"in-camera matte shot" with deep focus
Rashomon (1950, Jp.)
d. Akira Kurosawa
A landmark film in cinematic history, this multi-layered film replayed the same story multiple times from different characters' eyes as they told incompatible, contradictory tales of the same 'rape' and murder in 12th century feudal Japan.
The film's timeless theme was the nature of truth and the shaping of perceptions. The four witnesses were:
It was noted that the film had over 400 separate shots seamlessly edited together to make it appear as if there were fewer edits.
The film also included inventive tracking shots (especially of the woodcutter, and of the bandit's chase after the couple), a radical flashback structure, unique framing and lighting (shooting directly at the sun through the dense forest branches and leaves), and characters speaking (during the inquest trial) to the "fourth wall" - the film audience.
the 'raped' woman
the samurai husband
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
(Best Film Editing Winner: Peter Taylor)
The exciting finale of the film pitted British Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) - with misguided loyalty to his bridge - against his own Allied commandos. As he proudly walked over the bridge after its completion and leaned over the railing, he noticed wires coming from the bridge but didn't quite understand their significance.
Japanese Col. Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), who had taken out a suicidal knife, was alerted by Nicholson: "There's something rather odd going on. I think we'd better have another look around before that train comes across." The two walked down to the water's edge, as the sounds of the chugging and whistling train were heard in the distance coming closer and closer.
Nicholson pulled up the detonation wire, and hand-over-fist followed its path to its origin. The Britisher, whose pride in his work took priority over other political/military considerations, attempted to alarm Saito and everyone else that the bridge was mined.
During a scuffle with his own commandos on either shore who were poised to blow up the bridge, Lieutenant Joyce (Geoffrey Horne) was killed first by one of the shots - followed by a brief camera reaction shot of Joyce's lover - one of the Siamese porter-ladies on the hillside.
Next, Shears (William Holden) was wounded in the leg by a shot from a Japanese guard, followed by another quick reaction shot of the face of his Siamese lover, and then a second fatal shot.
Nicholson finally realized he was blocking his own Allied side's operation to blow up the bridge. He gasped: "What have I done?"
At the exact moment when the train was passing over the bridge, he was hit by shrapnel from mortars. Nicholson staggered around semi-consciously, and fell mortally wounded on the dynamite plunger.
He blew up his beloved bridge and sent the trainload of Japanese soldiers into the river. The pleasing-to-look-at bridge crumbled and collapsed.
d. William Wyler
(Best Film Editing Winner: Ralph E. Winters, John D. Dunning)
The film has been most heralded for its classic, memorable and spectacular 11-minute chariot race scene around a central divider strip composed of three statues thirty feet high, and grandstands on all sides, rising five stories high. This sequence set the standard for all subsequent action sequences.
The contest between the competitors was highlighted by a series of close-ups of the action. One by one, Messala (Stephen Boyd) eliminated the other drivers in the ferocious race, shattering their chariots.
The climactic ending to the race occurred when the chariots of arch-rivals Messala and Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), in hateful rivalry toward each other, ran neck-and-neck and slashed at each other. At one point, Ben-Hur's horses jumped over a crashed chariot, throwing the hero (stuntman Joe Canutt, son of famed stuntman Yakima Canutt) high into the air, yet he landed on his feet.
Messala tried to destroy Ben-Hur's chariot by moving close with the blades, but as the wheels locked and he lost one of his wheels, Messala's chariot was splintered and capsized. He was dragged by his own team, then trampled, and run over by other teams of horses. Defeated, he was left bloody in the dirt, his body broken and horribly injured.
Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10