Bryan's Reviews > In the Blink of an Eye

In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch
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it was amazing

This is a nice little book on film editing. Walter Murch has edited many films, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Part II, and The Conversation. He writes about his editing process and somewhat the history of cutting films. One of the things I found most interesting is that Murch says its not obvious that film cuts should work as well as they do. Most of what we experience visually from the moment we get up is a continous stream of linked images. The "cut" would seem to go against and one would think would be more jarring. But not only are cuts a pragmatic tool for the filmmaker, they can actually enhance the experience - be a preferred tool of choice. The only thing we experience like it are dreams, and Murch surmises this is where the link is established. We can say to a young scared child, it was only a dream. Likewise, we do this with scary movies as well: it's only a movie.

Another interesting aspect of the book was his emphasis on paying attention to when actors blink. A good actor's blinks will in some way be tied to his/her thoughts and emotions. Murch noticed at some point in his career with Gene Hackman, that where Hackman blinked was often a good place to cut a sequence (just before the blink). A bad actor can often be spotted by the strange rhythmn of their blinking - it doesn't seem to be matching the emotional landscape of the story. They may be nervous our pre-occupied.

Murch has a chapter on all the new software out on editing film and he is still a bit skeptical it can deliver on all its claims. With the older technology, it required you to sift through alot of material, and sometimes you would come across footage that was just what you needed - footage you may have discarded before. He thinks the new technology will probably,in time, bridge the advantages of new and old. But as of his writing, he still felt the older editing machines were better.

It is a small book and a quick read. Well written. It's fun to come across a master of his field who writes so well about his craft.
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Started Reading
August 10, 2010 – Finished Reading
August 18, 2010 – Shelved

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