Walter Murch once said, "Film editing is now something almost everyone can do at a simple level and enjoy it, but to take it to a higher level requires the same dedication and persistence that any art form does". Truer words have never been spoken.
Skilled editing is as effective in the creation of a good film as a writer, director, or performer. Though often overlooked, editing brings shots together to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The transitions are meant to be seamless and the dialogue fluid. Everything about it should flow.
With that, we give you five film sequences that are examples of good editing:
The final chase, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road is homage to the art of editing. Almost every scene works its way to your heart. However, it is that final chase which is like a delectable crescendo the entire film is building towards. Absolutely jaw-dropping!
Opening scenes, 8 1/2 (1962)
In this scene, Fellini enraptures you with his absurdist ideas while the editor Leo Catozzo exploits a rhythmic temperament to surpass logic and provide you only with the tools to imagine. Most of us are left bewildered, confounded and repulsed by the meaningless set of images on display initially, but the profundity of the piece justifies the poetry of capturing the abnormal.
Her own undoing, The Piano Teacher (2001)
As much as editing is about glorious, groundbreaking achievements, it is also about a minimalist application of technique to create something intensely powerful. That is exactly what editors Monica Willi and Nadine Muse do here. They employ as little cuts as possible in this tragic scene, giving us excruciating and agonizing visuals.
The match cut, Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
This scene from David Lean’s epic is one of the most famous cuts in movie history: the spatial/temporal cut from a lit match being blown out to the blazing sun rising over the desert. It maybe only for a few seconds, but it leaves an overpowering impact.
The Odessa steps, Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was the pioneer of montage and of film editing. This is where it all started. The eclectically-crafted sequence changed cinema forever. There is no other film where not a single word is uttered that is so riveting. This particular scene has been referenced to and parodied to death over the years.