The Amazing Art of Film Editing

Long Take Concept

“Children of Men” – Car Scene

Although the following scene from “Children of Men”, is quite different from Dick`s example from “The Goodfellas” (in which the cameraman follows the characters` constant movement), it`s yet another great example of a Long Take. Bernard Dick defines a long take as “…a shot that lasts more than a minute… (and) can also be framed ” (95). In other words, a long take is a continuous recording that last more than the usual 10-20 second take, and it can last for as long as one minute or an entire movie. The car scene from Children of Men is almost 4 minutes long, and it`s filled with close up variations as well as different angles achieved through the rotation of the camera.

A long take adds fluidity to the scene and in the case of the car scene, it helps with building tension as well as with creating a more dynamic and intense atmosphere. Thanks to Dick`s broader definition of how a long take can be achieved, it`s also possible to infer that the previous scene was recorded with the help of some sort of Steadicam, which gives more stability to the cameraman, avoiding “the jerkiness that often results from a handheld camera” (95).

Linear Temporal Montage

“Never Back Down” – Training clip

Dick divides the concept of a sequence in three categories: Linear; Associative and Montage. But he also clarifies that they are not mutually exclusive; for example, “a linear sequence can contain montage” (65).  According to Dick’s words, a linear sequence is when “one action links up with another, creating a miniature Drama” (65). A Linear Temporal Montage is, therefore, the association between a montage and a linear temporal sequence. As the author would put it, “a montage sequence compressing a decade into ten seconds could be linear in its chronological arrangement”. (69) A more simplified way to put it would be to describe a linear temporal montage as sequence of scenes, put into a progressive order (usually) that display the beginning, middle and final result through a certain period of time. How much time has actually passed between the beginning and end of the montage may or may not be clear. The following clip from the movie “Never Back Down” is a great example of this montage method.

The previous scene displays the effort put in by Jake Tyler in his preparation for the beat-down, showing his progression along the way. This is accomplished by a sequence of chronological takes. In this specific case the filmmaker made use of a Linear Temporal Montage to reduce the amount of time spent in the movie in showing the main character’s preparation for his fight. However, it’s obvious how meaningful he judged this preparation to be, and therefore he made use of this method to display all he wanted displayed but in a quicker way, without losing the effectiveness or the intensity of the sequence. Filmmakers make use of this montage method to display scenes that are important to the major plot of the film in a short amount of time.

Parallel Cutting 

“The Recruit”

According to Bernard Dick’s a Parallel Cutting presents two actions occurring simultaneously”. Although his definition is pretty straight forward, for a better comprehension, it might facilitate to think of parallel cutting as that passage of a movie when there is a continuous shift from one character to another, being the second in a different scenario and/or situation. The following clip of “The Recruit” is a perfect example of a parallel cut. Although there is more than just one example in this 15 minute clip, pay close attention to the constant back-and-forth between Colin Farrell and Bridget Moynahan in the first minute of the video.

Those who are familiar with this movie will agree that the parallel cutting in the previous clip is very important, once we know that Colin Farrell’s next move is entirely dependable on Moynahan actions. In this case these cuts build tension and set the tone for the upcoming encounter between the two characters. Parallel Cutting is a very useful resource for filmmakers who want to make a connection between two or more scenes that will most likely clash, leading to a major outcome or central plot of the movie.


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