The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing Movie Review

While "magic" may be a little strong, The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing is a surprisingly interesting film. If you're a filmmaker or an aspiring critic, it may well be essential viewing.

This documentary is precisely what it's title purports to be, an in-depth and instructive look at movie editing that literally spans 100 years of film history, from The Great Train Robbery to Cold Mountain. Through interviews with a copious number of directors and editors, The Cutting Edge covers everything from basic editing techniques like the matching of cuts to modern editing theory as inspired by MTV and The Matrix. The film goes into extreme detail in parts, like when we get to see James Cameron's trick of removing one frame per second out of Terminator 2 to give it more momentum and realism. It's all a little bit insidery and self-congratulatory, but the movie works far more often than not. Any film buff will find it hard not to like.

With some 50 movies featured, it's a little too easy to nitpick about the choices director Wendy Apple makes in picking films to profile. Some of the selections are great, some are considerably less so, including XXX and at least one Steven Seagal movie. Apple works in some of the obvious choices -- comparing The Untouchables with Battleship Potemkin -- but she also finds room to juxtapose Triumph of the Will with Starship Troopers. Apple knows her stuff, and though I can't forgive her for not including a detailed run through of one of the most famous moments in editing -- the shower scene from Psycho -- she does at least give the film a brief nod.

The movie that gets the most attention in the film is, strangely, Cold Mountain. We spend a long while in Walter Murch's high-tech editing studio as he walks us through the cutting of about 10 seconds of film. It's fascinating, but I can't help but wish it hadn't been a more exciting scene in a more noteworthy movie.

And by the way, who knew so many movie editors were women?


Comments

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2004

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