The Importance of Editing in the Cinema

         Editing is a part of film making that is often overlooked. This is mainly because, if done correctly, editing is something that should not be noticeable at first when viewing a film.

         Beginning in the early days of cinema, editing was a long difficult process and remained so until the 1990s with digital editing. With early films such as Birth of a Nation, editing was so new that no one was any good at it. As a generation built upon film, when we watch those films we notice the editing and how it can affect the flow and timing. But since cinema is what it is, film makers learned from each other and became better and better at editing. By the time the golden age of the cinema rolled around with films such as Victor Fleming’s 1939 Gone With the Wind, Michael Curtiz’s 1942 Casablanca, and Orson Welles’s 1941 Citizen Kane, editing had been technically perfected and became an art.

         As a film maker and editor myself, I see all so often the importance of editing in the continuity of a film. Editing can make or break a film, conversations between characters can go from perfectly believable to outright ridiculous with just a few seconds added or subtracted here or there. Editing can also change the speed of a film. By cutting clips fast, an editor can change how the audience perceives a certain scene.

         Of course a film would not be a film without the editor, and that is obvious. But the main task and the beautiful part of an editor is to see the big picture and put it together like a puzzle. Each person involved in a film does his or her part to make the big picture. Costumes and props work with the sets and the actors who work with the director and the cinematographer and hundreds of others to make a film and it all comes down to the editor. The editor is the one who puts the puzzle together, and it indeed is an art.

Justin Wylie

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