The Scary Jump Cuts

         In the early stages of film, the shots did not run exactly in a smooth session to give the viewer a constant view of the screen. Instead there were "jumps" in the film and parts of the forward return were cut out. One can see this effect with many older films, and to some in the past this was a flaw in the film. Today, producers are trying to create the "jump cut" effect to create a thrill and a sense of terror in films.

        "Jump cuts" were actually popularized in the 1925 film Battleship Potemkin, directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein. There is one particular scene in the film where the dark-haired woman is stepping onto the stairs. When she throws her head back again and again in horror at what she sees, Eisenstein uses the art of "jump cutting." This adds to the effect of the suspense of what she is seeing, and gives the audience the thrill and horror by what the camera movements are showing.

        In movies today "jump cuts" are very popular, especially with the rise in the production of horror films. The use of jump cuts makes the film extremely scary. I first noticed how jump cuts added to a scene in the 1999 film, House on Haunted Hill directed by William Malone. There is a scene where the people in the group are looking through a camera, and they can see into the past, where a "mad doctor" was performing experiments on his patients. Although the scene is very short, and the jump cuts are very minuscule, it absolutely horrified me the way movement was shot. Since reading about jump cuts, I have noticed more and more movie directors who use this method. For example, in the 2002 blockbuster hit, The Ring, directed by Gore Verbinski, the villain, Samara, is constantly being shot in jump shots. This adds to the fear of her presence. I found it very entertaining, and without this effect the film would not have been as scary and intense.

        This concept of the "jump shot" can be thought of as the saying. "One man's trash is another man's treasure." In the beginning, the break in the films consistency was an annoyance and was blamed on the lack of technology. Now, however, film directors and producers are trying to get the effect back, even with all of the advances in technology that we have today.

Melissa Englert

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