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  • The Top 5 American Western Standoffs

    The Top 5 American Western Standoffs

    August 5, 2009, 12:24 pm
    To kick off the first post for the Edit Decision List, I thought it would be fitting to choose a topic that relies on one of the most fundamental techniques in editing film: building tension. There are many places for using this technique, but it is in its most blatant use in the Western Standoff. Therefore here is The Top 5 American Western Standoffs based on editing.

    Criteria:
      -Must be a true standoff, not a gunfight
      -American Western Genre (includes Spaghetti)
      -Effective use of editing to create tension within the scene


    libertyvance
    The Top 5 American Western Standoffs
    5. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

    John Ford is known for popularising the American Western by making it something to take seriously, and has done a lot as far as creating a standard for the genre that was used again and again. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is later in Ford’s career, but he still uses the same fundamental techniques in making this film as he did in Stagecoach (1939). In some ways this hurts the film, because Ford has always taken what I would consider to be a very conservative approach to editing. However, the editing is still very clean and the viewer feels the tension and fear building in the intimidated James Stewart as he fumbles to take his revenge. The other reason why this film is worth mentioning in an editing context, is that it shows the standoff from two different perspectives: James Stewart’s, and John Wayne’s.
    The Top 5 American Western Standoffs
    4. Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)

    Okay, the title says "Gunfight" but for my criteria I’m talking about standoffs. Gunfight at the OK Corral actually has two or three great little standoffs that I’m going to focus on rather than the gunfight at the end. This film won an Academy Award Nomination for Best Film Editing in 1958, and it is a great example of what was known as the standard cutting sequence for every film coming out at that time: Establishing shot, medium shot character 1, medium shot character 2, insert cutaways, close up 1, close up 2, etc. The beauty of Gunfight is that they managed to use that common sequence and still build up tension. It helps that Kirk Douglas is a great actor, but we all know that true tension can only be built in the editing room.
    The Top 5 American Western Standoffs
    3. Shane (1953)

    This is a film that I had never heard of before my dad told me to watch it specifically for this blog. After some research, I found that it has actually won many awards, but nothing specifically towards editing. Frankly, I think that’s an injustice— There are many parts of the film where I would consider the film editing to be extremely unique in a good way. For the standoff, it still remains unique. There are no close ups, really, but the ambiance and the stillness in each shot is so solid that you don’t need it. In fact it’s creepier than your average stand off. One thing that really struck me was the use of animals, both throughout the entire film and within the standoff itself. The viewer can really tell that even the animals feel the tension in the room, and react in a subtle but fitting way. This one is worth checking out.
    The Top 5 American Western Standoffs
    2. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

    I don’t know if I would be allowed to have an American Western Standoff top 5 without this film. It is so universally known and loved that it would be impossible not to include it— and for good reason: it’s one of the best standoffs in film. This is technically tied for first, but why did I put it at number 2? Before you scream and yell at me (which I encourage) then consider the cheesiness of the scene. Yes, the majority of Spaghetti Westerns are cheesy and it’s basically expected that you will have to deal with a voice dub and overly dramatic music. As great as the editing is, and it is great— especially in its innovative use (and popularisation) of the extreme close up and the pure entertainment value of the immortal standoff— I have to say that the music really affects my opinion of the scene regardless of how entertained I am. Technically, the use of the music, sound effects (or lack of sound effects), and extreme close ups does its job exceedingly well. Throughout the entire standoff you are hanging on the edge of your seat excitedly begging for something to happen. But my main reason is that the music, as great and iconic as it is, does not build up the tension in the scene as much as it could.
    The Top 5 American Western Standoffs
    1. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

    The sole reason why this Once Upon a Time in the West gets one point more than The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, is that the editing technique has been taken one step further. In this film Leone has refined the art of building tension, and the movie feels real and still has a sense of humour about it. This time, he has utilised sound effects instead of a theme song, and really integrates the surroundings as a character in the film. There is always a small, repetitive diagetic sound that is happening in the background— it creates a feeling of nothingness, like the only thing alive is the object making the sound. It keeps going and going over long shots and sequences, eventually making the viewer more and more agitated, but in a way that creates curiosity and anticipation rather than unbearable frustration. I’ve never felt more tense in standoffs than in this movie, and this is why I place it at number 1.

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  • Other Postings By Member
    • Top 5 Edited Charlie Sheen Features
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Charlie Sheen Features

      March 23, 2011, 11:56 am
      I know I’m basically a week late on the hype, but because he’s been all over the news and I like watching him, I thought I’d do a blog on our good ol’ friend Charlie Sheen!

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    • Top 5 Edited Films with a Podiatric Ref. in Title
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Films with a Podiatric Ref. in Title

      March 9, 2011, 12:09 pm
      I don’t really have a good intro to this topic besides that I thought it would be fun. It turned out to bring a very wide selection of genres and proves that one word (or concept around a single object) can have a plethora of meanings.

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    • Top 5 Edited Films Centred Around Civil Uprising
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Films Centred Around Civil Uprising

      February 23, 2011, 1:56 pm
      With all that’s happening in the Middle East and North Africa, I thought it would be timely to do a topic on civil revolutions, uprisings, and protests. This is kind of a tough one because the context for an uprising could be a number of things, so I did my best to pick the suggestions given to me that seemed to suit current events.

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    • Top 5 Edited Documentaries of 2010
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Documentaries of 2010

      February 9, 2011, 11:55 am
      I like to consider documentary as my specialty, considering that’s what the bulk of my work has consisted of and I love cutting it more than any other genre. That said, there is no right or wrong way to make a documentary. Ultimately it comes down to what you want the viewer to get out of it—taking the usual adage of "the story is king" to its limits by way of propaganda, persuasion, vignette, or other forms of storytelling. Sometimes, ambiguity is the story. I could go on...

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    • Best Edited Drama Feature in 2010
      EDITING

      Best Edited Drama Feature in 2010

      January 26, 2011, 10:19 am
      Although I didn’t get to see a lot of movies in the theatre, I did manage to see enough to know that 2010 was a great year for cinema. From animation to documentary there have been some solid additions to the world’s cinematic library. Today I’m going to focus on dramatic features based on my reader’s suggestions.

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    • Best Edited Scenes in a Tron Movie
      EDITING

      Best Edited Scenes in a Tron Movie

      January 12, 2011, 1:49 pm
      When I was little I remembered Tron as being the coolest thing ever, especially since I was definitely a little geek at the time. On the surface it’s a bunch of cool special effects with a fun story, but when delved into a little deeper I’ve noticed that there is a lot of attention paid to the craft of filmmaking. This is especially true with the editing. The new Tron, upholds a couple of those attentions, but to a lesser extent.

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    • Top 5 Edited Animated Christmas Musical Movies
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Animated Christmas Musical Movies

      December 15, 2010, 11:55 am
      As I’m sure you remember from last year, I’m a bit of a scrooge/grinch when it comes to Christmas. And frankly, I was looking forward to bringing you a Chanukah special instead of this, but this particular Christmas is a little nuts for me. So, I’ll get it next year, I promise (next time I’m hoping to do something New Year’s related... Don’t forget, I always welcome topic suggestions!).

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    • Top 5 Scenes Involving Leslie Neilsen (Theatre-run
      EDITING

      Top 5 Scenes Involving Leslie Neilsen (Theatre-run

      December 1, 2010, 12:26 pm
      Comedy is one of the hardest genres to cut, because it is, many times, up to the editor to sell the joke. Fortunately, there are a few actors that are true comedians in the sense that it is obviously natural to them, making the movie fun to work with. I can only imagine that the late Leslie Neilsen was one of those actors. The deadpan way in which he delivered his lines was so flawless that few actors have been able to match him.

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    • Top 5 Edited Scenes in an Indiana Jones Movie
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Scenes in an Indiana Jones Movie

      November 17, 2010, 2:34 pm
      Growing up as a little girl, I always wanted to be the good-looking archaeologist/adventurer... like Indiana Jones (though I wouldn’t complain about being Lara Croft, either). His tongue-in-cheek but painfully smart demeanour was something to look up to, and solving crazy puzzles leading to adventure in far away places was (and honestly, still kind of is) something to achieve in life. (Then that last movie came out... My reaction was similar to how the kids reacted in the TV show South Park.)

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    • Top 5 Edited Studio Ghibli Films
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Studio Ghibli Films

      November 3, 2010, 1:35 pm
      When I was a little kid I must have watched "My Neighbour Totoro" about a million times. I couldn’t get over the awesomeness of the big grey one with a leaf hat. Since then, I followed the new animated films that Studio Ghibli (the studio that created Tortoro) produced, and I ate them up equally as eagerly as I did when I was little. I got my hands on the complete collection this past week, and found that they created a wide array of styles and subject matter, some better than others. I’ve talked before about the fundamental differences in cutting animation versus live action, but looking a little deeper at the editing of Japanese anime in particular I realized that there are a couple of cultural differences that reflect in the editing as much as in the drawing styles.

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