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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 Andrei Tarkovsky Films
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Andrei Tarkovsky Films

      May 19, 2010, 12:25 pm
      After the last blog entry with the book list, I found myself inspired to revisit Tarkovsky’s body of work. If you’ve read it, you’ll know that he was a stickler for long takes and very little cutting; each cut has a specific purpose and is used more for bringing the viewer into the next part of the story and the rhythm of the story rather than the cut itself or for montage. So, we’ve seen long takes with the emphasis on performance (i.e. Keitel), and now let me wrap up with long takes with the emphasis on story rhythm.

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    • Top 5 Books Every Editor Should Read About Editing
      EDITING

      Top 5 Books Every Editor Should Read About Editing

      May 6, 2010, 12:16 pm
      The number one thing that I get asked by my readers is "do you have any suggestions for newbie editors?" Well, yes I have many, but my most important suggestion is to read up on your theory. In my relatively short experience in the professional industry I’ve encountered many students and other indie filmmakers who know how to use the tools, but can’t figure out why their films don’t compete well with the same types of films out there using the same tools. I’ve found that most of what those generic film schools/polytechnics lack is a solid theory foundation in its curriculum. It’s one thing to know the tools (Final Cut, Avid, etc); anyone can learn to use the blade tool to cut a scene. But it’s a whole other (much more important) thing to know what to do with them. What will help to make you stand out among the thousands of other "editors" who just bought/downloaded software and learned how to use it? Knowing why you make the cuts you make.

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    • Harvey Keitel’s Editing Method
      EDITING

      Harvey Keitel’s Editing Method

      April 21, 2010, 10:58 am
      Just as there are many different forms of editing, there are also many different forms of acting. Along the same lines, certain forms of editing compliment certain kinds of acting. Harvey Keitel is a good example of someone who uses a particular form of acting (Method Acting, to be exact) where an editing style involving long takes is the most effective way to cut. He immerses himself in his character in order to actually become that character for a long period of time. Likewise, the editing has to allow the viewer to immerse his or herself into the character as well.

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    • Top 5 Edited Jesus Crucifixion Scenes
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Jesus Crucifixion Scenes

      April 7, 2010, 10:48 am
      Easter 2010 has come and gone. Christians all over the world spent last weekend celebrating Jesus dying on the cross and coming back three days later by hunting for Easter eggs (and hopefully not forgetting to go to church in the meantime). But Christian or not, movies about Jesus appeal to many, and regardless of whether you believe in him as a man or the son of God (or even if you don’t believe he existed at all) his story is still a great story to adapt to film.

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    • Top 5 Edited Chuck Norris Ass Kicking Scenes
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Chuck Norris Ass Kicking Scenes

      March 24, 2010, 10:16 am
      Periodically my husband and I find things pinned to our door by our nieces who live down the hall from us. The objects they pin up range in content from holiday decorations to 10 year old marker drawings, but some of my favourite are from what appears to be a Chuck Norris day to day tear off calendar with meditative Chuck Norris thoughts or concepts. Some of them have migrated to our fridge for the permanent collection. My personal favourite: "Before Chuck Norris was born, there were no rainbows."

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    • Top 5 Scenes Involving the Golden Gate Bridge
      EDITING

      Top 5 Scenes Involving the Golden Gate Bridge

      March 10, 2010, 10:08 am
      I grew up in San Francisco, and I still consider it my true home. Whenever I see a movie that features the city I feel my heart well up and a wave of longing hits me. Thankfully, most of my family is still there and I can go visit them when I have some extra funds. Now I live in Vancouver, which is basically the San Francisco of Canada, and it is very similar— but when I see that Golden Gate I know I’m not home unless I’m there.

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    • Top 5 Edited Zombie Feeding Frenzy Scenes
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Zombie Feeding Frenzy Scenes

      February 24, 2010, 8:40 am
      George A. Romero is the man responsible for truly putting a philosophical twist on the motivations behind the "Zombie" by asking the question: just <em>why</em> are they eating people? As everyone [now] knows, they don’t process nutrients or really need to feed, but instead their actions are based on pure instinct. After some deep thinking on existential zombie issues, I came to the conclusion that really, it’s all just an excuse to show the effects of the "mob mentality" by way of the undead tearing someone apart.

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    • Top 5 Edited Shakespeare Film Adaptations
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Shakespeare Film Adaptations

      February 10, 2010, 8:33 am
      Really, any play written for theatre is extremely hard to translate to film and make it filmic. This is especially true for particularly wordy plays, such as anything written by Shakespeare. The number one rule "show not tell" has to be creatively re-thought to make it work in order to translate to screen, and to do that is more easily said than done.

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    • Top 5 Edited Dinosaur Attacks
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Dinosaur Attacks

      January 27, 2010, 5:58 pm
      Every little kid goes through a dinosaur phase, and I was no exception. In fact, when Jurassic Park came out on VHS I bought that over a gameboy (I was 8 years old). In any case, meeting prehistoric creatures always gets movie crowds going, even from the very beginning of film (the first animation that could be considered a movie was Gertie the dinosaur in 1914). Special effects have come a long way since 1914 (or even 1925 when The Lost World featured stop motion dinosaur action), and consequently have brought them back from a kind of extinction. Even if only to make humans a thing of the past...

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    • Top 5 Edited Hangover Scenes in a Feature
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Hangover Scenes in a Feature

      January 13, 2010, 5:52 pm
      <strong>Wow.</strong> New Years, as usual, was quite a party. Unfortunately, some people ended up partying too hard, and woke up not feeling too hot the next morning. Whoops. Well, it seems fitting to showcase some exceptionally bad hangovers (from not only New Years but all other types of parties as well) as a follow up from last episode, so here we go.

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