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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) Most Awkward New Year’s Eve Patie
      EDITING

      Top 5 (Edited) Most Awkward New Year’s Eve Patie

      December 30, 2009, 12:32 pm
      New Year’s is the time to make resolutions, change your ways, and cleanse your spirit for the better. Unfortunately, everybody’s definition of "better" is different, and I’ve taken the time to outline a few examples here. The commonality is that each character decides to execute these resolutions at a New Year’s party— and what’s New Year’s without a party?

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    • Top 5 Edited Moments of Despair in a Xmas Movie
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Moments of Despair in a Xmas Movie

      December 16, 2009, 12:26 pm
      Christmas time is here and I am very open about my emotional resemblance to Ebenezer Scrooge regarding the season. To be completely honest, the overdose of Christmas music and decorations in every supermarket, shop, and restaurant I frequent gives me the urge to bust out my chainsaw and do a hyper-realistic Jason impression rather than be jolly. So, to kick off my first ever Christmas blog I thought that I’d watch people having crappy Christmases and subject my readers to the same Christmas pain by way of the top 5 MOMENTS OF DESPAIR...

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    • Best Edited Lightsaber Fight in a Star Wars Movie
      EDITING

      Best Edited Lightsaber Fight in a Star Wars Movie

      December 2, 2009, 12:17 pm
      I don’t really have a good reason for choosing this week’s topic beyond that I just felt like watching all the Star Wars movies for the hell of it. So you’re going to get the brunt of my passing urge this week!

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    • Top 5 Edited Humankind Obliteration Sequences
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Humankind Obliteration Sequences

      November 18, 2009, 12:11 pm
      The hot conspiracy theory of the time is Earth’s impending doom, which has always been a popular movie scenario. However, it’s one thing to ward off impending doom and another to be right in the centre of destruction. In any case, it’s interesting to see humanity’s obsession and awe with the concept of obliteration—hyper-real special effects movies about the apocalypse always do really well in the box office. With the recent release of <em>2012</em> the film (and what seems to be a slew of other apocalyptic-themed movies), I thought it would be appropriate to showcase the best sequences featuring the main character known as "Armageddon." Just remember that should something as catastrophic as anything in these films actually happen, there will always be at least one survivor: the earth.

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    • Top 5 Edited Disaster Wedding Ceremonies
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Disaster Wedding Ceremonies

      November 4, 2009, 12:03 pm
      This weekend I’m getting married— so I thought it would be fitting to do a topic this week on wedding scenes. But not just any wedding scenes... wedding disaster scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 110% sure that he’s the one I want to marry, and I’m pretty sure that there are no evil villains planning to kidnap me in the middle of the ceremony, but I figured I’d get all these situations out of the way vicariously through these films before my own wedding!

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    • Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature
      EDITING

      Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature

      October 21, 2009, 6:16 pm
      I love courtroom scenes. There’s something particularly exciting about watching evidence and clues unfold in a courtroom scene. Maybe it’s the fact that each case that’s ever brought into one is inherently mysterious in nature. Maybe it’s the actors portraying lawyers as the epitome of a battle between good and evil. Or maybe it’s just fun to watch people argue. In any case, no one can ever help but feel sorry for the person in the chair who gets the tough cross examination. ...unless he’s guilty.

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    • 5 Sequences That Integrate Food ina Bigger Context
      EDITING

      5 Sequences That Integrate Food ina Bigger Context

      October 7, 2009, 6:08 pm
      It’s funny how images of food can make us hungry. It’s also funny that if you change the context in which we see the image of food that that hunger can change into disgust, lust, or even produce existential thoughts within ourselves. As our editing deity Eisenstein taught us, context is almost always built in the editing room because it has to do with the juxtaposition of one image next to another, and food is one of those things that can go in any direction if placed next to the "right thing."

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    • The Top 5 Edited John Hughes Films
      EDITING

      The Top 5 Edited John Hughes Films

      September 23, 2009, 4:32 pm
      Last month, John Hughes passed away and left a legacy of high school experience films and influenced how they would be made from then on. Every kid that was born in the 80’s feels a connection to the high school situations and labels that he so perfectly conveyed in celluloid—probably even more than the kids that were actually <strong>IN</strong> high school in the 1980’s did. This week is dedicated to a (rather late) tribute to John Hughes by showcasing:

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    • Disney’s Most Awkward Transitions into Music
      EDITING

      Disney’s Most Awkward Transitions into Music

      September 9, 2009, 4:23 pm
      When deciding how to add a song and dance sequence into a film, one always hopes that the transition is relatively smooth, seeing as most people don’t usually break out into song and dance at random intervals. However, the transition into singing isn’t always the cleanest that it could be. Consequently, the viewer is left wondering why the heck the directors decided that the song was good enough to be kept in the movie without putting enough effort into making it fit properly into the film. In the interest of keeping this top 5 blog not just about the "best" but also about the worst, weirdest, and more... I bring you...

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    • Top Car 5 Chases Based on Editing
      EDITING

      Top Car 5 Chases Based on Editing

      August 26, 2009, 4:09 pm
      The tires of the Mustang squeal as the car drifts around a corner. Our hero is holding onto the steering wheel for dear life as he attempts to get away from the evil bad guy. The suspense continues to build in the audience as they hold their breath. Will he get away? Will he crash? This weeks Edit Decision List covers the top five car chase scenes based on editing.

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