On Editing” by Vsevolod Pudovkin

March 3, 2010

Diego Congrains

In “On Editing” by Vsevold Pudovkin, Pudovkin describes the editing process. He describes the term “editing” as the making of a scene “from pieces, a sequence from events, and real from sequences” (7). He begins by explaining that a script is divided into sequences, sequences are divided into scenes, and scenes are divided into pieces “shot from various angles” (7). One job of a scenarist is to be able to communicate on paper exactly what will happen on the screen.

In film, a close-up is important because it guides the audience to be attentive to what is important in the scene. In editing, the camera becomes almost like an observer and directs the audience from one element to another. The film technician shoots the scenes separately and then puts them together in the editing process. Pudovkin gives the example of a scene of a man who is near a house and looks to his left, where another man is by the gate. The two is about to fight when a woman looks out her window from the top floor and calls the police. The men begin to run. In the editing part of this scene, the film technician will make the camera act like an observer who turns his head left, right, and up.

According to the law of psychology, the scenarist should guide in the audience in such a way that makes the viewer wonder what is happening next and make then feel the suspense of the scene. Editing, then, should create excitement in the audience. Pudovkin gives the example of a scene where two spies are climbing up to explode a powder magazine. One of them drops the letter where the instructions are written. Someone picks up the letter and calls the police. The police run and arrest the men. In the editing process, the scenarist does not show the men while the person is calling the police. This makes the audience wonder if the men will escape by the time the police arrive.

There are several methods of editing which are interesting. One is called contrast, where the audience compares two actions happening at the same time to get a better sentiment of the event. For example, a scenarist will create a contrast of a starving man and a well-fed man to tell the plight of the former. In parallelism, two events that are not connected in any way except for their themes develop in parallel. In simultaneity, the ending is dependent upon the falling actions of two simultaneous events that are related to each other. Some of these methods have been overused to the point that the film becomes a copy of another.


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