The Only Art Unique To Cinema


Nothing new goes into a movie. Even though filmmaking is one of our newest ways to communicate, its component parts are pretty much mediums unto themselves.

For instance, cinematography is basically a twist on still photography. Acting and screenwriting are theatrical traditions adopted to a new stage. Music? Hundred-year-old classical pieces still get used in modern stuff. Sound effects? Perfected on radio. Even animation is an extension of the same art that festooned our homes back when ancient hunts were planned on rock walls.

There is an exception, though. The only part of cinema, that is unique to cinema, is the edit.

Editing isn’t a scientific process. Adding one and one gets three, not two. Imagine an image of a boy shielding his eyes from the sun as he cranes his neck to stare up at the sky. Imagine another shot of a space shuttle burning its way into orbit. Those images might have nothing to do with each other. They might have been shot by different people, on different days, in different countries, for different projects. Put them together in an edit, though, and they’re happening to each other, at the exact same time. It’s crazy.

Or maybe it’s just magic. Andrei Tarkovsky called filmmaking “sculpting in time” — most of us would struggle to even really explain time, but in the editing suite it becomes our medium. It’s a powerful one, too. An edit can rewrite a screenplay, repurpose a shot, or rebuild a lead performance. In filmmaking, all the other disciplines of history serve to the final cut.

So take care with the editing process. It’s the only place you’ll ever find a movie.

David Rice, Outpost editor

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