Pudovkin's. Film Technique and Film Acting. No more valuable manuals of the practice and theory of film making have been written than these two handbooks. So large was their circulation in Russia that they were translated and published abroad in a single handbook entitled Film Technique. Pudovkin later amplified. ON FILM TECHNIQUE. 47 employ to this end is the careful distribution of the titles (which always distract the spectator), securing compression of the greater.
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fu the s Vsevold Pudovkin set down five editing techniques tbat remain aré reproduced he?e as they appeared in Film Theory and Criticism,. 4dÍ edition . VSEVOLOD PUDOVKIN. FROM FILM TECHNIQUE. [ON EDITING]. METHODS OF TREATMENT OF THE MATERIAL. (Structural Editing). A cinematograph film. V.I. Pudovkin, Film Technique and Film Acting. - Download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or view presentation slides online.
MONTAGE This sequence shows the entire history of mankind from a world sparseIy populated with primitive hunter gathers to today's overcrowded technological society. We see it again and again at dizzying speed.
We see the history of architecture. Hikhcack's purpose is to rnst shock us with the event. In Psycho. In this case assembly means the creative cnnstruction of a scene through the assembly of separate p. Dramatic Value Editing can guide the emotional response of the viewer by choosing how to parcel out the event in shots. Script Note The script excerpt from the "shower scene" is included to show how highly stylized editing can be suggested without disrupting the mounting suspense.
It is also a kind of assenIbly. Psycho ". The focus is on whether or nQt the victim will be killed. Scene In the shower scene. Once the audience and the victim realize that the victim is about to be killed. The reS'ulting scene being a kind of mosiac of shots producing a larger id. In the second murder. It's almost as though Hitchcock's exaggerated use of cJItting ntention.
The focus is not on the brutality of the murderer. Over it the brief gulps of screaming. Revised Draft. A look of pure horror erupts in her face. And we see the shadow of a woman fall across the shower curtain. For a moment we watch Mary as she washes and soaps herself. CUT TO: We catch one flicker of a glimpse of the murderer. A hand comes into the shot. Mary's back is turned to the curtain.
There is still a small worry in her eyes. Robert Bloch. And then we see only the curtain. A low terrible groan begins to rise up out of her throat. The white brightness of the bathroom is alrnost blinding.
A wornan. Now we see the bathroom door being pushed slowly open. The flint of the blade shatters the screen to an almost total. The door is then slowly and carefully closed. And then silence. Psycho Shower Scene Screenplay: Joseph Stephano.! The noise of the shower drowns out any sound. The hand holds an enormous bread knife. Suddenly we see the hand reach up. Coming down the side of the tub. Seeing Norman carefully smooth out the plastic sheeting readying it for Marion's body.
This is foHowed by Norman mopping out the tub and finally driving off with the body. Seript Note Take a look at how effortlessly the script exploits editing technique but do es not caH attention to technical details. When Norman enters another cabin to J.
We are supposed to feel soothed by the return to normalcy. The only breaks in filming occurred when he stopped for necessary magazine changes. Dramatie Value Where the rapid assembly editing of the shower scene appeated constructed to add chaos and disorient. When Norman re-enters the cabin we watch in real time as Norman drags the body onto the plastic sheeting.
The shots are long. Now we see Norman rushing from his mother's house to the cabin where Marion was killed. New compositions are created through blocking. Hitchcock's switch to mise-en-scene achieves a number of things.
Once inside. He works carefully. Psycho Shower Scene Aftermath Screenplay: Joseph Stephano. La ter in the interior scene INT. He spreads the curtain so that one end of it comes up against the bathroom threshold and slightly over and onto the tile floor. He dashes into an extreme close up and we see the terror and fear ripe in his face.
Thelma and Louise. Their dance steps change from chorus line kicks to the goose-stepping march of the Nazis. The hats change from flirtatious to militaristic.
Each tears off the flowers pinned to their hats. Script Note The two scenes excerpted here were combined into one scene in the final film. They spin their hats around. Part 3 It cuts from the goose-stepping dancers to the home of a young Jewish woman. This is a tough abstract eoneept to eonvey without dialogo Here's how it was done in Cabaret. Part 1 The dance number starts like ones earlier in the movie. In Cabaret. Cabaret Set in Berlin durip. Other Films Pulp Fiction. Intercutting Intercutting also called cross-cutting occurs when two scenes are shot in sequence.
Then the film begins to intercut. Part2 The dancers stop. It immediately sets up the idea that the old world is gone. Each cut back to the woman's house steps up the brutality of the lawless thugs that have trespassed onto her property. It's replaced by a ehilling blue fog. The ehange of political climate is suggested in a dance number that adds intercutting to the end of the scene to make the inferenees less abstraet and more particular.
Intercutting can also be used for other purposes. The violence of the Nazi thugs has become the norm and will go without punishment.
This creates a sense of two actions occurring simultaneously in two different locations. The brutal murder of her dog. First we see the thugs rush onto her gated property. A kick-line of dancers perform. Dramatic Value The intercutting goes from the abstract to the speeific. The Graduate. Then the ehange begins. As the film progresses. The orange yellow saturated lighting associated with the era 's expressionism and freedom drains away. Facing front.
Music cuts off on each quick cut to the mugging. They are dressed in abbreviated costumes. The MC. This will be a version of the very effective number from the show in which the M. Shot of MC's feet in sturdy Bavarian boots as his feet continue the rhythm of the slapdance. Berlin Short Stories. Smiling 'MC. Christopher Isherwood. As the dance begins to fall apart. Shot of NAZI's feet. First Draft June 7. John van Druten. On the music's last beat.
The comic violence of this dance should play in juxtaposition to the inter-cut scenes of realistic violence. Cabaret Screenplay: Jay Presson AlIen. Like intercutting. We see what appears to be a lethal hypodermic needle almost touching the arm of the sleeping victim where the assassin intends to empty it. KilI Sill Vol. Dramatic Value In this instance the split screen also suggests the imminent physical proximity of the victim to the assassin by having the two share the frame.
It was also used in classic horror films. Split screen was a staple of the s and s. Its use. In having unexpectedly survived a brutal attempt on her life. In this way the writerldirector Tarantirjo exploits the elasticity oi time and place that the split screen provides and is able to heighten the suspense oi the scene. By using split screen we are able to see both Thurman lying unconscious in bed and the approaching assassin at the same time.
ID Film Element: Split Screen A split screen runs two shots side-by-side within a single frame. In this case multiple views of the estate are presented but rema in connected by the use of dissolves. In the opening scene. They are often used to show the passage of time. The implication is that no one shot could ha ve encompassed the massive grounds.
This underscores its magnitude. Script Note Although twelve dissolves were used in the script's introductory montage. Each dissolve shows us a different part of the estate. Dissolves offer endless dramatic possibilities.
Djssolves have beena staple techniquesince the s. Citizen Kane In the script of Citizen Kane. Dissolves Dissolves blend one shot into another. M ankiewicz and Orson Welles. All around this is an almost totally black screen.
Citizen Kane page 1 Screenplay: Through this and beyond we see the fairy-tale mountaintop of Xanadu. The castle dominates itself. Camera trave l s up what is now shown to be a gateway of gigantic proportions and holds on the top of it. Designed by nature to be almost comple tely bare and flat. Almost all the land is improved. The g r eens are straggly and overgrown. Its right flan k resting fo r nearly forty miles on the Gulf Coast.
Second Shot The seeond image is anything but Hollywood. Clearly the agent has won. First Shot The dissolve reveals the outcome of their argument: Dissolves also soften the euts between images. The dissolve works eontrast the iconie image of California against the new reality in which Barton has found himself.
Then we see an extended clissolve blending the ocean imagery with an unexpected location: Dramatic Value Endless dramatie possibilities.
The increase in size of the title emphasises the increasing panic. Of course, this form of scenario requires thorough, special training, but I repeat once again that only determined effort on the part of the scenarist to reach as near as possible to this technically correct form will turn him into a writer able to give in a general treatment material even usable in film work.
A scenario will only be good if its writer shall have mastered a knowledge of specific methods, if he know how to use them as weapons for the winning of effect ; otherwise the scenario will be but raw material that must, to an extent of ninety per cent, be subordinated to the treatment of a specialist.
Consequently, it is not the words he writes that are important, but the externally expressed plastic images that he describes in these words.
As a matter of fact, it is not so easy to find such plastic images.
They must, before anything else, be clear and expressive. Anyone familiar with literary work can well represent to himself what is an expressive word, or an expressive style ; he knows that there are such things as telling, expressive words, as vividly expressive word-constructions — sentences.
Similarly, he knows that the involved, obscure style of an inexperienced writer, with a multitude of super- fluous words, is the consequence of his inability to select and control them. What is here said of literary work is entirely applicable to the work of the scenarist, only the word is replaced by the plastic image.
The scenarist must know how to find and to use plastic visually expressive material: In the film ToVable David there is a sequence in which a new character — an escaped convict, a tramp — comes into the action. The type of a thorough scoundrel. The task of the scenarist was to give his characteristics. Let us analyse how it was done, by describing the series of following shots.
The tramp — a degenerate brute, his face over- grown with unshaven bristles — is about to enter a house, but stops, his attention caught by something. Close-up of the face of the watching tramp. Showing what he sees — a tiny, fluffy kitten asleep in the sun. The tramp again. He raises a heavy stone with the transparent intention of using it to obliterate the sleeping little beast, and only the casual push of a fellow, just then carrying objects into the house, hinders him from carrying out his cruel intention.
In this little incident there is not one single explanatory title, and yet it is effective,! Because the plastic material has been correctly and suitably chosen. The sleeping kitten is a perfect expression of complete innocence and freedom from care, and thus the heavy stone in the hands of the huge man immediately becomes the symbol of absurd and senseless cruelty to the mind of the spectator who sees this scene.
Thus the end is attained. The characterisation is achieved, and at the same time its abstract content wholly expressed, with the help of happily chosen plastic material.
Another example from the same film. The con- text of the incident is as follows: The weapon of revenge — an old flint-lock. When the disabled brother is brought into the house, and the family, dazed with despair, is gathered round his bed, the boy, half crying, half gritting his teeth, secretly loads the flint-lock.
The sudden death of the father and the supplications of the mother, clinging in despair to the feet of her son, restrain his outbreak. The boy remains the sole hope of the family. When, later, he again reaches secretly for the flint-lock and takes it from the wall, the voice of his mother, calling him to go and download soap, compels him to hang the gun up again and run out to the store. Note with what mastery the old, clumsy-looking flint-lock is here employed.
It is as if it incarnated the thirst for revenge that tortures the boy. Every time the hand reaches for the flint-lock the spectator knows what is passing in the mind of the hero. No titles, no explanations are necessary. Recall the scene of soap fetched for the mother just described. Hanging up the flint-lock and running to the store implies forgetfulness of self for the sake of another.
This is a perfect characterisation, rendering on the one hand the naive directness of the man still half a child, on the other his awakening sense of duty. Another example, from the film The Leather Pushers.
The incident is as follows. A man sitting at a table is waiting for his friend. He is smoking a cigarette, and in front of him on the table stand an ash-tray and a glass half empty of liquid, both filled 30 PUDOVKIN with an enormous number of cigarette ends.
The spectator immediately visualises the great space of time the man has been waiting and, no less, the degree of excitement that has made him smoke nearly a hundred cigarettes. From the examples quoted above it will be clear what is to be understood by the term: We have found here a kitten, a tramp, a stone, a flint-lock, some cigarette ends, and not one of these objects or persons yas introduced by chance ; each constitutes a visual image, requir- ing no explanation and yet carrying a clear and definite meaning.
Hence an important rule for the scenarist: Special attention, how- ever, must be paid to the special part played in pictures by objects. Relationships between human beings are, for the most part, illuminated by con- versations, by words ; no one carries on conversa- tion with objects, and that is why work with them, being expressed by visual action, is of special interest to the film technician, as we have just seen in these examples. Try to imagine to yourself anger, joy, confusion, sorrow, and so forth expressed not in words and the gestures accompanying them, but in action connected with objects, and you will see how ON FILM TECHNIQUE 31 images saturated with plastic expression come into your mind.
Work on plastic material is of the highest importance for the scenarist. In the process of it he learns to imagine to himself what he has written as it will appear upon the screen, and the knowledge thus acquired is essential for correct and fruitful work. One must try to express one's concepts in clear and vivid visual images. Suppose it be a matter of the characterisation of some person of the action — this person must be placed in such conditions as will make him appear, by means of some action or move- ment, in the desired light remember the tramp and the kitten.
Suppose it be a matter of the representation of some event — those scenes must be assembled that most vividly emphasise visually the essence of the event represented. In relation to what we have said, we must turn to the question of sub-titles. The usual view of titles as an invading, adventitious element, to be avoided wherever possible, is fundamentally erroneous.
The title is an organic part of the film and, consequently, of the scenario. Naturally a title can be super- fluous, but only in the sense in which a whole scene can be superfluous. According to their content titles can be divided into two groups: Let us take an example from ToVable David. Three tramps, needed by the scenarist to create an opposing evil influence to the hero of the scenario, are introduced. Before their appearance on the screen comes a title: The essential action — the appearance of the tramps — is shown on the screen preceded by a continuity title.
This is correct construction. It is an entirely different matter for a title to replace an essential element of the scenario, where the subsequent action is, so to say, its result. For example: This is no good at all. The action is weaker than the title, and shows inability to resolve the plastic problem concerned.
To the group " continuity tides " must also be referred such titles as indicate an hour or place of the action — for example: A continuity title must never be stronger than the subsequent image of the action as in the example of Olga leaving her husband. Of their significance not much need be said. The main consideration affecting them is: Clarity is as important for the spoken as for the continuity title.
Superfluous words that may en- hance the literary beauty of the sentence but will complicate its rapid comprehension are not per- missible. The film spectator has no time to savour words. The title must " get " to the spectator quickly — in the course of the process of being read. A continual, even interruption of the action by titles is not desirable. It is better to try to distribute them this is especially important with continuity titles so that by con- centrating them in one part I of the scenario the remainder is left free for development of the action.
Thus work the Americans, giving all the necessary explanations in the early reels, strengthening the middle by use of more spoken titles, and at the end, in quicker tempo, carrying through the bare action to the finish without titles.
It is interesting to note that, apart from its literal content, the title may have also a plastic content. For example, often large, distinct lettering is used, the importance of the word being associated with the size of the letters with which it is formed.
An example — in the propaganda film Famine there was an end title as follows: Consideration of the plastic size of the title is undoubtedly very interesting, and this the scenarist should remember.
We have already said that too long tides must not be used. Rapid action demands short, abrupt titles 17 ; long-drawn-out action can be linked only with slow ones. The simplest of these are as follows: Fade-in The screen is entirely dark ; as it becomes lighter the picture is disclosed. The reverse process — the darkening of the picture until it has disappeared. The fade has mainly a rhythmic significance. The slow withdrawal of the picture from the view- field of the spectator corresponds, in contradistinc- tion to its usual sudden breaking-off, to the slow withdrawal of the spectator from the scene.
One usually ends a sequence with a fade-out, especially when the scene itself has been carried out in retarded tempo. The fade-in is, on the contrary, equivalent to the purposeful introduction of the spectator to a new environment and new action. It is used to begin a film, or a separate sequence. Often shots are bounded by a fade-in and fade-out — that is to say, the scene begins with the opening and ends with the closing of the shutter.
By the use of this method is achieved the emphasis 6f an incident divorced from the general line of thk scenario — very often, for example, this method is used for a refrain leit- motif or a flash-back. The fade can take various forms.
A common form, now old-fashioned, is the round iris. At an iris-in there appears upon the dark screen a spot of light, disclosing the picture as it broadens. It should be mentioned, however, that the frequent use of various irises and shutters 20 is unnecessarily trying to the spectator.
Shots in iris or in mask. The action takes place in this opening. This is a so-called " mask. The most common is its use to let the spectator see from the viewpoint of the hero — for example, the hero looks through a keyhole ; there appears what he sees, shown in a mask shaped like a keyhole. A field-glass-shaped mask can also be used, and so forth. It is interesting to note the special use of a small, round mask a stationary iris , often used in American films.
A dual object is attained with this kind of shot: The Mix. This method has also a mainly rhythmic significance. Mixes involve a slow rhythm. Often they are used in the representation of a flash-back, as if imitating the birth of one idea from another. It is necessary to warn the scenarist against over- use of mixes.
Technically, in making a mix, the cameraman, after having taken the one shot, must immediately begin to take the other, which is not always possible. If, for example, in a scenario the action is indicated as follows: This is a purely technical method, and its significance is obvious.
Forward or Backward Movement Tracking or Trolley- ing. This method is nowadays scarcely ever used. Shots Out of Focus. Everything said here regarding simple methods of taking shots has certainly only information value. What particular method of shooting is to be used, only his own taste and his own finer feelings can tell the scenarist. Here are no rules ; the field for new invention and combination is wide.
An actual scenario, ready for use in shooting, must take into account this basic property of the film. The scenarist must be able to write his material on paper exactly as it will appear upon the screen, thus giving exactly the content of each shot as well as its position in sequence.
The construction of a scene from pieces, a sequence from scenes, and reel from sequences, and so forth, is called editing. Editing is one of the most significant instruments of effect possessed by the film technician and, therefore, by the scenarist also. Let us now become acquainted with its methods one by one. But in order to know how properly to use the close-up, one must understand its significance, which is as follows: For instance, three persons are taking part in a scene.
Suppose the significance of this scene consist in the general course of the action if, for example, all three are lifting some heavy object , then they are taken 40 PUDOVKIN simultaneously in a general view, the so-called long- shot. But suppose any one of them change to an independent action having significance in the scenario for example, separating himself from the others, he draws a revolver cautiously from his pocket , then the camera is directed on him alone.
His action is recorded separately. What is said above applies not only to persons, but also to separate parts of a person, and objects.
Let us suppose a man is to be taken apparently listening calmly to the conversation of someone else, but actually restraining his anger with difficulty. The man crushes the cigarette he holds in his hand, a gesture unnoticed by the other.
This hand will always be shown on the screen separately, in close- up, otherwise the spectator will not notice it and a characteristic detail will be missed. The view formerly obtained and is still held by some that the close-up is an " interruption " of the long-shot. This idea is entirely false. It is no sort of interrup- tion. It represents a proper form of construction. In order to make clear to oneself the nature of the process of editing a scene, one may draw the follow- ing analogy.
Imagine yourself observing a scene unfolded in front of you, thus: The two are fairly widely distant from one another — they stop. The first takes some object and shows it to the other, mocking him. At this moment a woman looks out of a window on the third floor and calls, " Police! Now, how would this have been observed? The observer looks at the first man. He turns his head. What is he looking at? The observer turns his glance in the same direction and sees the man entering the gate.
The latter stops. How does the first react to the appearance on the scene of the second? A new turn by the observer ; the first takes out an object and mocks the second.
How does the second react? Another turn ; he clenches his fists and throws himself on his opponent. The observer draws aside to watch how both opponents roll about fighting. A shout from above. The observer raises his head and sees the woman shouting at the window. The observer lowers his head and sees the result of the warning— the antagonists running off in opposite directions.
The observer happened to be standing near and saw every detail, saw it clearly, but to do so he had to turn his head, first left, then right, then upwards, whithersoever his attention was attracted by the interest of observation and the sequence of the developing scene.
Suppose he had been standing farther away from the action, taking in the two persons and the window on the third floor simul- taneously, he would have received only a general 42 PUDOVKIN impression, without being able to look separately at the first, the secpnd, or the woman. Here we have approached closely the basic significance of editing. Its object ii the showing of the develop- ment of the scene in relief, as it were, by guiding the attention of the spectator now to one, now to the other separate element.
The lens of the camera replaces the eye of the observer, and the changes of angle of the camera — directed now on one person, now on another, now on one detail, now on another — must be subject to the same conditions as those of the eyes of the observer.
The film technician, in order to secure the greatest clarity, emphasis, and vividness, shoots the scene in separate pieces and, joining them and showing them, directs the atten- tion of the spectator to the separate elements, com- pelling him to see as the attentive observer saw. From the above is clear the manner in which editing can even work upon the emotions. Imagine to your- self the excited observer of some rapidly developing scene. His agitated glance is thrown rapidly from one spot to another.
If we imitate this glance with the camera we get a series of pictures, rapidly alternating pieces, creating a stirring scenario editing- construction. The reverse would be long pieces chang- ing by mixes, conditioning a calm and slow editing- construction as one may shoot, for example, a herd of cattle wandering along a road, taken from the viewpoint of a pedestrian on the same road. We have established, by these instances, the basic significance of the constructive editing of scenes.
The sequence of these pieces must not be uncontrolled, but must correspond to the natural transference of attention of an imaginary observer who, in the end, is represented by the spectator. In this sequence must be expressed a special logic that will be apparent only if each shot contain an impulse towards transference of the attention to the next. For example 1 A man turns his head and looks ; 2 What he looks at is shown.
It is its basic method. We have seen that the separate scene, and often even the movement of one man, is built up upon the screen from separate pieces.
Now, the film is not simply a collection of different scenes. Just as the pieces are built up into scenes endowed, as it were, with a connected action, so the separate scenes are assembled into groups forming whole sequences. The sequence is constructed edited from scenes.
Let us suppose ourselves faced with the task of constructing the following sequence: Here the scenarist has to deal with simultaneity of various actions ih several different places. While the spies are crawling towards the magazine, some- one else finds the letter and hastens to warn the guard.
The spies have nearly reached their objec- tive ; the guards are warned and rushing towards the magazine. The spies have completed their preparations ; the guard arrives in time. If we pursue the previous analogy betwen the camera and an observer, we now not only have to turn it from side to side, but also to move it from place to place.
The observer the camera is now on the road shadowing the spies, now in the guardroom recording the confusion, now back at the magazine showing the spies at work, and so forth. But, in combination of the separate scenes editing , the former law of sequence succession remains in force.
A consecutive sequence will appear upon the screen only if the attention of the spectator be transferred correctly from scene to scene. And this correctness is conditioned as follows: The person with the letter rushes for help. The spectator is seized with inevitable excitement — Will the man who found the letter be able to forestall the explosion?
The scenarist immediately answers by showing the spies nearing the magazine — his answer has the effect of a warning " Time is short. Time is very short — the spies are shown beginning their work.
Thus, transferring attention now to the rescuers, now to the spies, the scenarist answers with actual impulses to increase of the spectator's interest, and the construction editing of the sequence is correctly achieved. There is a law in psychology that lays it down that if an emotion give birth to a certain movement, by imitation of this movement the corresponding emotion can be called forth.
If the scenarist can effect in even rhythm the transference of interest of the intent spectator, if he can so construct the elements of increasing interest that the question, " What is happening at the other place?
One must learn to understand that editing is in actual fact a compulsory and deliberate guidance of the thoughts and associations of the spectator. If the editing be merely an uncontrolled combination of the various pieces, the spectator will understand apprehend nothing from it ; but if it be co-ordinated according to a definitely selected course of events or conceptual line, either agitated or calm, it will either excite or soothe the spectator.
The combination of the reels forms the picture. The usual length of a picture should not be more than from 6, to 7, feet. This length, as yet, involves no unnecessary exhaustion of the spectator. The film is usually divided into from six to eight reels. It should be noted here, as a practical hint, that the average length of a piece remember the editing of scenes is from 6 to 10 feet, and consequently from to pieces go to a reel. By orientating himself on these figures, the scenarist can visualise how much material can be fitted into the scenario.
The scenario is composed of a series of sequences. In discussing the con- struction editing of the scenario from sequences, we introduce a new element into the scenarist's work — the element of so-called dramatic con- tinuity of action that was discussed at the beginning of this sketch.
The continuity of the separate sequences when joined together depends not merely upon the simple transference of attention from one place to another, but is conditioned by the develop- ment of the action forming the foundation of the scenario. It is important, however, to remind the scenarist of the following point: To prepare the spectator, or, more correctly, preserve him, for this final tension, it is especially important to see that he is not affected by unneces- sary exhaustion during the course of the film.
A method, already discussed, that the scenarist can ON FILM TECHNIQUE 47 employ to this end is the careful distribution of the titles which always distract the spectator , securing compression of the greater quantity of them into the first reels, and leaving the last one for uninterrupted action. Thus, first is worked out the action of the scenario, the action is then worked out into sequences, the sequences into scenes, and these constructed by editing from the pieces, each corresponding to a camera angle.
We should now acquaint ourselves with the main special editing methods having as their aim the impression of the spectator. On just such a simple contrast relation is based the corresponding editing method. On the screen the impression of this contrast is yet increased, for it is possible not only to relate the starving sequence to the gluttony sequence, but also to relate separate 48 PUDOVKIN scenes and even separate shots of the scenes to one another, thus, as it were, forcing the spectator to compare the two actions all the time, one strengthen- ing the other.
The editing of contrast is one of the most effective, but also one of the commonest and most standardised, of methods, and so care should be taken not to overdo it. Its substance can be ex- plained more clearly by an example. In a scenario as yet unproduced a section occurs as follows: The sequence is edited thus: The accused is shown — he is being made ready to be led out.
Again the manufac- turer, he rings a door-bell to ask the time: The prison waggon drives along the street under heavy guard. The maid who opens the door — the wife of the condemned — is subjected to a sudden senseless assault. The drunken factory-owner snores on a bed, his leg with trouser-end upturned, his hand hanging down with wrist-watch visible, the hands of the watch crawl slowly to 5 o'clock.
The workman is being hanged. In this instance two thematically unconnected incidents develop in parallel by means of the watch that tells of the approaching execution. This is undoubtedly an interesting method, capable of considerable development. The scenarist, as it were, desires to say: This method is especially interesting because, by means of editing, it introduces an abstract concept into the consciousness of the spectator without use of a title.
The end of the present-day section of Intolerance, already quoted, is thus constructed. Will they be in time? The method is a purely emotional one, and now- adays overdone almost to the point of boredom, but it cannot be denied that of all the methods of con- structing the end hitherto devised it is the most effective.
For this purpose exists the method of reiteration. Its nature can easily be demonstrated by an example. In an anti-religious scenario that aimed at exposing the cruelty and hypocrisy of the Church in employ of the Tsarist regime the same shot was several times repeated: The little that has been said above of relational editing naturally by no means exhausts the whole abundance of its methods.
It has merely been important to show that constructional editing, a method specifically and peculiarly filmic, is, in the hands of the scenarist, an important instrument of impression. Careful study of its use in pictures, combined with talent, will undoubtedly lead to the discovery of new possibilities and, in conjunction with them, to the creation of new forms.
First published as Number Three of a series of popular scientific film handbooks by Kinopetchat, Moscow and Leningrad, On the film, the appearances of all possible movements could be seized and fixed. The first films consisted of primitive attempts to fix upon the celluloid, as a novelty, the movements of a train, crowds passing by upon the street, a landscape seen from a railway- carriage window, and so forth.
Thus, in the begin- ning, the film was, from its nature, only " living photography. Similarly only as a novelty, like the shots of the railway-engine and the moving sea, primitive scenes of comic or dramatic character, played by actors, began to be recorded. The film public appeared. There grew up a whole series of relatively small, specialised theatres in which these primitive films were shown. The great significance was realised of the fact that from a single negative can be printed many positives, and that by this means a reel of film can be multiplied like a book, and spread broadcast in many copies.
No longer was the film regarded as a mere novelty. The first experiments in record- ing serious and significant material appeared.
The relationship with the Theatre could not, however, yet be dissolved, and it is easy to understand how, once again, the first steps of the film producer consisted in attempts to carry plays over on to celluloid. It seemed at that time to be especially interesting to endow the theatrical performance — the work of the actor, whose art had hitherto been but transitory, and real only in the moment of perception by the spectator — with the quality of duration.
The film remained, as before, but living photo- graphy. Art did not enter into the work of him who made it. He only photographed the " art of the actor. How, then, did the film director of that time work? At his disposal was a scenario, exactly resembling the play written for the Theatre by the playwright ; only the words of the characters were missing, and these, as far as possible, were replaced by dumb show, and some- times by long-winded titles. He took the scene thus played- through as a whole, while the cameraman, always turning, fixed it as a whole upon the celluloid.
The process of shooting could not be conceived of other- wise, for as director's material served these same real persons — actors — with whom one worked also in the Theatre ; the camera served only for the simple fixation of scenes already completely arranged and definitely planned. The pieces of film shot were stuck together in simple temporal sequence of the developing action, just as the act of a play is formed from scenes, and then were presented to the public as a picture.
To sum up in short, the work of the film director differed in no wise from that of the theatrical producer. A play, exactly recorded upon celluloid and pro- jected upon a screen, with the actors deprived of their words — that was the film of those early days. It was perceived that the film can not only make a simple record of the events passing before the lens, but that it is in a position to reproduce them upon the screen by special methods, proper only to itself.
Let us take as example a demonstration that files by upon the street. Let us picture to ourselves an observer of that demonstration. First he must climb upon the roof of a house, to get a view from above of the procession as a whole and measure its dimensions ; next he must come down and look out through the first-floor window at the inscriptions on the banners carried by the demonstrators ; finally, he must mingle with the crowd, to gain an idea of the outward appearance of the participants.
Three times the observer has altered his view- point, gazing now from nearer, now from farther away, with the purpose of acquiring as complete and exhaustive as possible a picture of the pheno- menon under review.
The Americans were the first to seek to replace an active observer of this kind by means of the camera. They showed in their work that it was not only possible to record the scene shot, but that by manoeuvring with the camera itself — in such a way that its position in relation to the object shot varied several times — it was made possible to repro- duce the same scene in far clearer and more expres- sive form than with the lens playing the part of a theatre spectator sitting fast in his stall.
The camera, until now a motionless spectator, at last received, as it were, a charge of life. It acquired the faculty of movement on its own, and transformed itself from a spectator to an active observer.
Henceforward the camera, controlled by the director, could not merely enable the spectator to see the object shot, but could induce him to apprehend it. Now, for the first time, became apparent the difference between the theatrical pro- ducer and his colleague of the film.
In the beginning the material with which both theatrical producer and film director worked was identical. The same actors playing through in their same sequence the same scenes, which were but shorter, and, at the most, unaccompanied by words.
The technique of acting for the films differed in no respect from that of stage-acting. The only problem was the replace- ment, as comprehensibly as possible, of words by gestures. That was the time when the film was rightly named " a substitute for the stage. The real material of film-art proved to be not those actual scenes on which the lens of the camera is directed.
The theatrical producer has always to do only with real processes — they are his material. His finally com- posed and created work — the scene produced and played upon the stage — is equally a real and actual process, that takes place in obedience to the laws of real space and real time.
When a stage-actor finds himself at one end of the stage, he cannot cross to the other without taking a certain necessary number of paces. And crossings and intervals of this kind are 56 PUDOVKIN a thing indispensable, conditioned by the laws of real space and real time, with which the theatrical pro- ducer has always to reckon, and which he is never in a position to overstep.
In fact, in work with real processes, a whole series of intervals linking the separate significant points of action are unavoidable. If, on the other hand, we consider the work of the film director, then it appears that the active raw material is no other than those pieces of celluloid on which, from various viewpoints, the separate move- ments of the action have been shot.
From nothing but these pieces is created those appearances upon the screen that form the filmic representation of the action shot. And thus the material of the film director consists not of real processes happening in real space and real time, but of those pieces of cellu- loid on which these processes have been recorded. This celluloid is entirely subject to the will of the director who edits it. He can, in the composition of the filmic form of any given appearance, eliminate all points of interval, and thus concentrate the action in time to the highest degree he may require.
This method of temporal concentration, the concen- tration of action by the elimination of unnecessary points of interval, occurs also, in a more simplified form, in the Theatre.
It finds its expression in the construction of a play from acts. The element of play-construction by which several years are made to pass between the first and second act is, properly, an analogous temporal concentration of the action. Though it is possible for the theatrical producer temporally to approach two neighbouring acts, he is, none the less, unable to do the same with separate incidents in a single scene. In order to show on the screen the fall of a man from a window five stories high, the shots can be taken in the following way: First the man is shot falling from the window into a net, in such a way that the net is not visible on the screen 30 ; then the same man is shot falling from a slight height to the ground.
Joined together, the two shots give in projection the desired impression. The catastrophic fall never occurs in reality, it occurs only on the screen, and is the resultant of two pieces of celluloid joined together.
From the event of a real, actual fall of a person from an appalling height, two points only are selected: The intervening passage through the air is eliminated. It is not correct to call the process a trick ; it is a method of filmic representa- tion exactly corresponding to the elimination of the five years that divide a first act from a second upon the stage. From the example of the observer watching the 58 PUDOVKIN demonstration pass by on the street, we learned that the process of film-shooting may be not only a simple fixation of the event taking place before the lens, but also a peculiar form of representation of this event.
Between the natural event and its appearance upon the screen there is a marked difference. It is exactly this difference that makes the film an art. Guided by the director, the camera assumes the task of removing every superfluity and directing the attention of the spectator in such a way that he shall see only that which is significant and characteristic. When the demonstration was shot, the camera, after having viewed the crowd from above in the long-shot, forced its way into the press and picked out the most characteristic details.
These details were not the result of chance, they were selected, and, moreover, selected in such a way that from their sum, as from a sum of separate elements, the image of the whole action could be assembled. Let us suppose, for instance, that the demonstration to be recorded is characterised by its component detail: But, by the use of that method peculiar to films, three short pieces can be taken separately: The combination of these separate pieces with the general view of the crowd provides an image of the demonstration from which no element is lacking.
The spectator is enabled to appreciate both its composition and its dimension, only the time in which he effects that appreciation is altered. FILMIC SPACE AND TIME Created by the camera, obedient to the will of the director — after the cutting and joining of the separate pieces of celluloid — there arises a new filmic time ; not that real time embraced by the phenomenon as it takes place before the camera, but a new filmic time, conditioned only by the speed of perception and controlled by the number and duration of the separate elements selected for filmic representation of the action.
Every action takes place not only in time, but also in space. Filmic time is distinguished from actual in that it is dependent only on the lengths of the separate pieces of celluloid joined together by the director.
Like time, so also is filmic space bound up with the chief process of film-making, editing. By the junction of the separate pieces the director builds a filmic space entirely his own. He unites and compresses separate elements, that have perhaps been recorded by him at differing points of real, actual space, into one filmic space.
By virtue of the 60 PUDOVKIN possibility of eliminating points of passage and interval, which we have already analysed and which obtains in all film-work, filmic space appears as a synthesis of real elements picked out by the camera. Remember the example of the man falling from the fifth floor. That which is in reality but a ten- foot fall into a net and a six-foot further leap from a bench appears upon the screen as a fall from a hundred feet high.
Kuleshov assembled in the year the following scenes as an experiment: A young man walks from left to right. A woman walks from right to left. They meet and shake hands. The young man points. A large white building is shown, with a broad flight of steps. The two ascend the steps. The pieces, separately shot, were assembled in the order given and projected upon the screen. The spectator was presented with the pieces thus joined as one clear, uninterrupted action: Every single piece, however, had been shot in a different place ; for example, the young man near the G.
What happened as a result? Though the shooting had been done in varied locations, the spectator perceived the scene as a whole. The parts of real space picked out by the camera appeared concentrated, as it were, upon the screen.
There resulted what Kuleshov termed " creative geo- graphy. Buildings separated by a dis- tance of thousands of miles were concentrated to a space that could be covered by a few paces of the actors. This difference lies in the distinction of material. The theatrical pro- ducer works with real actuality, which, though he may always remould, yet forces him to remain bound by the laws of real space and real time.
The film director, on the other hand, has as his material the finished, recorded celluloid. This material from which his final work is composed consists not of living men or real landscapes, not of real, actual stage-sets, but only of their images, recorded on separate strips that can be shortened, altered, and asembled according to his will. The elements of reality are fixed on these pieces ; by combining them in his selected sequence, shortening and lengthening them according to his desire, the director builds up his own " filmic " time and " filmic " space.
He 62 PUDOVKIN does not adapt reality, but uses it for the creation of a new reality, and the most characteristic and important aspect of this process is that, in it, laws of space and time invariable and inescapable in work with actuality become tractable and obedient.
The film assembles the elements of reality to build from them a new reality proper only to itself; and the laws of space and time, that, in work with living men, with sets and the footage of the stage, are fixed and fast, are, in the film, entirely altered.
Filmic space and filmic time, the creation of the technician, are entirely subject to the director. The basic method of filmic representation, this construction of the unity of a film from separate pieces or elements, the superfluous among which can be eliminated and only the characteristic and significant retained, offers exceptional possibilities.
Everyone knows that the nearer we approach a regarded object, the less material appears simul- taneously in our view-field ; the more clearly our investigating glance examines an object, the more details we perceive and the more limited and sec- tional becomes our view. We no longer perceive the object as a whole, but pick out the details with our glance in order, thus receiving by association an impression of the whole that is far more vivid, deeper, and sharper than if we had gazed at the object from a distance and perceived the whole in a general view, inevitably missing detail in so doing.
The particular, the detail, will always be a synonym of intensification. It is upon this that the strength of the film depends, that its characteristic speciality is the possibility of giving a clear, especially vivid representation of detail. The power of filmic representation lies in the fact that, by means of the camera, it continually strives to penetrate as deeply as possible, to the mid-point of every image. The camera, as it were, forces itself, ever striving, into the profoundest deeps of life ; it strives thither to penetrate, whither the average spectator never reaches as he glances casually around him.
The camera goes deeper ; anything it can see it approaches, and thereafter eternalises upon the celluloid. When we approach a given, real image, we must spend a definite effort and time upon it, in advancing from the general to the particular, in intensifying our attention to that point at which we begin to remark and apprehend details.
By the process of editing the film removes, eliminates, this effort. The film spectator is an ideal, perspicuous observer. And it is the director who makes him so. In the discovered, deeply embedded detail there lies an element of perception, the creative element that characterises as art the work of man, the sole element that gives the event shown its final worth.
To show something as everyone sees it is to have accomplished nothing. Not that material that is embraced in a first, casual, merely general and 64 PUDOVKIN superficial glance is required, but that which dis- closes itself to an intent and searching glance, that can and will see deeper. This is the reason why the greatest artists, those technicians who feel the film most acutely, deepen their work with details.
To do this they discard the general aspect of the image, and the points of interval that are the inevitable concomitant of every natural event. The theatrical producer, in working with his material, is not in a position to remove from the view of the spectator that background, that mass of general and inevitable outline, that surrounds the characteristic and parti- cular details.
He can only underline the most essential, leaving the spectator himself to concentrate upon what he underlines. The film technician, equipped with his camera, is infinitely more powerful. The attention of the spectator is entirely in his hands. The lens of the camera is the eye of the spectator. He sees and remarks only that which the direc- tor desires to show him, or, more correctly put, that which the director himself sees in the action concerned. ANALYSIS In the disappearance of the general, obvious out- line and the appearance on the screen of some deeply hidden detail, filmic representation attains the highest point of its power of external expression.
The film, by showing him the detail without its back- ground, releases the spectator from the unnecessary task of eliminating superfluities from his view-field. As example we shall take some instances from well-known films in which notable directors have attained great strength of expression. As example, the trial scene in Griffith's Intolerance. Here there is a scene in which a woman hears the death sentence passed on her husband, who is innocent of the crime. The director shows the face of the woman: Suddenly the spectator sees for an instant her hands, only her hands, the fingers convulsively gripping the skin.
This is one of the most powerful moments in the film. Not for a minute did we see the whole figure, but only the face, and the hands. And it is perhaps by virtue of this fact that the director understood how to choose and to show, from the mass of real material available, only these two characteristic details, that he attained the wonderful power of impression notable in this scene.
Here once more we encounter the process, mentioned above, of clear selection, the possibility of the elimination of those insignificances that fulfil only a transition function and are always inseparable from reality, and of the retention only of climactic and dramatic points. Exactly upon this possibility depends the essence of the significance of editing, the basic process of filmic creation.
Confusion by linkage and wastage by intervals are inevitable attributes of reality. He rests his glance on a face, then lets it glide down the body until finally it rests attentively on the hands — this is what a spectator has to do when looking at a real woman in real surroundings.
The film spares this work of stopping and down- ward-gliding. Thus the spectator spends no super- fluous energy. By elimination of the points of interval the director endows the spectator with the energy preserved, he charges him, and thus the appearance assembled from a series of significant details is stronger in force of expression from the screen than is the appearance in actuality. We now perceive that the work of the film director has a double character.
For the construction of filmic form he requires proper material ; if he wishes to work filmically, he cannot and must not record reality as it presents itself to the actual, average onlooker. To create a filmic form, he must select those elements from which this form will later be assembled.
To assemble these elements, he must first find them. And now we hit on the necessity for a special process of analysis of every real event that the director wishes to use in a shot. For every event a process has to be carried out comparable to the process in mathematics termed " differentiation " — that is to say, dissection into parts or elements. Here the technique of observation links up with the creative process of the selection of the characteristic elements necessary for the future finished work.
In order to represent the woman in the court scene, ON FILM TECHNIQUE 67 Griffith probably imagined, he may even have actually seen, dozens of despairing women, and perceived not only their heads and hands, but he selected from the whole images only the smile through tears and the convulsive hands, creating from them an unforgettable filmic picture.
Another example. In that filmically outstanding work, The Battleship " Potemkin" 32 Eisenstein shot the massacre of the mob on the great flight of steps in Odessa. This perambulator is a detail, just like the boy with the broken skull in the same film. Analytically dissected, the mass of people offered a wide field for the creative work of the director, and the details correctly discovered in editing resulted in episodes remarkable in their expressive power.
Another example, simpler, but quite characteristic for film-work: The real material is thoroughly abundant and complex. There is the street, the motor-car, the man crossing the street, the car running him down, the startled chauffeur, the brakes, the man under the wheels, the car carried forward by its impetus, and, finally, the corpse.
In actuality everything occurs in unbroken sequence. The separate pieces were assembled on the screen in the following sequence: The street with cars in movement: Very short flash: Equally short flash: Taken from above, from the chauffeur's seat: The sliding, braked wheels of the car.
The corpse by the stationary car. The separate pieces are cut together in short, very sharp rhythm. In order to represent the accident on the screen, the director dissected analytically the whole abundant scene, unbroken in actual development, into component parts, into elements, and selected from them — sparingly — only the six essential.
And these not only prove sufficient, but render exhaustively the whole poignancy of the event represented. In the work of the mathematician there follows after dissection into elements, after " differentiation," a combination of the discovered separate elements to a whole — the so-called " integration.
The finding of the elements, the details of the action, implies only the completion of a preparatory task. It must be remembered that from these parts the complete work is finally to emerge, for, as said above, the real motor-car accident might be dis- sected by the onlooker into dozens, perhaps indeed hundreds, of separate incidents. The director, how- ever, chooses only six of them. He makes a selection, and this selection is naturally conditioned in advance by that filmic image of the accident — happening not in reality but on the screen — which, of course, exists in the head of the director long before its actual appearance on the screen.