November 29th, 2012
Before a film is edited, it is just an array of shots with no sequence or pure structure. Editing ties these shots together; defining the feel, sequence, and overall direction the film will take.
Shots are not simply patched together. There are many techniques in which the editing team can set the pace of the film. Some films choose to be continuous and logical, each event occurring in chronological order as if the film was real life. Others choose to defy this logic, choosing to use flashbacks to show events that occurred before the beginning of the film, or sometimes showing the film in a seemingly random order (i.e. Pulp Fiction). The way a film is put together in the final cut will ultimately shape its’ effect on the viewer.
In both Ridley Scott’s Alien and Martin McDonaugh’s In Bruges, editing techniques are used to shape the overall effect of the film. Scott uses editing to make us feel on the edge of our seat, terrified, and thrilled, while McDonaugh drives home the emotional impact and turmoil of his characters.
In Alien a commercial deep space towing ship investigates a suspected SOS on a distant planet. The crew ends up breaking quarantine and allows an extraterrestrial creature on board.
There are no flashbacks used in Alien, cutting to continuity and classical cutting are the main devices used. Establishing and reestablishing shots are used to define where the action is taking place. This is important because of the abnormal environment that the characters find themselves in. They are on a distant planet that they are not familiar with. When several of the crew members investigate an alien ship, establishing and reestablishing shots are used to define location when the shots go between the crew investigating the ship and the crew on the main ship.
Feeling uneasy is not uncommon in horror...