Film editing
Theories and histories
in Beginning film studies (second edition)
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This chapter seeks to demonstrate that the meaning of a shot does not inhere completely in itself but in its juxtaposition with those other shots that come before and after. Following introductory discussion of the importance of considering editing in any film analysis, the chapter turns to mainstream or continuity editing and outlines first the principles and practices of this mode of shot combination, and then several of the critiques it has attracted. The section that follows evaluates the rival editing practice of montage, with particular attention to the theory and practice of the revolutionary Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein. There is then a section devoted to assessment of the aesthetics and politics of another non-mainstream practice, the jump cut (associated, for example, with the French ‘New Wave’ director Jean-Luc Godard). The chapter’s concluding case study – exploring the ideological effects of editing choices – is of three films that derive from very different historical moments and conditions but all take labour activism as their subject: Strike (1925), Matewan (1987) and Made in Dagenham (2010).

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