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WJEC GCE AS Film Studies Stuart Grenville-Price Micro Element: Editing

The Long Take v. Editing In contrast to the long take and deep focus photography, editing breaks down a scene into a multitude of shots. Why would the director go to all the trouble of shifting vantagepoint on the event and actors and risk disorientating the spectator? One answer is that editing gives the director almost complete control over the events and actors, since the scene only comes together when the shots are edited together, one director who is particularly notable for insisting on complete control over events and actors is Alfred Hitchcock. The advantage of editing over the long take and deep focus is that, through the changes in viewpoint implied by the change of shot, the director can fully involve the spectator in the action. As seen in William Wyler’s 1941 film, The Little Foxes. (d.o.p. Gregg Toland) SHOT 1: The living room after dinner. A passive viewer would be content to focus her attention on the conversation taking place between Regina and her brothers in the foreground, but the deep focus of this shot invites more active viewers to take note of Aunt Birdie's presence in the room and her reactions to what is being said, giving greater insight into her character.

SHOT 2: Deep focus in this shot helps to establish the spatial layout of the Giddens' house, and at the same time, emphasizes Aunt Birdie's isolation as well as Alexandra's attempt to get involved in the scene.


SHOTS 3 & 4: Wyler uses these deep-focus shots the first, in which Birdie is seen playing the piano in the foreground while Horace listens in the garden, and the second, in which Horace appears in the foreground while Birdie is seen at the piano in the background -- to establish the spatial and emotional relationship between the two characters -- at the same time, isolated and alone, and yet still connected

SHOTS 4, 5 & 6: Perhaps most interesting in the whole film is the non-use of deep focus in the scene depicted in this series of three shots. At Wyler's request, when Horace has his heart attack, Toland switches from deep focus to shallow focus, subjectively drawing the viewer's attention, not to the figure of Horace struggling up the stairs to find his medicine, but instead to Regina's face and her reaction to the struggle


SHOT 7: The deep focus in this shot permits the figure of Alexandra to intrude upon the scene playing out below her, just as her actual presence, once she draws attention to it by speaking out, intrudes upon the dealings in which Regina, Ben and Leo are engaged.

Recap of Terms 

Mise-en-scéne designates what appears in front of the camera- set-design, lighting and character movement

Mise-en-shot means ‘putting into shots’ or simply ‘shooting’ a film or how a film is shot.

The long take and deep focus emphasise the drama as it unfolds within the shot. The techniques create a fusion between actors and setting, allow the actor’s performance to shine through, and have the potential to sustain a mood or emotion over a long period of time, however they distance the spectator from the unfolding action.

Editing , which consists of breaking down a scene into a multitude of shots, allows the director to fully involve the spectator in the action at the expense of breaking the film’s spatial and temporal unity. However, synthetic unity is restored by means of the techniques of continuity editing. (which include: the axis of action line, the eyeline match, point of view cutting, the match on action cut and directional continuity)


Deep Focus  

Deep focus and the long take