Over at PressPlay, I have a new post that surveys the history of the critical film term mise-en-scène, in order to argue past the tendency to oppose that concept with editing. I also push back against the current obsession with long takes, and analyze a clip from the very rapidly cut Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (still my favorite Hollywood film of the past five years). Also discussed: essays by David Bordwell and Brian Henderson. It’s a long post!
In response, Richard Brody kindly alerted me to this New Yorker article of his, which complicates the image of the 1950s Cahiers du Cinéma crowd as being entirely opposed to montage. Key paragraph:
[Henry K.] Miller rightly notes that André Bazin, the editor of Cahiers until his death, in 1958, made a name for himself as an opponent of the then-dominant trend in film theory—as an opponent of montage, of editing, as the essence of cinema. Miller goes on at length about a 1962 essay by Gérard Gozlan in Positif that challenges Bazin’s ideas, but Miller fails to note that the most important French refutations of Bazin came in the pages of Cahiers itself, beginning a decade earlier—from Jean-Luc Godard. […] Godard’s ideas both superseded and encompassed Bazin’s theories and paved the way for his own approach to filmmaking, in which tightly edited sequences and long takes, closeups and deep-focus shots coexist.
It’s well worth reading in its entirety.
Meanwhile, I hope to do more writing soon on short takes. I’ll of course be seeing the fourth Transformers film, and have wanted for some time now to do some analysis of the Bond film Quantum of Solace—in particular the pre-credits sequence, which might be the most rapidly cut sequence in modern Hollywood: