Russian filmmaker Vsevolod Pudovkin is a name most people only hear in film school, but the director's influence can be seen in nearly every movie shown in theaters today. His innovative editing theories were summed up in something he described as "relational editing" — and he defined this with five different examples: contrast, parallelism, symbolism, simultaneit, and leitmotif. By focusing on these techniques, Pudovkin proved that editing wasn't merely compiling a series of shots, but building many small relationships between the artistic, conceptual and technical. Our narrator in this 12-minute video offers modern examples of each.
The Godfather's climactic baptism scene, in which Connie and Carlo's newborn son is being christened while Coppola cuts to the murders of rival crime families, is a perfect example of contrast. For parallelism, the narrator cites Scorsese's Hugo, as the inner mechanics of a clock are compared to the city of Paris. This technique is often used to jump from one time period to the next. One of the most famous editing techniques is symbolism — like the influential scene in Lawrence of Arabia when a lit match cuts to the blazing sun. Psycho is full of symbolism, especially in the famous shower scene when blood goes down the drain and Hitchcock cuts to the image of Janet Leigh's eye.
Learn more about the other editing techniques and Pudovkin himself in this great primer.
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