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Francis Ford Coppola's documentary style of shooting


The Valkyries attack scene still has an effect on me
Walter Murch Film-maker
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The mix of the attack, The Valkyries attack, then subsequently the surfing on the beach and everything is certainly the most intense thing in the film in the first 45, 50, 60 minutes of the film. It was so complicated to do it, and we did it in such... so many sub-mixes and pre-mixes and elements because of the nature of how we were mixing the film. And we heard it so many times that eventually we kind of became inured to it. It is tremendously exciting, and when we did the final, final mix, the excitement all came back. But the process of doing it was fraught with so much repetition and uncertainty about: was this technically... can we do all of this in the time that we have? It isn't frequently that, you know surgeons doing the most desperate kind of operations on somebody have this other attitude that kind of insulates them from the reality of what they're doing, and they joke about it. We didn't joke about it, but we certainly weren't... didn't spend the months that we were mixing this scene in a state of permanent excitement. But at the end when it finally all came together it was, we suddenly thought... And when we would show the scene to people who had no prior experience with it, then we could realise it's having an effect on them. When I see the film now, that scene certainly does still have a fantastic effect on me. I'm moved by it in a way that doesn't really change over time. I'm still kind of, 'here it comes!'

Born in 1943 in New York City, Murch graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. His career stretches back to 1969 and includes work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient. He has been referred to as 'the most respected film editor and sound designer in modern cinema.' In a career that spans over 40 years, Murch is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, beginning in 1969 with The Rain People. After working with George Lucas on THX 1138 (1971), which he co-wrote, and American Graffiti (1973), Murch returned to Coppola in 1974 for The Conversation, resulting in his first Academy Award nomination. Murch's pioneering achievements were acknowledged by Coppola in his follow-up film, the 1979 Palme d'Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in what is seen as a film-history first, the screen credit 'Sound Designer.' Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three, for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and achieving an unprecedented double when he won both Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Murch’s contributions to film reconstruction include 2001's Apocalypse Now: Redux and the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (1985). In 1995, Murch published a book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, in which he urges editors to prioritise emotion.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: The Valkyries, Apocalypse Now

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017