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'Anthony, they already hate you': The previews of The Talented Mr. Ripley


'A red hammer' trick
Walter Murch Film-maker
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There's a parlour trick you can play on people, which is to get them to do some kind of complicated, but simple, mathematics and do it quickly. 'What's seven times four? Okay, think of a number. Add that, divide that by that. Now, think of a tool. Okay, now take four and divide by six and add the number that... Now, think of a colour. Now, what is twelve divided by the number that you had', and whatever. So in these mathematics, you ask these questions, 'Think of a tool.' You, beforehand, on a piece of paper, have written down the words hammer and red, and folded it into a piece of paper. And now you say, 'Okay, what tool and colour did you think of?' And 80% of the people in that circumstance will say, 'A red hammer.' And then you pull the piece of paper out and show it to them. So it is very fundamental to us, and I think part of the reason is because we make it, we make red. We're not passively seeing red. We're making that out of other pieces of information.

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: parlour, trick, red, tool, hammer

Duration: 1 minute, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017