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'It took too long to get here on the bus': The coded feedback


The dangers of changing the rules in the middle
Walter Murch Film-maker
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But to choose another way to do it is... It's not that you can't do it, it's just that there are... You should know the risks of doing that. That to tell a single point of view story and then, at a sudden point, to suddenly shift to another point of view when the audience, without even knowing it, has made up their mind that this is a single point of view. It's like, 'What's this?, 'What?', you know? You can do it, but you have to have very good reason for doing it and you have to be brave, because you're sailing into the wind, so to speak. The tendency is: establish something and stick with it, and tell your story, but don't change the rules on people in the middle. And to a certain extent, that's what the danger of what Cold Mountain did by introducing these new characters past the midway point. And it struggled a bit critically and in the box office. It's a very good film, but it... I think it... All films want to be great, and this film, I think, wanted to be greater than the reception that it got. There was a holdback, because it was too long, and something. I don't think many people put their finger on what exactly the problem was. There was an issue about the casting of the main characters: is Nicole Kidman right for that part, and is Jude Law right for the part? Frequently, you have to think through what people say, because how they articulate a problem is nothing to do with what the real problem is. So people will say, 'I didn't like Ada's costume at the end.' 'Well, okay. But is that the real problem?'

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: Cold Mountain

Duration: 2 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017