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Youth Without Youth: 'R' for nudity and metaphysics


'Overscanning' – the new way of making films
Walter Murch Film-maker
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This was not really the case on Youth Without Youth. It, sort of, emerged as a result of experimenting with the story, and trying to be as adventuresome as possible with the image, and to push the envelope. But now, films are shot where the original framing is larger than you ever intend it to be, and that means – it's technically called 'overscanning' – and that means that: here's the frame, but we can now go wider, if we want to, or narrower, or anything. And you can combine different takes. So, if the actor's performance is good in take six, you can... And this other actor, his performance is best in take four, you can combine take four and take six as if the actors are talking to each other. In fact, they are, but not the way it seems in this particular take.

David Fincher, whose films Social Network and Gone Girl, and other recent films that he made, have really explored this very aggressively. And it's just another way of making films. It's not the... It's not a classic way. It's using... It's basically applying to the image things that we have always done to the sound. That we get sound, and we do lots of things to the sound in the name of making it clearer and better, and adding other things to it. And so, what we record at the time of shooting, the sound that we record at the time of shooting, for decades, has not been what you hear in the theatre. We do all kinds of stuff to it. And so now, that's beginning to happen to the image.

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: David Fincher

Duration: 2 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017