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'The mice had been working on the film': Work with Kathryn Bigelow


Experience you get in the theatre, but never at home
Walter Murch Film-maker
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Until recently, that was true, that home viewing was less sharp than what you would see in a theatre. Now, that particular distinction has gone. We have... Now, you can have screens with, you know, 2K or 4K resolution at home, which sometimes exceed what you would see in the theatre. But what you never get at home is this feeling of: I have to displace myself, in all senses of the word, to go and see this. And when you're in that state, you have a different relationship to the image than you do when you can kill the image with a single flex of the button, or you can stop it to look at it later. If you don't like it, you can switch channels, all kinds of ways.

And it's in your home. It's... You're not only looking at the screen, you're looking at the lamp that Aunt Winnie gave you 20 years ago for your wedding anniversary, so it's in a domestic situation. More and more, this distinction is being blurred. But I think what you'll never get at home, by definition, is 600 people sitting next to you, and this creates this... Or helps to create this distinction between the look at and look into.

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: theatre, home video, experience, mindset

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017