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An idea for a Large Hadron Collider documentary


Marlon Brando's analysis of the ADR process
Walter Murch Film-maker
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I remember I was on [The] Godfather I. I was working with Francis [Ford Coppola]. I was the ADR supervisor for some of that film, and—in addition to other things—and we were working with Marlon Brando. And we had gotten, perhaps, halfway through the film, he... There wasn't a lot to do, but it was significant. And at... but at the halfway point, Francis suddenly stood up and said, 'Well, this is going great. I have to go somewhere else now, so you guys continue', and he was gone. And suddenly, I found myself in a dark room with Marlon Brando, doing ADR for The Godfather. And we finished the reel that we were working on. And the technicians, at the end of that, they have to take down everything and rethread everything up for the next section, and so there's a five minute break in between. We were sitting there in the dark. And then I suddenly heard this voice out of the darkness. Marlon Brando, he said, 'Some people say I mumble', and I had to think very quickly what the correct answer to this was. I was 26 years old at the time, or something. And I said, 'That's right, some people do say that you mumble.' And I wondered, 'What he's going to say now?' And he said, 'They're right, I do mumble, and I'll tell you why. Because – now they were threading the film up, he said – I don't know, when we shoot these films, I don't know whether that scene is going to be in the film or out. And if it's in the film, I don't know whether it's going to be in the position it was in the screenplay or somewhere else. I don't know that it's not going to be cut in half, and the first half will be put with the second. So, when I see this finished film, I sometimes say to myself, if I knew you were going to do that, I would've said something different, or I would've said it in a different way. So, in self-defence, when we shoot these films, I don't move my lips very much. I keep my mouth kind of closed so that, when I see the film before we finish it, I can change the dialogue and make it better. If I move my lips a lot like that, I can't... you can't... It's harder to change the dialogue, so I don't move my lips very much.'

So that was his analysis of the ADR process. And he enjoyed it. I mean, some actors hate it. They just... They have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, or even refuse to do it. But Brando, in fact, likes the... It does... If you accept it, even though it's technically challenging, if you accept it, it allows you, kind of, an escape clause, you can modify things at the last minute.

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 Godfather, Marlon Brando

Duration: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017