a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Television changes everything


Living with Thomas Edison's legacy
Walter Murch Film-maker
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

One of the peculiarities of that neighbourhood at the time was that 60 years earlier, Thomas Edison had electrified Columbia University and this was the first University ever to be powered by electricity. Edison was a fan of direct current and he was in competition with Nikola Tesla who was the proponent of alternating current. And as a result, Columbia University and the entire neighbourhood, which was where we lived, was very early, electrified in New York. It was very modern but it was direct current and we, as a neighbourhood, got locked into this infrastructure which was still in place when I was born, which meant that we could not have refrigerators or washing machines or anything that had a motor attached to it. The only thing that we could have in our apartments were electric lights and irons and for some reason, fans. There was some peculiarity about a fan that allowed it to use direct current. So here we were, in the 1940s in New York and up until the early ‘50s, with, in the kitchen, an ice box so that every Friday, there would be a knock on the door and the ice man would come and deliver this big block of ice. And of course, for a kid, this was very thrilling because it was such a dramatic event and I think my father enjoyed it because he had been born in Canada in Toronto and had… that’s the world that he had lived in. And it was less exciting for my mother, who saw her friends elsewhere in New York who had all of these modern appliances.

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: Columbia University, Thomas Edison

Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 01 March 2017