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Never cut on the blink!


'Actors should not blink'
Walter Murch Film-maker
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There were nice practical things about this. The actor has to be in character and Gene Hackman was definitely in the character of Harry Caul. You can frequently get actors who are nervous or who are not in character. They've been miscast and therefore their thinking is not correct. So you can't rely on them because their blinking is off. Michael Caine says actors should not blink. His technique is when the camera is running I will not blink, and this allows me to command the scene. If I blink, it destroys my command of the moment. Maybe, but that's an interpretation of basically the same concept. And so Michael Caine is relying on the film editor to do his blinking for him. He's not going to do it because he, Michael Caine, has decided that blinking is an abjuration of his authority as a character.

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: Gene Hackman, Michael Caine

Duration: 1 minute, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 01 March 2017