Walter Murch Yesterday

Walter Murch at the Lightbox 10/10/10

Walter Murch at the Lightbox 10/10/10 by M Mayerson

Walter Murch was in town this last night for a screening of Apocalyse Now Redux ( Blu-ray soon) and in a second night, his talk on the future of cinema. It was a very respectful crowd and he had some great things to say about 3D (it goes against evolution-of how we see) the balance between preparation and chance (editing with your eyes closed) and perseverance (on the bad response to Return to Oz, “you have to suck it up and move on.”)

As anyone who has read The Conversations, you will know that Murch is an erudite philosopher on the historical antecedence and art of cinema in general. Urban and witty, he used the discussion to field questions for two and a half hours.

The lecture explained his theory of the fathers on cinema. Beethoven, Flaubert and Edison. Each had an effects Beethoven (the change from formalism to dynamics in music) Flaubert (descriptive to novelistic realism) and Edison, with Dickson, for first combining sound and image.)

The best moment came when an audience member asked about video games and Murch stepped to his already opened Mac to display a series of slides that concisely explained his thoughts. A grid that displays Repeatable and Unique experience against Communal and Individual. Cinema is Communal and repeatable, Theatre is communal and unique, Video, individual and repeatable and Dreams are individual and unique. Games became a graphic covering all of these quadrants. A true editor, I think he prepped for that chance question.

I particular liked his references as a freelancer. He is aware of where his next paycheque was/will come from. He confirms the freelance ethos of the difficulty in being too selective, as he needed to make a living. He’s currently directing an episode of “The Clone Wars.”

There’s a good career overview here. Other than The Conversations -which gets a little esoteric-the essential Murch book is In the Blink of the Eye. Behind the Seen is a great observation of both his working methods applied to Final Cut Pro and how a large budget feature is edited.

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