In January 2014 Kathryn Schulz published an article in Vulture called "The Five Best Punctuation Marks in Literature."
It got me thinking about what the five best "punctuation marks" in film might look like. I wanted to assemble a video essay with a rapidfire list of nominees of great moments of editing-as-punctuation in film. But as I started putting it together, the project grew into a twofold piece: an analysis of and response to Schulz's article as well as an attempt to spur new insights about editing by examining it through the metaphor of punctuation.
So, here it is: 20 minutes long, clips from 100 films (101 if you count that Woody Allen quotes Duck Soup in Hannah and her Sisters), and, I hope, an inspiration to anyone else who loves film on a formal level and believes, as Bazin did, that the language of cinema isn't done being invented yet.
Thanks to Kathryn Schulz for sending me down this wonderful rabbit hole of thought, and to the editors (in order of their cuts): Sally Menke, Buster Keaton, Abel Gance, Yelizaveta Svilova & Dziga Vertov, Michael Snow, Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss, Harry Gerstad, William Reynolds & Peter Zinner, David E. Blewitt & Robert K. Lambert & David Newhouse, Sergei Eisenstein, Daniel Rezende, Valeriya Belova, Richard Pearson & Christopher Rouse, Lou Lombardo, Marguerite Beaugé & Carl Theodor Dreyer, George Tomasini, D.W. Griffith & James Smith & Rose Smith, Lev Kuleshov, Charles Chaplin & Willard Nico, Ron Fricke & Alton Walpole, Sam O'Steen, Edgar Adams & Edward L. Cahn, Ray Lovejoy, Siro Asteni, Anne V. Coates, Robert Wise, Susan E. Morse, LeRoy Stone, Ken Eluto, Spike Lee, Jerome Thoms, Lyudmila Feyginova, Peter Przygodda, Ferris Webster, Andrew Weisblum, Léonide Azar feat. Anton Walbrook, Alan Heim, Claudia Castello & Michael P. Shawver, Michal Leszczylowski & Andrei Tarkovsky, Ralph Rosenblum, William Hornbeck, Barbara McLean, William Chang & Kit-Wai Kai & Chi-Leung Kwong, Véronique Parnet, Kim Hyeon, Andreas Prochaska, Mary Sweeney, John Smith, Jolanda Benvenuti, Harold F. Kress & Argyle Nelson Jr. & J. Frank O'Neill, Florence Eymon, Nicholas T. Proferes, Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Yoshiyasu Hamamura, Cécile Decugis, Joe Bini, Robert Leighton, Milton Carruth, Jay Rabinowitz, Owen Marks, Ted Cheesman, George Tomasini (again), Blanche Sewell, Georges Méliès, Reginald Mills, Siv Lundgren, Thelma Schoonmaker (finally!), Kôichi Iwashita, Alex O'Flinn, Kirk Baxter, Peter Kubelka, Paul Sharits, Chris Marker, Jean Ravel, Roderick Jaynes (Ethan and Joel Coen), Sharon Rutter, Miroslav Hájek, Fernand Léger & Dudley Murphy, Melvin Van Peebles, Martin Arnold, Bruce Conner, Walter Murch & Richard Chew, and Yelizaveta Svilova & Dziga Vertov again. Plus unseen contributions from Jacqueline Sadoul, Jim Miller & Paul Rubell, Monique Bonnot, Ralph Foster & Stephen Perkins & Andrew Weisblum, Verna Fields, Jack Murray, Daniel Mandell, Françoise Collin, Solange Leprince, Patricia Canino, Nelly Quettier, Matt Chesse, George McGuire, John Seabourne Sr., Takis Davlopoulos & Giorgos Triandafyllou, and a few VFX teams, too.
For the full list of films featured, click here: 10oclockdot.tumblr.com/post/129417606958
NEW: Pablo Ferreira (vimeo.com/pabloferreira) has just graciously created Portuguese subtitles for this video!
Plus: Héctor Aguilar Rivas's (vimeo.com/user24306664) Spanish subtitles are still here and still great.
Also: Turkish speakers, please enjoy this TURKISH DUB of Editing as Punctuation in Film, lovingly prepared by Münif Çankaya: vimeo.com/146388456
And I'm still grateful that Editing as Punctuation in Film was named THRICE as one of the best video essays of 2015 by leading critic/curators in Fandor's poll. Thank you!