Pudovkin’s 5 Editing Techniques

I’ve been studying editing recently and reading a lot of older books on film theory. Some of it is a little rough going, but a lot of it I’ve found very useful.
This video is about Vsevolod Pudovkin, a soviet filmmaker whose theories on editing technique are used in virtually every movie you see today.

I’m hoping to start making a lot more of these videos soon, going into more depth and analysis on aspects of cinematography, editing, etc.

If you’re interested in reading some of Pudovkin’s writings, his book Film technique and Film acting: The Cinema Writings of V.I. Pudovkin” is available for free in PDF, Kindle, or EPUB format.

Enjoy.

11 Responses

  1. This is very awesome! Thank you for putting this together!
    Have you seen the 15 part series The Story of Film. This reminded me of that but your voice does not put me to sleep hahah 🙂 Great Work!

    1. Haha. Well that’s good to hear!
      I have “The Story of Film” but I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet. I’m excited to see it though.
      Thanks for visiting!

  2. Really nicely made video. But I have a concern, that is not strictly related to your examples, but a lot of editing praise in general. Isn’t most all of of these an example in great storyboarding or cinematography/directing vision, rather than editing? Because these great “cuts” wouldn’t have been possible, had the shots not been storyboarded. The cut has actually been made already in pre production. In post, it is just what frame is exactly the right one.
    For me it is hard to judge editing, because great editing for me is what the editor has been able to do – with what has been available to him in the material. For every shot that is in a film a lot more has been left out.
    That’s just my thoughts, and I’ve thought a lot about it because I’ve seen a lot of similar examples.

    1. I see where you are coming from but I believe your concern is misplaced. It’s really just semantics.

      First of all, it was Pudovkin who wrote about these 5 editing techniques so I think it would be informative to point out that Pudovkin wasn’t an editor (I believe he edited only one single film in his career). He was writing these things from the viewpoint of a writer/director first and foremost. So to think that he is saying all good edits come from the editor would be to not know very much about Pudovkin. But regardless of whether the scene was written that way (as it was with the “Silence of the Lambs” cut) or if the director came up with it (as I believe Scorsese did with the “Hugo” cut) or whether the editor came up with it (as Anne Coates famously did with the lighted match/desert cut in “Lawrence of Arabia”) it’s still an “editing technique” because it happened in the edit. It happen when two separately shot pieces of celluloid were spliced together. In the same way if the director said “I want a specific sound effect to come in at this particular moment in the film” this would be considered a sound technique regardless of whether the director or the sound designer came up with the idea.

      All of these examples would have to be approached on a case by case basis to see who came up with the idea. But in the end it simply doesn’t matter; as I said before, it’s really all just semantics. But one thing I can guarantee you, on each and every one of the films that I featured, every one of those directors considered his editor to be an absolutely essential component of the creative process.

      Stay tuned to my blog. I have a Q&A session that I am doing with a well known editor that I will be posting soon (hopefully!). I got a chance to ask him that exact question that you just posed. How do you judge the quality of the editing when you don’t know what raw materials the editor had to begin with? A very interesting question.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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