THE CONVERSATIONS: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film

Michael Ondaatje, Author . Knopf $35 (368p) ISBN 978-0-375-41386-5

Ask most moviegoers, "Who is Walter Murch?" and they're likely to stare uncomprehendingly. Ondaatje (The English Patient) seeks to eradicate that ignorance by providing an expert analysis of Murch's consummate film editing skills, and pointing out along the way the monumental contributions editors make to motion pictures. Murch, a three time Oscar winner and integral collaborator on such cinematic milestones as The Godfather, Julia, The English Patient and American Graffiti, attended the University of Southern California with George Lucas and bonded early on with UCLA film student Francis Ford Coppola. A relative neophyte, he worked on Coppola's The Rain People and a low-budget sci-fi picture, THX 1138, which has since become a cult classic. Murch adhered to a rule of not watching other movies while concentrating on a project of his own, calling himself a "queen bee who gets impregnated once and can lay millions of eggs afterwards." Through his eyes, and Ondaatje's remarkably insightful questions and comments, readers see how intricate the process is, and understand Murch when he says, "The editor is the only one who has time to deal with the whole jigsaw. The director simply doesn't." He also offers insightful thoughts on Orson Welles, Marlon Brando and Fred Zinnemann. Although Murch claims the actors on his films rarely know who he is, this excellent, eye-opening book—done in a question-and-answer format—will make readers glad Ondaatje has shown them the significant role he plays behind the scenes. Photos. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/12/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-676-97474-4
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-307-51817-0
Paperback - 339 pages - 978-0-676-97682-3
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-676-97611-3
Paperback - 339 pages - 978-0-375-70982-1
Open Ebook - 978-0-307-37081-5
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