Individually, you should create a Critical commentary of 1000 words (Approx.) considering the history, development, core areas and practitioners we have analysed and developed in our sessions in this area of study.

Additionally, critically analyse the Editing Practices we have looked at and consider what they offer as an art form.

Things to include overall would be:

The 3 Core Periods of Editing Development: e.g. Actualists; Storytellers; and, Expressionists

At least 1 Core Practitioner from each of the above periods: e.g. Lumiere Brothers; Edwin S Porter; D W Griffith; Kuleshov; Eisenstein; Visconti; Godard.

An Analysis of a contemporary Film sequence with links to past theories and ideas: Which theories/techniques are being used and what do they offer?

Evaluate the overall legacy of the Editing theories and techniques studied on contemporary film and video practice.


Film and editing have come a long way since they were first created, but it all had to start somewhere. The history of film and editing has dramatically changed as technology progressed and we had a better understanding of storytelling through video. I will be talking about the history and development of editing and the predominant practitioners who helped get film to where it is today.

Video cameras were first invented around the end of the 19th century and were put to good use straight away. For the period between 1885 and 1903, the practitioners of this time were called actualists. Actualists filmed ordinary everyday events of their era. Thomas Edison filmed a heard of bulls running, in Cattle Driven to Slaughter. Edison also filmed President McKinley’s inauguration footage, which was the first inauguration ever to be captured. The Lumiére Brothers filmed things such as workers leaving their factories and people boarding trains. In Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, by the Lumiére Brothers, there is a shot of the train approaching and this frightened most people because they had never seen moving pictures before; they thought that the train was real and was going to hit them. Editing was not yet used in this period. Since the first cameras were so oversized they didn’t have any mobility, which made films of this generation have ongoing and uninterrupted single shots with the scenario developing in real time.

During 1903 to 1915, the film industry changed drastically. Thomas Edison had an employee, named Edwin Porter, who significantly contributed to film, and some would refer to him as the father of film editing. Porter created an abundance of editing techniques, such as the dissolve, cut, wipe, parallel editing, and fade to and from black; this in turn evolved film into an art form. Porter was the first one to use editing to develop films’ storyline. This was a major step up for filmmaking and changed the way people saw and edited film. Practitioners of this time were then called storytellers undeniably because film told narratives, rather then just being comprised of long continuous shots. Edwin Porter’s most famous films created were The Great Train Robbery and Life of an American Fireman. George Melies, a French filmmaker, created Le Voyage Dans la Lune, or A Trip to The Moon. Melies accidently stumbled upon the first visual effects in film. His camera broke down and when it started back up again people who were in the shot had left, so on film it appeared that these people were vanishing; this is when stop motion was created. Later in the storytelling era, a man named D.W Griffith came about. Griffith’s most famous film is The Birth of a Nation. He used Porter’s method of parallel editing and combined it with cross cutting to close-ups to escalate characters emotion. Griffith also created building up rhythm through the use of editing to heighten up and increase action scenes. The practitioners of this time all created techniques that are revolutionary and advanced filmmaking further.

Around 1915 to about 1928, editing film developed even further. A Russian filmmaker, named Lev Kuleshov, took Edwin Porter’s storytelling concepts and improved them by linking two unconnected shots of film together to create emotion behind it. These practitioners were known as expressionists, because they conveyed meaning through combining multiple unrelated shots together, making it become a single united piece with an abundance of powerful feeling behind it. Kuleshov did an experiment later called the Kuleshov Effect, where he filmed a man with the same expression on his face and merged it with three contrasting shots, such as a bowl of soup sitting on a table, an adolescent girl in a coffin, and an attractive young woman. By joining these clips together, it appeared that the man’s facial expression changed and adapted to what shot it was connected to. For instance, when it shows the bowl of soup then cuts back to the man, he looks extremely hungry; then when it goes to the adolescent girl in the coffin and cuts to him, he looks mournful and heartbroken; and finally, when it shows the attractive young woman, he looks exceptionally aroused like he greatly desires the woman. However, the shots of his face are in every way consistent. This experiment then proved, that in film, the human brain will fill in the missing information that is not provided. For instance, we see a shot of a car zooming down the road, then it cuts to a shot of a young boy on a bicycle going up the road, then finally, it will show a bent bicycle wheel still spinning on the ground with an untied shoe right next to it. With all the information given we can guess that the car hit the young boy on the bicycle. These three shots could have been shot in different locations, on different days, and maybe the actors never even saw one another. However, since they are together, they tell a story, and it is in our human nature to relate these separate shots to a single concept, just simply because they are combined.

Film and editing have come a long way since the first video camera was invented. It developed from huge dinosaur cameras and long continuous shots without any story behind it, to films that told stories that created emotion within the audience.  After the actualist period and once the storyteller period began, the practitioners of this time laid the foundation down to evolve film into an art form. Editing is what defines film and makes it different and stand out from any other art form. Film and editing have come a great distance since it first came about. It has progressed substantially in such a short length of time. Although film wasn’t the greatest when it first began, it had to start somewhere, and without the practitioners of each of these times who knows where and what stage film would be at in this day of age.

Criteria: 1.1 & 1.2