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mtheory

Continuity and Editing problems in "The Dark Knight"

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This is bullshit.

 

We need a shrink to analyze all those continuity-peepers. 

 

Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out.

 

 

They didn't get the first thing of what cinema is about. Every great action scene has to cut out the joints of a sequence in order to boost the speed and to make the audience a complice by actively filling the gaps.

 

Wait: There are multiple car chases from multiple views. Haven't we got the goddam right to stay oriented? Shouldn't we know exactly about directions, positions and frigging road maps? Everything should be clearly followable (as for the participants in this chase, they know everything, they see everything, they foresee it).

 

Quote from Wikipedia on 'continuity':

 

Whilst most continuity errors are subtle, such as changes in the level of drink in a character's glass or the length of a cigarette, others can be more noticeable, such as sudden drastic changes in appearance of a character. Such errors in continuity can ruin the illusion of realism and affect suspension of disbelief.

 

 

There are such unwanted, annoying continuity errors, the new Carrie is full of them, where someone raises his hands, cut, akimbo. And they can destroy the magic. But, Mr. Emerson, Sir, you chose the wrong example. Nolan clearly is a master of 'prestige', he knows what he is doing and why. Go see a doctor, have your anal fixation fixed.

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Nolan is a master of big strokes, but he is sometimes sloppy and imprecise. To say cinema is not about audience following wtf is going on in the scene is like Kanye West saying that leather jogging pants are not about comfort, because fashion is about style. That is precisely my definition of bullshit. 

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I think leather jogging pants would be rather uncomfortable, being a jogger myself, so maybe that statement is not so much absurd.

 

Joker in this film evokes chaos. Do me a favour and imagine the sequence in question with straight continuity. It would be a completely different scene, very weak and boring.

 

I know I am defending Nolan, but I can base it on the effect the scene has on the audience. If it was all just sloppiness, then Lee Smiths quote in the beginning made no sense.

 

Emerson, as I see it, belongs to those who want cuts to be logical, not stirring or, God forbid, emotionally disturbing. They have a real problem with breaks and jumps and find relief only in nice sequences like A> B >C >D.  But that's not language. You measure a cut not by it's correctness but by it's impact. Good cuts hurt a bit, some bold cuts more.

 

The main complaint about the sequence is that Emerson can't follow, but it never crosses his mind that this might have been his problem. I watched the film twice, together with big audience, and none of the supposed failures waked my disbelief nor that, obviously, of the fellow cinemagoers who followed alright. It now crosses my mind that this might have been my problem, can it be that I left my disbelief at the entrance?

 

Shooting and editing with strict continuity and clear topography is not cinematic and almost never a good idea. Many great directors pretend to do this, with establishing shots and seemingly plausible action, but then deliberately expand the borders of logic (Nolan as one of the most prominent). Eisensteins famous Odessa stair sequence (meticulously planned by the way, nothing sloppy about this storyboarded scene), Kubricks taunting overview of the Overlook hotel (planned as well), Finchers steal plant prison in Alien³, where the place becomes an alien as well, many Hitchcock sets (which are the most surreal sets of all, see especially Vertigo and Psycho), Welles' Xanadu, Leones western landscapes, you name them.

 

And then there is Panic Room. I love Fincher, and I like the film, but it actually defies it's own premise by describing the exact whereabouts of every character at every moment, shrinking the set to a theater stage. 

 

Or watch a later part of the Emerson video, where he praises Salt, one of the dullest action movies of all time, in which A. Jolie performs perfectly timed acrobatics with A >B >C editing. Unless you admire it for it's almost mechanical precision, you couldn't care less.

 

Of course I can't claim to be in the right, I just hate Emersons tedious prosecution. Reminds me of Stones JFK, but that is at least more entertaining.

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I'll be brutally honest here, I started watching this critique and stopped when I realized it was "The Dark Night". This is like having Werner Herzog talk about Tansformers 3.

 

If you want to see a movie that uses the long take to full effect, check out Abbas Kiarostami's "Certified Copy", or his newer "Like Someone in Love".

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To be honest, nothing could save Salt from sucking, the story, the stunts, the acting and the lighting ( in this scene especially ) were really bland, but the smooth editing at least doesn't leave you confused.

 

In Dark Knight, for example, the shot from above where we see police column encounter a burning blockade, that was a very poor establishing shot...first, we very briefly see something burning as it enters the shot, but its not clear enough....then, for almost an eternity we see the cop's reaction to it....so he is already reacting to something we haven't had a chance to process yet......and only then, briefly, in the next shot do we get a closer look at what he was looking at...but by then we have to mentally re-edit in context to understand the cop's reaction...that is annoying because it takes you out of the movie when you should be IN IT.

 

One movie I think that had the right to be confusing and nauseating was Gaspar Noe's "Irreversible"...it was part of the point of the film, and was effective. In fact, Nolan himself did it even better in Memento with reversing the chronology...but Memento was still a masterpiece of precision...in every scene individually you were always extremely spatially aware...for example, there was a repetition of an establishing shot of Teddy's murder scene in BW and Color..Nolan was extremely careful to orient us properly.

 

I think he was probably not very confident in directing action ( it is one of those things that you either got, or you don't, no matter how great of a storyteller you are otherwise ), hence the lack of precision in that Dark Knight action scene.

 

Take a look at James Cameron directing a very similar but much better truck-chase-in-a-tunnel scene in T2 and see how amazingly clear the cuts are, this lets us as an audience to feel the action without having to think "Wtf is going on".

 

 

Every damn shot here picks up the motion from the previous one and passes it on smoothly into the next one. Beautiful.

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I share your verdict. To be brutally honest, I rarely find chases engaging, or fights and battles. These are the obligatory scenes an action move has to have, in the script it probably says Joker attacks the convoi in a garbage truck, and Batman joins in his batmobile, if I drank too much Coke a chance to go to the toilet.

I can easily imagine Nolan telling someone, can you put this together somehow and make it look good. Take all those miniatures and throw in some close ups of expendables, but don't waste too much time for this, I won't chastise you for being sloppy. Look, everybody knows that this defies logic anyway, so don't try too hard to be convincing.

I never witnessed anyone saying, great fun all in all, but the chase sequence was completely unfollowable, after we left and discussed the film in the foyer. It just doesn't deserve all that attention.

Here comes Emerson, presumably some TV show editor, to examine the corpse and lecture on bad editing in minute detail. Oh yes, he's so right, it's really frustrating to see so many inconsistencies in a multi million dollar movie. Come on, Nolan, we deserve better.

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I hated this movie so much, I had to walk out on it (Dark Knight, that is). I'd never spend money on anything with Terminator in the title.

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The action scenes in all of the Nolan Batmans have been very sloppy and bad. 

 

The only really working action scene Nolan has ever done is the vertical fight scene in Inception. Should I credit Nolan or the second unit director? I'll go with second unit for that.

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I did find The Dark Knight incoherent. It seems the editing took too many liberties. Didn't stop it from being Oscar nominated for Best Film Editing though.

 

Personally I think the OP video has a lot of good points in it... There are times when you need that spatial awareness in the edit, and good action sequences is one such time. There actually doesn't seem to be many great action directors & editors around at the moment. All the films which should be really entertaining, enthralling action films seem to have turned into expensive stage plays with the emphasis on po-faced photo-realism and characters so deep you can't understand them.

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You really think I am referring to the king of dumbness when I say there aren't many great action directors around at the moment... Oh dear.

 

I meant enthralling... Duncan Jones 'Source Code' was pretty good.

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"When it comes down to it, a filmmaker has 2 tools to convey information visually: composition and cutting."

What about color? That's one of the biggest conveyers of mood and information. Unless he's combining color into composition. 

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"When it comes down to it, a filmmaker has 2 tools to convey information visually: composition and cutting."

What about color? That's one of the biggest conveyers of mood and information. Unless he's combining color into composition. 

 

Color helps, but it's not a fundamental.  Fact is, folks before color like Eisenstein were kinda better at action sequences than Nolan, and Sergi was sort of starting from scratch when he did it.

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Color helps, but it's not a fundamental.  Fact is, folks before color like Eisenstein were kinda better at action sequences than Nolan, and Sergi was sort of starting from scratch when he did it.

He wasn't saying an action sequence though, he said a "filmmaker has 2 tools to convey information."

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Seriously, this is just nit picking! Nothing is real in Batman, Gotham isn't a real city, the Joker is a fictional character. You have to suspend belief to enjoy Action Movies! When a bullet goes through a person, they don't fly back 10 metres, do they? I think this guy has the cork jammed in a bit too tight!!

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He wasn't saying an action sequence though, he said a "filmmaker has 2 tools to convey information."

 

Okay, strike "action" from my response and re-read it.  Also, color is not one of the fundamental tools, it's a supplemental one.  More than half of all recorded cinema is testimony to that.

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