In the World of My Own: Editing the Snatches of People’s Lives

The place where life is brighter than anywhere else, cinema proves that sometimes life without drama becomes incomplete. Like no other art, it can convey the most important ideas in the most unobtrusive way, helping the screenwriter to communicate the most essential ideas in a two-hour movie.

Rain Man by Barry Levinson is one of such pictures. Despite the difficulties concerning the fusion of a complicated plot with no less complicated process of shooting the film, the crew managed to create a film that incorporates the intriguing plot and the impeccable editing.

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Taking a closer look at the picture, one can see clearly that the movie creates a continuity that is interrupted only at specific moments to make the scene ever more intense and gripping. Split in several parts, the movie still represents a whole that cannot be broken.

Another aspect to consider is the rythmics of the movie. A long shot, then a shorter one, to be interrupted by a continuous episode through which the narrator conveys the peculiarities of each character. If considering each piece a cadence of sounds, the entire movie could be compared to a musical piece by Teleman or Vivaldi.

Surprisingly, the film does not offer a variety of transitional effects. The one that the editors resorted most often to is the jump cut. However, such maneuver does not seem a drawback of the movie – on the contrary, it adds a certain tint of incompleteness and abruptness of the film.

As a life switches its tunes from mellow ones into harsher and rougher melodies, the movie marks the end of each phase of the characters’ growth with these abrupt endings. Moreover, these transitions seem completely unnoticeable despite their sharpness. Perhaps, the flow of the plot does remind of the way life goes, which helps the spectator get ready for another turn of the plot. With help of these tiny transitions, each spectator can feel the enchanting rhythm of the movie – the rhythm of Rain Man.

There is one more thing that deserves being discussed here. Considering the masterful match cuts in Rain Man, one can realize that without this trick, the movie would have lost half of its charm. Although there are only a few that create the specific atmosphere in the movie and switch the spectator’s attention to the necessary details, these several cuts produce intense effect.

One of these is the episode when Raymond watches the matches falling on the floor. Since he is autistic, his eyes are rarely fixed on certain object, and this specific eye-line match cut emphasizes the importance of the moment, showing separately Raymond casting his sight right on the floor, and then the floor with the matches scattered on it. Filled with intense strain, this episode reveals certain peculiarities of Rain Man’s character.

Another piece of the movie in which match cuts play the crucial part is the episode when Ray copies the pattern on the floor into a sheet of paper. Revealing the incredible abilities of Rain Man, the editor utilizes the method of graphic match cut. At the very beginning of the scene, the spectator can see Ray scribbling something on a snatch of paper. In several seconds, the paper fallen on the floor is the size of a painting, with the precise copy of the carpet pattern.

The last, but not the least comes the match-on-action cut that also conveys peculiar ideas concerning the movie characters and their adventures. The shot in which Ray and his brother walk down the hall is interchanged with the picture of a highway, cars moving up and down it. This is one of those subtle hints on what a life actually is – a journey to the future, where the driver and the passenger hardly know each other. With help of each of these amazing shots, the editor provided spectators with a spectrum of unforgettable feelings.

Watching the movie, one can notice that the laws of editing – at least, the Hollywood variant of this art – are somehow violated. Since it only adds the specific fleur of authenticity and genuineness to the film, there is no doubt that these rules have been neglected on purpose to create even greater impression.

One of such is the scene of Charlie Babbit and his girlfriend, Susanna, quarreling. Although logically, the entire scene was supposed to be a master shot, it was often split, the camera swaying from one person to another, often capturing certain objects and leaving the characters out of its focus. Unlike the rest of the shots, this one does not create the impression of the movie integrity, which is extremely important.

With help of this approach, the editor has managed to depict the scene when the worlds of the lead characters collapse – Susanne loses her faith in Charlie, whereas Charlie realizes that he is losing the last person he can rely on. Without this support, he will feel deprived of his own self, which is evident from the scene.

With help of the numerous editing tricks and approaches, the creators of the movie managed to convey the very essence of the picture without exposing it to the whole wide world. Only watching the movie from the very beginning to the very end, one can feel the specific air of loneliness that the film is shot through.

There is no doubt that without these elements, the key issue of the film would have remained a mystery to the public. The sparkle of understanding and even sadness in Rain Man’s eyes is the perfect touch to a perfectly touching story of friendship and devotion.


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