In the Blink of an Eye

I recently finished reading ‘In the Blink of an Eye’, the book on film editing written by legendary editor Walter Murch. In the book Walter Murch describes his belief that film editing, and cuts specifically function in the same way that a person blinks, that a person will blink as a way of separating, distinguishing or ‘cutting’ thoughts and information. Murch says that people do this subconsciously and intuitively, that when listening to someone, they will blink at the point where they have processed the information. Murch compares this to the way that people watch movies, that they intuitively apply the same process when watching a film. The point that someone blinks while listening to someone during a conversation, is the same point at which they will intuitively and subconsciously feel that a cut should take place if that same conversation was to be put on film.

It is an extremely interesting idea and it made me think about this concept in relation to the aspect of film that I am looking to investigate in this studio: a black screen.

If a blink of an eye is a cut in a movie, then what is a black screen? Does a black screen mean that I have shut my eyes, or that I am asleep or could it even signify death? When I think of the experiments that I do, abrupt cuts mid-action), the way that the unexpected cut seems to rip the audience out of the moment seems to indicate a sort of death. Much like a popular theory regarding the ending of The Sopranos, where the black screen at the end signifies a death that “you never see coming”, the cut to black in my experiments as well as in Haneke’s Code Unknown seems to mimic the experience of an abrupt death. Furthermore, the abrupt change from black screen to image feels almost like a rebirth, but not in a way that would happen naturally and realistically, where you are first blinded by white light and then slowly acquainted with your surroundings, instead it becomes like a sort of gasp for life, a second breath that gives the image a fresh sense of vitality.