February 27, 2003

Take One

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Sometimes we take shortcuts, and just hope and pray that people don’t notice. For the last eight years, the winners of the Academy Award for Best Film Editing may have been better than their competition, but they were far from perfect. Luckily for them, the Academy of Arts and Sciences overlooked their blatant editing errors. In fact, over the aforementioned time period, there have been bungles and blunders beyond belief, many of which have been noted on the website www.moviemistakes.com. Here are the most memorable mistakes from those films deemed worth of Best Film Editing:

Forrest Gump (1994): When Forrest(Tom Hanks) is running on the football field, he runs by cheerleaders and a couple of football players, but in the next scene, Gump runs by the very same cheerleaders and players. They must have been magically moving with him down the field! Another inexcusable error allowed a young woman to perform a Houdini-esque trick: when Forrest firsts meets Jenny (Robin Wright Penn) on the bus to school, a girl is sitting behind them. In a subsequent shot, she has miraculously disappeared. Run, random girl, run!

Apollo 13 (1995): When the workers in the mission control room are listening to the plan of attempting a sling shot around the moon, notice that the diagrams on the chalkboard manage to vary between shots! Editors, we have a problem.

The English Patient (1996): Just before the closing credits, an aerial shot pans across a desert. At the bottom left of the screen, one might notice the knee of a cameraman (in jeans) for almost two seconds. Or maybe the heat of the desert is causing an illusion. Ah, unintended symbolism.

Titanic (1997): When Jack is dressed splendidly for dinner and waiting at the bottom of the grand staircase, Rose (Kate Winslet) is shown taking Jack’s (Leo Dicaprio) arm twice as they move towards the dining room, once during a close up and once again in the background while Cal (Billy Zane) is talking. Also, the crew members decided to cast themselves as passengers on the inauspicious ship, as the film crew is visible in a mirror during the ballroom dancing scene. Furthermore, when the ship is sinking, and while Jack and Rose are frantically running through the inside of the ship, the cameras and crew are relaxing outside the window. Or perhaps they were real passengers who wished to film the disaster.

Saving Private Ryan (1998): In the pentagon, when the camera pans over General Marshall’s (Harve Presnell) left shoulder towards several officers, notice that the Colonel, who was missing his left arm in earlier scenes, has it again; it is missing again in the next shot. That’s just mean.

The Matrix (1999): The editing crew responsible for the amazing special effects in this film managed to come up with even more amazing, and truly special, effects that were not planned: while Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) fights an agent in the bathroom, the agent punches through a brick wall, yet the next time we see the wall, there is no damage!

Traffic (2000): When Benicio Del Toro visits his dead partner’s wife after the “dig-your-own-grave” scene, he is wearing a vertical stripe shirt. In the very next scene, he is driving a car but is wearing a solid red shirt. I doubt that was intended.

Black Hawk Down (2001): Last year’s winner was full of mistakes, making an already tedious movie even worse. Right after the four Blackhawks and four Little Birds have taken off, a panoramic shot from in front of the eight helicopters shows them flying over the ocean. At the end of the shot, you can clearly see the tail of the helicopter that is filming it. Sort of undermines the magnificence of it, doesn’t it? And then there’s a rather shocking error, when an initial shot of a Blackhawk reveals no one inside the bay, yet the closely following shot shows the helicopter full of soldiers, many of whom are sitting with their legs dangling out. They were not there before.

With the Academy Awards quickly approaching, remember that the golden Oscar does not always equate with perfection. Though everyone makes mistakes, it’s nice to see that, occasionally, one can be honored nevertheless. For 2002, the nominees for Best Film Editing are: Chicago, The Hours, Gangs of New York, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Pianist. Who will win? I have no idea, but, trust me, whoever does win made plenty of mistakes too.

Archived article by Avash Kalra