Bad editing is easy to spot, but “good” editing can be rather hard to define. Plenty of movies are considered to have “good” editing simply because the editor remains invisible: The film doesn't feel edited, and therefore it maintains the illusion of cinema. But what about a film like Requiem for a Dream? It is widely considered to be an example of good editing, yet its editing style is unconventional and even overwhelming at times. For heaven’s sake, editor Jay Rabinowitz even breaks the 180-degree rule! So why is Requiem for a Dream an example of good editing?
I can almost guarantee that, if you’ve seen it, mentioning the movie recalls those breakneck montages full of fast cutting and exaggerated sound effects—these montages, which director Darren Aronofsky coined “hip-hop montages,” are surely notable, but they aren't the only unique aspect of the movie’s editing. This video breaks down a scene from Requiem for a Dream to get to the heart of why its editing is so effective…and affective. Hint: it also has to do with why this movie makes you feel like you've just been hit by a bus.
Do you like learning what makes movie magic happen? From sound effects and zooms to false long takes and graphic match cuts, we have the answers.