Product: In The Blink of An Eye
Subject: In The Blink of An Eye Book Review
Author: Walter Murch
Publisher: Silman-James Press
Length: 146 Pages
Price: $7.99 ( Retail )
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Our Rating: 9 out of 10
Renowned film editor Walter Murch has enjoyed a successful and famous career in Hollywood. He has received editing credit for famous films like The Godfather II and The Godfather III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Murch has also received multiple Academy Awards as both a film editor and sound designer to cap off his stellar career. So when he writes a book about his experiences in editing and how the film editing business works, it is looked upon with the utmost sincerity and intrigue.
Murch’s book, ‘In The Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Editing’ is very detailed, and he certainly stayed on top of the latest film editing techniques. In fact, the second edition of the book (which is the edition that we will be reviewing today) needed to be written because of the numerous technological advances in digital editing, the meditation on which encompassed a large chunk of the first edition’s content.
Keep in mind, these changes only took six years (the first edition was published in 1995; the second edition was published in 2001), but the changes were so rapid and advanced that Murch felt the need to rewrite his very popular initial edition in order to convene to these new advances.
Perhaps the best part of Murch’s book is that it is written towards the common person. You don’t need to have any prior knowledge of how film editing works to understand what Murch is talking about; all you need to know are the basics – what a camera is, how it works, and what film editing is.
If you have ever had a moderate or higher interest in learning the nuances of film editing, then Murch’s book is a good read. Let’s take a quick look at the key concepts of the book, how it fares with its readers, and the pros and cons of the book itself…
We have pretty much covered the generic theme of the book – film editing – but the book obviously goes much deeper than that. Murch goes into great detail on the basic question of film editing: Why do cuts work? On the surface, it seems like such a dull and simple question, since the basic answer would be to edit scenes that either don’t flow well with the rest of the movie, to save time on the movie, or to discern any possible scenes that need to be re-shot.
Naturally though, Murch gives very specific and reasonable answers, while also delving into the continuity and discontinuity of editing, and of course, the “blink of an eye” as an emotional cue, which of course is the inspiration for the title of the book.
Furthermore, Murch also uses examples of his own experiences to give the reader a vivid and accurate picture of what particular event or style he is talking about. Of course, this is where Murch’s book gets its credibility, since the reader fully respects Murch and his opinion in turn. Look for Murch’s frequent and brilliant usage of the aesthetic and practical concerns of cutting film throughout the book.
As is the case with most books, Amazon (specifically Amazon Prime) is the best place to buy books and check out reviews on them. Since Murch’s book has been out for over 14 years, there are some reviews there from over a decade ago, but this does not hinder the public’s view on the book whatsoever; in fact, they offer a classic take on the book and how it was met soon after purchase.
According to the book’s listing on Amazon Prime, it holds a stellar 4.6 star (out of 5 stars) rating after 143 reviews. 89 percent of the reviews gave the book a 4 star rating or higher (72 percent gave it a 5 star rating, 17 percent gave it a 4 star rating). 8 percent of reviewers gave it a 3 star rating, and 3 percent gave it a 2 star rating. The fact that there were no 1 star ratings is telling; even on the best of products, there are always a small handful of bitter, disgruntled consumers who give the product a 1 star review for no real reason.
The Book’s Pros and Cons
As stated in the book review, there are not too many ‘cons’ in the book, since A) Murch is well-respected and revered within the Hollywood film editing community, and B) the average reader likely would not have the experience or the knowledge to dispute or counter any of Murch’s claims.
However, there are numerous pros, and a handful of reasonable cons within the book, discerned here from the bulk of comments on Amazon.
- Focuses on the “true joy” of editing; the zen if you will. Several reviewers who are fellow film editors (though nowhere near the caliber of Murch) claim that the book does a marvelous job of focusing on this ‘zen’ of editing, rather than the boring and hackneyed “nuts and bolts” of standard film editing.
- The book also does not provide a boring technical guide on how to edit, but rather it provides a guide on how to approach editing, which is, of course, the interesting part of the field of film editing.
- Murch’s brilliance naturally shows through in the book. Even some of the more advanced film editors who read this book were amazed at the way that Murch approaches film editing, as well as the manner in which he addresses it. Furthermore, his natural excitement for both film editing and sharing his knowledge thereof gives the book somewhat of a positive energy around it, making the book a true page turner.
- Again, there are very few cons, but some readers simply did not fall for the book the way the majority did. Perhaps you agree with these negatives; perhaps not.
- A small portion of the book is derived from the transcript of a lecture he gave at a school, which was turned into a full-length book. Reportedly, Murch had to be convinced to do this, as he wanted a more conventional, tell-all sort of book. This area of the book may seem disinteresting for some readers.
- Some readers were annoyed that Murch touched on some of his experiences editing classic films – like The Godfather Parts II and III – but didn’t really explain WHY he made the film cuts that he did.
One of The Best Film Editing Books?
Overall, Murch’s book is a classic and a must-read for any young, up-and-coming film editor, someone whose curiosity has been piqued by the concept of film editing, or a young adult who simply wants to understand the nuances of film editing. Regardless of which category you fall into, this book is worth the cheap price on Amazon. Go get your copy today…
We hope you enjoyed our In The Blink of An Eye book review and if you have any questions about the product or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment in the section below.