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October 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 16 Oct 1994 16:41:52 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Gene Stavis comments:
"It seems to me that most discussions of a director's "pacing" are generally
smokescreens for an inchoate dislike of a film. It is such a vague and
indefinable term that it is a favorite scapegoat. Pacing involves almost
every aspect of a film from the most obvious - the rate of edits within a
scene,... to the more obscure - the style of the dialogue, the amount of
dialogue, the lack of or style of the musical score, the style of the
camerawork, the acting style of the performers, etc.
Complaints about pacing are akin to critics' comments about a film's "poor"
or "superb" editing -- things which most critics have no knowledge about. Or,
the condemnation or praise of a film's "photography" which likewise is far
more subtle and harder to categorize than the popular press would like you to
Nicely put.  Sometimes, one element or another can be pinned down in a
particular scene, but there are so many variables that the specifics can
get lost.
A good case is point is a continuing motif in Bob Fosse's ALL THAT JAZZ.
Within this film, the autobiographical self-destructive choreographer-director
played by Roy Scheider is editing a new film (clearly modeled on Fosse's
LENNY, about Lenny Bruce).  The comedian's monologue about Death is edited
and re-edited by Scheider, who tightens it every time.  Then when the film
is released, the movie is panned by a critic, who claims Scheider failed as
a director and the only scene worth watching was saved by the actor who
delivered the monologue about Death!  A good illustration of the power of
editing and the vapidity of some critics.
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN