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July 2005, Week 3


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david tetzlaff <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 21 Jul 2005 04:28:55 -0400
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'Parallel action', the term employed in the original query is a very 
common term not only in film criticism but among film-makers, and has
relatively consistent meaning. However, as posts here have noted, a
critical/theoretical consideration of parallelism and editing can be
much broader. However as a matter of descriptive lexicography, that's
generally not what people mean to invoke by employing 'parallel
action' since yes, the emphasis is on the action as much as the
parallism and thus no, cutting between Kerensky/Rooster is not
parallel action, whatever intellectual parallels it may employ or

I'm reconsidering my suggestion that 'cross cutting' is a more
omnibus term, though. (A more surely wider term would be
'intercutting'). That is, the emphasis in 'cross-cutting' may well be
on 'cross' -- as in intersection (or to get Eisensteinian,
collision). In this sense 'cross-cutting' would be a sort of opposite
to 'parallel action'. There's nothing parallel (travelling side by
side in similar directions along separate paths) at all between the
cossacks and the baby carriage. They are opposites, they cross, they
collide. I still think 'cross-cutting' is a somewhat broader term
since the things crossed can be more conceptual, whereas 'parallel
action' in practice pretty much limits the parallelism to lines of

But really, it matters less what we call things -- that which we call
a cross-cut is by any other name... -- than how we develop our
understandings of the discourse of film. Sometimes editing just puts
different things together to no particular effect. Sometimes it
creates various kinds of parallels. Sometimes it creates various
kinds of intersections. It's all contextual, conditional open to
interpretaion and not mutually exclusive, but there surely seem to be
different tendecies at work.

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