The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film

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9780747564720: The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film

During the filming of his celebrated novel The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje became increasingly fascinated as he watched the veteran editor Walter Murch at work. The Conversations, which grew out of discussions between the two men, is about the craft of filmmaking and deals with every aspect of film, from the first stage of script writing to the final stage of the sound mix. Walter Murch emerged during the 1960s at the centre of a renaissance of American filmmakers which included the directors Francis Coppola, George Lucas and Fred Zinneman. He worked on a whole raft of great films including the three Godfather films, Julia, American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being and many others. Articulate, intellectual, humorous and passionate about his craft and its devices, Murch brings his vast experience and penetrating insights to bear as he explains how films are made, how they work, how they go wrong and how they can be saved. His experience on Apocalypse Now - both originally and more recently when the film was completely re-cut - and his work with Anthony Minghella on The English Patient provide illuminating highlights.

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From the Inside Flap:

The Conversations is a treasure, essential for any lover or student of film, and a rare, intimate glimpse into the worlds of two accomplished artists who share a great passion for film and storytelling, and whose knowledge and love of the crafts of writing and film shine through.

It was on the set of the movie adaptation of his Booker Prize-winning novel, The English Patient, that Michael Ondaatje met the master film and sound editor Walter Murch, and the two began a remarkable personal conversation about the making of films and books in our time that continued over two years. From those conversations stemmed this enlightened, affectionate book -- a mine of wonderful, surprising observations and information about editing, writing and literature, music and sound, the I-Ching, dreams, art and history.

The Conversations is filled with stories about how some of the most important movies of the last thirty years were made and about the people who brought them to the screen. It traces the artistic growth of Murch, as well as his friends and contemporaries -- including directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Fred Zinneman and Anthony Minghella -- from the creation of the independent, anti-Hollywood Zoetrope by a handful of brilliant, bearded young men to the recent triumph of Apocalypse Now Redux.

Among the films Murch has worked on are American Graffiti, The Conversation, the remake of A Touch of Evil, Julia, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather (all three), The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The English Patient.

"Walter Murch is a true oddity in Hollywood. A genuine intellectual and renaissance man who appears wise and private at the centre of various temporary storms to do with film making and his whole generation of filmmakers. He knows, probably, where a lot of the bodies are buried."
From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover:

As the subject of Michael Ondaatje’s offbeat, exhilarating new book, [Walter Murch] makes poetry out of an arcane, invisible craft.... Readers with even a passing interest in the movies should find many pleasures here.... The Conversations should be required reading for every aspiring writer -- and anyone else involved in learning to shape a work of art. -- Quill & Quire
From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Ondaatje, Michael
Editore: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2003)
ISBN 10: 0747564728 ISBN 13: 9780747564720
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