With that in mind, the connective tissue between scenes is often
dismissed, ignored, or forgotten in the mix. Many times, filmmakers
want transitions (wipes, cuts, dissolves, etc.) to be transparent so as
to aid in the storytelling. Sometimes… they choose a method that
leaves a mark on our psyche. What follows is a handful of our favorite,
whether they be inventive, hilarious, dumb, or just plain unbelievable.
Behold, CHUD.com’s favorite transitions!
Lawrence of Arabia (buy it from us!) is one of those inarguable classics, a movie that only cretins dislike. There are many things that set this film apart from ordinary movies: the stunning central performance by Peter O’Toole (his delivery of ‘No prisoners!’ still gives me chills, even after seeing the film dozens of times), the glorious Maurice Jarre soundtrack and the scope and scale of the story. But at the heart of everything is the directorial genius of David Lean and Freddie Young’s cinematography.
One of the moments that best captures all of these elements is the infamous match cut, which is a match cut in both technical terms and in literal terms. Told that he’ll be going into the deserts of Arabia, Lawrence says that it all sounds like fun. He lights a match and blows it out; as his breath (the only sound on the soundtrack) hits the flame, the scene cuts to the expanse of the Arabian desert with the sun slowly rising over the horizon. After a few quiet moments, Maurice Jarre’s music builds with the sun, and then comes in full blast as we see a tiny figure making its way across the dunes. If this doesn’t get you excited, doesn’t move you, you might not be a real movie fan.
There are so many exciting things about this match cut. It’s gorgeous and exciting visually, cutting from a tight shot to one so wide you almost believe you can see the curvature of the Earth. Lawrence had earlier been putting out matches with his fingers, saying that the trick was to not mind that it hurts, but now, at this pivotal moment in his life, he blows one out. And the cut epitomizes the way that editing can tell a story, bridge locations, and bring out emotion all at once.
This isn’t the only famous match cut in cinema – Kubrick’s bone to spaceship in 2001: A Space Odyssey is probably better known – but for my money it’s the best. Our gif below gives you a hint at the majesty of the transition and the scene that follows; click here to watch the scene in full and luxuriate in Jarre’s score.