Children of Men: A complex story told through simple editing

In the recent exams some of you were a bit wobbly on film techniques and why they were used in Children of Men. This article Children of Men: A complex story told through simple editing may be helpful. Here’s a little:

Alfonso Cuaron’s film Children of Men utilizes an unusual editing style to immerse the viewer in the world of the film and create a sense of reality that would ordinarily not exist in a traditional Hollywood movie. Long takes, and more specifically the absence of cuts, are used to achieve a documentary-like feel; action scenes which traditionally would have many fast paced shots and close ups are shown entirely through a single master shot. The use of a single shot advances the world of the film by maintaining an open frame throughout the movie. Where cuts are used they are carefully placed to create meaning between images that might not exist if the same scene were shown only through a master shot. All of the cinematic and editing choices in Children of Men come together to create a film about a world not too far off from our own in such a way that the viewer can connect with the world in a believable way.

The most noticeable editing style throughout Children of Men is the lack of cuts as the camera follows Theo throughout the world of the film. This documentary-like style gives the feeling that the world being shown is a world that actually exists on its own. In the opening scene Theo walks out of a coffee shop which is blown up only moments later. With traditional Hollywood style editing the film would cut to various wide shots to establish the location outside of the coffee shop, but with this single-shot style the camera pans around to show us different details of the world without forcing our attention on to specific shots with a cut. By eliminating cuts, the viewer is given a sense that the events taking place on screen are completely unscripted and the camera just happens to be there as they are happening.

Read the rest here.


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