David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson

It’s important to realize what The Classical Hollywood Cinema isnot and never tried to be. Perhaps the most common strain of criticism was thatit didn’t take into account other things.

in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

Some basic questionsHere is the opening of our book proposal.

And we did it all on note cards and typewriters.

Ideally, yes: HadI recognized the kind of form that I analyzed in the later book, we should haveat least briefly discussed the four-part structure somewhere in CHC. Butthat was a concept that wasn’t a major partof Hollywood’s own conception of the stylistic and formal guidelines thatwe call “classical.” Practitioners did not describe their storiesin such terms. For techniques like three-point lighting and consistent screendirection, we could point to examples, make generalizations from numerous cases,and quote from contemporary sources. That would not have been true for the four-partstructure.

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Where’s the four-part structure?
On the whole, though, I have found that twenty-five years of viewing hundredsof additional American silent films has largely confirmed the account of thehistorical development of the continuity editing system as originally presentedin 1985.

Why didn’t we discuss reception? We anticipatedthis query and in our preface we wrote:

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky - Brandeis University

The classicalcinema’s dependence upon POV shots, eyeline matches,and SRS [shot/reverse shot] patterns reflectsits general orientation toward character psychology. As Part One stressed, mostclassical narration arises from within the story itself, often by binding ourknowledge to shifts in the characters’ attention: we notice or concentrateon elements to which the characters’ glances direct us. In the constructionof contiguous spaces, POV, the eyeline match, and SRS donot work as isolated devices; rather, they operate together within the largersystems of logic, time, and space, guaranteeing that psychological motivationwill govern even the mechanics of joining one shot to another. As a result, thesystem of logic remains dominant. (CHC, 210)

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Reading over Sargent’s example, I realizedthat there is another important facet to the flow of action across shots whichI did not discuss sufficiently in CHC. The closer views also link ourattention to that of the characters. Because characters are the main forces drivingthe story causality, we are concerned to see what they see and understand howthey react to it. I did devote one paragraph to this notion, in the conclusionof the section on the development of analytical editing:

:BothJanet and Kristin went on to publish later books with Princeton under Joanna’seditorship.

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In illustrating how aspiring screenwriters might understandthe cut-back, Sargent came up with a hypothetical scene, one that he realizedwas clichéd andrather silly, but that does make his point.

:Nicholas Vardac, Stageto Screen (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1949).

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The simple sequence illustrates the “cut-back” throughan editing pattern that cuts back to the top of the cliff, then back to the bottom,and so on.

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All true, and yet I now think I should have spent moretime considering this notion of attention, rather than focusing so thoroughlyupon the devices for achieving continuity and hence clarity.