Cut it like a comic panel – G. Rishkus

In this post I would like to show you some cutting ideas movies borrow from comic books.

For starters, there is The Matrix. It is widely regarded as the most revolutionary movie in mainstream action cinema of the last twenty years.  And it owes a great deal to the Japanese anime and manga which inspired it. Take a look at this video comparison of visuals and cutting techniques:

This “freeze frame”, about which the critic in the video is speaking is a typical comic book technique, where, instead of placing a close-up shot in a small frame in a panel, it is placed in a big frame, thus slowing down the viewer’s pace.

Next up is the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie. This video essay is truly amazing, and is a good example of proper scientists dealing with pop culture. It introduces the concept of stylistic re-mediation as opposed to adaptation. The director, Edgar Wright, was primarily concerned with bringing the style of the comic book into the film, not the narrative. He went as far as to shoot an original ending, although, sadly, it was not used.

But both of the examples above are Hollywood-centrc. In the video essay I mentioned above, Drew Morton says that stylisctic re-mediation between film and comic books only really took off in the eighties with Batman and Dick Tracy movies. But if you look beyond Hollywood, there is much, much more to see. So, here is a true little-known gem all the way from the sixties. “Deadly Sweet”, a low-budget thriller shot in Swinging London by none other than Tinto Brass. He hired a celebrated comic book artist, Guido Crepax to draw the storyboards for shooting, and the resulting frames are marvellously bizzare, bordering on absolutely insane. For instance, check out this triple frame composition:

And, if you continue watching the trailer, you’ll be able to spot quite a few pop-art references. And also aggressive appropriation of Antonioni’s “Blow-up”. And the narrative is going bonkers, because Brass didn’t care much about the pulp fiction book he was hired to adapt. Instead, he decided to take the pulp style and run with it. Please do watch the full movie, you will not be disappointed.

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