Scene Editing

In class we discussed the importance and most importantly, the power of editing has over creating suspense, joy, anger, sadness, or any other inducible feeling within the viewer. We talked about how scene cuts become more frequent and the lenghts becomes shorter as an even is going to happen (mostly seen in action/dramas). In this scene of The Matrix the editing provides a slow motion effect that details the characters movement and really lets the viewer observe the mise-en-scéne.


There is a lot going on in this scene. From the dramatic usage of weapons, to the movement of the two agents, even the destruction of the columns and wall all come together through the use of editing strategies such as condensed and expanded scene durations. A greatly used strategy is elliptical editing. This is seen throughout the movie but especially in this scene due to the fact that it is a small area with tons of actors and action going on. The agents are constantly being shot at while shooting back at multiple officers trying to kill them. However, the fancy acrobatic moves along with great gun-play is emphasized through this use of slow motion. Each cut is made to further attract the viewer by switching from agent’s face, agent shooting gun, officer getting shot, and back to another officer shooting at one of the agents. I believe the meaning of singling every individual out creates suspense for the viewer because you are left wondering where the other shooters are or will be when they come back into the viewing frame.

Whats unique about this scene is that most movies have an establishing shot in the  beginning of a scene to establish where the actors will be for some time. Here, the establishing scene is shown at the end of the fire-fight to show not only where  all this action has just occurred but also the damage it has cost. The columns are destroyed, bodies and all over the floor, and towards the end of the shot a piece of marble falls of the wall to fully give the effect of destruction. I believe this was a great strategy because during the gun fight you’re not thinking about where the shooting is taking place but if the agents will get shot. this suspense is created an left hanging in the air by the constant edits between slow and real-time movement. Then it is settled when the whole lobby is shown.

The Wachowski brothers really set the stage for this scene by introducing Neo going through a metal detector with about 5 cops casually reading the news paper and drinking coffee with no idea of whats about to occur. The scene builds up in action as the angles build up suspense. From the shot showing Neo fully covered in guns, to the marching feet of the swat team all ensue that something huge is about to take place. Then the suspense is dramatically dropped as the two agents enter the elevator as nothing has happen and give each other a casual look liek saying, “good job out there.”


One thought on “Scene Editing

  1. That is a very interesting comparison using the Matrix as an example. The setting usually does become irrelevant and the slow mo centers in around the main characters and the only thought in the viewers mind is whether the characters will survive or not. The setting becomes taken for granted and you just assume they are in the same place until the camera zooms out and you realize the climax has ended. This seems like a common occurrence in Westerns. The setting becomes irrelevant and you realize that the only priority is whether the main character survives or not.

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