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Breakfast Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 12:24 GMT
Michael Ondaatje on the art of film editing
Michael Ondaatje talks to Dermot Murnaghan on BBC Breakfast
He's known best for his literary work, but, Michael Ondaatje's latest book tackles the art of film editing.

Conversations - a collaboration with the American film editor Walter Murch - grew from Michael's experiences working on the cinema adaptation of his acclaimed novel, The English Patient.

And this morning, Michael Ondaatje came in to the Breakfast studio to explain why he's so fascinated by film.

"As a writer, I am fascinated by any kind of craft," he explained to Dermot and Sian.

"Editing is the closest thing to writing. You have your own time - and you can write and re-write.

"The trouble is that the editor is invisible, but he influences everything about the film. The pace and structure can be completely changed by editing."

Michael learned from Walter Murch how he'd transformed one key scene in The Godfather, by adding some sound:

"There's a scene in The Godfather where Michael kills two people. It was completely silent - but Walter took the sound of an elevated train from outside and added it on.

"You don't see the train - but the sound gets louder and louder. It represents Michael's state of mind."


  • The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film is published by Bloomsbury and costs 25. ISBN: 0676974740
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