Editing is probably the most powerful component, when it comes to establishing a particular interpretation on a film. Giving the filmmaker the ability to influence their impression on the scene. This is by picking specific parts and details, which evoke a certain set of emotions and feelings from the viewer.
While raw footage and the performance of the talent play a huge role in how a scene is observed, through editing, the filmmaker can dictate which characters he/she wants the audience to feel the most attached to. By giving selected characters longer or shorter screen time. This will effect how important each character is. Therefore, a character with longer screen time will be perceived as someone with great importance and someone the viewer will feel compelled to follow.
Another major editing technique often used to impact films is the cuts. You may be thinking all films have to use cuts, and it’s a no brainer. So how can cuts be used to imprint a certain look and feel? Well it’s in the pace of the cuts.
For instance, if the filmmaker wanted to show off an assassin’s skill and ability in a killing, the pace of the cuts can appear to be slow and focused in the build up, to provide viewers with the sense that the character is calm and not worried about his opponent. As well as creating tension, the audience will sense the pace of the film is abnormally slow, suggesting that something big is about to happen. Then as the character approaches his opponent the cuts can speed up cutting to every hand movement, body turn and every punch to show just how easily and quickly he/she killed their opponent. Instead of watching the fight scene from one or two shot perspectives, the viewer, through the change of cuts are forced to follow the characters crafty moves, as the cut sequence will be set up to showcase each and every infliction. This is also effective in reducing the fight scene length, which can be used to boast just how superior the skills of a specific character are.
To compliment this, music can also be used to speed up or slow down the suspense in a scene. Probably the most famous example of this is in the film Jaws. In Jaws they use a soundtrack that is very fast pace and uniquely sounding. So as the scene approached what seemed to be some peaceful blue water, the throbbing music generates fear and tension into the scene, making the prospect of the coming events immediately significant to the viewers.
Besides this, the filmmaker can choose to remove sound from a specific scene. Forcing the viewer to place all their attention towards the visual movements in the scene. This is really powerful in emotional scenes; an example may be at a funeral or a scene whereby someone important has died. The use of no sound can amplify how the characters are feeling, as the silence takes over and shows the audience how the characters are feeling, through the visual clues of their wounded body language for example.
I have talked about a few editing components that contribute to the audiences observation of a scene. But there are many more and depending on the objective in mind they are all very useful in bringing out a particular look.