Sample Psychology Critical Thinking Paper on Film Editing

Film Editing


Film adaptation is a key approach that has been used to advance written narratives to visual narratives. There are five main film forms which play significant roles in film adaptation. These include plot, cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing, and sound. Among the five elements of film form, editing is the dominant form that influences major aspects of film adaptation. This paper sets out to provide a vivid investigation of aspects that significantly play a key role in film adaptation. In order to demonstrate the vital role that film editing play in film adaptation, there is need to evaluate how it is done in order to transform text’s dramatic elements into the visual language of the film.

Superiority of Film Editing in Film Adaptation

Film making is an art that involves five key elements. These elements must be incorporated and harmonised appropriately for a quality output. A plot, in film production acts as the foundation because it explains what the movie is all about.  Cinematography is another film form which also considered to be “writing in motion”. It entails how a shot can be framed, colored, lit as well as toned. A cinematographer as the director of photography can add and enhance the whole film through controlling the cameras. It is usually believed that how image motion can be used to explain the entire narrative. Third, mise-en-scene included the things that do appear in a frame. They are generally actors, props, and in most cases use of light, uniform sets, contrasting locations, costumes and even shadows. In general, parties who contribute toward the success of this part are a collection of talents on the film crew. They include the actors, set builders, production designers, photographers and make-up artists. Sound is also an influential aspect of a film that gives a powerful capture and attention of the audience. The sound is composed of three key components which involving dialogue, unique music and quality sound effects. Most viewers react and follow the film by the skilful and compatible music in scenes. Music is able to shape a viewer’s feelings and attitude towards the whole movie. The last and the most significant aspect in film adaptation is film editing.

According to the illustrations and in-depth understanding the different forms used in film production, it becomes hard to single out one film form over the rest. However, film editing stands out as the most vital aspect because to links different scenes in the narrative to create a continuous story. A movie that is well edited is more realistic, qualitative and enjoyable (Heslinga, 2014). In order to portray the essence of film editing in film adaptation there is need to ask question such as; what defines a film adaptation as a “faithful” and successful reinterpretation of the source text?

Film editing can be referred to as the key aspect in film adaptation since it entails formal and updated elements that are unique to the medium used (Heslinga, 2014). It is skilfully carried out by an editor whose work is to connect scenes from one to the other including the several shots captured in every stage and step. The common one is the cut technology whereby, in series of shots, one is used to lead a transition. Others include, fade out, dissolve and wipe, though they are rarely used. According to Hutcheon (2003) theory of adaptation, film editing is a collection of complex devices and techniques that are very important in bringing a film from scratch of narration to the factual piece of presentation that viewers can actually absorb and fine exciting. Hence, film editing is very special since it sums up the meaning of a film and finally brings it as a picture in the mind of viewers. The success of a film is based harmonisation and filtering of shots with relevant cuts leading to continuity. Cinematography is just a collection of photographs that need to be arranged in series and in sets within scenes. However, this relies solely on how they are to be edited (Leitch, 2009). The mise-en-scene and the sound are spices that bring all the work of an editor to look more appealing. All this elements may not seem captivating unless they are put in order and sequence, which is the role of the film editor.

The success of film adaptation can be measured through various aspects. One of the aspect that can be used to measure the success of film adaptation is the amount realized during the launching weekend at the box office. Another aspect that can be used to measure the success of film adaptation is whether it presents a suitable representation of the source text (Leitch, 2009). There are various approaches that can be used to determine the extent to which the novel text has been adapted. The most likely method is direct comparison of the presented narrative which, in any approach of translation, stands as a common denominator between the source text and its adaptation. A “faithful” and “successful” adaptation of novel text, however, becomes challenging to express as the original narrative, which includes the plot lines, dialogue and characters, is normally used to varying degrees in any adaptation. In some narrative such as; Dracula, Pygmalion and My Fair Lady different adaptations have been created, all with varying degrees of representation. Isherwood’s political commentary Goodbye to Berlin was amplified through various editing techniques to produce a series of ideal movies for the big-screen. Examples of adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” includes: Pygmalion (1938), Educating Rita (1983), Pretty Woman (1990), She’s All That (1999) and Selfie (2014).

 On other cases, adaptations are inspired by the novel text’s plot and characters but features few selected scenes from the main texts. For example, there are many movies created after Bram Sokers’s book Dracular, however, they all differ in one aspect or the other. In 1931 a version of the story directed by Tod Browning became the first adaptation of novel. Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula is more acentric with costumes and exaggerates vital scenes in the novel. Bram stokers book “Dracula” seized the public attention in 1897 with its elegance and horrific scenes. Louis Jourdan Dracula is considered by many as the most “faithful” but it strays from the main text in many aspects. Extracts from Bram stoker’s book Dracula, the film adaptation by Louis Jourdan, demonstrate how he effectively uses editing techniques to enlighten Bran stoker’s theme through an epic war between vampire and his opponents. However, the audience are able to understand the novel without even reading it. This is achieved through the significant aspect of film editing that connects different scenes from the novel to make a continuous narrative. In the adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Franco Zeffirelli’s in his 1968 film he makes use of continuity editing convention, while in the adaptation of the same play by Zeffirelli and Luhrmann in 1996 makes use of contemporary MTV conventions (Leitch, 2009). Both Zeffirelli and Luhrmann have effectively employed different editing conventions to strengthen their “interpretations” of Shakespeare’s play text, thereby giving an adaptation that their intended audience will find appealing. The film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet therefore reveal the significance of different editing techniques in presenting meaning within a specified reception setting. In the same play, the essence of manipulating the certain elements has been used to amplify and develop different characters.

Different forms of film editing have been developed to amplify the dramatic ember of the different historical narratives. By manipulating key aspects, film editing is able guide the audience to understand the film narrative, generate intellectual and emotional responses and also amplify different characters (Heslinga, 2014). In the audio-visual sign system of film production, editing and precisely montage can be considered as a paramount and distinctive expressing practice in the creation of meaning in a film as it permits the filmmaker prodigious control in controlling the audience’s interpretation and understanding of the narrative (Heslinga, 2014). Much of the command and effectiveness of these arrangements are derived from the filmmaker’s use of editing techniques. The art of repeating narratives and stories have long been considered as a way of preserving historical narratives and ensuring their continuity. This take different forms such as songs, paintings, poems, plays, and tableaux vivants. In the contemporary world the aspect of adaptation has expanded to include theme parks, radio, film, electronic media, television and virtual reality among many others.

The art of cut part is very important as it avails the contrasts of one shot to the next and this brings continuity in photographic terms. These skill contrasts the shots duration to each other and this brings a good shape on to the viewer’s perception on screen material (Heslinga, 2014). In an instant whereby the camera becomes still or slow for a period of time, usually it often creates a sombre and contemplative effect. Film editing is important as it entails rapid cuts that act as stimulants of energy and action. Cuts are also very appropriate and also vary in different adaptation of film work. For instance, in an action scene, dozens of cuts are in handy with occasional inconsequential jumbled images which usually evoke frenzy and hectic feeling.

Reading from Scalia (2012) notion of film adaptation, the filmmakers need to include other new inter textual references during process of creating an adaptation which helps in setting up audience expectation. This also acts as a guide of the adapted movie they are experiencing. An adapter purely relies on these references to expand their literature and make the film become more popular and a famous literature. That is the joy of film making since the objective is to bring something new and unique to them who will always be ready in criticising any upcoming movie or even film. The feedback from the audience helps the film crew to identify some of their strengths and weaknesses. Mainly, all the credit goes to the film editors who will always be in the forefront to protect and stand for their film or movie. It is important that the success of a film has to involve the whole elements put together. When analysing a literature source and how its film is adapted, there are series of constructive analysis definitely shows how a story can travel from one medium to the other. Going by Racz (2007) arguments about adaptation, he notes that comparative analysis that is well done and corresponds the scenes having in mind the source of the play text with the film adaptation is what proves as most helpful and instrumental in determining the film meaning translated broadly from audio-visual system.

Irrespective of other elements, I would advocate for quality and skilled editing when working on a film. This is because editing plays a fundamental part in creating a successful adaptation to update the source text using different mediums to highlight interpretation of the intended target. This is what the audience will automatically find appealing. However much the plot, photography and sound may seem captivating and dramatic, the potential meaning that comes from the film will only be realized and well received when it is manifested by skilful editing (Hatchuel 2004). Often, the plot narrative causes “fidelity criticism”, a fallacy that doesn’t consider whether the film has achieved its aim. However, adaptation relies on the filmmaker who chooses editing skills to be able to transfer the mother meaning of a text into a cinematic representation. Film editing causes a creative force behind the curtains that leads the audience in creating meaning from the movie beyond their perception (Schrader 2014). One of the most preferred editing styles is MTV editing conventions that display a broad engagement of the image graphics, spatial, rhythmic and temporary relationship with the shots with an aim of amplifying emotions or a crucial feeling.


It is evident that film editing is a very key element in film making. This is because it collects all the pieces of the film and consolidates them into one uniform piece and in a continuous prose. This brings about continuity and easy-to-follow films. For a literary work to reach a final work for viewing, it is recommended that quality editing is done that will ensure all the scenes are captured and incorporated. Adaptation of this literal literature needs updated skills and techniques in film editing. Aimed at serving the current generation needs, film producers need a well-equipped film firm that is able to match the needs in the markets. This also helps to cope with the trending advancements in technology where everything is controlled digitally. Undoubtedly, it is easy to note that film editing is significant when creating a quality cinematic representation.


Hatchuel, S. (2004). Shakespeare, from stage to screen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Heslinga, M. E. (2014). The significance of editing techniques in the adaptation of play texts into film.

Hutcheon, L. (2006). A theory of adaptation. New York: Routledge.

Leitch, T. (2009). Film adaptation and its discontents: from Gone with the Wind to The Passion of the Christ. JHU Press.

Schrader, P. (2014). Editing. Film Comment50(6), 48-53.