How to Read a Movie

Reading: Angles and Cuts

The first video I watched was the video on the match cut. When I researched this further I realized it was also known as a “match on action.” A match on action is an editing strategy in which a singular action is seen from multiple different points of view or angles. This match cut type of editing is used to pull the audience into an action scene or to at least make it more interesting by cut the shots together in an interesting way. For example, if a scene of say a car chase is shot entirely from the point of view of one character it is likely to not be nearly as exciting as it could be. If that same car chase scene uses a match on action construction, which would allow the viewer to see it from the vantage point of the character running away, the character chasing, bystanders, or even an aerial shot, it will likely be much more exciting and interesting. If these match cuts are not edited together perfectly however, it may take away from the overall scene. Take this car chase scene from The Matrix Reloaded, it is basically one big match on action.

In this scene the main focus is on the car containing Morpheus, Trinity and the key maker. However, we see the car from just about every angle imaginable. There are many other characters interacting with the main car. Through match on actions we can see the car’s actions from the point of view of every character. This makes the scene much more interesting and exciting. If we only could see the car chase scene from any one character we would lose a lot of interesting shots and would not be able to clearly see exactly what is happening with the other characters.

A similar but different film technique, described in the second movie on camera angels, can be used to enhance a match cut is the camera placement itself. The placement of the camera decides the viewpoint. Different viewpoints can display different moods. If a single character is showing emotion for example, often times the camera is close up on the face, while if there is a group shot it has to be zoomed out. The camera angle and size of the shot is everything in the mind of a director. With close attention to the way a shot is sized and structured as well as editing them together to display a match on action is critical for developing an effective scene. Alfred Hitchcock was a director who, among many things, was famous for his work with camera angles. This scene from Psycho makes use of many different types of camera angles coupled with match cuts.