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Murch: “Frequently, accidental things that Anthony [Minghella] discovered during filming suddenly emerge as talismanic and essential, even though at the time of shooting, they are tangential and unplanned.  The English Patient, for example, begins with [a B-camera POV shot] and it ends with another B-camera point-of-view…  I think if at the time of shooting Anthony had tapped the camera operator on the shoulder and said, ‘You’re shooting the beginning of the film’… they might have gotten a little flustered thinking they have to make it more significant.  But all of this gets revealed in the high-pressure cauldron of the editing room. Godard has a great phrase for it: the transformation of chance into destiny.”

Minghella: “This process has been remarkable on Cold Mountain, because we seem to have reduced the material by 50 percent…”

Murch: “More.”

Minghella: “More than 50 percent, without actually touching the vertebrae in any shape or form.”

–Walter Murch, interview from Minghella on Minghella by Timothy Bricknell


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“…if there was one single lesson to be extracted from the process of cutting The English Patient, it was that I overshoot.  Walter [Murch] gave me a stopwatch after that film, which I could use to time the script of The Talented Mr. Ripley, and clearly I can’t use the stopwatch either, because that film was also wildly overshot.  More thrillingly, it was also the case with Cold Mountain, although the length of the screenplay has crept down from project to project.  It has taught me many things, not least that it’s hard to fight your own sensibility.  But I’ve also learnt that there’s some elaboration that I add to the screenplay when I’m shooting, despite not being conscious of doing anything other than collecting what I’d written down.  I often feel I’m shooting very starkly and I worry that there isn’t enough there.”

–Anthony Minghella, interview from Minghella on Minghella by Timothy Bricknell (emphasis mine)