Excerpt from "Walter Murch, Superstar"
I first heard Walter Murch's name 20 or so years ago, when I was about to enter film school with dreams of making my first feature, and a mutual friend urged me to enlist him to edit both sound and picture for me. That sounded like a bit of a stretch — in fact, I'd never heard of anyone doing both except on movies budgeted at 10 or 12 dollars — but months later, with the release of Francis Coppola's The Conversation, Murch was credited for sound (for which he received an Oscar nomination) and picture (with Richard Chew) and it was obvious he would become something unique to the film industry.
Books don't usually get published by or about editors, even if they are at the top of their game. But Murch is different. He is what most in the movie business are not — articulate, insightful, cool-headed, and accessible. His deep baritone voice, expounding freely on personal rules and theories, his gray hair and beard, the tall, slender figure, carve out an image of a university professor delivering a compelling lecture. While managing somehow to transcend the usual anonymity of anyone on a movie crew who isn't the director, he encourages the exchange of philosophy and perceptions — about virtually anything. A couple of years ago, English Patient author Michael Ondaatje was so fascinated by the man he wrote The Conversations: Walter Murch on the Art of Editing Film. Last month, Charles Koppelman's book Behind the (cq)Seen: How Walter Murch Edited 'Cold Mountain' Using Final Cut Pro and What This Means for Cinema hit the stands. Walter himself wrote In the Blink of an Eye, in which he offers a perspective on film editing including a chapter on "Why Do Cuts Work?" On the cover is a quote from Coppola that reveals much about Murch: "Nothing is as fascinating as spending hours listening to Walter's theories of life and cinema and his countless tidbits of wisdom, which he leaves behind him like Hansel and Gretel's trail of bread: guidance and nourishment."