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Los Angeles, California

HomeAwardsContender-Walter Murch-Editor-Youth On Youth

Contender-Walter Murch-Editor-Youth On Youth

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The collaboration between editor and re-recording mixer Walter Murch and director Francis Ford Coppola began with 1969’s The Rain People. They worked together on all Coppola’s films through Apocalypse Now and then intermittently as their paths diverged and crossed again. Remaining close friends and neighbors in Northern California, they have reunited for the director’s adaptation of Youth Without Youth, based on the metaphysical novella by Romanian philosopher Mircea Eliade.
Taking on the work of an author whose theories are dense and inspirational but not light reading by any means was an ambitious choice. “When the film was done, we showed it in Romania. People were very excited by the film and said it captured some kind of essential aspect of Romanian sensibility,” says Murch. “At the same time, they admired Francis’ courage because no Romanian filmmakers have dared to tackle Eliade. It would take a filmmaker like Francis to pick up Youth Without Youth and say, ‘I’m going to make a movie out of this.’ It does not immediately say, ‘Make a movie out of me.’ But those are the creative challenges that I love.”
The nature of showing material with a metaphysical bent was a challenge. Double and inverted images, superimpositions, the theme of the clock and sound were used as devices to convey abstract concepts and emotions. Making the mixture of genres, subplots and styles hang together within the canvas of the movie was another challenge.
“I think it’s more superficially complex than it really is,” he says. “The bones of it are fairly simple, and I think that will stand it in good stead. It does have an aspect of ‘What’s going to happen now?’ A lot of balls are being tossed at the audience. Underneath, it’s sort of Faust meets Dorian Grey. You have to choose between love and knowledge.”
Murch also mixed the film. He has been jumping back and forth between those jobs for 30-plus years, so he “knows the signposts,” but there is a transition period of about a week when he changes from editing to mixing as he adjusts to his new role. As a freelancer, the change includes adapting technically to the use of different mixing boards dependent upon the facility being used for the final soundtrack dub.
Being editor helps with the mixing. Murch roughs in aspects of the sound treatment and placement of the music as it evolves. He believes the success of his almost 40-year collaboration with Coppola, who loves the process and discovery of filmmaking, is due to a symbiotic dovetailing of different but complementary creative personalities.
“We both like to think out of the box,” says Murch. “He is very receptive to ideas that I come up with that are a little off the beam, but that might help the film, and vice versa. His ideas are also different than the ordinary. He is very much somebody who delegates responsibility to the various department heads. He controls everything, but with a light hand. He has a great phrase, ‘The director is the ringmaster of a circus that is inventing itself.’ That’s very much his approach to the process of filmmaking.”
– Mary Ann Skweres

2005 Win
Hollywood Film Festival, Hollywood Film Award, Editor of the Year

2005 Nomination
Satellite Award, Outstanding Film Editing, Jarhead

2004 Nominations
Oscar, Best Achievement in Editing, Cold Mountain
ACE Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic, Cold Mountain
BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, Cold Mountain
BAFTA Film Award, Best Sound Track, Cold Mountain

2000 Nominations
ACE Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Golden Satellite Award, Best Film Editing, The Talented Mr. Ripley

1998 Win
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, Maverick Tribute Award

1997 Wins
Oscar, Best Achievement in Editing, The English Patient
Oscar, Best Sound, The English Patient
ACE Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic, The English Patient
BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, The English Patient
CAS. Award, Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Feature Film, The English Patient

1997 Nominations
BAFTA Film Award, Best Sound Track, The English Patient
Golden Satellite Award, Outstanding Film Editing, The English Patient

1991 Nominations
Oscar, Best Achievement in Editing, Ghost
Oscar, Best Achievement in Editing, The Godfather: Part III
ACE Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic, Ghost

1980 Win
Oscar, Best Sound, Apocalypse Now

1980 Nominations
Oscar, Best Achievement in Editing, Apocalypse Now
ACE Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic, Apocalypse Now
BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, Apocalypse Now
BAFTA Film Award, Best Sound Track, Apocalypse Now

1979 Nomination
BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, Julia
1978 Nomination Oscar, Best Achievement in Editing, Julia

1975 Wins
BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, The Conversation
BAFTA Film Award, Best Sound Track, The Conversation

1975 Nomination
Oscar, Best Sound, The Conversation

Written by Mary Ann Skweres

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