The talented, innovative British editor Anne V. Coates had already been an established filmmaker and indispensable creative collaborator when David Lean handpicked her to handle 35 miles of footage that was to be molded into Lawrence of Arabia. While Coates was working in London at the time, and Lean was shooting for four months, day and night in Jordan, the brave young editor managed to influence Lean to consider the innovative techniques of the French New Wave films. Although she cut Lawrence of Arabia after its premiere in 1962, she was more than happy to give the film its rightful justice in 1989 during its magnificent restoration.
In 2016 Coates confessed, “I was a little nervous putting forth ideas. But David said, ‘If you got an idea, Annie, I want to hear it.’ He taught me to hold onto shots. In Lawrence, we do hold onto shots for quite a long time, and I’m not sure without David encouraging me I would have done that. And I think I helped him, because the French films were being cut in a rather different way at the time, the nouvelle vague. David had never seen that, and I suggested he go to the cinema and have a look, and of course he loved it—and then he did it better.”
This is also the formidable editor who worked on Chaplin in 1992 and the brilliantly, exasperatingly funny, What About Bob in ‘91. She also collaborated with the likes of David Lynch on the stunning The Elephant Man in 1980 and The Pickwick Papers in 1952. Quite a repertoire. Quite a range. Oscar nominated for five films, including her editing of Clint Eastwood’s In The Line Of Fire, author Bobbie O’Steen, who has written several books on film, added, “Anne Coates had groundbreaking success as a woman, but she didn’t see herself in terms of gender; she just assumed she could hold her own—and she did. She trusted her great instincts and gifts as an editor. But she was also simply lovely and charming—with a devilish wit. I feel so fortunate to have known her.”
Editor Joan Sobel, whose recent work includes Nocturnal Animals, said of Coates’ passing: “Very sad. A great editor. Nothing will top Lawrence of Arabia for sheer editorial brilliance. And Anne’s editing of Out of Sight is as original and fresh and stunning as when I first saw it.”
Stephen Rivkin, president of American Cinema Editors noted, “Anne was a wonderful woman and an enormously talented editor. Throughout her incredible career, her bold innovation and unique artistry on many great films inspired a generation of editors to follow. Anne’s groundbreaking technique and style will forever impact the future of cinema editing. We will miss her dearly.”
Underscoring how many who met Coates were star-struck in her presence, ACE executive director Jenni McCormick shared on Facebook a clip of her from the 2012 ACE Eddie Awards, during which host Patton Oswalt introduced her by admitting, “I have never been more nervous to meet a human being.” A lengthy standing ovation followed as Coates took the stage to present a Student Award.
Always generous with her time for mentoring rookies and as a dedicated, purposeful, enduring artist, Anne V. Coates will always remain a legend. The staff at Below the Line is grateful for her inventiveness, craftsmanship, and zeal, and we wish her Godspeed.