When Jean-Luc Godard popularized the jump cut in 1959 when he made his breakthrough movie Breathless, it has since become a useful and intriguing editing tool. For those of you who don’t know what a jump cut is: (per Wikipedia): “A jump cut is a cut in film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly. This type of edit causes the subject of the shots to appear to “jump” position in a discontinuous way.”
Here are five memorable jump cuts from movies:
The obvious one; the one that made jump cuts famous. It wasn’t Godard’s intention to include so many jump cuts; it was something that occured to him in the process of editing the film. It enhances the jumpy feel of the movie, a couple-on-the-run thriller and its ingenious defiance of the 30-degree rule is admirable.
2001: A Space Odyssey
This film features quite possibly the best jump cut in any movie. If you know about jump cuts, you’ll know of this one. A crazed ape throws a bone in the air. It goes high, and then as it is coming down again Kubrick makes a leap forward of about a million years where the bone seems to turn into a spaceship. An unforgettable moment in an even more unforgettable movie.
Guy Ritchie employs a shitload of jump cuts to make his point in this hilarious British heist movie. As if the dialogue wasn’t difficult enough to understand, he makes it a visual mess too, but in some strange way it works, and feels appropriate, and that’s what counts.
Run Lola Run
Tom Tykwer, in an attempt to enhance the velocity of his main character, employed dozens of jump cuts to make an 80 minute movie just fly by. He also employs several other visual techniques, including animation, but the jump cuts are nonetheless noticeably startling.
The Battleship Potemkin
Sergei Eisenstein’s incredibly influential classic, as well as popularising the “montage,” also used a fair few jump cuts, which thanks to Georges Melies, were common enough at the time for silent movies, and makes the film look like even more of a mad experiment of beautiful art, especially in a sequence of shots in which a lion statue seems to come to life.
Those are five of my favourite jump cuts. Can you think of any more? Leave a comment below.