Alan Summers, Japan Times Award (2002), President, United Haiku and Tanka Society, and co-founder of Call of the Page, providing literature, education & literacy projects, often based around Japanese genres.
For events & workshops contact us through our Call of the Page website: Call of the Page.
Online internet courses by Call of the Page
Are you interested in a Call of the Page course? We run courses on haiku;tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.
Please email Karen or Alan at our joint email address: email@example.com
We will let you know more about these courses.
Haiku, not to be confused by the wonderful pre-Shiki era of haikai verses called hokku, will often rely on matching two images together to make a bigger, and perhaps even different, image.
In haiku it is up to the poet how they decide to ‘match’ the images. The images could be very close in subject matter and topic, or at a further distance, or be much stronger opposites that might not logically be considered ideal at first.
Now, not all haiku can obtain the dizzying heights of this most famous of all movie juxtapositions, but if we could just edge closer, to something within the first 35 seconds of this extraordinary ‘match cut’ that in itself would achieve the spark of two images together.
But watch for longer as the “cut’ or ‘match cut’ has only just started, and we get nearer to the essence of a haiku: The mixing of different scenes, and distances, that create more and more imagery out of two initially simple images. And it all pivots on the cut, which is not always visible but can create a movie or the essence and core of one.
Yes, the movie clip does start with an actual match, but a match cut is a movie-making technique made by the editor. There is no greater film editor than Anne V. Coates.
In the case of the movie, the juxtaposition appears to be between an actual match, and some sand. See how that unfolds!
Just as we cannot always guarantee or control how a haiku will unfold successfully, sometimes magic will appear nonetheless. I think having the discipline to read and watch our chosen craft over many hours will enable us to make those magnificent mistakes, those accidents of creation:
“The greatest match cut in the history of film was an accident. It happens early in David Lean‘s masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia. T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) holds a burning match inches away from his face. His stare lingers on the flame as the match burns down, blackening as the fire gutters out. Before that flame can be fully extinguished, Lawrence blows it out.”
And then we’re in the desert.
The sun is a sliver of fire on the horizon, expanding, growing, glowing. The heat practically radiates off the screen. The landscape is as black as the burnt head of that match. And then the soundtrack comes up.
And it almost didn’t happen.
What is it about this match cut that resonates so damn much? Even if you don’t like Lawrence of Arabia, there’s something about that one specific cut that lingers. It has the power to chill; the power to knock you flat on your back then sit right up and ask, “What was that?” It’s a shift through time; through space. It transports us from where we thought we were to somewhere we’ve never been. It’s magic.
Movie editing is a tricky thing. Some will tell you the very best editing is editing you don’t notice at all. And that’s probably true. But you notice the match cut in Lawrence. How can you not? It burns as bright as that orange ball of fire creeping up above the blackened horizon. It’s in your face, right before your eyes, impossible to ignore.”
Anne V. Coates, Legendary Editor of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and Many More, Has Died at 92 Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 by Chris Evangelista
"In film, a match cut is a cut from one shot to another where the two shots are matched by the action or subject and subject matter. For example, in a duel a shot can go from a long shot on both contestants via a cut to a medium closeup shot of one of the duellists."