Rise of the Choppy Fight Scene: Video Slideshow

“You actually want an element of disorientation—that’s what makes it exciting,” Murch says of his approach to splicing together a fight. “So you put the focus of interest somewhere else, jarringly, and you cut at unexpected moments. You make a tossed salad of it, you abuse the audience’s attention.”
Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, and the rise of the choppy fight scene. – By Dennis Lim – Slate Magazine

Thanks to Bonzuko for bringing this to my attention.

In this great assemblage of film fights, we see the changes in fight scene choreography and shooting style over time. I had a great time seeing these classics again, and appreciating them afresh for the commentary in the sidebar. Novices and old-hands at fight direction will enjoy this examination of pivotal scenes.

Like evolution, it may look like a progression toward something better and more perfect. In reality, it is like real evolution: an expression of the best fit to the environment… in this case it’s the cultural environment that the film fits itself to. Style is not something linked to a particular year or a particular country, even though critics would have you think it is when they talk about “German Post-War Cinema”. The directors who make work of value use style to enhance their story and express their film’s goals. So the style changes are not a ladder or even a meandering road, but a choice made for each movie as it is planned, shot and edited – subject to the knowledge and technology of the time, of course.

Many of the examples given are iconic movies that are not typical of their era anyway, and in most cases are completely unique examples of the art. In that way, it is even more difficult to see general trends in movie-making and cinematography and generalize an “evolution”. On the other hand, why watch all the mediocre fight scenes of every year just to see what all the sheep are doing?

I’d rather watch great fight scenes like the ones in this list (some clips have been removed, so you’ll have to look them elsewhere).

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