FilmBytes: Menke & Tarantino: A classic movie marriage

I was so sad this morning to hear about the death of Oscar nominated film editor Sally Menke (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds). She’s best known for editing all of Quentin Tarantino movies. She was right there at the beginning of his career, helping choose the best takes for that amazing “Like a Virgin” riff at the start of Reservoir Dogs. She made sure Uma & Travolta looked impossibly cool on the dance floor in Pulp Fiction. She cut those incredible sword fights in Kill Bill as skillfully as The Bride wielded her Hattori Hanzo.

The famous “Auteur Theory” suggests that a movie director is the sole author of a film. The theory is fallible. With writer/directors like Tarantino it makes a lot of sense but movies are deeply collaborative. Hundreds of people affect every scene we’re watching, for better and worse. Quick what’s your favorite scene from a Tarantino movie? Why do you love it? Even if it’s just a killer line delivered by a great actor, like Christoph Waltz “That’s a bingo!” in Inglourious Basterds, so many things beyond the director/actor affect why we love the moment: what the actors are wearing (the costume designer), how the scene is lit (the cinematographer), the underscore (the composer), which take is used and the pacing of the cuts surrounding the moment (the editor).

Movies have so many makers. So here’s to one of the greatest movie makers of all, Sally Menke (RIP). Quentin has long promised a Kill Bill Vol. 3. It won’t be the same without her. Tarantino respected her so much she was his most trusted collaborator and he’d even have the actors say hi to her on film to surprise her and keep her entertained while she edited, just watch the video below.

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