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Dictionary of Film Terms

The Aesthetic Companion to Film Art – Fifth Edition

Frank Beaver

Now in its fifth edition, Frank Beaver’s Dictionary of Film Terms has become an indispensable reference tool for the study of films and filmmaking. This trusted and practical handbook clearly and concisely defines the essential terms of film analysis and film art, with a special focus on the aesthetic parameters and values of filmmaking.
The updated and expanded edition includes new definitions ranging from «bullet-time» optical effects, to the coming-of-age narrative, and LED lighting technology in science fiction films such as Gravity. More than 200 film title references not cited in previous editions have been added. Many classic and contemporary photo stills are included to illustrate terms. Extensive cross-referencing among individual definitions ensures easy access to interrelated terms, and a comprehensive topical index relates to larger concepts of film art.
This up-to-date and comprehensive resource is a useful companion for film students and filmgoers, who will find it illuminating in its range and clarity.
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Jump-cut The cutting together of two non-continuous shots within a scene so that the action seems to jump ahead or back in time. A jump-cut is the opposite of a matched cut, where action appears continuous. The jump-cut has been used widely by contemporary filmmakers for varying effects. In Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1959), extensive time sequences were compressed into a few moments by selecting the peaks of a conversation or action and by discarding the boring parts. The effect of this jump-cutting is similar to that of comic-strip panels, where information is conveyed in a sequence of single-frame images rather than in fully played-out scenes. The radical, time-shattering jump-cut has been extensively used in films with modern, existential themes. The contemporary look and “feel” of the jump-cut serves as an appropriate device for expressing the scrambled lifestyles of modern screen characters. In Truffaut’s Small Change (1976), the jump-cut technique is effectively used in an eating scene at a hairdresser’s home. A young boy’s voracious appetite is suggested humorously by using jump-cuts as an ample meal is served and eaten.

A jump-cut may also be used to advance the action in a scene without regard for transitional devices. In Robert McKee’s A Day Off (1974), ← 152 | 153 → a short, award-winning dramatic film, two men go to a phone booth and call their bosses to “report in sick.” The first man makes his call with the other waiting outside the booth. After a line of dialogue by the...

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