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Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim is a master class in scene transitions

Scott Pilgrim: Make Your Transitions Count (Screenshot: YouTube)

The title character played by Michael Cera in the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a bewildered young man in a constant state of flux. Fittingly, director Edgar Wright pays extra attention to the transitions between the scenes in this movie, transporting his viewers from location to location and moment to moment in ways that are surprising, clever, witty, and even disorienting. Video essayist Evan “The Nerdwriter” Puschak took notice of this and pays tribute to Wright in a new YouTube video called “Scott Pilgrim: Make Your Transitions Count.” The unorthodox transitions used in Scott Pilgrim are not simply show-offy or self-consciously clever, Puschak argues. Instead, they serve the material and help viewers understand the title character’s mindset. The narration elaborates on this premise:

In the beginning of this movie, Scott Pilgrim is adrift. The breakup that defined his life for the last year is no longer an excuse for his sour attitude. He begins a relationship with a 17-year-old that’s clearly not serious to him, and he’s kind of just floating through life. It’s a feeling that I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with. I know I am. When everything sort of melts together and you skip around in time, from place to place. To communicate this feeling, Wright melts together the transitions between settings.

One way Wright does this, the essay points out, is through the use of frame wipes. The director will have a person or object move through the frame and transport viewers to the next scene. It’s so quick and seamless that viewers may not even notice it. Wright further masks such transitions with sound effects. Puschak emphasizes that the moving objects and sound effects are both diagetic, i.e., originating directly from the scene itself. Wright also uses simple reverse shots, the kind routinely used during conversations, to transport his characters from one locale to another. In this way, Puschak says, “Wright is using the rules of cinema against you.” Left largely undiscussed here is the fact that the film is based on a series of graphic novels and, thus, employs panel-like transitions between scenes as well.


[via Laughing Squid]

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