Bohemian Rhapsody's Terrible Editing - A Breakdown

  • Published on: 2019-03-14
  • Bohemian Rhapsody won the Oscar for Best editing at the 2019 Academy Awards this is interesting because the movie contains several scenes that are master classes and poor editing right now that everybody's got an acceptable name let's get to it look we just really need something special more hits like Killer Queen let's examine one of the worst offenders in the film and breakdown why exactly the editing of the scene is so bad the cuts in this scene are particularly jarring they stand out to an attentive audience member for three reasons first many of the cuts are unmotivated second many ignore spatial continuity and third the pace is simply too fast let's deal with the easiest of these problems first if a cut is unmotivated another reason you might choose to cut is to create or maintain the pace of a scene or to build tension you can see this kind of effect during this scene from The Godfather where editor Walter Murch in a moment of silence chooses to cut back and forth between these two characters it's almost like the audience is anxiously looking back and forth between them waiting to see who will speak using pacing to create tension or emotion however can't just be forced upon a scene through the Edit you have to work with and complement the performances and cinematography and in fact the faster the pace the more attention must be paid to things like spatial continuity errors will simply lead to more difficulty following the action the pace of this scene is incredible in this 104 second scene there are an astounding 60 cuts for an average shot length of 1.8 seconds to put this into perspective this 136 second fight scene from Transformers the last night only has 49 cuts and an average shot length of 2.8 seconds that's an action sequence from one of the most notoriously hyperactive directors out there compare that to the scene of some guys sitting around a table that's over 30% faster absolutely nothing about this scene justifies or requires this kind of ridiculous pace the rest of the film is fast paced and the pace fits a little bit better for the musical and concert sequences I can see how they were possibly trying to keep the energy level high for the dialogue scenes as well but it just doesn't work the pacing is the most obvious issue but it's far from the only one let's examine some of these cuts in detail and the other two things that make the edits so jarring the primary thing that motivates most cuts is the revelation of new information most important is emotional information a large majority of the cuts in a dialogue driven scene are so we can see a character's face as they deliver a line or are reacting to somebody else's line new information can also be geographic to establish the character's relationship to each other spatially or to let the audience see an action that's taking place of course a shot can contain multiple pieces of new information but it's rarely a good idea to make a cut when that shot reveals no new information at all let's examine what motivates some of the cuts in this scene they know is fancy-dress right I've got to make an impression darling you look like an angry lizard the scene starts off decently we get a nice shot that starts with Freddie Mercury coming through the doors and pans into a wide the second shot gives us a better view of Freddie approaching the table and the third allows us to see the delivery of the first line by Brian May I know his fancy dress right then we cut back to the shot of Freddie to see him showing off the outfit and then to a close-up of his emotional reaction to Brian's line we probably could have stayed on the line here but jumping into the close-up isn't a huge issue then we cut to Roger Taylor's reaction to Brian second line and then back to Brian's reaction to Rogers laugh we cut back to Freddy to see his laugh and the action of him sitting down as well as John Reed entering in the background so far okay this is an oscar-worthy editing but the cuts reveal new information and makes sense it's a little bit too fast but it's establishing the nervous energy of the band as they wait for the meeting to begin but this is where the scene begins to run into some major trouble let's watch very successful way so here we cut to Brian's line but then we cut back very quickly to see the rest of Freddy sitting down and then quickly back to Brian again we already know Brian is making these wisecracks so seeing him deliver the line isn't super important we already know Freddy is sitting down so returning to the shot of him sitting down is repetitive information and his reaction is still the same as before either of these shots would likely be fine to hold on but the quick back-and-forth creates the first sense of whiplash that will only worsen as this scene progresses on the shot of Brian we see John Reed pass by John grabbing the chair interrupts the band's casual chat following that shot we have two reaction shots back-to-back one from Brian and one from Freddy where they're both looking up towards where John Reed's face would be however since two shots have passed since we last saw John standing in that position the eyeline of these reactions is a little bit awkward also both of these reactions would be happening simultaneously it looks like the editor tries to make it feel more simultaneous by cutting quickly but it doesn't sell now we get a shot of Reed that establishes the correct eyeline height but his eyeline looks like it is directed at John Deacon and Roger Taylor but instead of cutting to them we cut back to Brian for a second reaction shot we can even fix this fairly easily just by swapping these two shots still not great but it's a little bit better after John Reid sits down the eyeline is again completely ignored while we've just cut from John and Roger it now looks like he's looking at Freddie then Reid shifts his eye line over to where John and Roger are sitting and we cut to Freddie this section flows much better if we just remove some of the complexity here's the original edit so this is great and here's my simplified cut so this is Quaid again it's not perfect but if I can smooth things out just by shifting the existing shots around there's no reason an editor with access to all the footage couldn't have cut a better scene let's look at the next section so this is Queen and you must be Freddie Mercury you've got a gift you all have so tell me what makes Queen any different from all of the other wanna be rock stars I meet after this line so this is Quaid we immediately run into another problem Reed says so this is Quaid and we cut to a shot of exactly 3/4 of Queen it would make way more sense to show all four of them here there's not anything that these three are doing that explains specifically cutting to just the three of them we cut quickly back to Reed but he's completely shifted in his seat the character making this kind of movement off camera is usually fine but less than a second passes between these cuts so it almost appears as a jump cut also this spatial orientation of where he's pointing is confusing coming off of this poorly chosen wide shot it would make a ton of sense to break up the pacing here with a longer shot of Freddie but instead of holding on Freddie for a longer reaction we cut back to a completely strange new angle of Reed this new angle gives us nothing by the way of new emotion or spatial information and it just continues to add complexity to a scene that's already going by too quickly then we go back to this awkward wide that includes only three of the band members presumably because there's no wide of all four band members to show all their reactions the editor has to patch together an awkward combination of this wide and this close-up which just doesn't gel at all the lack of a good wide including all four members of the band I think is a core difficulty with this scene and it might be a clue that part of the blame here falls on the director or cinematographer for not getting proper coverage or just blocking and composing the scene poorly we continue to get reaction shots that are unnecessary we've already seen this expression on these band members faces in shots 22 and 24 we don't need to see it again and this would have been a great chance to slow things down I could continue to work through each cut in this scene but many of the cuts have these same repeated issues one key offender sticks out here we cut to a wide shot where Paul magically appears beside John Reed not to mention this jump to a super wide shot is completely unmotivated and doesn't make any sense it's usually difficult to judge who's at fault when it comes to editing if an editor is given a scene that's poorly blocked and composed it's difficult to fix that in the Edit however it seems unlikely that cutting this scene in this way and choosing this pace was the best option the editor had with the scene this is easily the worst edited scene in the film but many of the dialogue scenes have the same issues this scene has there are plenty of scenes with perfectly functional editing although I'd be hard-pressed to find examples of the kind of editing you'd hope would earn an Academy Award there's also examples of awkward transitions or montages that cover periods of touring but do a poor job of conveying the necessary feeling so why did this film win an Academy Award for Best editing just like I mentioned editing is hard to judge good editing should rarely be noticeable good editing tells the story effective and when a movie is edited well you usually walk away from it thinking that was a great film not that editing was good so counter-intuitively the Oscar sometimes ends up going to films with the most noticeable editing which generally is not the film with the best editing there was a lot of turmoil during the production of this film so I can understand how this film maybe ended up how it did it's easier to pick apart bad editing than it is to edit a scene that's not shot well but an Academy Award for Best editing for this film is completely undeserved an editing like this ultimately is disrespectful to the audience it assumes your attention span is so short that your attention has to be held with quick flashy cuts sometimes an editor just needs to step back slow down and trust that an audience member who's chosen to come see your film is interested and invested in the story thanks to audible for sponsoring this video sign up for a 30-day free trial today and get a free audiobook when you go to slash Thomas flight or text thomas flight to 500 500 you'll get an audiobook and two audible originals each month so I have some suggestions for you if you're interested in learning more about Queen and Freddie Mercury and don't want to subject yourself to hyperactive editing you can check out mercury and me by Jim Hutton one of my favorite books about business is anything you want by Derek Siver's I've listened to it again every couple of years since I first listened to it in 2011 I used the audio book as a way to help keep my priorities and focus on track give audible a try today and maybe you'll find that audiobooks that you keep revisiting for the rest of your life just go to slash Thomas Flight click on the link in the description or text thomas flight to 500 500 to try audible free for 30 days thanks so much for watching if you enjoyed this video and want to see more of this type of content hit that subscribe button and go to this flight where you can learn more about how you can support my channel and get extra cool stuff while you do special thank-you to my patrons
  • Runtime: 13:11
  • Bohemian Rhapsody, Editing, Video Essay, Bohemian Rhapsody editing, Bohemian Rhapsody bad editing, Bohemian rhapsody oscar, terrible editing, oscar, academy award, best editing, rami malick, bryan singer, editing breakdown, bohemian rhapsody editing scene, fast cuts, bad editing, thomas flight, my next guest, transformers, freddie mercury, queen


  • Blanca Coppen

    Bad movie, very poorly made! I still don't know or understand why everybody liked it! ... You can tell, I'm a hard core fan of Freddie Mercury!

  • Blanca Coppen

    Finally, I found somebody that can see that this is not a good movie!!! I hated it, for me is like an offensive to Freddie Mercury.... Such an amazing singer or maybe the best in a band, oh God, Rami Malek not sweating in the Live Aid Concert, why? Something so simple, they couldn't spray some water on him! Rami Malek, nothing against him, I like him, but not for the role of Freddie Mercury. That mouth, oh Lord! I was so mad! I really lost my respects to the Academy, SAG, Golden Globes! The Oscar belonged to Christian Bale, or maybe Bradley Cooper! Ugh! So mad!

  • Nate DS

    What do you think should’ve won best editing?

  • noTmiZ

    Haven't seen the movie, but that scene certainly was nauseating-jumping around too much. Interesting break down btw! Also, can you do this for The Room as well? Many people know how bad the movie is, but an actual breakdown of why it's bad and how it could have been made better would be good and what makes it such an iconic piece haha

  • Nóra Szőnyi

    The only thing that I liked about the movie are the actors.They did a good job in my opinion.

  • Emma McBride

    The concert montage looked like it was edited on iMovie

  • Emma McBride

    The editing reminded me of one of the vines that keeps awkwardly zooming in on random objects

  • Taylor Williams

    I agree on almost everything here. Well done mate. I actually couldn't agree more when you explained how it was disrespectful for the viewer. The cuts are are so jarring during the most lackluster scenes because of a lack of confidence or craft on someones behalf, regardless of who, it feels contrived. Gotta love the Academy Politics.

  • Marissa Lugo

    Honestly I didn't even wanna watch the film when my mom made me, and I ended up loving it. I didn't think there was a problem with the editing but everyone's entitled to their opinion.

  • Steve derp

    I truly loved this video and thought it was great and pointed out some obvious flaws in the editing. However I actually think that you already said what this was caused by which was a desire to keep it at a fun and fast pace. While I agree that an audience shouldn’t need to have its attention grabbed. That was entirely what they were trying to do with this movie. Brian May really was the biggest driver behind this movie and it took him basically since Freddy died to get it made. I think he didn’t want a slow sad movie. He wanted a fun and exciting movie. That’s what queen was, that’s what Freddy was. We know there are more details and if you want that then you can go back and watch all the old footage and documentaries and interviews. But if you want a recreation of Freddy Mercury Rami really did a great job. This entire thing was also largely driven by the fact that the band wanted this movie to be about all of them and not just Freddy. That’s why the seemingly odd shot of The 3 of them instead of including May was there. It’s to make fair screen time. To identity people and generally try to make all of them happy. The surviving members of queen are still around and also still tour. So they were literally on set making decisions.

  • Jdawg 25

    It’s literally that one meeting scene that’s bad.

  • Gloria Hajduk

    To me, this seems quite nit-picky. Using the words "terrible editing" or "worst scene" is a bit strong. The first time I viewed this film in the big theatre, I was blown away. Second and Third times, the same. I watch my DVD frequently love to see new things I missed, and merely ENJOYED the entire movie. The fact that Boh Rhap has reached over $1 Billion world wide box office is a testament to those of us who are happy to be entertained without critics making their elitist comments.

  • Ravie

    I watch a lot of things on 2X speed and normally the shots don't cause problems when sped up, this damn thing made me nauseous, that ain't supposed to happen.

  • Viet Vu

    I am a die hard Queen fan. But that's the only thing keep me watching this movie. It's just an average movie. I don't know why it's so hype? Because the main character is a famous gay singer?

  • hitneX_ YT

    The movie had 2 directors and the 1st director wasnt a good one

  • MCDexX

    The editor cops to doing a terrible job and gives some background here: