Continuity and Discontinuity Editing

Assessment 1: Lumiere Films

Growing up in Tasmania, I felt isolated from the rest of the world. Time seemed to slow down and as a teenager, I almost felt trapped, wanting a chance to explore the rest of the world. I focused on the parameters and depth of my shots to create that encapsulated feeling. The rainy weather also did me a favour in creating fog as a way for me to portray the invisible wall that seemed to keep me from the rest of the world.


Since the Lumiere Brothers created the cinematograph, because of editing, film has progressed into new forms. Editing has allowed film to become continually inventive. This post will look at continuity and discontinuity editing and the experimental approaches included in this weeks lecture.

Continuity Editing

George Melies was a key person in the development of editing techniques. He made use of ‘in-camera editing’ or what we now called ‘stop-motion’ to create effects in his works. 

Along with Melise, Emile Cohn was also popular for using the film camera to manipulate space and time in his films.

There are 4 key components of continuity editing:

  1. Elliptical editing compresses time. Typically, a sequence consists of shots that depict events that occur at different times; together they show a larger change has taken place in a short period of time on screen
  2. The use of Cutaways is related to elliptical editing in compressing time, similar to intercutting in showing a ‘meanwhile’.
  3. Inter-cutting, also called cross-cutting or parallel editing brings events or actions that are often happening at the same time.
  4. Overlapping edit is the opposite of elliptical editing, its function is to extend the duration of an event or an action. That is: the time that the action takes to unfold is longer on screen than it would have in real life.

See week 2 blog for more on continuity editing.

Discontinuity Editing
The Kuleshov Effect

Lev Kuleshov, portrayed how the Soviet Montage Theory works to convey meaning by presenting a number of edits. Each of these edits has the same shot of a man looking directly ahead (the actor Ivan Mosjoukine). This was cut together with three scenes: a bowl of soup, a woman reclining, and a child in a coffin. When shown to an audience, the man’s expression is interpreted differently – influenced by the shots it follows. This is dubbed ‘The Kuleshov Effect’.

Eisensteinian system of montage

This system centres around the collision of elements and how this may create concepts in the mind:

  • 1. Metric:
  • varying lengths of shots/ edits
  • largely independent of image content
  • 2. Rhythmic
  • creating rhythm through editing
  • varying lengths, movements, directions of shots 
  • largely independent of image content
  • 3. Tonal
  • relate to image content and meanings
  • colour’ of characters, actions, and events
  • to create resonance with the audience through the image
  • 4. Overtonal
  • editing to bring out the emotional response to the image sequence or the whole film
  • 5. Intellectual
  • “Collision Montage”
  • expression of ideas e.g. through visual metaphor
  • dramatic graphic contrast between shots and editing rhythms to enhance conflict


Law, J 2021, ‘Continuity and Discontinuity Editing’, online lecture, BCM115, University of Wollongong, viewed 23 March 2021


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