Drive: How Editing made the scene

This sequence is from Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 drama, “Drive.” The driver (Ryan Gosling) is transporting two outlaws away from their crime scene, with killer driving skills as his only weapon. The music in the background of the shot blends seamlessly in with the images, escalating the hum of the car and the imaginary heartbeats of the perpetrators. The first shot in the sequence dollies in on the driver, establishing him as the “solution” or the escape from the conflict in scene. Set late at night, the shorts are sparsely lit in a color scheme of black and yellow. When the driver shuts off the lights in order to hide from the police, light becomes associated with capture or danger and darkness with safety. Lights coming from the police cars, choppers and flashlights become thrill inducing factors. As the sequence progress, the individual shots are also cut down to size, intensifying the feeling of suspense and establishing pace in the car chase. When leaving the scene, the car rolls slowly, blending in with the late night suburban stride. Every time the car is spotted by officers, however, the driver jumps the pedal, increasing the speed to match the pace of the cutting of the scene.

In any type of scene there are countless ways to edit and put together the final cut. However, in order to achieve certain feeling or establish a certain pace, there are good and bad, right and wrong ways to do it. Music, sound effects, colors, duration and the sequence of the shots all come together to make the final product, and even by just varying one of these factors the final look and feel of the picture can be vastly different. In this particular case, the music, pace and the color scheme of the shots all added up to a highly suspenseful while surprisingly and frustratingly calm and steady sequence.

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