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RIP: Sally Menke, Film Editor

September 28, 2010

I was caught off guard by the news of film editor Sally Menke’s death yesterday. After the death of famed film editor Dede Allen I began researching the history and contributions of female film editors and “discovered” Sally Menke. If you’re wondering exactly who Sally Menke is, you needn’t look any further than Tarantino’s entire filmography. She was Tarantino’s best kept secret. Moveline did a great interview with her; I loved her response regarding working with QT and his musical tastes:

I never edit my first run-through with music. I never put the music in until I have a fairly sure cut that I feel pretty comfortable with. I don’t always know what piece of music will be in, although I did know that David Bowie was going to be [in Basterds]. I wasn’t so sure about the opening music — I had a couple ideas bouncing around. For the most part, though, I don’t put the music in until we start working together, and then we get very frame-specific. Quentin tends to know what music he’s putting in what scene, and he has this profound ability to layer the rhythm of the music onto the scene while he’s shooting it. It’s actually rather simple for me to figure out his needs because it’s cellular on his level. He affects how the scene is paced by the actors with the music internally going on in his head.

Examples of Menke’s brilliant cuts:

Don’t let me be misunderstood…

The Bonnie Situation….


10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2010 1:19 pm

    A real loss for the film community, and definitely Quentin. The film director/film editor relationship seems so vital, as evidenced by the interview you quoted, I wonder what the impact will be on his future films.

    I saw this and thought it was a sweet and fitting tribute to Menke:

  2. evmaroon permalink
    September 28, 2010 1:28 pm

    His films really won’t be the same, and it’s the nature of the business not to notice the film editor like we focus on directors and actors, but I can’t help wondering how yet another talented woman is gone and people didn’t even know what effect she had on their movie experiences. All of it makes me sad.

  3. evmaroon permalink
    September 28, 2010 1:28 pm

    Please excuse the horrible run-on-ness of my comment!

  4. September 28, 2010 1:29 pm

    Editing is really something that people inherently know is important but, like good officiating at a sporting event, you don’t even notice it if it’s done well, only when it’s not. A terrible loss for fans of Tarantino, for sure, and fans of great editing certainly… Menke was one of the best.

  5. September 28, 2010 1:44 pm

    Such a huge loss. Technical crew on films often don’t get very much attention and they are part of the heart and soul of the work; that transcendent space you get to in really good film is the result of a brilliant collaboration between filmmaker, editor, DP, etc. and I suspect Menke will be sorely missed. She was fantastic.

  6. September 28, 2010 2:08 pm

    a great tribute to help us absorb a sad loss. RIP, indeed.

  7. September 28, 2010 2:30 pm

    Thanks. Her editing style is precise without being precious. I love everything about the way “The Bonnie Situation” is cut.

  8. Kia permalink
    September 28, 2010 8:46 pm

    This is really sad b/c even though I find Tarantino hit or miss I was hoping that he & Menke would have the professional longevity of Scorsese and Schoonmaker. A sudden demise is so hard to deal with.

  9. hsofia permalink
    September 29, 2010 4:18 am

    That is really sad.

  10. September 29, 2010 6:39 pm

    Aww that’s a cute picture of her with QT. I agree, “The Bonnie Situation” is amazingly edited. I hate when talented people die and Soulja Boy is still alive.

    Off topic, but I love that QT is wearing a “Wu Wear” shirt in that photo.

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