The following video essay by by Michael Joshua Rowin and Kevin B. Lee of Fandor.com (via Matthew Seitz) takes a look at the parallel editing of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, but using the work of D.W. Griffith to show where it all started, the video opens by saying, “[When] compared to the work of a filmmaker who directed a hundred years before Nolan, Inception doesn’t look all that mind-blowing. Considered the father of narrative cinema, D.W. Griffith practically invented such techniques like parallel editing, pushing them to unprecedented levels of complexity and depth.”
It’s a fascinating look at the effect cinema’s history has had on the movies today and why cinephiles always make sure to point out the directors that started it all as a warm reminder that by not opening yourself up to the history of cinema you’re missing several chapters of a much larger story.
The essay comparisons include Griffith’s The Sealed Room, A Corner in Wheat, The Unchanging Sea, The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance and you can read a full transcript right here. Oddly enough I have Intolerance saved on my DVR right now after it showed on TCM recently and Robert Osborne mentioned this exact same technique, albeit without the Inception comparison.
I also thought it was fascinating to watch Griffith’s films with snippets of Hans Zimmer’s Inception score playing over them. It’s indirectly a commentary on film scores as well, which just makes it that much better.
[vimeo id=”128220350″ width=”640″]