Made in Movie Heaven: The Best Match Cuts in History

By  · Published on October 27th, 2016

A new compilation explores the visual technique’s narrative impact

One of my favorite cinematic transitions is the match cut, or when the visual at the end of one scene is matched to a similar opening visual in the next. The most famous example, I’m pretty sure, is the bone that’s tossed into the air by the enlightened primate at the end of the “Dawn of Man” phase of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and shifts as it starts to come down into a spaceship floating through the dark reaches of space several million years later. More than just establishing visual continuity between scenes, the match cut’s real intention is to link scenes thematically, to show progress or devolution, and to create an emotional space in which these themes might be expanded.

More: The Simpsons Movie References

Celia Gomez, the editor who brought us such memorable videos as The Simpsons Movie References and Sherlock: The Art of Symmetry, has now directed her considerable talents to the match cut and its best cinematic examples from 25 films including 2001, Grease, Psycho, Memento, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and more (all listed at the end of this post). What Gomez reveals by stringing all these together is the various uses of the match cut and the varying degrees of similarity between the first and following visuals; some are slight shifts, some are more drastic, but each is intended to relate either kinship or contrast, both of which propel the plot forward.

Films that appear:

Stoker (2013)
Psycho (1960)
Frida (2002)
The Meaning of Life (1983)
Minority Report (2002)
Up (2009)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Ed Wood (1994)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Shrek (2001)
Memento (2000)
Perfect Blue (1997)
The Frighteners (1996)
Grease (1978)
The Graduate (1967)
Crash (2004)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1997)
Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Tarzan (1999)
Titanic (1997)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
City of God (2002)

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