The Basics of Parallel Editing

This schematic of the three-part adventure story described in the text reminds us that each line of action progresses in strictly linear fashion. The husband’s part in the story, for example, though broken down into six components and distributed over the course of the whole 13-shot narrative, unfolds in a logical, straightforward sequence: he gets his wife’s call for help by phone (B), puts down the phone and rushes out the door (D), recruits a car and some help, and hastens to the rescue (G,I), arriving at the house (K) in time to foil the villains and save his family (M). The narrative, therefore, reflects a “verisimilar” framework that allows the spectator to understand the complex set of actions without any external explanation. Remember, however, that the uniform construction of the schematic ignores the fact that our hypothetical director has violated the strictly naturalistic treatment of time in order to enhance his narrative. If taken literally, for instance, the period of time that elapses between Shots D and G, when the husband finds a car and gathers men to help him, is the same period of time that elapses over the course of Shots E and F, when the burglars break down the parlor door and the trapped family cowers. To a large extent, it’s the overall verisimilitude of the narrative that enables us to ignore the compression in Shots E and F.

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