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Unusual Editing Choices Turn ‘The Big Short’ Into an Experiential Comedy

Adam McKay’s dark comedy The Big Short finds humor in unusual subject material: the 2008 housing crisis. It also uses distinctive editing–a combination of stock footage, unconventional cuts, and unexpected imagery–to deliver the comedy courtesy of editor Hank Corwin.

“This goes along again with what I was saying about wanting this film to be really experiential,” Corwin tells Slate about choosing to cut some scenes in the middle of a line. “It’s like so many times, say, if you’re walking in the street, you’ll turn your head and there’ll be a sound you hear, you walk away and it cuts out … In film, people shoot these long shots, and they think that’s the truth, but that isn’t truth. It’s what’s recorded onto a piece of film or digital art. I try, when I cut, even the shot selection, as opposed to having it be third person where you’re watching people doing something, I want it to be like you’re in there with them. So by cutting things off, it’s jarring, and deliberately so. I’m trying to slam people in, and I don’t need to hear—we know what he’s going to say. And I found that it made it actually a more powerful statement, because everybody finished his line, or his boss’s line in their heads.”