BOOK REVIEW: A Long Time Ago, in a Cutting room Far, Far Away. . . . .

A Long Time Ago in a Cutting room Far, Far Away. . . . by Paul Hirsch (Movie Industry Memoir, 2020).

This one is a little different from what I usually read/review for this blog.

You probably have never heard of Paul Hirsch; I hadn’t before reading this book. But he has spent the last fifty years building an impressive career as one of the top editors of feature films. Along the way, he’s worked closely with such filmmakers as Brian DePalma, George Lucas and Taylor Hackford, and took home 2 Best Editing Oscars (for Star Wars and Ray), along with numerous other nominations and honors.

Hirsch doesn’t neglect mention of both the joys and frustrations of working behind the scenes in the movie business, including mention of the strains periodically placed on his family life, often having to be away from his wife and kids for weeks or months at a time. But this book is very much focused on an inside look at the industry itself and the author’s career within it.

Going film by film, including blockbuster hits like Carrie, the first 2 Star Wars films, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Mission Impossible, alongside more modest successes and somewhat disappointing efforts, even including the disastrous Pluto Nash (a failure that nearly crippled his career), Hirsch details a wide-ranging career that I found very interesting. His account of the wildly different ways diverse approaches to their work, and how closely they worked with him as an editor (or didn’t) was enlightening.

I’m by no means a tech-oriented reader, but Hirsch’s account of the evolution of editing equipment over a half-century proved both readable and rather interesting. I’m absolutely certain that anyone interested in the technology of film-making will be fascinated, and even the more general movie-loving general reader will (like me) find much to enjoy in these pages.

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