The only great problem of cinema seems to be more and more, with each film, when and why to start a shot and when and why to end it.Jean-Luc Godard

Every cut is a form of judgment, whether it takes place on the set or in the editing room. A cut reveals what matters and what doesn’t. It delineates the essential from the non-essential. To examine the cuts of a filmmaker is to uncover an approach to cinema.

The happenstance of Vittorio De Sica’s Terminal Station and David O. Selznick’s Indiscretion of an American Wife offers a rare opportunity to compare two cuts of the same film from a leading figure of neorealism and a leading figure of Hollywood.

If neorealism exists, it is in contrast to the dominant approach to moviemaking, shaped and exemplified by Hollywood. In comparing Terminal Station to Indiscretion of an American Wife, we must ask, What difference does a cut make?

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Originally published: 17 May 2013