For Fury Road’s fluid editing, Miller called upon his wife, Margaret Sixel, who had spent most of her career editing documentaries and had never cut an action movie before. ‘We’ve got teenage sons, but I’m the one who goes to the action movies with them!’ laughed Miller. ‘So when I asked her to do Mad Max, she said, ‘Well, why me?’ And I said, ‘Because then it’s not going to look like other action movies.“
And it doesn’t. Compare the smart, iterative set pieces of Fury Road to one of the incoherent car chases in Spectre, for example, and you’ll see that Sixel prizes a sense of spatial relationships that has become all too rare in action movies. ‘She’s a real stickler for that,’ said Miller. ‘And it takes a lot of effort! It’s not just lining up all the best shots and stringing them together, and she’s very aware of that. She’s also looking for a thematic connection from one shot to the next. If it regressed the characters and their relationships, she’d be against that. And she has a very low boredom threshold, so there’s no repetition.’
That Sixel was able to whittle 480 hours of footage down into a movie that sings still astounds Miller. ‘It’s like working in the head of a great composer,’ he said. ‘Movies like this one — in particular this one, because it’s almost a silent movie — are like visual music. In the same way that a composer has to have a strong casual relationship from one note to the next, paying attention tempo and melodic line and overall structure, it’s exactly the same process that a film editor must have.’ Sixel, surely, is one of the greats.
so good on George Miller for giving credit to his wife and colleague. that said, FUCK YES women have ALWAYS edited for male directors without getting any recognition within the industry let alone any kind of mainstream acclaim. I mean, film editing isn’t really on the radar for most moviegoers/watchers so yeah, I don’t expect people to know this? But goddamn, even so many self-proclaimed film and cinema buffs fail to realize that so many of the “best” movies (mostly directed by men, natch) were edited by women. Does anyone remember that quote/anecdote about male directors discouraging their female film editors – or even actively sabotaging potential opportunities – because they didn’t want to lose the person who made sense of all their footage?