Watch: Why Our Brains Don't Explode at Film Cuts
Why is it so easy for us to process edits in films?
As the story goes, when audiences first saw the Lumiere Brothers' The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, they screamed and ran to the back of the room to avoid what they thought to be a real-life train barreling toward them. You can't really blame them, though; it was 1896 and people had never really seen anything like it before, and tall tale or not, it makes sense that a response like that could've been elicited by a bold, new, dynamic medium such as cinema.
But what about editing, then? Film editing came out not long after the inception of film, round around the turn of the century, but while movie-goers were scrambling to the back of theaters over an on-screen train, nobody really took notice when one picture cut to an entirely new one. Sure, nowadays this is expected and even a standard editors aim to achieve in their work, but back then, when the cinema was a novelty, why weren't audiences in awe of the grand spectacle of the cut? Well, this video essay from Aeon Video explains it.
So, who or what is the real champion of cinema? No, not Scorsese or Spielberg, or Kurosawa or Tarkovsky. It's our gloriously complex neurological system that tells our brains which pieces of visual information are important and which aren't. Without that, our brains would most certainly be overloaded with data, begin to overheat, and then, in a fiery burst of blood and grey matter, explode after witnessing a film cut.
For real, it would. It's science.