I dream for a living.
       - Steven Spielberg


By definition, a montage is "a single pictorial composition made by juxtaposing or superimposing many pictures or designs." In filmmaking, a montage is an editing technique in which shots are juxtaposed in an often fast-paced fashion that compresses time and conveys a lot of information in a relatively short period.

Two Contrasting Examples

The two clips below epitomize what a montage consists of. I chose these particular examples because they are from major motion pictures, and both illustrate the same topic – a trip – but in two extremely contrasting ways.

The montage from 1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid shows a trip from New York City to Bolivia that occurred in the beginning of the century. The second montage is from the 2002 The Rules of Attraction, which narrates a journey across many countries in Europe.

The 33-year time gap between both movies is evidence of how styles change over time, especially as they tell stories that took place a hundred years apart (Butch Cassidy traveled to South American in 1901.)

They used:


They used:

What to Avoid

Montages cannot create strong emotions. Ergo, they are not used to make the audience feel, rather they make the audience know. Montages inform.

This is so true that the message inherent to some montages could be replaced by simple text cards. However, this alternative is far less exciting and stimulating… far less cinematic. Think of Rocky (1976) and the now famous training montage. That whole sequence could be replaced by a title card reading "After weeks of training, Rocky improved his stamina and perfected his boxing skills." This short sentence essentially summarizes that 3-minute montage… but which one do you think is more cinematic? Which one would make you have goose bumps?

For this reason, it is often said that characters cannot fall in love during montages. The courtship and romance would be too bland or dull. Love deserves a better treatment.


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