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LAWRENCE OF ARABIA Editor Anne V. Coates Has Passed Away, Age 92

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA Editor Anne V. Coates Has Passed Away, Age 92

There are countless film directors out there, and some of them become household names, famous for their canon of work and perhaps their persona. Scorsese, Spielberg, Tarantino, Hitchcock; names that sometimes outshine the film itself. Rare, though, are the names of film editors on the collective tips of the public tongues, even though they are often just as big a reason–if not a bigger one–than the director for a film’s success and legacy. A name we all should remember is that of Anne V. Coates, the absolute legend of cinema whose career as an editor spanned 63 years and 54 films. The Hollywood Reporter has shared news of Coates’ passing, at the age of 92.

As with the careers of most film editors, Coates’ filmography was full of movies both classic and forgettable, but when you start counting the truly amazing films on which she worked, you can see a talent that truly deserved her five Academy Award nominations and one win. That win? Oh, it just happened to be for Lawrence of Arabia, only one of the five best movies ever made, possibly even the very best. The editing in particular of that sweeping epic is what they teach people on day one of film classes the world over, with most people pointing to one specific and astounding cut.

Famously, that cut, from Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence blowing out a match to the harsh desert with the blistering sun rising, was achieved simply because Coates and director David Lean didn’t have access to the technology to do a crossfade where they were. In most movies of the era, Lawrence blowing out the match would have faded out while the rising sun faded in, but when they were assembling the footage, they didn’t have that available. After watching it with the hard cut on the action of blowing out the match, Coates and Lean agreed no crossfade would ever be as effective as that hard cut. Cuts like that are specifically called “match cuts” because they match actions or theme, but a burning match cutting to a rising sun is maybe the most perfect match cut in history.

Coates’ other four Oscar nominations were for the historical drama Becket in 1964, David Lynch’s haunting The Elephant Man in 1980, the action-thriller In the Line of Fire in 1993, and Steven Soderbergh’s crime romance Out of Sight in 1998. Coates also received an honorary Oscar in 2017 for her long and storied career.

I encourage everyone to check out Coates’ IMDb page, and you’ll see just how diverse the career of one of the most legendary editors of all time was. A lot of amazing movies, but also some weird ones like What About Bob?, Masters of the Universe, Congo, Striptease and her final credit, 50 Shades of Grey. Lawrence of Arabia and 50 Shades of Grey. Now that’s a career.

Image: Columbia Pictures

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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