Sally Menke dies at 56: The importance of glue.

September 28, 2010

Famed director, Quentin Tarantino, has lost one of the most important pieces to his film making process today: his longtime editor, Sally Menke.

According to the LA Times, Menke was reported missing yesterday after not returning home from her morning hike. Police searched for hours in Griffith Park looking for her, but ultimately found her body at the bottom of a ravine with her loyal dog (alive) next to her. There is suspect that the extreme LA heat wave may have attributed to Menke’s death.

Though Menke has worked on numerous other films including: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, All the Pretty Horses and Mulholland Falls to name a few; she is mostly acclaimed for her brilliant editing style in her Tarantino films.

In 1992, Menke joined Tarantino on Reservoir Dogs. Since that collaboration, she had worked on every other Tarantino film to date. It was her quick cuts and precision timing which gave the movies that “Tarantino feel” which is so easily recognized and appreciated by fans. Her amazing editorial skill also received two Academy Award nominations for Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Bastards.

In general, editors work closest to the directors and their work is responsible for the final mood of the film. Often, the great work of an editor goes unnoticed by the common movie goer, but leaves them with the finished product that they see.

Menke, on the value of working with numerous directors :

“I’ve learnt so much from every film and every director- a new perspective, a greater appreciation of the art. On one scene Oliver said, “It’s just so perfunctory.” I couldn’t figure out what he meant, then a lightbulb went off in my head. It was just one cut too! I realized every single edit is important. Years ago, this documentary was a very serious piece and I made this cut that made people laugh. I realized the power of cinema.” –Editor Under Construction

A director can be great on their own, but in the end needs a good editor to cut their masterpiece into place. Tarantino can make an amazing and unique puzzle- and now he will have to find the right glue to put it back together again.

A tribute to Sally Menke,“Hello Sally”, where Quentin talks about the importance of Sally’s work. Found on the DVD extras on DeathProof.

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