What’s the game equivalent of the cut?

September 7, 2019
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A while back a bunch of us in the office went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen. I have a feeling that I’ve written about it before. Anyway, it was at the local cinema and the place was sold out, completely packed. I have seen this movie roughly a million times, but never at the cinema before. I think almost everyone in there was intimately familiar with 2001.

And it’s completely different on the cinema. At home, 2001 is a sublime dawdler. It drags along at a gorgeous slowness, lulling me into this wonderful sort of blissed-out boredom. (Blade Runner does exactly the same thing for me, and this isn’t by any means a slight on either film.) At the movies, sitting in the dark, though? Man, 2001 zips. The hominids bit at the start is so brisk. It’s just pure narrative beats: this, then this. Here’s Moonwatcher. Here’s Moonwatcher learning to think. Ulp, he’s only bloody killed someone.

And then? Then came the cut. Arguably the greatest cut in all of cinema. Certainly the most self-conscious, the most audacious. Certainly the coolest of all cuts. You know this cut: Moonwatcher throws a bone in the air, a bone he has been using as a club, a weapon. Up it spins. The camera loses it. Up it spins higher and higher. It slows, reaching the peak of its ascent and starts to fall. And then…

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