Today in movie history, revered editor and sound engineer Walter Murch was born in New York City in 1943. Murch first gained momentum in the film industry working with Oscar-winner Francis Ford Coppola on his film The Rain People (1969) before going on to work with George Lucas on THX1138 (1971) and American Graffiti (1973). He then furthered his professional relationship with Coppola working on films like The Godfather Part II (1974) and The Conversation (1974), the latter which earned him his first Academy Award nomination. His first major contribution to film came on Coppola’s iconic Vietnam drama, Apocalypse Now (1979), for which he won his first Oscar. Murch used a multi-track recording system to create new sounds that invoked both physical tension and psychological drama against the back-drop of Coppola’s war epic. Murch went on to serve as both sound and picture editor for numerous films, winning double Oscars for The English Patient in 1996 for Best Editor and Best Sound Editor. His work with Coppola continued throughout his career, working on films like The Godfather Part III (1990) and Tetro (2009); he also received a double Oscar-nomination in 1990 for The Godfather Part III and Ghost with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Murch’s catalogue includes such films as Julia (1977), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), and Cold Mountain (2003). He was also behind the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958), restoring the sound to Welles’ original notes. Murch wrote the definitive guide to film editing based on his extensive career in a book called In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, which he published in 1993. He is currently working on a documentary by filmmaker Taghi Amirani called Coup 53, which chronicles the 1953 Operation Ajax coup, which saw Iran’s Prime Minister Mossadegh replaced by the Shah. If you haven’t seen any of the aforementioned, you should definitely add a few to your list.