Walter Murch

Walter Murch

The mentor

Published in 2013

Universally acknowledged as a master in his field, Walter Murch is revered for his work as a film editor and sound designer, a term he coined for his work on Apocalypse Now. He has helped shape many of the iconic films of the last four decades: The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The English Patient and Cold Mountain among many others.

The son of a painter, Murch showed interest in “the landscape of sound” from his childhood. He recalls how at age 10 he convinced his family to buy a tape recorder, then a new consumer item, and would “dangle the microphone out of the window, recording the sounds of New York”, then splicing them into new compositions. His involvement with cinema was later cemented at the influential University of Southern California film school where he met future collaborator, director George Lucas, and other budding film notables.

Since 1969, when he began his career, Murch has worked with, among others, director Francis Ford Coppola and Anthony Minghella, on such cinematic milestones as The Godfather I,
II and III, The Conversation and The English Patient, for which he won an unprecedented double Academy Award in 1996 – the only artist ever to win Oscars for both film editing and sound mixing.

Murch has provided insights into his many technical innovations in his book on film editing,
In the Blink of an Eye (2001), as well as in Michael Ondaatje’s book The Conversations, Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film (2002). Ondaatje reveals how Murch’s “renaissance” interests encompass a broad range of subjects, from architecture to astronomy, music theory, literary translation, science and mathematics. Few in Hollywood can speak so authoritatively on as many topics. Murch’s latest film project is Particle Fever (2013), a documentary about the search for the Higgs boson at CERN.