The 90to5 Editing Challenge is a fascinating concept for a film competition. Instead of creating entirely new material, participants are challenged to take a feature-length public domain film and edit it down to five minutes, while still retaining the story arc of the original film. Whether you consider this cinematic sampling or Cliff’s Notes sacrilege is up to you, but they’re really fun to watch. Of the entries from previous years (2014 will be the third year running), I highly recommend Reefer Madness and Rashomon.
My absolute favorite though, is the edit below, of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which was originally a whopping two hours and 43 minutes long. The 1979 Soviet classic follows three men, a “Stalker” (who guides the other two), a writer, and a professor, after they leave a dilapidated city in search of a room where dreams come true—though sometimes with unforeseen consequences. To get there they must travel through the Zone, a strange and dangerous place patrolled by armed guards where the laws of physics are merely suggestions. The movie is intensely spiritual and supernatural—the visually arresting nature of Tarkovsky’s films made him a favorite of both Kurosawa and Bergman. The edit is bafflingly consolidated, and though I certainly miss what was cut, it actually covered a lot of the story! (Stalker is available in its entirety online for free, as well. Check it out.)
You can get tips on editing and submitting your own cut here—the 2014 competition just started!