The straightforward supercut is often frowned upon. Academics see it as a strategy more suited for fanboy musings than for serious research. (Cutting together a lot of instances of a similar motif, even a computer program can do that, no?) And indeed, the onslaught of online videos using the supercut model can be tiresome. But the supercut, for all its seeming simplicity, has a few tricks up its sleeve.
This video by Luís Azevedo for Mubi is a case in point. It investigates the peculiar physicality of actress Greta Gerwig, a performer who moves her lanky frame in unpredictable ways. These movements are part and parcel to her acting technique, to her onscreen persona, to her appeal and expression. Performance studies are hard to conduct in the classic, text-based formats of academia; the video essay is much more suited for this kind of (motion) research.
Here’s where the supercut finds its calling. The process of putting together a video such as this one is a learning experience in its own right. If you want to do it right, you need to delve deep into the material and get to know it inside out. Such is the case here: the many match cuts that trace patterns in Gerwig’s movements across a dozen of movies can only be the result of a lot of work and attention. These insights, recurring characteristics and motifs are apparent in the finished video, but only reveal themselves through the actual making of the supercut.