All That Jazz: Fosse Time

“Cutting for rhetorical effect. Cutting for commentary”. That is how Matt Zoller Seitz describes the editing techniques of Bob Fosse and his editor Alan Heim. In their 1979 classic All That Jazz they jumbled up classic chronology, freely skipping between periods and points in time. This erratic editing was anything but: not a mere gimmick but a conscious artistic choice that became the very DNA of this film.


This video essay for The Criterion Collection traces the genealogy of that technique to the French Nouvelle Vague and Russian montage theory, to Hiroshima mon amour and The Pawnbroker, to Sam Peckinpah and John Boorman. (And throws in a great analogy to Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim for good measure). The video itself segues from one period of film history to another in much the same way as Fosse’s film roves through time. And just like All That Jazz, the end result is both coherent and enlightening: a knowledgeable and loving ode to Fosse’s storytelling craft.