‘The Power of the Dog’ editor Peter Sciberras: ‘We peel back the layers’ of Benedict Cumberbatch’s menacing rancher [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“That was something we talked about very early on … We talked about the tension in the film and also building momentum,” says “The Power of the Dog” editor Peter Sciberras and how he and director Jane Campion gradually ratcheted up the intensity of the Western drama. “We want it to really feel like it was building and building and building,” while “trying to be really elegant, economical,” and “letting the characters really drive the story.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Sciberras above.

“The Power of the Dog” takes place in 1920s Montana, where rancher Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) persecutes his new sister-in-law (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Developing the psychological tension between the characters was greatly aided by the fact that they were “working with Jonny Greenwood‘s score from the very beginning of the cut,” Sciberras explains. “That really informed also how we slowly built up the tension throughout. Because the cut of the film builds musically as well as it does narratively.”

Editing also served to develop the characters, particularly Phil, who has “a very secure world that he’s created through this persona and the way he treats everyone around him, and we slowly peel back the layers.” Sciberras adds, “We had these moments where we started to spend time with him alone at night, the nighttime scene in the barn polishing the saddle. So we used a lot of macro, really tactile shots with him just to convey the sense of emotional depth there, and the fragility as well.” In general, “we were really methodical about getting time with character and not rushing … We were very patient with character, and character is everything in this story.”

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