The Corner

Film & TV

How Heavily Edited Is the Giuliani Borat Scene?

Amazon Prime subscribers can watch the new Borat movie today, and my review is here.

As I noted, there’ll be a lot of debate over what exactly Rudy Giuliani did with his hands after “Borat’s daughter,” a 24-year-old actress pretending to be a conservative TV journalist, removes his microphone in the bedroom of a hotel suite and partially untucks his shirt.

You really have to see the footage to judge for yourself. (There’s some uncertainty over how much footage one can borrow for a purpose like this, so NR has decided not to publish a GIF.) And over at Slate, Matthew Dessem has a very careful shot-by-shot breakdown of the footage highlighting places where it was or could have been edited.

For starters, the lead-up to the scene, where Borat sneaks past security to get to his daughter’s interview with Giuliani, appears entirely fictional. The footage isn’t even from New York City, where the interview took place.

And at the crucial moment, Dessem notes, part of the footage seems to have been duplicated (showing the same event from two different angles, one after the other) to draw out the time during which Rudy’s hands are in his pants:

There’s a seemingly instantaneous cut to the mirror camera, for a shot that shows Tutar leaning away from Giuliani toward the nightstand, as Giuliani adjusts his shirt and briefly removes his hand from his pants before reinserting it. Giuliani is looking at Tutar, and there’s the sound of heavy breathing on the soundtrack, although, again, there’s no particular reason to believe the audio is from that moment in time, especially since Giuliani has apparently taken his mic off.

The next shot jumps backward in time—you can tell by tracking Tutar as she leans toward the nightstand—and repeats the moment from the mirror shot where Giuliani sticks his hand down his pants for the second time.

Even as it’s presented in the movie, it’s not really clear to me what he’s doing in there, and if editing prolonged it and possibly added the breathing noises, it’s even more plausible that he was just tucking in his shirt. Whether he should have been in that bedroom patting a young lady on her lower back is, of course, another question.


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