David and Edie Ichioka‘s Murch, a wonderfully engaging doc about one of the most renowned and respected film and sound editors of our time, played at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last night, and I’m really glad I took the time.

Walter Murch after last night’s q & a at SFMOMA — 4.27.07, 10:57 pm

The smooth and avuncular Walter Murch, 64, is commonly regarded as the Yoda of film and sound editors. That in itself makes this essential viewing for film buffs, but also for anyone willing to just sit and listen to a hugely articulate man expound on a fascinating art form. Murch’s needle-sharp vocabulary and exquisite phrasings are a contact high in themselves.

You need to be fairly familiar with the classic films that Murch has edited or sound designed (Cold Mountain, Apocalypse Now, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Godfather, THX 1138), to really appreciate this film. Otherwise, it’s mainly an intellectual trip — a fascinating dissertation about the fine points of editing and sound design that Murch has picked up over the last 40-plus years.

Murch has been playing various festivals since debuting at last September’s Telluride Film Festival, and I trust it’ll be out on DVD sooner than later.

Click on the brief Murch video clip at the bottom of this web page, or better yet listen to this recording of Murch speaking last night after the SFMOMA screening. Yeah, that’s me and my fractured syntax asking the first two questions. Note to action-film editors: consider Murch’s 14-set-ups-per-minute rule!