The script had actually called for a dissolve, in which one scene slowly fades into another. Today, that can be done quickly with editing software. At the time, though, filmmakers and editors had to create the effect by hand, ordering extra negatives of the film, which was then often double exposed and overlaid with each other.
Sometimes filmmakers would simply mark up the film with a grease pen for early viewings and save that work for later. That’s exactly what Lean and Coates had done, according to Justin Chang’s book FilmCraft: Editing.
“We marked a dissolve, but when we watched the footage in the theater, we saw it as a direct cut,” Coates told him. “David and I both thought, ‘Wow, that’s really interesting.’ So we decided to nibble at it, taking a few frames off here and there.”
“David said, ‘That is a fabulous cut.’ He said, ‘It’s not quite perfect — take it away and make it perfect,’ and I literally took two frames off, and that’s the way it is today,” she said, readily admitting, “If I had been working digitally, I would never have seen those two shots cut together like that.”
“I like to think we would have gotten the idea anyway,” Coates added. “But another director would not necessarily have seen it or liked it. Luckily, David and I thought alike.”