Here’s a throwback for those who missed this. Steven Soderbergh once created a black and white cut of the classic Indiana Jones flick, Raiders of the Lost Ark. With no dialogue. And a score from Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor. And you can still watch it.
Soderbergh has had a long and varied career as a director, which a particular passion for crime and psychological thrillers. From Erin Brockovich to Contagion, Unsane to the Ocean’s 11 trilogy. Oh, and Magic Mike.
We’re not sure what exactly possessed him to recut Raiders of the Lost Ark in such a unique way back in 2014, but staging has something to do with it.
Steven Soderbergh loves staging
In a blog post that accompanies the cut, he speaks about staging being difficult to master in film. He also states that a movie should work with the sound off.
And this is where Soderbergh leaves the viewer. He invites them to watch such a renowned action classic through a new lens. Here’s an extract from the blog:
“So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are.
See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me.
Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect.
Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit).
And so here we are, with a brand new way of viewing Raiders of the Lost Arc. But music also plays a part. According to Indie Wire the vast majority of the score is taken from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ work on The Social Network and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
We can’t embed the movie here, but you can watch it over at Soderbergh’s website. Enjoy. It’s truly mesmerising.