Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 by Angie Han
Steven Soderbergh‘s “retirement” has been a delight to follow. Freed of the demands of film directing, he’s found time to do all sorts of other things, from an Off-Broadway stage play to a Cinemax TV series to a Twitter novella to a Gus Van Sant / Alfred Hitchcock Psychos mash-up. His latest endeavor, released today, is a silent, black-and-white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In an accompanying statement, Soderbergh explains that he undertook the exercise in an attempt to better understand staging. But of course the real reason this happened is “because Steven Soderbergh.” Hit the jump to see the Steven Soderbergh Raiders of the Lost Ark cut.
The Steven Soderbergh Raiders of the Lost Ark video is not embeddable, but click the image below to see it on Soderbergh’s website.
While the video is “silent” in that it has no dialogue, there’s plenty of music to listen to — mostly from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross‘s scores for The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It all works together better than you might think, offering a new way of looking at an old favorite.
Soderbergh debuted the video with a post detailing his reasons for making it, and what he hopes he (and you) will get out of it. Here’s an excerpt:
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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).