Steven Soderbergh Cut Silent, B&W Version of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

September 22, 2014
Source: Steven Soderbergh

Raiders of the Lost Ark

In case you didn't know, Steven Soderbergh has been doing some interesting work on the side in the midst of working on the Cinemax series "The Knick" and lensing Magic Mike XXL as director of photography, not to mention editing the male stripper sequel. On his own website, Soderbergh mashed up the original version of Psycho with his shot-for-shot remake and also did a "Butcher's Cut" of Heaven's Gate. This time he's taking aim at a much bigger project by cutting a silent, black and white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with a borrowed score with music from The Social Network and more.

Steven Soderbergh's version of Raiders of the Lost Ark isn't embeddable, but click below to watch it:

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The director says (on his website) this is just for education purposes only and adds:

"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)."

So Soderbergh wasn't trying to make a better version of Steven Spielberg's revered adventure film. Rather, he put this together as an exercise in better understanding staging. He says, "I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount." It's mere coincidence that the studio behind the film just happens to be Paramount Pictures. One thing is for sure, the movie sure does look gorgeous in black and white and wouldn't feel out of place as a film from more than 1981. This is definitely a fun exercise and learning experience. Cool?

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txJM on Sep 22, 2014


I only watched the beginning but I find the heavy techno beat used there really distracting.

David Diaz on Sep 22, 2014


I love Atticus Ross and Reznor, but the music wasn't needed, it doesn't fit at all and it's distracting. Should have just kept it silent. I turned off the sounds so it's no big deal. I only watched a bit of it. It does look great in black and white. Spielberg has so many creative ways of staging, that's always been one of his best qualities.

NathanDewey on Sep 22, 2014


Is anyone else watching Soderbergh's THE KNICK? It is fantastic, Clive Owen is killing it. // This is plain cool.

DAVIDPD on Sep 22, 2014


Haven't started watching it yet, but really want to get into it! Big fan of Soderbergh as a director and curious to see what it's all about.

Alex Billington on Sep 22, 2014


The DHS ATF FBI CIA TSA FDA SSA anti copyright terrorist swat strike force should be "boots on the neck" right about....now.

Michael P. Shipley on Sep 22, 2014


Fucking amazing! You really do see it differently with the sound and color taken out. Spielberg's been kicking ass for a long fucking time now.

Jonathan on Sep 22, 2014


That was beautiful.

Nielsen700 on Sep 23, 2014


I turned the sound off and synced it with Dark Side of the Moon and it was much much better...

DJROBL on Sep 23, 2014

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