Raiders: A Study in Film Greatness

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh altered the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, for educational purposes only, to study the staging of the film. He had it rendered in black and white, and removed the soundtrack. Then mood music was added that has nothing to do with the original soundtrack. The result is an amazingly beautiful version of the movie, reminiscent of a silent film or one of the old-time serials it was designed to imitate.

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).

It’s hard to actually think about all those things when you’re just enjoying the movie. You already know the story well enough that you don’t need the dialogue, but someone who’d never seen it before would still enjoy Raiders without color or dialogue. -via Time

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