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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Steven Soderbergh recuts Raiders of the Lost Ark as a silent movie

To show the importance of staging in filmmaking, the director reworks Steven Spielberg’s classic adventure into a moodily black and white silent film.

(Note: This posting is for educational purposes only.)
I’m assuming the phrase “staging” came out of the theatre world, but it’s equally at home (and useful) in the movie world, since the term (roughly defined) refers to how all the various elements of a given scene or piece are aligned, arranged, and coordinated. In movies the role of editing adds something unique: the opportunity to extend and/or expand a visual (or narrative) idea to the limits of one’s imagination—a crazy idea that works today is tomorrow’s normal.
I value the ability to stage something well because when it’s done well its pleasures are huge, and most people don’t do it well, which indicates it must not be easy to master (it’s frightening how many opportunities there are to do something wrong in a sequence or a group of scenes. Minefields EVERYWHERE. Fincher said it: there’s potentially a hundred different ways to shoot something but at the end of the day there’s really only two, and one of them is wrong). Of course understanding story, character, and performance are crucial to directing well, but I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount (the adjective, not the studio. although their logo DOES appear on the front of this…).
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).
At some point you will say to yourself or someone THIS LOOKS AMAZING IN BLACK AND WHITE and it’s because Douglas Slocombe shot THE LAVENDER HILL MOB and the THE SERVANT and his stark, high-contrast lighting style was eye-popping regardless of medium.
- See more at: http://extension765.com/sdr/18-raiders#sthash.AKY24AVR.dpuf
(Note: This posting is for educational purposes only.)
I’m assuming the phrase “staging” came out of the theatre world, but it’s equally at home (and useful) in the movie world, since the term (roughly defined) refers to how all the various elements of a given scene or piece are aligned, arranged, and coordinated. In movies the role of editing adds something unique: the opportunity to extend and/or expand a visual (or narrative) idea to the limits of one’s imagination—a crazy idea that works today is tomorrow’s normal.
I value the ability to stage something well because when it’s done well its pleasures are huge, and most people don’t do it well, which indicates it must not be easy to master (it’s frightening how many opportunities there are to do something wrong in a sequence or a group of scenes. Minefields EVERYWHERE. Fincher said it: there’s potentially a hundred different ways to shoot something but at the end of the day there’s really only two, and one of them is wrong). Of course understanding story, character, and performance are crucial to directing well, but I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount (the adjective, not the studio. although their logo DOES appear on the front of this…).
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).
At some point you will say to yourself or someone THIS LOOKS AMAZING IN BLACK AND WHITE and it’s because Douglas Slocombe shot THE LAVENDER HILL MOB and the THE SERVANT and his stark, high-contrast lighting style was eye-popping regardless of medium.
- See more at: http://extension765.com/sdr/18-raiders#sthash.AKY24AVR.dpuf
 http://extension765.com/sdr/18-raiders to view film in B&W Silent.

Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark silent
A still from Soderbergh’s cut of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Photograph: Paramount/PR
Having semi-retired from the directing game, Steven Soderbergh is now free to tinker in his garden shed – and his latest work is an inspired riff on a classic adventure story. He’s recut Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones tale Raiders of the Lost Ark, turning it into black-and-white silent movie.
Writing on his own website, he wrote that the experiment was “for educational purposes only”, to illustrate the importance of considering the staging of a film’s scenes. “I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount,” he writes. He replaces the sound with a pulsating electronic soundtrack, with various bits of it lifted from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s compositions for The Social Network.

Soderbergh praises Spielberg, writing that the director “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).” He also highlights Douglas Slocombe’s cinematography, saying it works in black and white as well as colour because “his stark, high-contrast lighting style was eye-popping regardless of medium”.

It works remarkably well, and is indeed instructive. With just a placid soundtrack placed behind it, the composition and immaculately building tension of, say, the fistfight around a Nazi fighter plane pops out of the screen all the more.

To view the film and read Steven Soderbergh's blog on film click below...

http://extension765.com/sdr/18-raiders
 The lesson appears on Soderbergh’s website, Extension 765, which sells Polaroids from his film shoots, T-shirts, clapperboards and other ephemera. The director made hits like Ocean’s Eleven, Erin Brockovich and Magic Mike over a 25-year career before announcing a shift away from feature film-making. His TV miniseries The Knick is currently airing on US network Cinemax, and he directed an off-Broadway play starring Chloë Grace Moretz earlier in the year.He has also recut other Hollywood films and posted them on his site. He spliced together Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with its shot-for-shot remake by Gus Van Sant, and also made a snappy 108-minute cut of Heaven’s Gate.

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