Taking video clips from movies and repurposing them is nothing new, but director Steven Soderbergh wants to teach aspiring directors something about staging a scene. The director has posted a black and white version of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is no mere exercise in video editing; Soderbergh takes the film and Spielberg’s skill very seriously: “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). I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging,” he writes on his website, “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.”
Soderbergh drained the color out of the film and replaced the sound with music from The Social Network “designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect.” As the AV Club reports, “this isn’t the first time Soderbergh has used a film classic to illustrate some element of film (or merely as an intellectual challenge to himself). He created a montage that effortlessly switches between Hitchcock’s and Van Sant’s versions of Psycho, even having the two versions converse with each other across decades.” He also recut Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate. Educational tool or not, one thing is clear: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones looks just as cool in black and white.