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Steven Soderbergh has had a long and experimental career in film. He’s made his real money directing commercial hits such as the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ remakes. Those jobs enabled him to play around with questionable projects like ‘Bubble,’ a film packed with amateur actors. Obviously some jobs aren’t too small for him, so he’ll take time out to direct a series for Cinemax or serve as 2nd unit director for ‘The Hunger Games.’ He’s a guy who loves to do things in film, and apparently with films, as his latest effort proves. Like that time he took Steven Spielberg’s ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ and turned it into a silent movie. A silent movie with…dance music?

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That’s Soderbergh for you. He’s the type of filmmaker who dives into deep ends whether the water is blue, red or green. Roger Ebert once said of him “Every once in a while, perhaps as an exercise in humility, Steven Soderbergh makes a truly inexplicable film… A film so amateurish that only the professionalism of some of the actors makes it watchable…” That reputation is interesting and regrettable at the same time. On the one hand, he’s a director who takes chances. On the other hand, he’s a goof who makes dumb choices. Depending on who you are, you’ll wonder exactly why a famous Hollywood filmmaker would completely redo a colleague’s movie just for the hell of it. Here’s why, straight from the man’s personal website:

“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.”

Okay, I get it – he’s entranced with staging these days. The guy who’s been directing movies since before ‘Sex, Lies And Videotape’ wants to understand staging. Go on, sir…

“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).”

In a nutshell, this is just the type of thing Soderbergh does in his free time because rich people get restless. Like when he mashed up both versions of ‘Psycho.’ He’s literally a cabana boy tryst away from being one of those bored, wealthy wives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Funny how life is. When I want to amuse myself, I look for a job. Which is also what I do when I’m not working. The most interesting part of all this is that it isn’t the first time we’ve seen a black & white ‘Raiders.’ Here’s a video from Flavorwire, uploaded two years ago that sent the film back into the 1930’s to more accurately reflect the setting and film style:

Kind of the same thing. And I’m not saying Soderbergh stole the idea. But, change the score and take out the voices and you’ve got a Steven Soderbergh re-production. Except Soderbergh re-cut the whole movie, which you’ll have to see at his website. Because he won’t let us embed it. He embedded someone else’s work and changed the whole thing, but won’t let us embed that.

For the record, it’s a cool idea, and was a cool idea when Flavorwire did it before him. It’s not groundbreaking or anything – it’s just some fun stuff to look at. I wished he’d added better music though. I’m getting flashbacks of clubbing in New York back in the late 90’s.

Source – Ext. 765

Category: Cool Stuff, Film

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