Steven Soderbergh's Raiders of the Lost Ark

Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh / Steven Soderbergh

Director Steven Soderbergh has posted a little homework assignment-slash-film school lesson: watch Raiders of the Lost Ark in black and white, without dialogue or the original score, in order to examine the visual language of the film. It's actually really fun, especially if you're a movie buff.

Soderbergh wrote, in part:

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).

Brilliant. And because the ("educational purposes only") video is not embeddable, head over to Soderbergh's website to watch it. Or click this screenshot to get there:

This is just the latest in a series of amazing things that appear occasionally on Soderbergh's website. Of particular interest are his list of media consumed in 2013 and in 2012.