Stripping Indiana Jones


Director Steven Soderbergh took Raiders of the Lost Ark and stripped it of color, dialog, and that famous John Williams score. Here’s why:

He posted the result on his experimental online marketplace, Extension 765. He begins his musing on the film by talking about staging, the way the elements of a scene are arranged. He writes, “I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount.”

The stripped-down “Raiders” invites viewers to concentrate on Spielberg’s staging, rather than Harrison Ford’s dialogue or the dramatic action music. Soderbergh replaced the original score with an unusual electronica soundtrack meant to “aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect.” Some viewers may find the new score a little off-putting, but you can always mute the thing and look purely at the visuals.


I’ve always thought the Nepalese bar sequence, when Indy first encounters Nazi Major Arnold Toht and rekindles his romance with Marion Ravenwood, was a perfectly staged small-set action sequence. Could it really be improved, or at least have my appreciation of it enhanced, by watching it stripped down?

There’s only one way to find out…


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