Downward spiral to the lost ark.
July 27, 2020 8:56 PM   Subscribe

Steven Soderbergh did a black-and-white cut of Raiders of the Lost Ark with music by Trent Reznor and no dialog.
posted by w0mbat (67 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
 
Okay this is already groovier than I was expecting it to be. I like what he wrote about looking at the composition and motion and choices about shots. I've been fascinated by film editing for a long time, even before I saw The Cutting Edge (documentary).

It seems like a lot of the time, it's the editor who actually creates the movie, although they need to be presented with good choices about shots that were taken to be edited. It's a curious thing.

I might use this at a party sometime if it lives online long enough.
posted by hippybear at 9:18 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the time my high school theater teacher had us watch the opening of Raiders, from the beginning to the seaplane taking off, over and over again to observe many of the same things - camera angles, length of shots, etc. (The thing that always sticks out most in my mind is that he wanted us to take note of how often Indy’s hat band changes color.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:23 PM on July 27


Am I dreaming? We get a new Trent Reznor instrumental album accompanied by a B&W version of Raiders courtesy of Steven Soderbergh who makes it look like it was from the 40s (and seriously makes the problematic aspects of it even more glaringly obvious) and is giving us an education in cinematography? And the Reznor soundtrack has Hall of the Mountain King in it? What?
posted by treepour at 10:05 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


The Reznor soundtrack is all material from other sources. The Hall Of The Mountain King is from his soundtrack with Atticus Ross for The Social Network.
posted by hippybear at 10:23 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


I might use this at a party sometime if it lives online long enough.

Soderbergh posted this in 2014 so perhaps he’s immune from Hollywood’s lawyers?
posted by good in a vacuum at 10:40 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


Oh, I didn't see the timestamp. Good to know!
posted by hippybear at 10:41 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Spielberg with the sound off is often the best way to watch Spielberg. (Minority Report)
posted by From Bklyn at 11:04 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


I like Trent Reznor but found the use of his music as a soundtrack overwhelming and bizarre.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 1:31 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


Other films that are better in black and white than the original print; Mad Max Fury Road (2016) (known as Black and Chrome edition), Logan (2017) (known as Logan Noir) and The Mist (2007). Yes, The Mist. The original is spooky and typical King, but the black and white version is *terrifying*

There is a version of Lady Vengeance called the Fade to Black and White edition that I haven't gotten around to watching yet.
posted by Molesome at 2:10 AM on July 28 [23 favorites]


There's an official black and white cut of Parasite too.
posted by octothorpe at 3:24 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


I've worked in film and TV production and it is my opinion that many times, the editor is the overlooked and under appreciated, but true hero in the whole process.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:15 AM on July 28 [11 favorites]


There is a version of Lady Vengeance called the Fade to Black and White edition that I haven't gotten around to watching yet.

Uh, whoa. Definitely need to get my hands on this, thanks Molesome.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:03 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Doesn't decolorizing have some of the ethical issues of colorizing? I recognize that B & W - ing isn't the same as decolorizing.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:05 AM on July 28


Previously and previously. Glad to see it's still up.
posted by gwint at 5:18 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Doesn't decolorizing have some of the ethical issues of colorizing? I recognize that B & W - ing isn't the same as decolorizing.

I suppose it does, although I don’t think desaturating a film has the same potential to make it look clownish or garish as a colorization job. (Well, I guess it does, as you could really crush the blacks or blow out the whites and lose a lot of detail in the image if you don’t have an eye for grading.) Ideally you would shoot the film for black and white since there are implications for costume design and art direction to deal with along with the DP, who knows how different colors will “read” when desaturated. Then again, color-grading tools are so advanced these days that it’s probably not a dealbreaker since you could isolate and “fix” any object in the frame that looked odd or out of place in monochrome.

For what it’s worth, the black-and-white versions of Fury Road, Logan, The Mist and Parasite were for sure approved by their directors, and I assume Lady Vengeance too.
posted by Mothlight at 5:59 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


I've worked in film and TV production and it is my opinion that many times, the editor is the overlooked and under appreciated, but true hero in the whole process.

Hi Sally!
posted by Molesome at 6:01 AM on July 28 [5 favorites]


Doesn't decolorizing have some of the ethical issues of colorizing?

Perhaps but less as colorizing is inventing a dimension that did not exist in the original version. Removing color in some degree is inevitable transmitted to certain end points. Is viewing a color performance on an old black and white TV unethical?
posted by sammyo at 7:28 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


Jump to 1:44:45 for the final Ark of the Covenant scene. It looks amazing with this desaturation and contrast boosting.
posted by Nelson at 7:28 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


I've read the first two paragraphs of the intro, skipped to the movie and watched maybe the first minute ... and I'm already pretty sure that come the future, many millennia forward in time, this is the version of Raiders that will be celebrated, discussed, accepted as The Version.

God I love a labor of love.
posted by philip-random at 8:03 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


We only had a black & white TV until I was 10 or 11 so everything I saw was de-colorized and I had no idea which movies or TV shows were actually in color. The whole switch from B&W to color when Dorothy lands in OZ was lost on my for like the first seven times I saw that movie. I watched all 79 episodes of Star Trek in black and white more than once.
posted by octothorpe at 8:16 AM on July 28 [11 favorites]


Ever since I became educated on film technique I've enjoyed accepting vitriolic dismissal and hate from fellow "film snobs" who roll their eyes and laugh at my love of Spielberg as a visual story-teller. Don't get me wrong, he's not my favorite director by a longshot, and sure he makes plenty of clunkers but the clunkers aren't why he's famous. Spielberg can do it all from a technical filmmaking standpoint. Composition, camera movement, blocking, editing, long takes (that don't scream "LOOK I'M A LONG TAKE!") and any other cinematic magic designed to bring you inside a story and lose yourself in the Dreamworld of cinema. There's a reason directors as different as Kubrick and Soderbergh respect him.

One of my go-to examples for the perfection of moving a camera through a space and how the blocking and movement tell a story without words is Schindler's entrance and networking opportunity.
posted by Chickenring at 8:26 AM on July 28 [6 favorites]


I watched the full Star Trek The Original Series over the past year, and there were many an evening when I switched my monitor to black and white, muted the volume, and put on some jazz. Worked really, really well!
posted by rebent at 8:32 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


We only had a black & white TV until I was 10 or 11 so

we share a common time line. I remember the family across the street getting a color tv and the first thing we did was muck with the hue and whatnot. Nothing to do with this discussion. Just a memory that suddenly popped up. I remember Gilligans Island -- trying to get Ginger's hair to be green.
posted by philip-random at 8:32 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


In the opening sequence, as Indy struggles to make it across the pit before the door slides down, there are shots where the door looks closer to the ground, followed by shots where it's a bit higher. It's a fragment of cheap suspense building, pretty common, but it stands out because Spielberg almost never fudges the sense of space. Compare that to the fight around the Nazi Flying Wing, where you are kept aware of so many concentric rings of action - at the center, the pilot looking for a clear shot, Marion in the gunner ball, the aircraft rotating, the plain of the blades in relation to the brute and Indy, then further out, the fuel trucks and the officer's camp. It's crazy how he can build spatial relations in your mind eye. Then blow it all up at the end.
posted by bendybendy at 9:09 AM on July 28 [6 favorites]


This is extremely cool and decidedly shows how to create and communicate an iconic character.

In my previous film-student life I would've obsessed over this, being a fan of all three artists involved.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:12 AM on July 28


man the B&W really works for the reveal of Indy's face at the beginning
posted by dismas at 9:22 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


I don't think it would work perfectly as a first viewing. The early scenes with the government agents convincing Indy to go after the Ark, for instance, while well-shot, drag with no dialog and wouldn't advance the story the same way. I think you could make a cut that would work: the action in this movie is far more compelling than the dialog, or even the plot. Bonus points for avoiding Marion's revelation: "I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it!" which turns Indy from a lovable scoundrel into an irredeemable creep at best.
posted by rikschell at 9:23 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


treepour

Am I dreaming? We get a new Trent Reznor instrumental album accompanied by a B&W version of Raiders courtesy of Steven Soderbergh who makes it look like it was from the 40s (and seriously makes the problematic aspects of it even more glaringly obvious) and is giving us an education in cinematography? And the Reznor soundtrack has Hall of the Mountain King in it? What?


maybe 2020 is trying to make up for things a bit
posted by supermedusa at 9:32 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


The opening sequence through the snake-in-the-plane is hard to beat for sheer cinematic artistry, color or black and white.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:33 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Oh and thanks Molesome, I was thinking the ending to The Mist wasn’t quite pants-wetting enough already.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:35 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


The reason I say ethical issues is because good directors make color choices which are wiped away.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:48 AM on July 28


Thank you for posting. As a student of Will Eisner, I've come to fetishize black and white instrumental cuts to study visual storytelling. This really reinforces raiders as one of the best examples of this ever made.
posted by BigBrooklyn at 10:54 AM on July 28


Soderberg also cut together both versions of Psycho.
posted by octothorpe at 10:54 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I watched the full Star Trek The Original Series over the past year, and there were many an evening when I switched my monitor to black and white, muted the volume, and put on some jazz. Worked really, really well!

I maintain that Star Trek TOS would be totally upgraded by replacing or just deleting the original music. It is so corny, and there is so little material repeated again and again. It turns a decent quality science fiction drama into a clownshow.

This also applies to the original sound effects like phaser sounds, red alert siren, sick bay boing sound. They are all over the top, fake sounding, distorted, not grounded in the ambience of the room. I'd replace everything except the transporter sounds, which are actually pretty good.

I wouldn't touch the picture at all.
posted by w0mbat at 11:19 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I look forward to the emergence of filters that let us reimagine Star Trek in any genre. We can already conceivably put cat ears on all the actors in real-time, so it seems like the next logical step to be able to click a button that dresses them all in period Shakespeare costumes or makes them into Smurfs, or transforms the bridge into the set of Cheers. With the pandemic, it feels like there’s already a lot less new content and people are revisiting old shows and films. This is just the next step.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:42 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


For anyone wanting to get an offline copy of this for archival purposes, I had luck using this script and following the instructions here: https://github.com/Tusko/vimeo-private-downloader
posted by WaylandSmith at 12:43 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


... long takes (that don't scream "LOOK I'M A LONG TAKE!")

I think there's a previously for that.

Yes, there's a previously.
posted by RobotHero at 1:26 PM on July 28


The previously seems to have had the main Vimeo link taken down, I think this is the same video on Youtube.
posted by RobotHero at 1:30 PM on July 28


I watched the full Star Trek The Original Series over the past year, and there were many an evening when I switched my monitor to black and white, muted the volume, and put on some jazz. Worked really, really well!

You just described about a million parties that I went to in my mispent youth - from basement to warehouse, except replace jazz with whatever the DJ wanted to play.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:29 PM on July 28 [3 favorites]


we used to experiment sometimes with dialling down chroma from videos of various old films..

'Dersu Uzala' (1975) by Kurosawa looked wayy more perfect in B&W, but I think the colour print from our copy had pretty muddy separation (not sure if Mosfilm is the issue? well, quality for film-to-video transfer for old/foreign films is always something, blah-blah, etc...)

In vaguely related, 'Forbidden Zone' (1980) was originally released in B&W, but a colour re-issue appeared years later. Prefer the B&W version.
posted by ovvl at 3:46 PM on July 28


"I've worked in film and TV production and it is my opinion that many times, the editor is the overlooked and under appreciated, but true hero in the whole process."

An editor, like a mixing engineer, is only as good as the source material. A polished turd is just a turd
posted by mrcircles at 3:49 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


An editor, like a mixing engineer, is only as good as the source material. A polished turd is just a turd

Hard disagree. Editors can make changes to story, structure, dialogue and performance that fundamentally change the meaning of a work. Especially these days, when they can use tools to resync an actor’s lips to match overdubbed dialogue or to Frankenstein multiple takes into one apparently seamless conversation. There’s an interesting video that makes a case that Star Wars was saved in the cutting room, and in his classic book When the Shooting Stops ... the Cutting Begins, film editor Ralph Rosenblum describes the shambling mess that was Annie Hall before he helped work it into shape. That’s not to say that Star Wars and Annie Hall were turds, exactly, but that the editors made heroic and underappreciated contributions that vastly improved the source material.
posted by Mothlight at 4:25 PM on July 28 [8 favorites]


What a great (long!) perfume commercial.

10/10 I would buy that scent.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:12 PM on July 28 [3 favorites]


Ever since I became educated on film technique I've enjoyed accepting vitriolic dismissal and hate from fellow "film snobs" who roll their eyes and laugh at my love of Spielberg as a visual story-teller.

???

This is frankly bizarre. Spielberg is one of the greatest—perhaps the greatest—visual storytellers in the history of film. This is not a particularly controversial opinion. He’s an absolute giant.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:34 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I think it's easier for a director to get the credit for a well edited movie than for an editor to get the credit for a well directed movie.
posted by RobotHero at 7:35 PM on July 28 [7 favorites]


Mothlight: Gordon Lish and Teo Macero concur.
posted by hototogisu at 7:40 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Mothlight, your Star Wars link is broken.
posted by RobotHero at 7:43 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


The reason I say ethical issues is because good directors make color choices which are wiped away.

There's also some number of silent movie era films that had color, either done by hand or by one of several early techniques, but which only survive is a black and white print. As I understand it, it was more common for early movies to have color than we realize now, because so little of it survived.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:22 PM on July 28 [3 favorites]


You just described about a million parties that I went to in my mispent youth - from basement to warehouse, except replace jazz with whatever the DJ wanted to play.

way back when, we called it watching TV with the radio on.

There was a song with that title, a minor FM hit.
posted by philip-random at 10:41 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


IIRC he also did a black and white cut of 2001 A Space Odyssey around the same time. I went looking for it a couple years ago but couldn't find it anywhere, not even on torrent sites. I wondered if it got scrubbed from the internet because of the 50th anniversary re-release (actually, it might have been shortly after I went to see the remaster in Imax that I tried to find the Soderbergh version).

Should anyone know where to find that cut I'm all ears/eyes/inbox.
posted by mannequito at 11:18 PM on July 28


This is frankly bizarre. Spielberg is one of the greatest—perhaps the greatest—visual storytellers in the history of film. This is not a particularly controversial opinion. He’s an absolute giant.


I'm telling you it's true! So many Spielberg poo-pooers out there!
posted by Chickenring at 11:35 PM on July 28


He gets criticized for sentimentality and for being overly emotionally manipulative some of which is justified and he's directed quit a few clunkers. I just caught up with Warhorse and it really isn't very good and Ready Player One is a mess but I'm not sure who could have done better with that source material.

That said, no one can construct a scene or move a camera and actors through a set better than him. I watched Munich for the first time a few weeks ago and some of the set-pieces in that are just text book examples of how to shoot suspense.
posted by octothorpe at 6:39 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


This is frankly bizarre

I mean, it's hardly rare that {whatever art/craft} "snobs", especially self-proclaimed ones, cop a "too cool for school" attitude where anyone popular or successful can't possibly be all that good.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:48 AM on July 29



I'm telling you it's true! So many Spielberg poo-pooers out there!

when I was in film school (late 1970s), it was the height of uncool to admit to being a Spielberg fan, his stuff being seen as the epitome of conventionality -- the cinema of the boring-predictable-regular.

It's not a view I personally paid much attention to, having had enough of the "cool kids" in high school.
posted by philip-random at 8:23 AM on July 29


Soundguy99 nails it.

Anything popular can't also be "real" art because it is enjoyed by wide array people rather than an elite group of sophists.

The comments about movement and framing made me think of the video "Composing Motion" from Every Frame a Painting which is all about Kurosawa and how he uses the frame. It's easy to forget that his movies, while enjoying iconic status amongst film snobs, are often as watchable and damn fun as Indiana Jones.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:28 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I mean, it's hardly rare that {whatever art/craft} "snobs", especially self-proclaimed ones, cop a "too cool for school" attitude where anyone popular or successful can't possibly be all that good.

This is why I still listen to the radio in the car!
posted by rhizome at 10:56 AM on July 29


So many Spielberg poo-pooers out there!

It all depends on how far they've progressed on the FSSODS, or the Film Snob Spielberg Opinion Development Scale:

1) I like watching movies
2) Hey these Spielberg movies are really good
3) Ugh commercial pablum
4) Technically he's pretty good but these movies are for dummies
5) The phrase 'Born movie-maker' gets thrown around a lot...
6) Easily one of the all-time Top 10 greats
7) I like watching movies
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:26 AM on July 29 [9 favorites]


My brother and I have an informal list of celebrities who are probably bummers to invite to a party. Spielberg is one, Paul McCartney is another. I like Minority Report a lot, though.
posted by rhizome at 12:17 PM on July 29


All these black-and-white versions of movies, what about the version that's colour only? Just the hue and saturation without the distraction of luminosity.
posted by RobotHero at 3:11 PM on July 29


I maintain that Star Trek TOS would be totally upgraded by replacing or just deleting the original music. It is so corny, and there is so little material repeated again and again. It turns a decent quality science fiction drama into a clownshow.

Cue Amok Time Fight Music.
posted by m@f at 3:23 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


well hey, I'm a film snob, and I think Spielberg's best work (Jaws) is in the top list of Greatest Cinema Art ever made. I also think some of his more sentimental stuff is eye-watering cringey.

There's no denying his technical artistry in Indiana Jones. Some of the colonial aspects in the scripts are dated and problematic (reflecting the source material that he is pastiching). Despite this, I still get a kick out of Kate Capshaw singing Cole Porter in Temple of Doom.

I haven't followed his later career closely, but I am pretty curious to see what he does with West Side Story.
posted by ovvl at 3:45 PM on July 29


I had luck using this script and following the instructions here: https://github.com/Tusko/vimeo-private-downloader

youtube-dl worked for me, as it so often does.
posted by flabdablet at 2:26 AM on July 31


Mothlight, your Star Wars link is broken.

Aw, I'm sorry about that -- I wandered away from the thread and got super-busy and didn't come back until just now. Here it is:

How Star Wars Was Saved in the Edit
posted by Mothlight at 11:20 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Someone even made front page post about that a few years ago.
posted by octothorpe at 1:43 PM on July 31


'Forbidden Zone' (1980) was originally released in B&W, but a colour re-issue appeared years later. Prefer the B&W version.

I watched the color version a few years ago, having had no idea it even existed, and was deeply disoriented but also it's Forbidden Zone so that was already my viewing baseline and I had no real idea if anything I'd seen in the original was an actual part of the film or some awful fever dream, anyway. What an inexplicably watchable movie.

Anyway, I kind of like Soderbergh when he's out of his mind, so this is neat.
posted by Lonnrot at 2:18 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I had no real idea if anything I'd seen in the original was an actual part of the film or some awful fever dream, anyway. What an inexplicably watchable movie.

I was about to paste more-or-less the same comment; my memories of the film were so shaky anyway that I had several moments of "was this always in color and I'm remembering it in B&W?"
posted by aspersioncast at 8:12 PM on August 4


MetaFilter: kind of like Soderbergh when he's out of his mind
posted by hippybear at 9:35 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


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