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Steven Soderbergh remade Raiders of the Lost Ark without color or sound and it’s still amazing

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

There is no Oscar for best "staging."

But staging — the way shots are composed and the way various elements of a scene are arranged — can convey a powerful story all by itself. Steven Soderbergh, the Oscar-winning director of Traffic, along with many, many other films, wanted to prove just how important staging is.

To prove his point, he stripped Steven Spielberg's classic Raiders of the Lost Ark of all of its color, re-scored it, and challenged his readers to appreciate the staging and only the staging.

"I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount," Soderbergh wrote on Extension765, his website. "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."

Soderbergh's challenge makes you appreciate scenes, the thoughtfulness of how Spielberg shot them, and the tension or emotion those scenes convey. You don't need any sound or color to understand the emotion (pleading/pensive thinking) in this shot:

Indiana Jones

(Raiders of the Lost Ark)

The experiment also makes you appreciate the composition of a shot — the arches, the extras, their headwear — as well as the movement of the camera that follows Indiana Jones as he sits down:

(Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Soderbergh has the full video of Raiders in its color-stripped, re-scored format on his site.

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