Steven Soderbergh (director of Ocean’s 11, Traffic, Behind The Candelabra) is pretty cool. I really like some of his work and think he has a great and original approach to film. Sadly, he recently retired from directing movies. There’s good news, he is still keeping himself busy. I just watched about an hour of his latest little project. He took The Raiders of The Lost Ark and remixed it. He muted it, put it in black and white, and added a new score. This score comprised mostly of electronic music composed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network. The black and white looks great. Sometimes such a filter can be dull, but not with all the shadow and sunlight in this movie. Secondly, the new score work very well. It is sometimes as tense as a gun to the face and as casual as studying in the library. The film feels disconnected without audio, but in a good way. It feels more thought out. We pay attention to the images instead of plot because in an adventure movie of this scale with sound makes us pay attention to nothing but what’s happening. In this minimal version, we actually realize this is a movie that people photographed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still as unrealistic as any other action movie from the seventies. For example, Marion beats a man who is three times her size in a drinking game. A Nazi knows everything about Indy’s expedition, Indy is a history professor. Are the Nazi’s spying on teachers? In Egypt, Indy and two other white guys kill somewhere north of ten natives and every Egyptian in Cairo doesn’t even bat an eye. In the first scene, thousand year-old traps have motion sensing technology that didn’t even exist when the movie was made. The plot is still ridiculous, but the framing and staging is pretty damn cool. Soderbergh’s work here highlights that very brightly. A criticism to his work here would be that he should’ve cut some of the original movie. Some scenes are just minutes of dialogue that we don’t need. It’s useless and feels awkward. This combination is still deadly enough to kill the original. The way the black and white affects this film is almost awkward. When we see the idol in the beginning, in the original, it looks like a vase. When we see it in black and white, it looks holy. It looks Gods themselves would worship it. As good as the black and white makes the artifacts look, the score makes you not care about them. You care about the beating heart of the world we’re being shown. The Nazi’s, the natives, our hero, his friends, and even just people walking by. The score is pulsating and alive. In an intense scene, the tension is in the music playing instead of what’s playing on the screen. I don’t know which is better, the score on it’s own as music or Soderbergh’s combination of it with these black and white images.