chapter  6
13 Pages

Discerning independents: Steven Soderbergh and transhistorical taste cultures

ByMark Gallagher

Among the many contemporary filmmakers who gesture toward historical eras and modes to articulate their creative sensibilities and mobilize interest in their work, director, cinematographer, producer and sometimes editor and screenwriter Steven Soderbergh stands out for his repeated celebration of cinema history both in his work and in his many semi-public conversations about film. This chapter investigates Soderbergh and his works’ dialogues with film history, with canonical and offbeat texts, and with a range of creative personnel in U.S. and international cinema. In particular, it addresses Soderbergh’s reference points in 1960s and 1970s U.S. and European cinema. Soderbergh and the entertainment press have drawn connections between his work and numerous films and filmmakers of the New Hollywood and European art cinema, in particular directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Richard Lester, John Boorman, Mike Nichols, William Friedkin and Sidney Lumet. The textual features, production practices and discursive positionings of Soderbergh’s work attest to historical continuities as well as industrial transformation.