Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Cinema Monolith: 10/10 This film is part of the Cinema Monolith collection!Film ReelProject 82
IMDb: 8.6/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: **** out of 4

Released on June 12, 1981
Rated PG
115 minutes

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Lawrence Kasdan, from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman

Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina, Wolf Kahler, Anthony Higgins, Vic Tablian, William Hootkins, Frank Marshall, George Harris, Pat Roach

One of the greatest cinema adventures of all time, and more fun than a barrel of date-poisoned monkeys. Harrison Ford stars as archeologist Indiana Jones, spanning the globe in search of the Ark of the Covenant and getting mixed up with natives, killer boulders, an old flame named Marion, Nazis, snakes, submarines, and whatever else director Steven Spielberg and writer Lawrence Kasdan could throw into the script.

I was so excited about the film after I’d first seen it, and was so involved with discussing the finer aspects of it with my friend as we drove home afterwards, I unknowingly blazed straight through a red light shortly after we’d left the theater. Yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark made that kind of an impact. And actually, for me it still does; with this most recent viewing, I’ve seen this now a few dozen times, and I’m happy to say that the experience was just as entertaining, breathtaking, and flat-out fun as it was over thirty years ago.

This time around, however, there were three facets of the film I paid closer attention to than any time before, and which made separate distinct impacts of their own. The first was John Williams’ rousing and memorable score, which so thoroughly enhanced every minute of the film, and took you back to the adventure epics of the past; secondly, I loved the fact that there were no sympathetic bad guys anywhere…they were all nasty sons of bitches you loved to hate, and deserved every boo and hiss that was hurled their way. Lastly, I finally decided which sequence I got the greatest kick out of: the flying wing scene, featuring the fistfight between Indy and the muscle-bound Nazi mechanic.

Good lord, did this bit ever have it all, with Indy battling the towering German while the grounded wing, unmoored and propellers whizzing, slowly turned in a deadly circle around them, and where, from the cockpit above, Marion blazed away with machine gun fire at an arriving truckload of Nazi reinforcements. This bit encompassed so much there was to like about Raiders, I would’ve been satisfied if it had been released as a short film on its own. It’s just a wonderfully fun and thrilling scene, and just one of many that you’ll find throughout the film.

And this was what made Raiders so giddily enjoyable: there was action and humor and danger and suspense at every turn, and the movie rarely stopped to take a breath. Even during the inactive expository scenes, when the story spent a few moments filling in background and prepping characters for what was ahead, your attention was still held captive. After several viewings, you began to realize that every action had an accompanying reaction, and the plot continually moved forward, with elements that eventually connected and foreshadowing that delightfully paid off time and time again.

These aspects can be attributed to screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and storywriters George Lucas and Philip Kaufman, but none of it would’ve mattered without the direction and imagination of Steven Spielberg, whose skills behind the camera were simply amazing, and proved why he’s so good at what he does. Basically, Raiders of the Lost Ark was and is a prime example of the perfect film experience, and if for whatever reason you haven’t seen it by now, then I’d say it’s high time you did.  (10/10)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

12 comments on “Raiders of the Lost Ark

  1. Julie Dunning

    Love it! A great review of a great film. Really enjoyed reading this – thanks! Your enthusiasm is contagious. Now I must see this again!


    • Todd B

      Yes, you must! I promise it’ll be just as good as when you last saw it! But I don’t recommend you see the most recent one, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Ugh!



    Boy ya had me fooled – no clue this was recycled. Good thinking!


    • Todd B

      Not recycled per se…perhaps just waiting in the wings for eight long, lonely years!


  3. Eric Binford

    Raiders was one of the first VHS movies we owned (Paramount had introduced an unprecedented special offer, Raiders, An Officer and A Gentleman and Star Trek II, each $29.99, and my dad bought all three films). We watched Raiders every weekend for months!


    • Todd B

      Isn’t it strange to realize how expensive it was to purchase VHS movies back then…and how they can now be found at thrift stores for less than a buck! And ‘unprecedented’ at $29.99…I remember my friend buying Some Kind of Wonderful on VHS when it was released, at $79.99, and he nearly bought a laserdisc of Jaws for $150! At least with you and Raiders, it sounds like you got your money’s worth!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eric Binford

        It’s crazy, isn’t it? I paid 50 cents for the last VHS tape I bought (the movie had an old sticker that said $69.99). When my last VCR broke (6 or 7 years ago), I decided not to replace it — it was the end of an era.


      • Todd B

        I still have my VHS and Beta player, and both still work…I’ve watched a few VHS movies over the past few years, mostly ones I picked up for change at various thrift stores and antique malls. I think the last ‘current’ VHS movie I ever bought – before DVD, when VHS films were still being sold – was in 1998, when I picked up The Sting at a Suncoast store in a local mall. And I still have my Raiders tape I picked up at a McDonald’s, during a 1991 promotion, for $5.99!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Eric Binford

        Oh, I remember the VHS vs Beta thing. Allegedly, Beta was better than VHS (true?), but I never had a chance to compare the two formats (I’m not familiar with Laserdisc either). Anyhow, when my last VHS stopped working I decided to move on…


      • Todd B

        I would say yes, Beta was better than VHS…my Dad was convinced of that by the guy at the TV store when he bought ours for Christmas. And when I bought my own a few years later, the superior picture was convincing enough that my friend immediately went out and bought one as well. That same friend also owned a laserdisc player, but I can’t recall if the quality was better or equal to VHS and/or Beta.

        I’m still hoping to watch at least one movie this year on VHS…we’ll see if I can squeeze one in before the 31st. Beta I’ll have to save for next year, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Eric Binford

        Isn’t that something? Beta lost to the inferior VHS (Beta was slightly smaller, so it would have been much better for collectors). History repeated itself: Remember the HD DVD vs Blu-ray? In that case, the superior format won…


      • Todd B

        I do remember HD DVD vs Blu-ray…at the time I’d just received my first DVD player, and I wasn’t about to dump that for another new format! But recently I found a dozen or so HD-DVDs in a thrift store for a buck apiece, and shortly thereafter found a player for $10, so I finally got to watch a few of them. It was interesting to see how different the menus and layouts and such were, but the two things I noticed most were a) the quality of the source material sometimes wasn’t up to par, and b) how easily scratched the discs could become (compared to Blu-ray). So yeah, the superior format did win it seems!

        Liked by 1 person

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