Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on June 12, 1981
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)