It is the 1930s (1936 to be
specific) and the German army is searching the globe for religious artifacts
to bring back to Adolf Hitler. Enter the US government who contacts
the globetrotting archaeologist Indiana Jones to help them figure out
what the Nazis are looking for in Egypt. Jones soon heads off
in search of an old colleague of his named Ravenwood, but finds that
he is dead and Ravenswoodís daughter Marion is angry with him.
Jones is searching for an artifact that Marionís father had that will
help them locate the Ark of the Covenant, unfortunately the Nazis show
up at the same time looking for the same object. This leads to
Marion joining Jones on his search as they both travel to Egypt.
In Egypt there are more Nazis, Egyptian ruins, monkeys, poisoned dates,
and lots of snakes. Eventually the Nazis find and open the ark,
which doesnít go all that well for them. Okay honestly who hasnít
seen this movie?
I loved this movie as a kid
and yes Iím old enough to have seen it in the theater when it first
came out! And now watching it twenty-seven years later I can honestly
say that I still love this movie. The story is engaging and never
boring, with the action being non-stop throughout. In spite of
all the action the script takes the time to set up the characters so
that the audience connects with the heroes and the cheers when the villains
get what is coming to them. Also I think that the writing is criminally
overlooked in this movie. There are lines that are iconic like
the exchange between Indiana Jones and Sallah when the open the well
of souls and see the snakes. Jones: ďSnakes why did it have
to be snakes?Ē Sallah: Asps very dangerous. You go first.Ē
Great dialogue like this is what makes Raiders of the Lost Ark so much
better than most of the other adventure movies that it inspired.
The cast is top notch with
Harrison Ford and Karen Allen perfect in the roles as Indiana Jones
and Marion Ravenwood. There is chemistry between them right from
the first time they are on screen together, which is also one of the
best introductions of a female character in any movie Iíve seen (she
pops Indy right in the jaw!). Also the villains are well written
and portrayed by actors Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacy, and Wolf Kahler.
Hell Alfred Molina appears briefly in the opening as a treacherous native
guide in Peru (his first screen credit). You have to hand it to
Lucas and Spielberg because they certainly know how to put together
Speaking of the director Steven
Spielberg this is a very well put together film. From the iconic
action sequences like the truck chase, to a few genuine scares Spielberg
is definitely on top of his game. Also impressive are the sets
and locations, which give the movie a feel that goes far beyond the
twenty two million dollar budget. Throw in a few special effects
that still look pretty decent today and you have a movie that has no
Finally this I wanted to mention
some of the special features that are available on the latest DVD release
of this movie (in the three pack Indy collection). There is an
excellent short documentary with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg that
goes over the initial creation of the Raiders script. It also
touches a bit on the actual production of the movie and some of the
challenges the filmmakers faced. There is also a documentary called
Appreciation that has interviews with the cast of the latest Indiana
Jones movie. They discuss how the first film impacted them the
first time they saw it. Also interesting are the brief interviews
with Harrison Ford and Karen Allen (who returns as Marion in the new
movie). The final documentary I wanted to mention is called the
Melting Face and goes into detail how the iconic effect was accomplished.
This isnít terribly interesting and Iíve seen better effects, but
it was still kind of cool to see how they did it. All of these
shorts run about 10-15 minutes and left me wanting more. But still
I think all three are worth checking out.
What can I say? This
is a great movie that I hope everyone has seen at least once.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the movies that made me the film nerd
I am today. And if Iím going to be totally honest with myself
Raiders holds up way better than another favorite from my childhood
Star Wars. So if you donít own Raiders of the Lost Ark yet this
is an excellent opportunity to go out and get the movie. If you
already own the 2003 DVD release of the movie Iím not sure the extras
make this a good reason to double dip.
-John ďEl JuanĒ Shatzer