Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

PG   |    |  Action, Adventure


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Poster

In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.

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8.5/10
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  • Harrison Ford and John Rhys-Davies at an event for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


26 September 2006 | CuriosityKilledShawn
9
| Will stand the test of time forever.
I've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark numerous times on TV, DVD and big screen. My local theatre had a special showing last night and the 400-seat screen completely sold out (as Indy films always do). Luckily for me and my pal, we got the last 2 tickets available! I can't think of many films that still sell-out 25 years after their original release. There's just something about Indy movies(iconic hero, affection, epic spectacle) that brings you back again and again.

The only trouble with that is there are zillions of reviews, critiques and dissections of this movie already out there, so what I have to offer will probably not be anything new. I will however not go the way of the cliché and mention 1930's serials, Tom Selleck or the sword/gun fight.

I will, however, ask you one question. Did you know that some of the more iconic, memorable sequences from Raiders owe quite a lot to Duck Tales? What? Surely it's the other way around? Well, no. The globe-trotting adventures of Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Duey, Luey and Donald in Carl Bank's Disney comic-books from the 50s came first. If you can find some of these then you'll surely notice the similarities.

The hunt for the Ark of the Covenant is more than just an excuse for action. So many movies these days seem to come up with action first and string them together with some lame plot. Movies like this are quickly forgotten and one of the reasons Raiders holds up so well is because it works the Covenant story so well into the plot.

The action comes in a succession of set-pieces. I do enjoy films that have to increasingly better themselves in every scene. Raiders introduced this as a standard that the sequels had to live up to. My fave scene has to be the massive truck chase through Egypt, which is made up of many of its own smaller sequences. One little idiosyncrasy I like about Indy is that even though he's a College Professor and Doctor, he has no beef killing people. So very far from the ubiquitous PC heroes of todays movies.

You might think that it's rather geeky to hype up the editing and sound design, but they do stand out from recent action movies. The gunfire and punching seem to have a sort of 'Indy' signature sound to them, that I've not heard in any other films. And obviously, John William's classic score is one of those themes that just everybody in the world knows (though I prefer his score to Temple of Doom), truly one of the best movie themes ever. Better than Star Wars!

I'm not sure if Spielberg planned on Raiders starting the Indy franchise but there's already enough in here to establish a whole universe of potential stories and character arcs. There's talk of a fourth movie at the moment, but I personally don't think it will happen and I don't want it to. It's perfect existing as a trilogy and a sequel that comes traipsing in 18 years after the last is just not going to feel right. Even if you are hungry for more Indy then there are loads of books and video games out there and then there's the Young Indiana Jones TV show (where are the DVDs?), which are official Indy canon and even starred Ford once (they bounced around in time).

I am giving Raiders 9/10 because I just have a soft spot for Temple of Doom (which is obviously a 10/10 movie). Even 25 years after it first came out it still has the power to captivate the audience and provoke sheer excitement every time. And in 25 years it will still be far superior to almost everything.

Now there's something you cannot say about The Fast and the Furious! Sigh, where did all the special movies go?

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Did You Know?

Trivia

While filming the snakes scenes inside the Well of the Souls, a python bit First Assistant Director David Tomblin's hand and wouldn't let go. Tomblin calmly asked someone to grab the python (still attached to Tomblin's hand) by the tail and whip it, so that the snap would send a wave up the snake's body and force it to let go. A stage hand did just that, the python released its bite from Tomblin's hand, and Tomblin got medical attention. The python itself was not injured.


Quotes

Satipo: The Hovitos are near.
Satipo: The poison is still fresh, three days. They're following us.
Barranca: If they knew we were here, they would have killed us already.


Goofs

For the headstone crystal to use the sun's beams to properly show the location of the Well of the Souls in the map room, it's not just enough to hold it in "a certain place at a certain time of day." It also has to be the correct time of year, as the sun's position in the sky changes depending on the time of year. Indy never seems to take this into account.


Crazy Credits

The mountain in the Paramount logo dissolves into the mountain in the Peruvian jungle.


Alternate Versions

DVD release cleans up numerous effects shots. The effects aren't replaced, but various visible riggings and matte lines were erased digitally including the reflection when Indy is facing down the cobra.


Soundtracks

I am the Monarch of the Sea
(1878) (uncredited)
From "H.M.S. Pinafore"
Music by
Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
Sung a cappella by John Rhys-Davies

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Adventure

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