For this months edition of Film Club, Zoe from Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger chose the adventure classic Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger:
I was so stoked when Kieron got hold of me to pick the film for this month’s Film Club. I had been writing exams up the wazoo and this year has just been a rough, busy one all round. What did I want? I wanted something fun. I wanted adventure. I wanted some eye candy. I wanted a great story; I wanted to watch something I loved. Naturally, Raiders of the Lost Ark ticked all those boxes.
Growing up, I am sure my parents were thrilled with my insane desire to be an archaeologist… seriously. Gardens constantly dug up, climbing trees, always planning my next adventure, constantly stealing the (now I know) ridiculously expensive binoculars, nothing was safe from me. Indiana Jones, my friend, was so responsible for that. I love this movie. I mean, I love it. It is fun, adventure filled, there is plenty of action, fantastic humour, a super cool story and deserts, exploring, booby traps, Nazis, you name it, the film has it. Plus a seriously looky lead. Like Harrison Ford in his youth was just super wow.
Aside from that, his Indiana Jones is the most entertaining iconic hero, always there to save the day in some tricky, inventive way. He is smart to boot (always a super plus), will be stopped by nothing, is justly terrified by snakes, has a great sense of humour and is determined as hell. Oh yes, and cocky. Please, let’s not forget cocky. Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones, don’t care what anyone says. I will also always appreciate Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood. As a kid, she was just cool, but there was Indiana Jones, who took centre stage. Now that I am older, Jones might still dominate the show, but can I just say hell yeah about Marion? That woman is awesome and can hold her own on screen. She is strong, she is different, and she is smart and will do what she wants, when she wants. She will lay down for no one, and having a strong female lead is just great.
The time period of the movie is perfect because it really just comes across as timeless. It isn’t dated, and Nazis are always a thrilling enemy in movies (shameless, I tell you, even when it isn’t historically accurate to use them). Raiders of the Lost Ark has an interesting story, fantastic sets, action that draws you in and a lead you root for every step of the way, and a nice sharp sense of humour, and is shot immensely well and is not drowning in an overkill of CGI. Yeah, definitely some weird, flawed moments, but you are so involved in the movie it is so simple so suspend reality in favour of the adventure.
The movie draws you in, and before you know what’s happened, you are totally immersed, and so ready to go study some hardcore history and archaeology to have this glamorously awesome, adventure-filled life. How easy it is to slip back into childhood dreams when watching this! Let’s not even overlook the score. John Williams is a master at scoring iconic scores, and again, his music complements the movie every single step of the way. There is just so much to appreciate here, and holds up immensely well after all these years, and not just because of nostalgia. It is a wonderful movie, and deserves all the love that it gets.
Oracle of Film:
Some movies will never get lost in the annex of time. I truly believe that the Indiana Jones trilogy (YES, TRILOGY!) are some of those films. While they all have varying degrees of success, they stick to the same bravado sense of adventure and fun, delivering exactly what you need, when you tune into watch an instalment of Indiana Jones. It is the kind of movie where you associate it with certain tag words: swash-buckling, fun, exotic… What you seem to forget is just how accurate those descriptions are. Raiders of the Lost Ark throws Harrison Ford’s impossible-to-not-like Indiana Jones into the middle of a non-stop action adventure and the story unfolds with an irresistible sense of fun. While danger is always present either through creepy dart traps in tombs or silent assassins poisoning dates in the middle of the night, Spielberg does what he has done best throughout his years as one of the more prominent directors in Hollywood, and injects it with this sense of fun. You are going to have a good time watching Indiana Jones – that much is a guarantee.
My favourite thing about Raiders of the Lost Ark is that it doesn’t stop. With only a small break between the gripping and iconic opening sequence and the rest of the film, where the groundwork of the exposition is laid, the action does not stop. Harrison Ford is thrown from action set-piece to action set-piece. He handles it with the ease of a seasoned professional and the choreography is never anything less than amazing. While people will remember the more prominent scenes with perfect clarity – snakes, why does it have to be snake?! – or the fiery bar fight in the first act, other scenes are just as well-made. A punch-up on a plane is terrifically done, Harrison Ford taking on Pat Roach’s hulking Nazi henchman, while Marion is trapped in the cockpit of a plane about to be doused in explosive fire. It is tense, exciting and the pay-off is brilliantly bloody. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark suffers from certain beats incurred by the test of time (one too many hammy performances and some leniency’s with the narrative), but on the whole, it is a crowd-pleasing success.
Silver Screen Serenade:
I tell you what, y’all—this film club knows how to film club. I mean, last time we did The Shining, now we get to review Raiders of the Lost Ark?! God we have great taste. Well picked, Miss Zoë!
Really, is there a bad thing to say about Raiders of the Lost Ark? It marks the birth of an iconic hero thanks to the brilliant (and very attractive) young Harrison Ford, it’s filled to the brim with unforgettable lines and action/adventure sequences, and the story itself is just a whole bunch of fun. It made an entire generation of kids want to be archaeologists, and I’m sure it’s still making kids dream of hunting for lost treasures.
Anyway, I’m not gonna prattle on about this one because, really, what can you say? Everyone knows it’s near perfection. I say near for one reason: sometimes, I feel like Marion (Karen Allen) is a bit underused. She’s got a lot of sass, but it’s hard to utilize that sass when she’s captured and screaming at Indy half the movie. I mean, come on, Spielberg. She’s way to cool for that. Even so, I still like her a lot. And she’s by far the coolest lady in the Indiana Jones trilogy. Yes, trilogy. As far as I’m concerned, there are only three films. AMIRITE?? 😉
For some reason Raiders of the Lost Ark manages to be an often overlooked classic despite the fact that it ages remarkably well. The legacy of Raiders feels warped by outside factors including comparisons to contemporaries like Star Wars and its recent sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and maybe even National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code). It’s somehow easy to forget that Raiders is awesome from start to finish.
We first meet Indiana Jones in one of cinema’s most famous and most copied introductions (the most fun recent copy being Guardians of the Galaxy). From that jungle beginning we follow Indy across the world as he and a gang of other hunters search for one of cinema’s great MacGuffins. What makes Raiders stand out even after three sequels and plenty other similarly framed movies is its cast of characters. Harrison Ford is perfect in the title role making it somewhat shocking in hindsight that George Lucas originally voted against his casting. The cast around Ford may be even better. Karen Allen, as Marion Ravenwood, steals scenes just as often as Ford while Paul Freemon and Ronald Lacey provide a pair of balanced villains that keep the plot even. Freeman’s performance as Indy’s charismatic and at-times-likeable competitor Dr. René Belloq allows Lacey to go full evil as Major Arnold Toht.
Like the cast, the story itself is well-balanced throughout with actual character development happening between action scenes which are actually relevant to the plot. Having just seen Spectre and a half dozen other James Bond films, it’s impossible for me not to think of Raiders as a sort of Bond film. Indy isn’t British, doesn’t dress particularly well, and is more book-smart than any of the Bonds but he does trek through exotic locations while going on ridiculous missions and fighting over-the-top-villains. So he’s kind of like Bond? Or maybe I don’t know enough about Bond. I’ll probably take this back in a few weeks once I’ve forgotten the Mexico City scenes in Spectre or the opening scene in GoldenEye or Sean Connery’s fight with Odd Job in the vault.
Indiana Jones has become such an iconic character and so many film makers have tried to copy this formula and failed. Spielberg and Lucas chose Harrison Ford to take the role ultimately making movie history by doing so.
This movie has so many quotable lines and constantly puts its characters in dire situations that keep us on the edge of our seats throughout. Karen Allen is great as the tough female lead opposite Ford and John Rhys-Davies is great and funny at the same time as Indy’s friend Sallah.
My favorite piece of trivia about this movie is that when they were filming the scene where Indy is confronted by a swordsman in the marketplace, Ford had food poisoning and wanted to speed up the pace. He suggested that he just shoot the guy and we now have a memorable movie moment that was caused by food poisoning.
The music by John Williams is stunning and he once again proved how great an artist he truly is. This is a true classic and will stand the test of time as one of the most iconic films ever made. It perfectly captures the time depicted and we are drawn into it all for the entire running time, ultimately wanting even more.
HC Movie Reviews:
When I was growing up there were two film franchises always fighting for my attention. The first was James Bond, which we have already covered in our review of Casino Royale. The second was of course Indiana Jones, the original trilogy of movies were some of the first films that really got me into movies and re-watching Raiders for this review it isn’t hard to tell why.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is easily the most iconic of the Indy series and actually one of the most iconic adventure movies of all time. Whether it’s the massive boulder pursuing Indy in one of the greatest film openings of all time or his mismatched sword to gun standoff in the Egyptian markets everyone is sure to recognise or remember something about this movie. The action that we see in these moments is a constant throughout the film and it’s effortlessly blended with humour meaning that the audience never tire of watching Indy punch a few more Nazis in the face (who could ever tire of that?).
One of the most crucial elements to the success of Raiders though is Indy himself. Played by Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones is the ultimate adventurer and the perfect hero to get behind. The action scenes seem to come very naturally to Ford but he’s even more at home with the comical side of Indy’s characters – especially when confronted with his favourite slithery friends. If our main character hadn’t been as likeable or believable as Ford made him the success of this film and its sequels wouldn’t be worth comparing. The only thing that can maybe rival Ford’s portrayal of Indy as the best element of the film would be the theme created by John Williams as it captures the sense of adventure perfectly!
Once you combine all of the above elements into a movie that doesn’t even last two hours you can understand why Raiders of the Lost Ark is most likely the greatest adventure movie of all time. With originally two sequels following it Raiders made sure to establish the brilliant character of Dr. Jones to make sure that we got to see more of his adventures, which we see in The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. Which of the trilogy is the best will always be debated with fans but Raiders of the Lost Ark will always be the first Indy adventure and the film responsible for what quality was to come in the future and for that movie lovers all over the world thank you.
What About the Twinkie:
If review aggregator webites are anything to go by, then Raiders of the Lost Ark is a bonafide classic. It’s high scores dominant these type of sites and paint a picture of a film that transcends generations and genres. Of course, in this case anyway, the are correct. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a legitimate classic and stands the test of time in ways that few of todays films ever could. Raiders of the Lost Ark acts like an earth-bound answer to Star Wars, a film that had been released only four years previosuly. The swashbuckiling adventures of a rogueish herohave become synonymous with action cinema, and has been replicated more times than I care to count and has rarely, if ever, been bettered.
The holy trinity of Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and Laurence Kasdan come together to create one of cinemas greatest heroes in one of the all time great adventure films. There’s so much to take in here, it’s impossible to take it all in after one viewing. The Star Wars referenes, the infamous scene that shows why guns are more useful than swords and a who’s who of great character acting are the tip of the iceberg. It all culminates in a film with a relentless pace and unforgettable stunts from a director and actor in the form of their lives.
Film Club rating: 9.4/10
General consensus: Raiders of the Lost Ark is now 34 years old and remains a true classic that will be enjoyed for many more years to come.