Raiders of the Lost Ark marks the return of great adventure. In what is perhaps one of the greatest adventure movies ever made. It was practically a mandatory viewing experience when I was a kid. It’s not hard to see why considering the duo that made it. Indiana Jones is the brainchild of George Lucas, directed by his friend Steven Spielberg. Much like Star Wars, Lucas intended for the movie to recapture old fashioned serials of the black & white era. With a dashing hero going on many exciting adventures. Lucas originally called it The Adventures of Indiana Smith.
The idea was stashed away until after the success of both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Lucas convinced Spielberg that his idea would be better than James Bond. Since Spielberg was considering making a Bond film at the time. His only suggestion was to change the name to Indiana Jones. And thus, an icon is born. The only problem was finding the perfect lead. After Tom Selleck famously turned down the role, Harrison Ford became the obvious choice. Lucas wasn’t sure he wanted to use the same actor more than once, but it was a decision that more than payed off…
Raiders of the Lost Ark is everything an adventure film should be. It’s simple, exciting, easy to follow, has a sense of humor, and brings us some of the most groundbreaking action seen at the time. He may live in the 30’s, but Indiana Jones is an 80’s icon. His appearance and characterization make him one of the most easily identifiable heroes in cinema. Indiana Jones is an archaeology professor that all the girls are crazy for. In his spare time, Indy enjoys going on globetrotting adventures to recover ancient artifacts. When out on adventures Indiana Jones wears a brown leather jacket and fedora. He always carries a satchel, a gun, and his famous bullwhip. Another defining trait is his fear of snakes.
Raiders of the Lost Ark opens with the Paramount logo turning into a real mountain. It’s here in 1936 Peru that we’re slowly introduced to Indiana Jones. The entire opening sequence is one of the best in movie history. As Indy and a guide enter a temple, avoid various booby traps, and find a golden idol. Indy carefully retrieves the idol, but now has to contend with a giant boulder coming straight for him. After a betrayal, Indy comes face to face with his rival Belloq. Upon returning to his university, Dr. Marcus Brody and 2 agents reveal a plot by the Nazis to recover the lost Ark of the Covenant. Which they plan to use to grant them power as described in The Bible. The map takes Indy to Nepal and then Egypt. In Nepal he runs into his old flame Marion Ravenwood. A tough bar owner that’s the perfect match for Indy, played by Karen Allen.
After a scuffle, the two team up with Indy’s friend Sallah in Cairo. It’s there we have such famous scenes as Indy casually shooting a sword wielding henchman. The Well of Souls is discovered with the Staff of Ra. It’s there we find the Ark unfortunately surrounded by snakes. Indy’s back and forth with the Nazis takes him from truck to boat, until he and Marion are both captured. Leading to the opening of the Ark. In a graphic sequence that sees the death of all the Nazis that dare look upon it. Raiders of the Lost Ark was so good that it was nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best Picture. It won for Best Art Direction, Film Editing, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, and Visual Effects. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark goes to show that with a charismatic lead, a thrilling theme by John Williams, and a true sense of adventure, anything is possible.
Preceded by: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom