"Tanis development proceeding. Acquire headpiece, Staff of Ra. Abner Ravenwood, U.S."
The above secret German cable is the motivation for this fantasy adventure film (from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman, directed by Steven Spielberg). For if the Germans acquire the headpiece, they will be able to locate the lost Ark of the Covenant with its mysterious powers. (The Ark of the Covenant is a chest that contains the stone tablets in which the Ten Commandments are inscribed.)
It's up to Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) to locate the Ark before the Germans do. Dr. Jones is Professor of Archaeology, expert on the occult, and obtainer of rare antiquities. Jones' trademark when he's in the field is his bullwhip and Fedora (a type of hat).
This movie could very well be the greatest adventure film of all time. The viewer is treated to one cliff hanger after another. As well, the acting and special effects are good. (This is Alfred Molina's acting debut.)
What I especially liked was the blend of humor, adventure, and drama. Also, the music by the great John Williams is unforgettable.
Photography was in France, Tunisia, Hawaii, and studios in England.
The title of this movie was originally "Raiders of the Lost Ark" but was later changed for marketing purposes.
This film originated from George Lucas' desire to create a modern version of the serials of the 1930s and 1940s.
The budget for this movie was eighteen million dollars. It has grossed almost three-hundred and ninety million worldwide!
Finally, the DVD itself (released in 2008) has six extras. I found most of them interesting.
In conclusion, I would recommend that you have your seat belts on when you view this film. Why? Because you're going to be taken on a non-stop action-adventure!!
(1981; 1 hr, 51 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 31 scenes)
<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>
on August 19, 2010
My family and I saw this movie many years ago. I bought the movie because of the happy memories we still share about it. It is a wonderful, action packed, edge of seat movie at the end of which I realized I had been holding my breath much of the time. There is a terrifying scene near the beginning in which helpers get pinned to the tunnel wall by razor sharp spears and "Indie" (the hero) is pursued down the tunnel by a bone crushing .... Well, you gotta see it if you have not already. Just be prepared for a severe test of your bladder control! I saw the movie when I was a lot younger. I saw it again when I bought it just recently. I am happy to report that, despite being much older, my bladder is still in good shape!
The "ark" which Indie seeks is the ancient Ark of the Covenant in which the Hebrew people carried the two stone tablets on which the finger of God had written the Ten Commandments in the presence of Moses. The Ark has great powers and Nazi archaeologists want to seize it to defeat Germany's enemies. Indianna Jones saves the world!
This is the first in a series of fun to watch action packed movies based on what an archeologist should be. Being a first you will not notice the pattern of the film unless you are used to Saturday matinees.
We hit the deck running on this one as we see Indiana Jones making a John Wayne type of entrance. So much that you do not notice the dubious looking character next to him Statipo (Alfred Molina). Until he says "Give me the Idle and I will give you the whip."
Now settled down, after his near miss with the natives, Harrison Ford is a professor (Indiana Jones) teaching the fact that archeology is a search for facts not some thrill ride.
That very afternoon he is confronted by some government agents. It seems that his old professor Abner Ravenwood has disappeared. They picked up some radio transmissions that contained the name of Abner and a city Tannis. Immediately Indiana Jones knows that the Nazis (natural bad buys) are looking for the Ark of the Covenant (which can be used as a weapon of unspeakable power) and somehow he must beat them to it for the sake of the world.
He is helped by an old love interest Marion (Karen Allen) and rivaled by an old nemesis Dr. Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman).
Does it really exist?
How can he beat them to it?
Why is he on the outs with Abner?
Hold on for a thrill a minute and don't eat any bad dates.
on February 21, 2004
Few classics in the history of motion pictures can be as easily recognizable for their theme music alone as Raiders of the Lost Ark and remain enduring beyond that identifiable element. When the feature was originally released in 1981, it certainly had a lot of potential going for it. Rising director Steven Spielberg showed potential with such hits as Jaws and Close Encounters with the Third Kind but lack-luster features like 1941 and The Sugarland Express hindered him from being a break-out commodity in Hollywood just yet. Added to the mix was the creative talents of another rising film-maker, George Lucas, who had just come off one the biggest motion picture phenomena of all time, Star Wars. Paramount executives must have been biting at the bit to see what these two creative geniuses could cook up but even they had to question their choice of relative unknown actor Harrison Ford as the lead role. But despite relative criticism, both Spielberg and Lucas believed they had the perfect choice after witnessing the former carpenter in American Graffiti and Star Wars. The real judgment would be determined by the movie-going public and whether or not they would endure a two-hour feature about a man with a hat and a whip.
The story centers on the adventures of a head-strong paleontologist as he searches for one of the most spiritual artifacts in the history of the world. There is no paleontologist in the world like Indiana Jones. He's seen it all from booby traps to a gigantic rolling boulder to spear-throwing natives. All in the name of archeology and maybe a little love here and there throughout his exhilarating exploits. But this new venture may be the most challenging of them all. The United States government, in their efforts to battle the Axis-powers during World War II, enlists Mr. Jones to search for the Ark of the Covenant, the sacred holding structure many believed contained the original Ten Commandments that were brought down from the mountain by Moses thousands of years ago, before the Nazis get to it first. Along his journey, he meets up with his ex-girlfriend Marion, who holds an essential piece to the puzzle in finding the Ark, but things become more complicated as the Nazis are in full pursuit. Indiana must get to the Ark before the Nazis do or else Hitler will control an unstoppable army that will eventually conquer the world. The story for Raiders of the Lost Ark doesn't seem all that complicated, or some can make the case not all that original, but looks can be deceiving. From the thrilling opening sequence to the mysterious conclusion, Raiders is one of the most entertaining and enthralling comedy/action adventures ever developed for the silver screen. It is all the little things in this film that make the big picture all the more enduring for viewers.
Whoever said Harrison Ford may have been wrong for the role of Indiana Jones may have had some merit in their comment back in 1981, but now adays that comment would be shot down so fast it wouldn't be funny. Though at the time the young actor had relatively light acting experience, Ford proves that he can measure up to any other in the role of high risk-taking adventurer. It is Ford's hilarious reactions to situations, most notably a particular moment during the chase through the marketplace, combined with his amazing ability to transition himself into key fight sequences that make him an essential casting decision in this feature. This may be a difference in time periods but for some audience members, Karen Allen's performance as Marion may be a little too Tom-boyish to be considered sexy. It might possibly have been more risqué back then but it isn't so much now. Not entirely her fault but the change of the times.
Overall, Raiders successfully brings to the screen one of the most charismatic and enduring action adventure heroes in cinematic history and does so in triumphant style. The wonderful thing about the film is that the filmmakers are able to blend humor into well-needed areas of the overall action oriented flick, though at times it seems they try too hard to get laughs across. The special effects were magnificent during the film's initial release and are still quite interesting today, though to a lesser degree. Unlike the special effects of later films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the special effects of Raiders of the Lost Ark don't have the enduring effect they once had but that doesn't make the film cheesy or seem aged. The bottom-line analysis of this film has to be based on the Indiana Jones series as a whole in that this feature is a wonderful first entry and deserves to be ranked highly but stands behind the last entry in the series on overall entertainment value. This doesn't, however, make the film less of an enduring classic or less of good time.
on July 9, 2002
After the box-office disappointment of 1941, Steven Spielberg teamed up with longtime friend George Lucas to create one of the greatest action adventure films of all time! The premise for the film, a throwback to the old Saturday morning serials, was thought up by Lucas, who told the idea to Steven and the two of them came up with the idea of Indiana Jones, a character famously named after Lucas's dog. To think they originally wanted Tom Selleck to play the role of the rugged, charming "collector of rare antiquities". Instead, Harrison Ford took the role, fresh from the latest Star Wars film THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK as the dashing Han Solo. Ford is the perfect guy for the job, running around in tombs, chasing after Nazis and searching for lost treasures, all with fedora, whip and sardonic grin all in place.
The action is masterfully handled by Spielberg, especially in the classic opening scene where Indy avoids a series of lethal booby traps to obtain a rare idol, only to have a giant boulder start rolling after him. Indy's reply when asked how he's going to catch up with a truck is "I don't know, i'm making this up as I go!" That classic line sums up the off-the-cuff action sequences which are all reminiscent of the building tension and excitement of the spirit of the old serials of the 50's. John Williams' score for the film has become one of the most instantly recognizable movie theme tunes ever composed, except for JAWS and STAR WARS (Anyone who asks what's so great about John Williams, just ask them to hum notes from any movie, and it'll be Williams) and is one of the most popular soundtracks of all time. And the supporting cast of Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliott elevates the film to true classic status.
Considering the scope and scale of the film, the job Spielberg and Lucas did creating the picture is nothing short of amazing. The film spans 5 major locale changes and would shoot in 4 different countries in just 73 days for $20 million (production wrapped 12 days ahead of schedule to boot!). For what was fast becoming a relatively average production cost by 1980, Spielberg and Lucas packed the running time of RAIDERS with non-stop action that creates an exciting adventure, that's my (and many other's) favorite film of all time.
RAIDERS was released in the summer of 1981 and became the biggest hit and highest grossing film of that year. Between THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RAIDERS for George Lucas and RAIDERS and E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL for Spielberg, the two filmmakers were now at the peak of their profession, having individually (and together) proven themselves as hitmakers on 9 films by the time they would return for the next Indiana Jones adventure in 1984 with INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, which is exciting, but not as fun, and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, which is another one of my all-time favorite films. The huge influence that the eventual trilogy had on action movies is still seen today, with inferior rip-offs THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY RETURNS and TOMB RAIDER, to name a few. But those films don't come anywhere near the brilliance of RAIDERS. This is cinema par excellence.
on January 10, 2002
From the raised altar of a secret temple in South America to a haunted ceremonial mass, Indiana Jones lives life a constant, non-stop, globe-trotting adventure. And thanks to Director Steven Spielberg, we are all brought along for the ride. And what a ride it is! Harrison Ford is wonderful as he dons a fedora for this first installment of the Indiana Jones Trilogy. And Spielberg working with another director (Someone named George Lucas) is really in his element. Top it off with great cinematography and a rousing score by the musical voice of Spielberg, John Williams and you are in for a wonderful 2 hours.
Legend has it that Spielberg wanted to direct a James Bond film and when that wasn't coming into fruition, Lucas and Spielberg decided to create an adventure of their own. One like the B-Movies and Serials of their childhood. Somehow they succeeded in re-creating the B-movie in an extreme A-movie.
Followed by 2 sequels with rumor of a fourth installment when Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas find an opening in their schedules. I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime Hail to Doctor Jones.
on December 16, 2001
Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first and the best of the Indiana Jones trilogy. Here we are introduced to Dr. Jones(Ford), that apart from teaching archeology also spends a good amount of time tracking down articfacts.
Jones is introduced to a nazi plot to obtain the Ark of the Covenant, an artifact they believe will give them the power to conquer the whole world. Jones sets out to foil their plot and on his travels he hooks up with an old amour, Marion Ravenwood(Karen Allen) and the exeptional stereotypical Gestapo man Toht(Lacey) that continues to be his nemesis throughout the movie.
The movie seems to breath new life into the old saturday night matine cliffhanger style. The movie is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Indiana Jones got knack to getting out of a tight situation, although he rarely uses firearms. Most often it is the whip or the fist. The fist is something Marion also favours in her dealings with bad guys.
This movie is simply fantastic in all its aspects, the plot is fun, the action is there all the time and presented in a humorous way. The casting is perfect too, who can imagine another Indiana Jones than Fords?
on August 16, 2001
I normally shy away from the term 'perfect' in description because by its very definition it implies that the subject in question is in a static state; it cannot grow or be expanded upon. In a world that functions on the principle of constant change, 'perfection' is an anomaly, a stagnant blight rather than the mark of supreme beauty. Yet I find that _Raiders of the Lost Ark_ challenges that assumption, for it edges on being the absolute perfect action movie, the blockbuster defined and unsurpassed.
Everything about this movie works. Script, direction, and music all mesh into a superb piece of entertainment. _Raiders_ is truly a movie more than the sum of its parts--though of course it was the imagination and talent of those individual players that fashioned this epic of mystery, danger, romance and pure adrenaline excitement. Let's give these individual parts a closer look, shall we?
Laurence Kasdan, who also scripted the Star Wars movies, took Lucas' concept for an update of the 40's action serial and rewrote the genre in the process--Raiders is both homage and subtle ridicule: "I hate snakes, Jack! I hate 'em!" "I'm making this up as I go." "It ain't the years, honey, it's the mileage." -understated character-building dialogue that also plays for a good chuckle--genius! And then we get the archetypes: glowering, occult-obsessed Nazis; deceitful coolies; a singing sidekick; the suave French rival who thinks he is God's gift to history and women. And then there is Indiana Jones, a hero who manages feats worthy of Hercules yet pays for it all in sweat and blood, and Marion, a world-wise dame who can drink the big boys under the table yet manages to convey vulnerability and sorrow with her big blue eyes. The story itself, ludicrous in concept but masterfully introduced and followed through, when coupled with the astonishing action sequences makes _Raiders_ one of those movies you can watch again and again just for the sheer visceral and intellectual joy of it.
So much has been said and wrote about the illustrious career of Steven Spielberg that there is little I can add; let it be enough that every scene is framed for its maximum statement to the film *as a whole*. No needlessly splashy camerawork to draw attention to the man behind the camera here! Besides the breathtaking action of the numerous fights/chaises, Spielberg's deft and understated direction turns _Raiders_ into an enthralling classic.
John William's score is magnificent, building tension in all the right places while strengthening the presence of the main characters, from Indy's galloping anthem to Marion's sweeping, romantic/melancholic theme. Giddy orchestration fuels the chaise through Cairo; a brooding crescendo gives import to the final scene.
Perhaps I'm biased here. I can still remember the chills 'n thrills Raiders gave me when I viewed it in the theater at the age of seven. But then, I saw this just a couple nights ago with adult eyes and even with my analytical deconstruction, I loved it just as much now as then. I know I'm preaching to the converted here, but if by some strange chance you have not viewed this wonder of the cinema, do everything in your power to rectify the situation. _Raiders of the Lose Ark_ is in my top three movies of all time, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
on June 16, 2001
There's a danger with a film like this that its excess of iconic moments will weigh down the narrative with so much nostalgia that things just can't move forward. Think about it: You have Indy replacing the golden idol with the sandbag... running from the giant boulder... holding the staff of Ra in the map room... staring down the king cobra... etc. These moments are now twenty years old, stuffy staples of American cinema. Well, I recently had a chance to see "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in a rep theatre, with a large and boisterous audience (the biggest cheer was reserved for -- you guessed it -- Indy shooting the Arab swordsman in the market of Cairo) who didn't mind how familiar the film was. And you know what? Neither did I.
I had forgotten what a great story this is. From a technical standpoint, it's perfectly structured (the dialogue sure isn't world beating, so the narrative has to be tight). There are very few wasted moments as Indiana globetrots in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Sure, there are some clunky moments of exposition in the scenes at the university, but they can be forgiven quite easily when the rest of the film is nothing but exhilarating suspense and clever plot twists.
Don't expect political statements here, regardless of how many swastikas fly across the screen. This is just amped-up B-movie fun. But there are at least two elements here that elevate the film above such a modest pedigree.
The first is, obviously, Spielberg's direction. For those who insist that the man is a syrupy hack plying whitewashed fairy tales to box office success, an attentive look at this flick will explicitly reveal his talent. The camera always seems to be in the perfect place to capture the action, never meandering around a scene too long or it becomes stagnant. Spielberg's massive technique does wonders in elevating the material.
The second is, obviously, the uniqueness of our hero himself. Indiana Jones is a comic book come to life, able to take a punch of startling power and volume and then come right back with one of his own. His proficiency with a whip is now legendary, as is his drive and desire for archaeological knowledge. Nothing special so far, right? Run of the mill superhero stuff. But he bleeds when shot. A lot. And his big love scene is hilariosly punctuated by a strike to the chin courtesy of a vanity mirror. And he's scared of snakes. He's more like an anti-superhero (to coin a phrase). That last bit is the most intriguing, for the psychology behind his fear is never explained or rationalized. The fear is just presented matter of factly. And once it is, the filmmakers are free to throw as many snakes as Jones as they see fit, just to watch him squirm.
The rest of the film is pretty standard fare, I'd say. There are an endless supply of near misses and twists and turns, each more unbelievable than the last, but all fitting perfectly in the comic-book world the film is set in. There's Indy's archrival, pragmatically throwing his hat in with the Nazis in the hopes of fame and fortune. There's even the standard Peter Lorre-type character, a German sadist who talks in a childish voice and wears three-piece suits in the desert. Come to think of it, if transferred into lush black-and-white, this movie would have no trouble fitting in with the best of its kind from the 1940's. It's got that old school charm.
But it also relies on a modern sensibility. I was shocked at how gory and violent it was. Sure, most of the bloodshed was done off camera, but there sure was a lot of it. You don't actually see the shirtless brute get sliced by the propellers, but you certainly see buckets of blood in the aftermath. I didn't mind it one bit, but was taken aback by the fact that a film that achieved such massive popularity managed to infuse a healthy amount of gore into the mix. I got a kick out of that fact.
One final thing I noticed this viewing that my previously unsophisticated ears didn't catch before. John Williams' score modulates and slithers around that great familiar theme, but only hits it full-force (in the proper key) in the climactic moments. I was waiting anxiously to hear that tune in all its glory, and when I finally got to, it had that much more power. Williams is a master of catchy and simple melody in his scoring, and this is a fine example of his talent.
My memory hadn't treated "Raiders" nicely in the years since I'd first seen it. Trying to rebel from Spielberg's popularity probably had a lot to do with that. But my most recent viewing changed all that, confirming that the film's classic status is well deserved.
on April 29, 2001
Okay. Just to get this out of the way; Yes, the title change is stupid, but I understand the meaning behind it. Paramount wants to market the entire package of Indiana Jones films, from the theatrical kind to the ones made for television. Since "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was the only movie that didn't have the Indiana Jones name in the title, newcomers to the series would have to <gasp> read the back of the tape to know that it was the same character. It's silly to think that people would not know that this was the first Indiana Jones film, but to the newbie, it might not be so obvious. I think we ought to cut Paramount a little slack here. It's not like a 1980's Ted Turner colorizing every black-and-white he got his hands on. It's just a title.
If you decline to buy this movie simply because the box has a different title, you are a fool. The film inside the tape remains unchanged. The opening credits say "Raiders of the Lost Ark," as it should. So, you are losing NOTHING by purchasing this breathtaking, heart-stopping ode to the "B" movies of the Golden Age of Cinema.
Now, onto the actual film. This is quite possibly the perfect movie. Alright. Before your laughter gives you an embolism, let me explain. Movies are here to entertain. They are made to make us laugh, cry, yearn for something, root for the good guys, boo the bad guys, and feel like you've been through the whole amazing sequence of events right with the heroes.
Not only does "Raiders" do all of that in abundance, but the film also earns special merit for changing moviemaking as we knew it. No previous film was as non-stop, as bold, or as fast-paced as this one was. It upped the ante in terms of what a movie audience was to expect from a film. Steven Spielberg hardly lets you gasp for your next breath before he snatches it from you with the next incredible scene. (It's no wonder that it is a story co-written by the director of one of the most popular films of all time, George Lucas.)
After "Raiders" was made, it seemed like every film wanted to aspire to the same level of excitement, and sadly, few have even come close.
Do not be deterred by the title-change. You would do yourself a great disservice if you were to pass on owning this masterpiece of "on-the-edge-of-your-seat" filmmaking.
Now, I'm going to pop in my own copy and donate a few more gasps of pure excitement and joy toward Mr. Spielberg's work. If he had a dollar for every time I gasped, he'd be a . . . Wait. He already IS a millionaire. Oh well.
Buy the darn movie. You'll LOVE it!