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Raiders of the Lost Ark Movie Review

jones film spielberg indiana

1981 – Steven Spielberg –

In 1936, adventurous archeologist Indiana Jones sets out on a quest to recover the long-lost Ark of the Covenant before Nazi agents can find the ancient relic and use its mystical power to help Hitler take over the world. Inspired by the adventure serials of the 1940s, executive producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg created an endearing swashbuckling character and used a craftily paced style of storytelling that contributed to the film's status as one of the most successful movies of all time (and that led to two blockbuster sequels). The story involves the intrepid Dr. Jones (Harrison Ford) facing peril after peril—from fighting Nazis and evading deadly snakes to rescuing old friends—as he ventures to Egypt to locate the Ark in an ancient lost city, but it is not this continuous excitement alone that makes Raiders of the Lost Ark such an enjoyable romp.

Rounded characters, strong performances, clever dialogue, well-placed humor, and fine-tuned pacing (enhanced by John Williams' memorable, rousing music) raise the film above standard adventure movie fare.

Basing his approach on comic books like the “Green Lantern” and the movie serials that originally inspired George Lucas to co-write the story, director Spielberg demonstrates his strengths—particularly his visual talent—at their best in this, his third blockbuster film (after Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind) . Spielberg knows how to create powerful images and is a master of editing action sequences capable of keeping viewers on the edges of their seats. Many of these sequences, including scenes of Dr. Jones running from a huge boulder, falling into a pit of cobras, and single-handedly taking control of a speeding truck carrying the Ark, are both outrageous and, for the moment, completely believable. Yet with the help of Ford's portrayal of Indiana Jones, Raiders also demonstrates Spielberg's ability to fashion memorable, well-developed characters, a quality absent from some of his later films such as Jurassic Park. While Indiana Jones by no means lives a normal life, his character comes across as an average, decent person, an Everyman type who simply tries to do his job but repeatedly finds himself in perilous trouble. He also has the added depth of a skeptical yet principled agnostic who has been many places, seen much, and views the world with just a touch of sarcasm. Through the course of the story, he makes something of an intellectual journey as well as a physical one, realizing by the end of the film that the Ark and what it represents are more than just part of a Sunday School story he was taught in his youth.

Tom Selleck was the first choice as Jones and opted out, providing great good fortune for Ford. On the whole, this first installment of the Indiana Jones series may not be much more than very well-crafted entertainment with interesting characters and a few ruminations on the reality of the supernatural, but such entertainment rarely succeeds on as many levels.

Cast: Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood), Paul Freeman (Rene Belloq), Ronald Lacey (Toht), John Rhys-Davies (Sallah), Denholm Elliot (Marcus Brody), Alfred Molina (Sapito), Wolf Kahler (Dietrich), Anthony Higgins (Gobler), Vic Tablian (Barranca/ Monkey Man), Don Fellows (Colonel Musgrove), William Hootkins (Major Eaton), Bill Reimbold (Bureaucrat), Fred Sorenson (Jock), Patrick Durkin (Australian Climber) Screenwriter: George, Lucas, Philip Kaufman, Lawrence Kasdan Cinematographer: Douglas Slocombe Composer: John Williams Producer: Frank Marshall for Paramount MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 115 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1981: Art Direction/Set Decoration, Film Editing, Sound, Visual Effects; Nominations: Cinematography (Douglas Slocombe), Director (Steven Spielberg), Picture, Score (John Williams); People's Choice Awards, 1982: Best Film Budget: $20M Box Office: $242.37M (domestic gross).

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