Monday, 19 October 2015

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

"Snakes! Why does it have to be snakes?"

This film still feels fresh thirty years later: not bad for a movie based on the movie serials of the '30s and '40s. What makes it work is that the action never stops, with set piece piled on to exciting set piece and even the exposition scenes being made dramatic. On top of that you have Harrison Ford being, well, himself, Ronald Lacey as the perfect Gestapo baddie and loads of money obviously spent. This is a superb film.

I'm sure many archaeologists would raise an eyebrow at this somewhat glamorous depiction of what they do for a living, of course. Indy is clearly shown to be an academic. Others would raise eyebrows at the spiders, snakes and booby traps galore. The more churlish of us may well raise an eyebrow at the made up mythology if what's supposed to have happened to the Ark, particularly Ethiopians. Personally my own eyebrow is raised a little at the idea of Nazis being so obsessed with such a very Jewish artifact- that must have been awkward for them.

We have all sorts of Indiana Jones tropes here from the start- travelling by map (copyright The Muppets), the action-packed standalone opening sequence and Indy just shoring that bloke who waves a fancy sword at him. It's a brilliant start to s brilliant series. If you haven't seen this, where have you been?

Except, er, Indy doesn't actually accomplish anything, does he? The Ark would have blown up the Nazis whatever happened. Still, at least he gets a nice little Egyptian holiday with some snake-related activities. 

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