Re-Watch: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Lawrence KasdanGeorge Lucas, Philip Kaufman
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina, Wolf Kahler, Anthony Higgins, Vic Tablian
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2016
[Review by cornholio.]

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is a professor of archaeology, but one who likes to get his hands dirty every once in a while and go on proper adventures. When the US government approaches him to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can get their hands on it, it seems the perfect moment for another one of those adventures. To find it, Indy has to first his ex Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) who inherited an important clue as to its location. But Indy isn’t the only one who knows about that.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is an entertainment classic for a reason: a joyful, spirited adventure story that comes with sexism and racism as is to be expected for a story of its time, though that doesn’t make it any more fortunate. Despite that, I managed to enjoy a lot of it.

It’s been many years that I watched Raiders, but many of its images are burnt into popculture memory so much, they seem ubiquitous. That means that the movie never feels unfamiliar, probably not even to people who have never seen it before. Especially the stronger first half feels like it’s had every second referenced multiple times. The second half isn’t quite as strong, has a couple of lengths, but it’s still entertaining.

And that despite the constant damselling of Marion who has to turn up in a new outfit in every scene to be rescued by her Indy, while keeping up enough of a spirited resistance so that it’s not as apparent how passive she actually is. Coupled with the casual racism that casts the Egyptians in stereotypical supporting roles. In fact, it’s the fate of all people of color: relegated to the sidelines, they get to receive punches or be punchlines but nothing else.

If you’re somebody with a love for archaeology and history, it will probably hurt to watch the film. There is never any question of preservation, of studying, or understanding. Instead everybody bulldozes through the sites (almost literally), destroying everything in the hope of catching that bit of gold that is probably the least valuable thing about it all, from a historical point of view.

But while Indy may be an archaeologist, we all know that this is only a convenient way for him to have adventures with an exotic shine around the world while fighting Nazis accompanied by some of the best movie music ever written. And I completely get the draw of that and the love for it, even if it’s not quite as strong for me as for other people.

Summarizing: Entertaining, enjoyable fun.

2 thoughts on “Re-Watch: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

  1. Pingback: Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (1989) | kalafudra's Stuff

  2. Pingback: Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (2015) | kalafudra's Stuff

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