When Dr. Indiana Jones – the tweed-suited professor who just happens to be a celebrated archaeologist – is hired by the government to locate the legendary Ark of the Covenant, he finds himself up against the entire Nazi regime.
**Trailblazers of a Lost Art**
Little wonder James Cameron and Joss Whelon movies are the biggest box-office earners. They are masters of cinematic rhetoric. The unfolding dramatic situations and controlled dialogue are meticulously contrived. Cameron could probably have potted more if it wasn't for his earnest, simplistic messages (rich bad; nature good). All three movies (_Titanic_, _Avatar_, _Avengers_) plot along comfortably then suddenly spike spectacularly.
But no one has ever laid on the cinematic charm and cajolery like Stephen Spielberg. He was by far the craftiest manipulator of action and melodrama there ever was. He was the progenitor of summer blockbusters and all-ages, all-nations spectacles. At his best he had a gift for re-living and realizing that ethereal and irresistible childhood awe.
If _Raiders of the Lost Ark_ (NOT the sequels... NO, not even the father- son one) was made today, exactly the same way, okay maybe in 3D with updated CGI, it would surely land at the top of the box-office heap. It is essentially the first comic book movie that wasn't a comic book (bespectacled mild-mannered Archaeology prof by day and globe-trotting whip-wielding action hero on sabbatical). _Raiders of the Lost Ark_ (the first and only) is arguably the greatest adventure movie ever cooked up. And we, the abject audience, servile participants of the artifice, were licking its boots. We wanted Spielberg and his Indy to rope us in, reel us into the action, and completely have their way with us. We overlooked the emotional manipulation and contrived trappings because it was a pure freaking joy to watch, a Lucas produced godsend. Harrison Ford was born to play it just as Steven was born to direct it. It's really too bad they had to brand and knock off inferior sequels that, while making oodles of money, tarnished the shine of the unsurpassed prototype.
Indiana Jones was the perfect reluctant action hero on a selfless mission. A whip-snapping, truck-wrangling, swordster-gunning, Nazi- brawling adventurer who was matched only by his headstrong and sassy love interest, one pistol of a gal who could drink any man under the table. Not enough credit has been given to the great Lawrence Kasdan as the writer of this marvellous adventure. The script is as close to perfect as anybody could scribe. Even a dialogue-heavy expository scene (poisoned dates) was infused with a tense element of suspense. Yes, the story was hyper-fictional, completely contrived, shamelessly far-fetched... and altogether delightful. I wasn't expecting much when I went in to watch it back in 1981, but it had me wanting to do do back-flips on the way out. America's own Fab Four, Larry, Steve, Harrison and George, put on an action-adventure clinic.
Possibly the only weak spot in the movie is the climax which had our hero and heroine tied to a stake while God, the almighty Mcguffin from the Old Testament, magically wrapped things up for them. "Don't look" Indy warns, with his patented crooked grin. Are you kidding? We can't possibly take out eyes off of this. With respect to lost Teddy Bears from space and anti-Nazi machinators, Raiders is Spielbergs greatest achievement. It is one of the finest films ever made, of its or any kind. It is, hands down, my desert island movie.
Lucasfilm Ltd., Paramount by Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas, Philip Kaufman.
Stars: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies.
Genres: Action, Adventure
Keywords: saving the world riddle nepal himalaya cairo moses egypt whip treasure medallion leather jacket nazi hat mediterranean ark of the covenant ten commandments treasure hunt excavation swastika archaeologist archeology religious history 1930s
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