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Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Film No. 6, Review No. 6

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karren Allen. Ronald Lacey
Directed by: Steven Spielberg

I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark for a commentary. That was my 6th time and it was still a fun ride. For comparison, Ií»ve seen my favorite movie 5 times. Some films never get old; in fact some of them get younger, because their sense of up-beat adventure is missing in todayí»s movies. This film is a prime example, a classic in every sense.

Raiders of the Lost Ark can be summarized as a big-scale 2 hours long Saturday morning movie serial. Is it a bad thing? Nope. The cheesy punches and kicks between the big bald guy and our hero Indy (Harrison Ford), exploding planes and facilities, action scenes, of course in a figurative sense; slapping Einstein and his lifetime work, is all a delight to ears and eyes.

But then a lot of Hollywood action movies are based on cartoons and comics and far-fetched theatrical plots. One question, is it music to your eyes and years? What about the characters? The plotíŽ

Speaking of the plot, letí»s take a look at the plot of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It isní»t much really. Thereí»s an ark. Indy has to find it. And Major Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey) along with his group of hideous men is trying to get their hands on it too. Thatí»s all folks. All this is explained in one 5 minutes scene. Ití»s boring, but only for the moment, also no pain equals no gain. To top it off the good acting and direction by pre-2000 Spielberg keep things tight and moderately exciting.

Afterwards ití»s all good fun. Nothing is explained much, other than maybe the forewarning about the ark having mysterious powers thou shall not be touched by man. Once the basic plot is set, Indy and his friends make up the rest of the story, whatever way they want to, even if it involves destroying several vehicles, destroying half of an ancient Egyptian temple, and bringing a gun to a swordfight (which is actually a good job for once). Yep, the fun stuff.

What Ií»m trying to point out is, too much explanation can be the downfall of a film. This can be ironic, because the reason to have a script is to explain the whole idea behind the movie.

Ií»m not against exposition based films, however, think if the film have enough rich characters, dramatic or humorous situations, and action to support the complicated plot? If it doesní»t, the film becomes a mega budget science mumbo- jumbo documentary having the accuracy of flashy and loud money loan ads.

Raiders of the Lost Ark has the right idea. Ití»s self-aware of being a pure popcorn movie, thus it never tries to complicate itself. Most of the mythology is left to the audienceí»s imagination, and for every choice made by the characters there is a clear reason. The once Indy betraying Marion (Karren Allen) suddenly becoming a friend is because the Nazis burned down her bar and she can go no other place. Indy, within seconds, moves on to the famous truck chase scene because, well, the ark is one of the trucks. Clearest reason ever. All these build up to be a unforgettable 2 hour adventure holding up very well even amongst people who are considered to be too old for the movie (Ií»m already starting to enter that age group, uh oh).

Adventure movies doní»t get any better than this.