Raiders of the Lost Ark
Release Year: 1981
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay), George Lucas (story), Philip Kaufman (story)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina
Rating: Won 4 Oscars: Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects. Won Special Achievement Award for Sound Editing. Nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Score. Nominated for 1 Golden Globe: Best Director. Won 7 Saturn Awards: Best Fantasy Film, Best Actor (Harrison Ford), Best Actress (Karen Allen), Best Director, Best Writing, Best Music, Best Special Effects. Nominated for 2 Saturn Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Paul Freeman), Best Costumes.
The U.S. government hires archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones to find the legendary ark of the covenant before the Nazis do.
When old friends George Lucas and Steven Spielberg took a holiday together, while Lucas’s latest film Star Wars (1977) was premiering with huge succes unknown to its director, the two came up with a character who would become one of the greatest and most beloved of movie history: Indiana Jones. From the first look of Dr. Jones in silhouette swinging his trusted whip with gusto, we are hooked and ready to go on any sort of adventure with him. Opening in a South American temple, with a small role for a young Alfred Molina – his screen début – we see from the get-go that this is going to be old-fashioned adventure as they don’t make them anymore, nor did in the 1980’s; the film harkens back to its inspirational roots, the adventure serials of the 1930s and 40s. It is clear that Dr. Jones is no ordinary archaeologist, saving the treasures of the world from private collectors when he is not teaching archaeology to infatuated students. Raiders of the Lost Ark sees Jones trying to outsmart the Nazis by following the same clues as them, as the magical power contained within the mythical ark could make them unstoppable. The film is Spielberg as his absolute best. Brilliant entertainment, nailbiting action sequences and lighthearted comedy. Ford (Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, 1983) is perfect as Indiana Jones and he receives brilliant back-up from Elliott (Trading Places, 1983) as his colleague, an accomplished curator and archaeologist who is a bit of a father figure to Jones, Rhys-Davis (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 2002) as Sallah, Jones’s burly Egyptian friend who lends a hand. Opposite Jones, Allen (Scrooged, 1988) is feisty and strong, and sparks fly when they share the screen. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a wonderfully old-fashioned flick wherein the bad guys are bad and the good guys are good. The story is engaging, the characters are wonderful, and Spielberg’s masterful hand ensures that this is a classic which has not only stood the test of time but will continue to gain new fans. Our highest recommendation.
The opening scene in the South American temple was inspired by two classic Scrooge McDuck comics called “The Prize of Pizarro” and “The Seven Cities of Cibola”. The comics were done by legendary Disney artist Carl Barks, whom both Spielberg and Lucas are fans of, and whose work has inspired the two directors throughout their careers.
Picture Copyright: Disney