Saturday, October 19, 2019

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark.jpg

The inaugural Indiana Jones film opens with a scene somewhat irrelevant towards the overall narrative, similar to most of its sequels, where Indy steals an idol from a shrine in South America, triggering a bunch of traps he ultimately outruns. One involving a giant boulder somewhat seemed avoidable, since it’s shown rolling down a ramp suspended above Indy as he’s escaping, and instead of waiting for it to go past, he just continues running. When he gets back home to his position as a college professor, he’s informed that the Nazis are seeking the fabled Ark of the Covenant, since through some backwards logic, they think summoning the God of the Jews will aid against their genocide targets.

Sure enough, Indy agrees to get ahold of the titular MacGuffin before the Nazis, and spends time seeking the top of the Staff of Ra from his old flame Marion Ravenwood in Nepal, and in Egypt where the Nazis waste their budget digging in the wrong location, Dr. Jones along with his sidekick Sallah find the Ark in its resting place. The resultant struggle between Indy and the Nazis over the Ark seems somewhat unnecessary, given the conclusion, with Raiders, much like future sequel Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, essentially being an archetypal “Shaggy Dog” Story that would have had an equal or better outcome if Indy either did absolutely nothing or just let the Nazis have the Ark and take it to Berlin.

On the other hand, the film is good for Indy’s social life, as he hooks up with Marion, and it does have plenty of positive qualities such as the music, effects, and John Williams’ iconic “Raiders March” and its various remixes. The first film, though, showed issues with America’s film rating system, as would Temple of Doom, given its somewhat-violent content for a PG movie, with the country’s censors somehow thinking that blood and death are “family friendly,” and that things such as saying the F-word are worse than violent murder; I’m sure it would’ve been rated R had it not been a Spielberg movie. It’s definitely an important and influential film, but I think movies should be judged on their actual content and cohesion instead.

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