The Top 10 Reasons For Watching Raiders of the Lost Ark Again
I donned my fedora and leather jacket this evening for an affair like few others. Sure, it was a film I’d seen dozens of times before and in a format that plain doesn’t hold a match to the digital discs I’ve got in my own library. Raiders of the Lost Ark is just one of those films that’s worth paying 11 bucks to see on the big screen in the format it was created on. This year, the essential action flic takes its place among AFI’s Top 100 Thrills series, which gives movie goers in and around Hollywood a unique opportunity to see the best and brightest on the big screen again, popcorn and all.
Being the fan that I am, it isn’t enough to say that Indiana Jones holds up so well after all these years. I’ve obviously got something of a bias. There are however 10 excellent reasons Harrison Ford’s swashbuckler should stay on our shelves and in our theaters for years to come. I think this is Media Geeks’ first official top 10 list, but I’ll try not to make it a cliched habit. In no particular order:
NUMBER 10: Possibly the greatest hero reveal in cinematic history.
It’s iconic, a small band of adventurers are trekking through a dense and dangerous jungle. At the lead is a broad shouldered man wearing a fedora and a leather jacket. Just as one of his men draws a pistol in a traitorous attempt to stop his progress, the hero flips around and lashes the gun out of the traitors hand, sending him running through the trees. As the camera pans back to our hero, Harrison Ford’s legendary scowl fills the screen, fedora cocked to one side.
NUMBER 9: Riddled with “IN” Jokes uber fans love.
From the call numbers on the side of Indy’s plane at the film’s start to the hidden droid carvings in the Well of Souls and even the tell-tale scream during the truck chase, Raiders inserted homages to other films before movie Easter eggs were haute couture in Hollywood.
NUMBER 8: Quotes that endure.
For a film to really grab decades long attention, it helps to have memorable dialogue. Raiders goes above and beyond: “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”, Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?”, “Asps. Very dangerous. You go first.” and “Bad dates.”
NUMBER 7: A villain so creepy he makes a coat hanger look sadistic.
Ronald Lacey, an actor known for his malicious smile, plays Toht, a mousy little Nazi with very few lines. Though never actually demonstrated on screen, Toht is instantly associated with torture and during a memorable scene he suddenly produces what can only be a medieval torture device composed of thin black metal bars and chain. He assembles it with precision movements, jerks the bars tight, and flings it over his back… as another soldier hangs his leather jacket on it and takes it away. The scene is tense and comedic all at the same time.
NUMBER 6: Raiders basically created the adventure genre.
Yeah, I know, that’s a stretch. The film itself was a homage to the adventure serials that screened on Saturday afternoons when Spielberg and Lucas were kids. That said though, nearly every adventure film released since has been compared and contrasted to the whip-lasher and his adventures. Indy set the standard for every epic treasure hunt, jungle trek and gruff hero that came to the silver screen for the last 30 years.
NUMBER 5: The whip.
Every cowboy, spy, soldier, and space pilot has a gun. Ancient Asian warriors and galaxy-wizened bards use swords. Only one hero inspired a generation of preteens to grab the nearest rope and try cracking it or wrapping around the nearest tree branch in an effort to swing over imaginary bottomless pits. Take it from someone who recently learned how to handle one for real: it’s not as easy as Indy makes it look, but it still feels heroic.
NUMBER 4: Harrison Ford makes archaeology look cool.
Before Jurassic Park made paleontology look glamorous, Raiders of the Lost Ark genuinely inspired a number of budding scientists to pursue the study of ancient artifacts. They may have been initially disappointed that it lacks the overly elaborate native deathtraps and golden idols Dr. Jones encounters, but nothing’s stopping them from rocking the fedora and leather jacket ensemble that goes with the territory.
NUMBER 3: The music.
As iconic as the silhouette of our fedora-wearing hero, John Williams’ score does nothing less than to heighten every scene it backs and stands as one of only a handful of film soundtracks that have transcended beyond just movie music. John Williams just happens to be in that handful a few dozen times. The Indiana Jones theme is instantly recognizable by young and old alike, worldwide. Can Slumdog Millionaire say the same?
NUMBER 2: A fight scene like no other.
After months of preparing for an intense sword fight in the streets of Cairo, a bout of Montezuma’s Revenge and some quick thinking by an offscreen staffer helped to create one of the best fights in cinematic history – A large imposing man with sword prepares to eviscerate Indy as the locals circle around, and Indy decides he doesn’t have time for it and just shoots the guy… classic.
NUMBER 1: Raiders of the Lost Ark is a ‘B’ Movie that surpasses most ‘A’ movies.
Raiders is packed with inaccurate history, outright bad science and more than a few over-the-top performances but it manages not to matter in the least. Spielberg and crew create investable characters and an engaging plot and made them priority over the visual effects, stunts, jokes and explosions that round out the experience. A good friend put it like this, “Everything that every Michael Bay film has wanted to be, and failed at, is Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
28 years later, Raiders continues to be noted for it’s quality of film-making and lauded for its action, humor and a truly timeless hero figure in Indiana Jones. It’s a solid family film (despite a few bloody parts towards the end) and belongs in every movie-lover’s collection, not to mention deserves another look, if you’re ever given the chance, to see it on the big screen again and again.
[also contributed to by Todd L., Andy S. and Bryan W.]