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Raiders of the Lost Ark

If you've seen The Adventures of Tintin by Steven Spielberg, you've probably already heard of the story of how he acquired the rights to redo the Tintin books on film. Since the anecdote would require effort on my part to paraphrase, let me just lift it directly from Wikipedia:

Spielberg has been an avid fan of The Adventures of Tintin comic books, which he discovered in 1981 when a review compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin. His secretary bought him French-language editions of each book, but Spielberg did not have to understand them: he immediately fell in love with its art.

This then renewed my interest in the Indiana Jones films, which I've loved ever since I was a kid. In fact, at one point in my life, I wanted to be an archaeologist, especially after The Last Crusade and Jurassic Park. That's another Spielberg film. It might be safe to say that half of my childhood fantasies were directly or indirectly influenced by Steven Spielberg.

Anyway, this review will try and see what it was about Raiders which prompted the French to cry "rip-off!"

First, there's the globetrotting aspect, of course, which is probably the most obvious.

Proof that Dr. Jones has been to the Philippines.

Then of course there's the adventure aspect, which involves historical artifacts,

I want his fedora.

some very deadly booby traps,

The iconic boulder scene, immortalized in Muppet Babies.

and some of the most insane stunts ever captured on film.

You can tell this is Harrison Ford's stunt double.

And then there's the supernatural,

Now how did they do that without CGI?

the disguises,

Not Han Solo in a Tatooine garb.

the treacherous scumbags,

Alfred Molina's first film appearance.

and the sidekick with a slight inclination to drink.

I think Marion can pack away
more alcohol than Haddock.

Of course, there are also things that are uniquely Indiana, such as gunslinging,

Far as I know, Tintin has never killed anyone.

the female admirers,

The eyelids say "Love" and "You".

the ophidiophobia (yeah, google it, baby),

To be fair, Tintin does say
"Great snakes!" a lot.

and the occassional melting Nazi.

Special effects in 1981.

Now the only reason that Hergé never touched on the Nazis was because he was warned by the SS not to do so. Of course Hergé lived in World War II Europe, while Steven Spielberg was an American Jew, so... you know.

Anyway, the decades have done nothing to diminish the cinematic value of this film. It's still as fun to watch in 2011 as it was in 1981. That's thirty years ago. Of course, movies looked really different then without CGI, and it's pretty noticeable here. But the action and adventure remain the same. I think it also has something to do with John Williams's musical score. And Spielberg's directing. Okay, maybe both. Okay, maybe the film in its entirety. Ah, never mind.

One last point: in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Marion Ravenwood may not look like much. But Karen Allen was pretty fine in the 80s.

"Fantasize about me and I'll cut your balls!"

P.S.: John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli the dwarf in Lord of the Rings, is here as well, playing an Egyptian digger, very much the same as the dwarves of Middle-Earth, who are known for digging the mines of Moria.

Raiders of the Lost Ark. USA. 1981.

Rating: Eight out of ten.

*some info from IMDb

You might also want to check out the review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


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