Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Essentials- "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981)

The Essentials- #42

Raiders of the Lost Ark
This weekend, I finally purchased something I have wanted for quite awhile, "Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures" on blu-ray. A wonderful collection that includes "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Temple of Doom," "Last Crusade" and "Kingdom of Crystal Skull." The series is a perfect addition to my collection and will be for yours too. Among all the Indiana Jones movies, my favorite is easily "Raiders of the Lost Ark." That is why I watched it first last night.

I like Raiders because its an action film that just feels so classic. Nobody makes movies like this anymore, and I don't know if any of you will argue against that. Raiders was a film in which my girlfriend's dad said that when he first saw it in theater, it felt like fifteen minutes. I love that several years later, the film still feels like fifteen minutes from start to finish. But not only does the film keep you on your toes, its a perfect blending of romance, adventure, comedy, action and even horror. I remember growing up I could not watch the scene where Marion runs into the mummies, and I especially could not watch the end where the Nazi's perish due to the Ark. The melting faces freaked me out for quite awhile, and its funny to reflect that a movie like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was one of the first notorious films that scared me as a child.

I can't get too far into discussing "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (or any Indiana Jones film for that matter) without talking about Harrison Ford. He has been the heart and soul of the franchise, and he creates a captivating presence in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Ford creates a hero we rarely see in movies like this. Indiana Jones is witty, he's charismatic, he's ambitious, he's tough and he's chivalrous. Remember in action movies when humor didn't revolve around pot jokes or pop culture references? Remember when action heroes always said the right thing, even if it was completely cheesy? I relived that time last night, and everything felt believable thanks to Harrison Ford. Ford really felt alive as Indiana Jones and the audience bought that for other movies. Ford has never felt more alive than when he plays Indiana Jones. Its pretty clear why when we think of Ford, its Indiana Jones and Han Solo that comes to mind, this character defined his career and he's never been the same since. 

On paper, the premise for the film may sound of absurd. But, especially with movies like "Raiders of the Ark" context matters. The context of the film compliments the story in Raiders and everything works. So the idea of our government recruiting an archaeology professor to regain a weapon of God from Nazi occultists really isn't bad when the film is so much fun to watch. There is more fun and adventure in this film to fill five films and that is part of why Raiders is so special. Raiders does not take itself seriously, but it creates enough emotion and thrills to matter.

I don't know if I need to tell more about why the Indiana Jones movies matter. There is a reason why this character has lasted the test of time. He's that amazing and if you haven't had the pleasure to see these movies yet, I hope you go out and buy this collection immediately. It truly is a pleasure.

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