Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 action-adventure drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. Raiders of the Lost Ark starred Harrison Ford as archaeologist-adventurer Indiana Jones and launched a franchise, with three subsequent films.
In many ways, Raiders of the Lost Ark is an extension of Star Wars’ homage to the pulp serial movies of the 1930s, and represented the influence of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas over action-adventure genre movies in the 1980s and beyond, in fact to this present day.
The story is basic – It is 1936 and Indiana Jones is tasked by the US government to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant before Hitler and the Nazis do. Yes that’s about it! Along the way, Jones picks up various allies viz his former paramour Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and the Egyptian guide, Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and faces dangerous encounters with the aforementioned Nazis and his arch-enemy, the French archaeologist Balloq (Paul Freeman).
What makes Raiders of the Lost Ark appealing is also straight-forward. The likeable smart rogue Indiana Jones, played to a tee by Harrison Ford – very similar to his Han Solo character in Star Wars. The excellent action sequences, creatively staged with a humorous edge, though presented as realistically as possible. The chemistry between Indy and Marion was a key factor as well – which was replicated in numerous similar movies (e.g. Romancing the Stone etc) in the decade and beyond.
Thematically, of course, the idea that mankind should not be dabbling in matters beyond their comprehension – like the Ark – simply to grab power is a potent one. That at the very end, the bad guys get their due, without any real intervention of our heroes, is also particularly significant.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a highly influential genre movie that still holds up 40 years after its initial release. Highly recommended for a rewatch!
Now streaming on Netflix.
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