Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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For the Spielberg Blogathon this is Rob Medaska, filmmaker and reviewer for 20 years and contributor to Citizen Screenings.  My film of choice for this auspicious event is RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), in my opinion Steven Speilberg’s best film, bar none.

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Steven Spielberg is a master at keeping us – the audience – riveted from the get go, and he is not afraid to use any means he has to – be it CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), where he uses silence, or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) which has some of the most intense audio and movement to start a film. Spielberg is the master of starting out a film with a bang – one of the greatest filmmakers in this generation.

RAIDERS is fantastic in its homage to the cliff hangers of yesteryear, as the beginning is the perfect mix of build and action culmination. For me it features one of the best film beginnings ever, and the fact that we have no idea who this character is at that point makes it more intriguing. Sometimes the less you know the better, and in this case it is absolutely true…take a look…

Indiana Jones, the protagonist, archeologist action hero in RAIDERS and subsequent films in the INDIANA JONES series is one of the greatest heroes in motion picture history. He has all the qualities you want in a hero.  Jones is a loner, daring, funny, unpredictable, responsible, and caring all wrapped into one nice Harrison Ford package. Ford brings just the right amount of grit and vulnerability to the role, “I hate snakes”.

Add to the terrific Jones character the music of John Williams, and RAIDERS has all the makings of a can’t miss hit….which it was (nominated for 8 academy awards).

Using the ultimate evil, the Nazi’s as the main villain in the film and pitting them against God is a master stroke of creating. All parts are perfectly played in this movie and the story is told at a brisk, but reasonable pace.

Following the classic opening scene, we pick up Professor Jones in a traditional setting, the classroom, a brilliant juxtaposition that shows the character’s opposite sides in an instant. dDeveloping the character of Dr. Jones in such a seemless manner is a master stroke of storytelling, and it allows the director to move along with the more visual parts of the story.

Once the character of Indiana Jones is established we the viewers are allowed to go along for the ride on a classic film roller coaster. We find out the ultimate prize in the film, the hero’s girl, the friendships he needs to help him save the day, and the balls to go where most men would never dream of going.  All done with great humor and loads of excitement.  (Click on these images for movie clips)

Hello Marion
Hello Marion
Swords vs Gun
Swords vs Gun

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There are NO weak points to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.  Although there is no perfect film this one comes very, very close. RAIDERS has a great director, a wonderful score, tremendous casting, strong performances, and a perfect ending. Also, it has the second highest rated hero of all time according to AFI.  So, what’s not to like?

Finally, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK brings me back to a different era in filmmaking.  I remember seeing this movie in a theater and it really was an experience, a special one that we all recognized and wanted to be a part of.  We all know this is a great flick, but my question to everyone during the blogathon is this….what memories does RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK bring back for you?

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Please be sure to visit Outspoken & Freckled, It Rains…You Get Wet or Citizen Screenings to read about other Steven Spielberg films submitted to the Spielberg Blogathon by fans and admirers of the great filmmaker.

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5 thoughts on “Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

  1. I think the one memory that really sticks with me about Raiders of the Lost Ark, is when the faces start melting. That terrified me beyond belief when I was younger.

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