Few movies from my childhood and formative years are as memorable as the Indiana Jones movies. The stories of a lone archaeologist taking on the entire Nazi empire (and the other one) are all filled with fun and adventure and hold up exceptionally well to this day. So let’s dive into the film that kicked off the whole franchise, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In 1936, American archaeologist Indiana Jones, after returning from an adventure in which he attempted to retrieve a golden idol from Peru but is thwarted by a rival archaeologist. He is then approached and interviewed by two men from Army Intelligence, asking some questions about his old mentor after American agents intercept a German message from Cairo, Egypt, that mentions Indiana's mentor by name. This leads to a discussion where Indiana eventually deduces that the Nazis are looking for the Ark of the Covenant, which would grant their armies invulnerability. The Army agents shortly afterward give Jones authorization to retrieve the Ark. From there, he travels to Egypt, where his adventures truly begin.
Actors/Actresses and their Performances
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones and is, of course, the standout actor in this movie. He is a great actor for this kind of movie as the role he plays is one that is simultaneously serious and ridiculous. Indiana, at first, doesn't consider himself a believer in things of the mystical or what he believes is "superstitious." Through his adventures, he eventually realizes that there are forces beyond himself at work and begins to respect those forces. Even in the fight scenes, Harrison Ford manages to give Indiana a fighting spirit with an appropriate amount of fear that will make people love him and eventually laugh at his antics. Serious and funny is Harrison Ford's style, and it is a perfect match for the lovable archaeologist.
The other standout performance is Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. Marion is an incredibly strong female character, and she would not work if the performance were not perfect. Karen Allen, from the moment her character makes her first appearance, convinces us that this woman is not to be messed with. She and Harrison Ford make a compelling couple, and their romance is very believable by how each character reacts to certain things that happen to one another. However, when it comes time for Marion to throw down and fight or fool her enemies with her wit, she does just that, and Karen Allen makes every moment that much more special through her incredible performance.
The dialogue is very reminiscent of this type of adventure movie and the time in which it was made. Goofy action movies made in the 1980s were not supposed to be deep, but that does not make the film boring—quite the opposite. The dialogue does enough to establish the story, but most of it serves to deepen the characters and make us love them and their adventures even more. The villains are almost comically evil, and that helps to add more to the fun, adventurous tone of this movie.
As for the cinematography, it is simple yet effective. There are not very many spectacular and ambitious shots done, but that helps make the story and characters more believable. The special effects are also very tasteful, and even if they are a bit dated, they are still very effective and serve to enhance the moments in which they are used. The amount of practical effects is also amazing and makes me wish that filmmakers today would rely less on CGI and more on practical effects when at all possible.
Lastly, I would like to point out the amazing work that John Williams does on this score. Each piece is perfect for the movie, and each character’s theme perfectly fits that character and serves to enhance every scene and evoke the necessary emotional reactions out of the audience. The theme is also so iconic that you can start humming it almost anywhere and get people to join in.
Since this is a movie made in the 1980s, there are a few issues that were present in many films made at this time. The fight scenes are a bit too goofy at times, namely, the fight taking place at the airfield with the running plane. The dialogue is not supposed to be deep and revealing, but there could have been some more lines that explored the mystery and divine presence that the Ark would have and what it did to people in its presence. The comical nature of the villains is great, but perhaps exploring the nature of a few of the slightly more complex villains would have added to the difficulty of their opposition for Indiana to overcome. However, most of these gripes are somewhat personal, and if the movie is to be judged in the time it was made, most of these would not be very important.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is a wonderful, fun, and entertaining film that continues to be regarded as a classic in the adventure genre for its light-hearted attitude, spectacular acting, and storytelling. While it might not be the most appropriate movie for young children given the amount of violence, it can still be enjoyed by any and all who are looking for a movie that is entertaining, and just fun.
Final Rating: 9/10
3: Painfully Below Average
4: Below Average
6: Above Average
Ryan O’Connor is a fifth-year senior studying physics at CWU. He is an avid gamer and nerd and loves to share and hear opinions about anything related to these things. He is also the DJ on Electropolis known as LYNX.