Retro Review: It’s Not the Years, Honey, It’s the Mileage; Celebrating 30 Years of Snakes and RAIDERS with Indiana Jones

Posted on: Sep 18th, 2011 By:

By Thomas Drake
Contributing Blogger

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981); Directed by Steven Spielberg; Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas; Starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliot; available on DVD from Paramount Home Video; BluRay release date unknown but allegedly soon; original theatrical trailer here.

Short: Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? Men. Top Men.

Medium: Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is an archeology professor by day, and moonlights as a tomb robber by night (for Science!). The film starts in South America with an iconic scene where he is attempting to retrieve an idol from an ancient native tomb. The idol had traps guarding it, including a large well-timed boulder. Once he gets back, his mentor tells him that the government has a job for him.

It’s the early ‘30s, just before WWII, and Indiana has to find the Ark of the Covenant (it’s a radio for talking to God after all) before the Nazis do. Because you know, God might decide these Nazi guys are not so bad if they can just get a chance to relax over a couple of beers. At any rate, off they go to Nepal where they get a map held by Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), making for the best onscreen chemistry of the Indy movies. Then off they dash to Egypt for a map, and finally to Indonesia for the classic end scene.

Indiana Jones (Harrision Ford) and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981). Paramount Pictures.

When I was a child, I was commanded by my parents to close my eyes when Indy and Marion do. But if you like seeing Nazis get a well-deserved comeuppance, keep ‘em open. It’s not like they don’t do worse with CGI these days….

Maximum Verbosity: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is one of those movies that does everything right. And unlike with STAR WARS, George Lucas doesn’t have enough control to be able to have Indy shout, “Noooooooooooo” to the heavens when anything bad happens to him. It’s been 30 years since the original came out, and it’s still going strong.

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