Flashback Movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

As promised last week, we are taking the next 4 Friday’s to have a retrospective look back the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy; and thus, we kick off at the beginning with Raiders of the Lost Ark.

First things first and before we get started: it is safe to say that I have no memory of this film, so whatever film I am remembering, it must be one of the later ones, because no part of Raiders of the Lost Ark was ringing any bells. This fact actually made watching it more thrilling because it was genuinely like I was seeing it for the first time.

Next – I can’t believe this movie was made in 1981. Really, all things considered, the special effects hold up quite well (on par with Ghostbusters I would say) and the plot is as enjoyable today as any other action/adventure that is hitting the screens (Marvel Superhero franchise movies not included). Sure, the face melting scene at the end is probably not as believable as it was to the 1981 audience, but I’m a renaissance woman and I appreciate the way that it looks.

know your villains! frequently they’re members of the NAZI party and/or wearing black leather gloves and a black fedora.

In this inaugural installment of the Indiana Jones franchise we are introduced to intrepid explorer, archaeologist and adventure (and sometimes University professor) Dr. Indiana Jones. In the open scenes we see Indy tomb robbing a golden skull, which is quickly stolen from him by his arch nemesis, Rene Belloq. This scene establishes a theme which I didn’t really remember from the first time I watched the trilogy – that is, that  Indian Jones is really something of a bumbling hero. I mean, I lost count of the times he fumbled the treasure, lost a fight and generally messed up in his plans to outwit and outsmart the bad guys. To a point, this makes Indy the more human and relatable hero – but then again, there comes a time when you think ‘for goodness sake, could anything else possibly go wrong for this guy?’ It gets a bit tiresome. Still, he’s out there giving it his best shot, so I should probably cut the poor guy a break. He does get pretty beat up the the end too.

no teacher ever had such an exciting life. ever.

Indy is a bit of a dick too – in his relationships with women I mean. I don’t want to give too much away for those of you that have yet to avail yourself of this classic, but there are times when he comes off as totally harsh and a complete dick. Which brings us to of the lady of the film –

Probably the biggest disappointment for me is the scene in which Jones and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) encounter each other for the first time after a bad break up a decade before. The acting in this scene, I felt, was very forced and not believable. Luckily, the onscreen chemistry between the pair improves as they move from the snowy mountains of Nepal to the arid desert of Cairo. By the end of the adventure, I really was feeling their romance and thought they made a cute couple (in that reunited first love kind of way).

so cute
apparently ex-lovers make the best life and death adventure partners. who knew?

I also want to take a moment to bask in the joy of John Rhys-Davies and the character Sallah. Easily he is the most loveable chap in the film. I hope we see him again in the later installments. So jovial. So lovable. Sallah may be pitched as a side kick, but he genuinely seems to have the kind of live we are all aspiring to. He has a great job, a comfortable home, laughing children and the love of a good woman. Now look at this man – this is the face of contentment.

this guy

All in all, I did enjoy this movie. I loved the scope of it – the fact that so many locations and characters were included and that they were all relatively well-rounded. I though Marion’s wardrobe was pretty stunning (I certainly had white dress envy over the pirate ship dress and that has never happened to me) and Harrison Ford was really enjoyable as Indiana Jones… possibly, maybe even more enjoyable than Han Solo (yep, I said it).

So, next week we take on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. As I understand it, Karen Allen isn’t in this one, which must mean that her lover affair with Indy didn’t go the distance. That makes me sad in my heart, but I am going to try and not let that disappointment taint me as I go into the viewing.

For those of you playing at home, let’s bust this out together and when we reconvene next week we can discuss our feelings.

**Sorry this isn’t the usual Friday post… it’s actually a Saturday post. IT issues.



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