‘The Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Review: A True Classic

Posted in The Screening Room by - January 21, 2015

Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best action movies ever made, and it might be one of the best movies ever made, period. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, both geniuses in their own right, have crafted a love letter to the serials of their childhood, along with creating an iconic character that has captivated audiences everywhere. I might get strung up here, but I have more nostalgic feelings towards Indiana Jones than I do towards Star Wars or Star Trek.

The plot of Raiders centers around Indiana Jones and his quest to beat the Nazis to the Ark of the Covenant, a legendary religious relic of unspeakable power. Along the way he meets up with Marion Ravenwood, an old flame, and the Sallah, the proclaimed best digger in Egypt, who help him track down the Ark. If you haven’t seen Raiders, which I’m honestly not sure how that is remotely possible, I’m not going to ruin the plot, but there are so some supernatural elements that set it apart from just a normal action film. Along with the good guys, the Nazis are extremely memorable for villains in an action film specifically Belloq, the rival of Jones. He is smarmy and cunning, always one step ahead of Jones in their search for fortune and glory. Along with Belloq, Toht plays the Nazi Major sent to track down the headpiece owned by Marion Ravenwood, but ends up getting disfigured in the process. It’s a testament to Lucas and Spielberg’s writing ability that the villains are as memorable as the good guys in the film.

The action is the film is fast-paced but not frantic like many of the current action films that Hollywood chugs out. It is very well calculated and choreographed with some humor added in for good measure, especially during the infamous Cairo Swordsman scene.  

It’s one of the film’s most iconic scenes that was changed on the fly because Ford at the time was sick and didn’t want to do an entire fight scene between him and the swordsman. It’s these impromptu changes that really allow Raiders to shine as a film that is not only an action film but also very smart and funny.

Albeit, my favorite aspect of Raiders along with any of the Indiana Jones films, yes even the underrated Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, are the supernatural elements that are at play throughout the film. Jones is looking for the Ark which harbors the power to “speak to God” as Belloq so eloquently puts it in the film. The fact that Raiders centers around an Old Testament mythical relic is intriguing to me as that subject matter always has been a fascinating topic. I love reading up on Grail lore or new theories on the Shroud of Turin. Jones is thrust into this supernatural world at the climax of the film, and it doesn’t disappoint, including multiple characters becoming overcome with the power of God, to put it lightly. The supernatural element elevates Raiders for me from simple action film to a truly memorable and epic quest. 

If you haven’t seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, it would follow that you most likely haven’t seen any of the Indiana Jones films, which is a shame. The main trilogy of Indiana Jones films are three of the best action films that have ever been put to celluloid and are definitely worth binge-watching. They are funny and full of action, similar to Star Wars but more grounded in reality with a slight twinge of the supernatural. If you haven’t seen any of them, do yourself a favor and check them out, you won’t be disappointed. 

Final Say: Watch It

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Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He’s a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You’ll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.

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