Digital Channel > Film Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Film Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Our At HOME in the 80s season concludes with some Indiana Jones action. HOME Digital Reporter Alice Simmons reviews Raiders of the Lost Ark…

Raiders of the Lost Ark was a childhood favourite of mine and re-watching it reminded me of the delights on offer from this early 80s classic. It stormed the box office in 1981 as the highest grossing film of the year, receiving nine Oscar nominations and it’s not difficult to see why. Opening with the iconic boulder chase scene, we are launched into two hours of archeology (believe me, it’s more exciting than it sounds), action and adventure.

We are introduced to Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) as an intrepid explorer, willing to risk life and limb for his prize. However after the initial epic opening scene we are introduced to a more academic side to our titular character, an archeologist, a professor, who is both thoughtful and well-educated. It is this second side of Jones which really elevates him above and beyond many of the other action heroes pumped out by 1980s Hollywood.

The film has a fairly simple plot; Jones must discover the resting place of the long-lost Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis, or risk them using it to take over the world. The charm of the film lies heavily with Jones’ extreme energy and ability to rush head-first into all the traps, fights, double-crossers, snakes and ambushes that are thrown his way. He does, of course, have some help along the way with Sallah (John Rhys-Davis) and Marion (a fantastically energetic Karen Allen, the perfect match for Ford). It is a testament to Allen’s portrayal of Marion’s fiery resilience that she is the only female co-star to reprise her role later in the franchise.

An all-star crew including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, produce some incredible spectacles, going all out to create an abundance of stunts which are now considered iconic. What works so well is that you truly believe that Jones can (and will) get hurt, he is not indestructible. I think this is partly down to nearly all of the stunts being meticulously planned, perfected and performed by real people, much like in a theatre show, rather than relying on the oh-so-much easier CGI. In fact many of the shots have elements of the theatrical with some fantastic aesthetics of lightening bolts behind Jones and Sallah as they uncover a major find and a great use of shadows during a particularly nasty fight in a burning building.

Although the ending throws in an almost completely unexpected supernatural twist, it does little to impair on otherwise pretty much faultless film. In an exciting whirlwind of adventures, Raiders of the Lost Ark, whisks us around the world in under two hours and leaves you excited to watch the next instalment.

Raiders of the Lost Ark screens here at HOME at 20:40 on Sat 22 Dec. Book tickets and find out more here