Raiders of the Lost Ark
The return of the great adventure
1936. Peru. Archaeologist and seeker of adventure Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) has spent his entire life in pursuit of ancient relics. When we first meet him, hacking his way through the thick Peruvian jungle, his is on one such pursuit.
Indiana's wardrobe consists of a dusty old fedora, a khaki shirt, some chinos and a well-worn leather jacket. Oh, and don't forget his trusty bullwhip, which without he could never swing over bottomless pits or snare those that might stand in his way. Upon reaching his destination, an ancient temple hidden deep within the jungle, Indiana Jones must make his way through poison darts and all manner of booby traps to make to it to his goal, a golden idol.
Sitting on a pedestal at the temple's heart it stands, and Indy carefully measures out a bag of sand to replace the idol with, as to not set off any other traps. In one swift movie he grabs the golden idol and swings the bag of sand into its place. A smile creeps across the treasure hunter's face, until the pedestal begins to go down into the temple's floor.
The music builds and the temple's foundations begin to shake as a gigantic boulder comes crashing through the wall, chasing Indiana through the temple. He outruns the crushing mass of rock and jumps through the temple's opening to safety, only to run into a whole other set of problems.
Rival archaeologist Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman) is waiting outside with a group of the local indigenous people. Surrounded and outnumbered, our hero is forced to give up the idol to Belloq - but not without a fight. Jones escapes from Belloq and the natives and gets onto a waiting seaplane.
That's the opening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," perhaps the greatest action / adventure film of all time. When Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr. returns to his university, two Army intelligence agents approach him. They reveal that the Nazis, in their quest for occult power, are searching for the Ark of the Covenant. Yes, that's right - the actual Ark that the Israelites built to contain the fragments of the Ten Commandments.
Why would Nazis want the Ark of the Covenant? Well, legend has it any army that carries the Ark before it is invincible. Sounds good enough to me. This sets Indiana Jones off on his latest adventure - first reuniting with an old flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), in Nepal and eventually leading to Cairo, Egypt.
In Cairo, Jones teams up with Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), an Egyptian digger who knows where the Nazis, now being assisted by Belloq, are digging for the Ark. Now Indiana must follow ancient clues and survive action-packed encounters with the Nazis in order to recover the Ark and keep it out of the wrong hands.
Simply put, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is an out-of-body experience. Inspired by those Saturday afternoon serials of the ‘30s and ‘40s, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was a dream project of both creator George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg. The film is filled with eye-dazzling action sequences and has its fair share of humor and swashbuckling romance.
Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic characters to ever be seen on the silver screen. Much like Humphrey Bogart in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," Harrison Ford brings a certain stubborn charm to his adventure hero role. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, his character provides plenty of campy laughs, as he seems to accidentally do exactly what he needs to do, and narrowly escapes every potentially deadly situation.
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is the pure essence of fun and completely harnesses that adventurous spirit while also using real mythology and legend as the heart of its story. This is where it all started. Lucas and Spielberg reinvented the adventure genre with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and the world of Hollywood owes them a lot for doing so.
By Adam Frazier