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A 1981 adventure film starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg.

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Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark - 1981

  • Jun 15, 2008
  • by
Pros: Ford, Allen, writing, direction and the music

Cons: nuttin honey

The Bottom Line: "Every morning the black sun rise
Every morning the black sun rise
It shines out of the Ark of the Covenant"
~ The Congos

A recent influx of Indiana on television prompted me to once again view this fun movie. It is one of those great movies that when the opening music starts you almost wiggle in your seat, get a smile on your face, and want to clap your hands. Well, me, anyway. Much like the never-ending sequels of Lethal Weapon, I just find these ’Raiders’ movie absolute fun. Perhaps it is the interaction between the stars or the impossible odds they meet up with. Whatever, I enjoy the bejesus outta them.

Raiders of the Lost Ark stars Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones and Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. Jones, in his other life, is an unpretentious professor that has all the gals in his class seeing stars when they look at him. Like Clark Kent and Superman, you would never assume, seeing him in the classroom, that once he dons that beat-up hat and picks up his bullwhip, he turns into a super hero. That is what makes this such a fun movie. Who knows what his natural trade is - professor, archaeologist, adventurer, or a combination of all three.

He is approached, in this release, by the men in black suits - otherwise known as the government - to go to Nepal and retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. The reason the black suits are interested is because the men with funny mustaches and swastikas on their arms are interested in finding it as well. The Covenant holds the secret of the world and to own this would be to rule to world. Kind of a good versus evil thing.

Indie is beside himself with joy; to be able to obtain the precious Ark of the Covenant for his museum would be quite the coup de grace. His former mentor, Professor Ravenwood, had been in search of the Ark for years and hasn’t been heard from in some time. It is assumed Ravenwood has met his maker and the black suits believe Indie will be able to go where Ravenwood never could and succeed.

Now Ravenwood had a daughter, Marion, that apparently had a past with Indie. He’s sweating the fact that he will probably have to cross paths with her again because it probably won’t work in his favor. Sure enough, they meet up and that is when all the fun begins.

Marion and Indie begin their quest for the Ark battling creatures [no friggin way you gonna drop me into that snake pit, I don’t care how much glass separates you from the snakes], Nazi’s, and Indie’s enemy Bellog. All in all it is a romp you don’t soon forget, full of action and drama. Other than the sequel where he starred with Sean Connery as his father, I think I enjoyed this original Indiana Jones the best.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was directed by Steven Spielberg with George Lucas and Philip Kaufman sharing writing credits of Lawrence Kasdan’s screenplay. For a movie that was supposed to be a low-budget blowout, it went way over the estimated costs and ended up rocking the house in returns. It has been voted the 66th most popular movie ever made, according to IMDB.

Overall it was nominated for about 50 awards, winning 28 of them. As is typical in all Spielberg work, it carries a recognizable musical score that makes you identify with the movie immediately - if you’ve seen it that is. As far as ratings, it carries everything from a G rating to R, depending on where you live. There is some violence, like the melting people for one thing, some gratuitous sex and mild profanity. Enough to keep a child from watching it? That is up to you of course and your own family values.

Overall impression
I could easily watch this movie a couple of times a year and not be bored. Seems like each time you watch it you pick up some nuance you missed before. A lot of the verbal exchanges are very subtle and some quite hysterical, between all of the cast. Ford was even known to ad lib a few lines during production that remained in the movie because they just worked.

One of the funniest things, although it isn’t funny of course, was the interaction between Indie and the Ninja in the marketplace. From what I’ve read, he was supposed to conquer him with his bullwhip, but a severe bout of food poisoning that had him and the rest of the crew down, just beat him up. Someone finally suggested he just shoot the Ninja, and it stuck. It was so comical, it was like Indie just said ‘Oh screw this’ and pulled his gun. It worked.

So, yes, watch this. Even if you’ve watched it before. And if you haven’t, tsk tsk



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More Indiana Jones and the Raiders ... reviews
review by . May 02, 2011
Indiana Jones, one franchise I sadly haven't familiarized myself with until now. Of course I've seen this one before, but on a whim from a library rental, and even then the series didn't really hold my interest after that. However, Indiana Jones is undoubtedly one of the best action/adventure films ever made and another great movie to add to the resume of both Harrison Ford and George Lucas. I hope to get the whole series done over the weekend, but if I don't, I will see that the …
Quick Tip by . December 29, 2010
Awesome movie, probably my favorite of the series. A must see.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the all time great movies featuring one of the all time great stunts as Terry Leonard recreates the famous Yakima Canutt gag.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It still is my favorite of the series.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
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A action movie that set the bar for other movies. It is a classic and a must see
Quick Tip by . November 23, 2009
Arguably, Indy's first outing is his best outing. His relentlessness goes unmatched in any of the films that followed.
review by . December 17, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
DVD Cover
In 1981 Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were at the top of their game. Spielberg had directed Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, while George Lucas had directed American Graffiti and Star Wars. The two had formed a friendship earlier and decided to collaborate on their next project.      Lucas had wanted to make a film about an adventurer/archaeologist who hunts down supernatural relics while being pursued by dastardly villains. The concept was inspired …
review by . November 10, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Based on the 1940's serials, this movie has it all. Non-stop action, mystery, suspense, and a love story to boot. This is the role that I will always remember Harrison Ford by. The opening 5 minutes is also probably the most famous sequence in movie history. Forget the 3 DVD set! Just get this first film.
review by . March 18, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Indy's hat and whip are freakin' COOL!     Cons: TWO great trilogies, and John Rhys-Davies is STILL ignored     The Bottom Line: If you only see one action movie in your whole life... MAKE IT RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK!!!     Well. Here I am. Review number 100. Maybe I should take everyone’s advice and start seeking out a place to do this professionally.      That being said, I wonder what it is about Raiders …
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About this movie


Raiders of the Lost Ark (also known as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, and starring Harrison Ford. It is the first film in the Indiana Jones franchise, and pits Indiana Jones (Ford) against the Nazis, who search for the Ark of the Covenant, in an attempt to make their army invincible. The film co-starred Karen Allen as Indiana's former lover, Marion Ravenwood; Paul Freeman as Indiana's nemesis, French archaeologist René Belloq; John Rhys-Davies as Indiana's sidekick, Sallah; and Denholm Elliott as Indiana's colleague, Marcus Brody.

The film originated with Lucas' desire to create a modern version of the serials of the 1930s and 1940s. Production was based at Elstree Studios, England, and filming also took place in La Rochelle, Tunisia, Hawaii, and California from June to September 1980.

Released on June 12, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark became the top-grossing film of 1981; it remains one of the highest-grossing films ever made. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1982, including Best Picture, and won four (Art Direction, Film Editing, Sound, Visual Effects) as well as winning a fifth Special Achievement Academy Award in Sound Effects Editing. The film's critical and popular success led to three additional films, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and ...

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Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Action, Adventure, Classics
Release Date: June 1, 1981
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Lawrence Kasdan
DVD Release Date: 2004; 2008
Runtime: 115 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures
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