Informed by the US government that the Nazis are searching for The Ark Of The Covenant as part of their quest for occult power, renowned archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones (Ford) is tasked with tracking it down. Attempting to contact his old mentor who’s an expert on the subject, Jones teams up with ex flame Marion Ravenwood (Allen) and discovers that arch-rival Rene Belloq (Freeman) is working with the Nazis. As such, it’s a race to see who can find the Ark first…
Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t just one of the most popular and beloved action-adventure films in cinema history, it’s one of the most popular and beloved films in cinema history – full stop. Helmed by Steven Spielberg and created by George Lucas (with Empire Strikes Back scribe Lawrence Kasdan on screenwriting duties), it’s an example of popcorn entertainment at its finest. Inspired by those cliffhanger serials of the ‘30s and ‘40s which Lucas loved, it’s also a straightforward B-movie, essentially, meaning that there’s little in the way of depth or layers. But in terms of action and adventure, though, it’s a consistently thrilling ride.which rarely lets up. After the exhilarating boulder-escape opening, we do briefly pause for breath with some college-based set-up, but from here on out Spielberg propels us into set piece after set piece. Elevated by some truly impressive stunt work (see Indy going under the van – bravo Vic Armstrong), Raiders boasts a number of inventive chases and remarkable action moments.
Again, there’s not much more to the movie than action, but few would question how iconic it all is. We’ve got John Williams’ instantly-recognisable theme tune (“Da-da-da-da…da-da-da!”), Ben Burtt’s punchy sound effects and a number of memorable shots (the Paramount mountain match-shot, the famous plane-mapping, Indy’s introduction, his silhouette arrival at Marion’s bar). Interestingly, one of the film’s most frequently-quoted lines (“It’s not the years honey, it’s the mileage”) was improvised on the spot by Harrison Ford, while one of the most celebrated laughs (Indy shooting a swordsman) was added last minute as the star was ill. As for Ford, he’s flawless as the everyman hero who’s making it up as he goes, while the supporting cast (Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, Denholm Elliot) are all impossible to imagine being re-cast.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t just one of the most popular and beloved action-adventure films in cinema history, it’s one of the most popular and beloved films in cinema history, full stop. Inspired by those cliffhanger serials of the ‘30s and ‘40s, it’s a straightforward B-movie with little in the way of depth or layers, but in terms of action and adventure it’s a consistently thrilling ride.