Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 115 mins
Raiders Of The Lost Ark is an American film and the first in the Indiana Jones series. After discovering that Hitler’s Nazis are near finding an historic artefact, the US government hires archaeologist Indiana Jones to unearth the Ark of The Covenant before the Nazis get to it.
This is an absolutely legendary movie, and surely the greatest adventure story ever put on the big screen. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan come together to make not only a massively entertaining blockbuster, but an intriguing, well-written, exciting and, at times, even frightening, adventure with a huge scope that brilliantly tributes classic adventure serials from the early years of Hollywood.
But there’s nowhere else we can start with this film but Harrison Ford. In my view, this is his best performance of all. Indiana Jones has got the wit and charm of Han Solo, but he’s far more intelligent, even more daring, and even funnier to watch. And behind the iconic character is Ford’s brilliant performance, in which he manages to perfectly balance the fun-loving blockbuster vibe of the film with the darker, grittier undertones that remain strong throughout, and that makes him an absolute marvel to watch from start to finish.
Seeing as this is the other big film from the people who brought us Star Wars, there are undoubtedly a lot of similarities, and that can be seen right down to the smallest details. However, although I do love the space saga, I think that this is better than all of the Star Wars films (even The Empire Strikes Back), and here’s why.
The best thing about this film is that it’s a tribute to the adventure serials of the 1930s, and it pulls that atmosphere off so successfully. What I was really surprised by in Raiders Of The Lost Ark was the fact that it feels like an old film. It’s not just the setting, but all of the practical effects and expert cinematic techniques that are used throughout.
For example, Spielberg’s direction gives this film an amazing sense of scope that we haven’t really seen in adventure movies since the likes of Lawrence Of Arabia, The African Queen and all of John Ford’s classics. There are so many mesmerising wide shots of the desert landscape, which both emphasises that classic feel whilst giving you an even greater thirst for the adventure and mystery on screen.
Meanwhile, John Williams’ score (which does have some insanely similar themes to Star Wars), is just perfect. It’s as epic as you’d expect from the great man, but individual pieces, particularly Indy’s theme, are perfect embodiments of the sense of adventure and fun that prevails from this movie.
Because, in the end, that’s what this film is really all about: the adventure. The tributes to the classics are excellent, Ford’s performance is stunning, but what really makes this such a brilliant film is its daring story. Written to perfection by Lawrence Kasdan, we get a delightful international adventure with two hugely likeable main characters (who have a love-hate relationship almost as good as Han and Leia), a heap of expertly-directed and hugely exciting action sequences, and, even if some of the plot may go a little mad with the whole history of archaeology at times, this is an adventure that’s so much fun that you’re glued to the screen at every moment.
Overall, Raiders Of The Lost Ark is a pretty much perfect film. It’s got some amazing characters, brilliant action, a beautiful score, wonderful direction and, most importantly, a hugely entertaining adventure story that will thrill you from beginning to end, and that’s why I’ll give it a 9.3.