Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by George Lucas, Philip Kaufman, and Lawrence Kasdan
Artists love to return to the things that thrilled them as children, and when they have the commercial clout to do so on a grand scale, they will. Raiders of the Lost Ark ended up being a hell of a lot bigger than it ever should have been. It's a slapdash, mostly junky-looking throwback to old 30s B-grade adventure movies. It teeters on the edge of pure camp virtually the entire time. It barely hangs together with its many plot-holes and over-the-top performances.
It even looks old the lighting, the stage blocking, the film stock. The dialogue is super musty. There are long scenes wherein the plot is explained so as to make sure you don't get confused in one case, it's literally spelled out on a chalkboard.
And yet, so much of it is so good, that the bad don't matter. The scenes that are famous, and which have been imitated and ripped off countless times, are famous for a reason. They have resonance, intrigue, real thrill-factor.
And so I excuse all the parts that don't really work, because it's clear that Spielberg and Lucas were going for exactly what they got and probably having a damn lot of fun doing it. Sure, it's conservative horseshit. It's so fun.
One thing I don't understand is why anyone thought of Karen Allen as a sex symbol back in the day. What was the 80s obsession with anemic, neurotic women? Jobeth Williams, Margot Kidder, Karen Allen these women are hideous.
Oops, that was about as misogynistic as Raiders is. Do I like this movie? Maybe for the same reasons I like Bruce Springsteen: a hilarious yet exciting mixture of passion and bombast. Much of Raiders is no different from, like, Top Secret! But the sum is much more than its parts. And it has Toht!
Our lead film writer, Crimedog, will probably want to hang me for rating this one as less than perfect but if I were in any less jovial mood I'd dole out nothing higher than a five. But since I've had a little to drink, I'll subordinate the Judge Mills Lane in my brain and go with the flow: I mean, you don't criticize a roller coaster for not handling like a Jaguar.
Review by La Fée