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Raiders Of The Lost Ark - Review

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: It’s 1936 and after cheating death while trying to retrieve a golden idol from an ancient temple in South American, legendary archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is recruited by the US government to find the lost Ark of the Covenant – the chest that allegedly holds the remains of the 10 Commandments – before the Nazis can retrieve it. Enlisting the help of an old flame, Marion (Karen Allen), Indiana Jones embarks on a globe-trotting race against time to locate it and escape unharmed from the Ark’s mysterious powers.

Our verdict: Raiders Of The Lost Ark originally stemmed from Star Wars creator George Lucas’ desire to create a modern version of the serials of the 1930s and 1940s – and it has since become one of the most popular [and imitated] films of all-time.

Steven Spielberg’s non-stop action-adventure is a rollercoaster ride of fantasy fun that takes a cracking good yarn and spins it into a classic boys’ own adventure. It also gave birth to one of cinema’s greatest characters: the irrepressible Professor Jones, or “Indy”, as played by Harrison Ford.

Much of Raiders appeal lies in the fact that it simply doesn’t let up: opening with a stunning sequence inside a booby-trapped temple in the depths of the south American jungle and ending with a special effects tour-de-force on a remote island as the full power of the Ark is unleashed.

In between, there’s enough classic moments to fill a dozen Empire back pages: from Indiana Jones’ encounter with hundreds of poisonous snakes in the Well of Souls, to his now-legendary encounter with a swordsmith in a Cairo bazaar (he opts to shoot the swordsmith rather than play any games).

The bazaar sequence itself is full of brilliantly realised chase moments, as is Indy’s subsequent attempts to retrieve the Ark from a convoy of Nazi vehicles. When our hero states at one point “I’m making this up as I go along”, you’re inclined to believe him, such is the speed at which the chase unfolds…

And yet at a time when special effects and lavish action sequences seem to be placed at the forefront of most summer blockbusters, it’s easy to forget that in Raiders of the Lost Ark we also had a set of characters worth caring for as well.

Indiana Jones, for instance, is a brilliant creation: a man’s man, to all intents and purposes, who shrugs off pain, never seems to get flustered and seldom (if ever) gives up on the chase. Played by Ford with almost nonchalant ease, Indy is a movie icon, known for his signature hat and ability with a whip.

But let’s not forget Paul Freeman’s scheming Dr Rene Belloq, a worthy rival for Dr Jones, or Allen’s feisty love-interest, Marion, who more than held her own in such testosterone-driven company. Or even John Rhys-Davies’ impossibly jovial helper Sallah, whose charisma deservedly earned him a place in a later Indiana Jones movie (The Temple of Doom).

All contribute in no small part to making Raiders Of The Lost Ark the timeless classic it undoubtedly is. Watch it once, enjoy, and then watch it again and really savour the tongue-in-cheek, breathless revellry of the whole escapade. It’s little wonder that sequels were to follow….

Read our verdict on Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom