Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

raiders of the lost ark poster 1981 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Awesome ode to serials

The end might be a bit intense for young kids

Movie Info

Movie Name: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Studio: Lucasfilm

Genre(s): Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): June 12, 1981

MPAA Rating: PG

raiders of the lost ark swordsman gun harrison ford

Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight…

Dr. Henry Jones (Harrison Ford) is an archaeology professor at a prestigious Ivy League school by day, but adventurer Indiana Jones in his off time.  When the government contacts Jones about the Nazis rush to find the Ark of the Covenant, Indiana sets out to find the Biblical power before them.  This puts him in competition with another archaeologist named Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman), his Nazi contact Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacy), and a massive Nazi army, but it might be the fact he has to work with his former flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) that could put Indy in the greatest danger.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark was produced by George Lucas and featured a script by producing and a smart script by Lawrence Kasden.  The movie was a box office success and a critical success as well.  It won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, and a special achievements Academy Award for Sound Effects-Editing with nominations for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score.  In 1999, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

raiders of the lost ark indiana jones cobra harrison ford

This reminds me of the time I was a kid on a train…and I was River Phoenix

I can remember my friends and I talking about going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark when it was in the theater.  It was one of those amazing movies that both scares and thrills you (especially as a little kid).  Not only did you want to be Han Solo, but you wanted to be Indiana Jones…a double score for Harrison Ford.  Now sometimes retitled as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, the movie will always be Raiders of the Lost Ark to me.

Spielberg and Lucas wanted to shoot a serial film like the classics that aired on Saturday mornings.  They crafted a story with mini-cliffhangers, exotic locations, and a swashbuckling adventurer that takes on an entire army (and wins).  It is an interesting story in which faith and science meet and are almost equally important in stopping the threat of Hitler.  There are a lot of dialogue “zingers”, but it doesn’t feel too gratuitous as it often feels in more modern movies.

raiders of the lost ark ending marion indiana jones karen allen harrison ford

Marion, if you are ever thinking of showing up with a kid named Mutt…just don’t

Harrison Ford and Karen Allen also can be credited with a lot of the success.  Ford plays Indiana as confident and with some swagger…I can’t imagine what would have happened if Tom Selleck had been available for the film as originally proposed.  Karen Allen provides a nice foil to this fearless attitude and is Indy’s best love interest in the series.  She’s strong enough on her own (as seen in the drinking scenes) that she works well without Indy.  He’s joined by a great creepy villain in Ronald Lacy and a good sidekick in John Rhys-Davies.

Raiders of the Lost Ark also looks great and still looks great.  The movie (for the most part) isn’t very special effects heavy and relies on practical special effects which look more real.  The movie is PG, but it is old PG with tons of events that would never pass for a PG rating (its sequel is responsible for the development of PG-13).  I can remember being terrified by the whole end sequence with the Nazis melting and catching fire…and it still looks great.

raiders of the lost ark melting arnold toht ronald lacy

Wow that was some guitar solo!!!

Raiders of the Ark is a perfect action film.  It is everything a kid, adult, and genre fan would like.  It has romance, scenic locations…and of course snakes.  It still remains one of my all time favorite films not only because of nostalgia but because it is quality.  Try to forget Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and check out Raiders of the Lost Ark again.  Raiders of the Lost Ark was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984.

Related Links:

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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