Raiders of the Lost Ark

Posted by G. Raymond Leavold


Indiana Jones is a hero. He’s brave, smart, strong and handsome in a rugged, dirty kind of way. Not once do we see him wash his hands that must be caked with dirt and grime. He’s the man every little boy wants to be.

But none of that makes him the enduring character that he has become in that last 31 years. What I believe makes him a hero that we are all able to connect with is that, while he has all of the positive characteristics that defined a hero, he is still very human.

As good as he is (or likes to think he is) at what he does, Indiana Jones still doesn’t breach the paragon of the hero who is infallible. Indy gets his arse kicked quite a bit, gets tricked or has the tables turned on him at nearly every turn, plus he has an irrational fear of snakes. But this kind of fallible hero often makes the best kind of hero, because he is above all relatable.

Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of a trilogy of 80s films (which became a quartet in 2008 with the tacked-on abortion The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls) was released in 1981 as an homage to the adventure serials of the 1930s and 40s that filmmakers Lucas and Spielberg—creative powerhouses that could do no wrong at the time—used to watch as children, and with Raiders they single-handedly relaunched the adventure film and inspired many a knock-off.

Set in 1936, Raiders starts off with archaeologist Indy (Harrison Ford) in the Peruvian jungle dangerously retrieving a priceless artefact, only to have it stolen by the nefarious but resourceful French bastard Belloq (Paul Freeman). We then find out that, in between life-risking adventures, Indy is a university professor—the type that particularly enraptures female students. Two army intelligence agents approach Indy hoping to gain some information from him about an artefact knows as the Ark of the Covenant, a priceless trunk that is said to contain unknown powers that the Nazi’s (of course) are trying to obtain and use to dominate the world.

As truly entertaining as any adventure film you’re likely to watch, Raiders is playing at The Astor theatre from Juli 1 for a week-long run. Playing on the digital 4K projector, the film has been re-mastered rather than restored (as 4K prints of Taxi Driver and Dr. Strangelove were), so Raiders’ quality dips in some of the shots, and the sound quality is a little uneven at times. Despite the small imperfections, it was unreal to be able to see Raiders in a theatre. I was minus-5 years old when the film came out, so it’s such a treat and privilege to see Indy’s first adventure on the big screen.

If the season of Raiders does well, we might be lucky enough to see re-masterings of Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade in the future.

Fingers and whips crossed.

Raiders of the Lost Arc is showing at The Astor from July 1 to July 7.
For more info visit astortheatre.net.au.

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