Raiders of the Lost Ark

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You can make the case that Raiders of the Lost Ark is just a copy of many movies out there today. On the contrary, it made the movie out there today. The standards it sets, and the timeless scenes that are forever engraved in our minds make it very worthwhile to see. By seeing it, you gain insight into how wonderful the cinema can really be. Raiders of the Lost Ark is truly a classic, and by not seeing it, you are not seeing one of the greatest movies of all time.
Raiders of the Lost Ark, written by Lawrence Kasdan, Phillip Kaufman, and George Lucas, is one of the greatest classics of all time. The name itself rings with adventure and excitement of the protagonist, Indiana Jones. Jones (Harrison Ford), a professor at an unnamed university, has a side job of collecting artifacts and other items for the museum at his university. These ventures range from places as exotic as South American rainforests, and as urban as Cairo. Whether in the classroom or on these adventures, Jones’ inability to recognize that women are infatuated with him creates comic relief that recurs throughout the movie. In his chase to claim the lost ark, supposedly the one that held the Ten Commandments, Jones always escapes his demise with his handy whip and cunning wit.

From the start of the movie, Indiana Jones is established as a kick-ass, strong-willed adventurer. When the beginning rainforest scene cuts to a classroom at a university, it is only then when Jones is recognized as a bright, intellectual individual. His clever remarks and jocularity help, too. However, when Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is brought into the picture as Jones’ previous (and future) love interest, she and Jones are almost in constant competition.

Dr. Belloq (Paul Freeman) is another anthropologist who is working for the Nazis (also for finding the lost ark). He becomes enamored with Marion when she is kidnapped, and is eventually placed with the eternal conflict of love versus affluence. He chooses wealth, and eventually Marion and Jones end up being captured by the Nazis, after two lengthy and action-packed fight scenes. Belloq, however, is not willing to hand over the ark without any sort of knowledge of what is inside it. This recurring theme throughout the movie, of history and power beyond belief, is (somewhat) explained in this climax. But the element of confusion in this scene is the magic of it. The narrative gap that is left in this scene allows the audience to infer what really is so special about the ark, and how an object can be so powerful and mysterious at the same time.

Harrison Ford does a wonderful job of portraying all of the emotions and awkwardness that comes with Indiana Jones. Karen Allen, however, feels abrupt in changes in emotion. In some scenes, she’s a tough, hard-hitting woman, yet a few minutes later, she’s vulnerable and upset. Perhaps in a date movie this may be more accepted, and while this may not have a huge impact on the movie, it would have been nice to see her character develop more thoroughly.

Comic relief is found throughout the movie, and is especially used in fighting scenes to express an aspect of Jones’ personality that was not seen before, such as thinking on his feet. In these scenes where suspense is created and used, a sudden turn of events leads to serendipitous end of fighting, or the death of a villain. This relief is greatly appreciated, as it makes the darkness and doubt of scenes disappear, even if for only a moment, and makes you believe that Jones will make it out alive and safe.
As far as the story itself goes, Kasdan, Kaufman and Lucas all do a great job of getting the major points across. However, transitions from scene to scene are rather choppy, and you do get weary of leaving one place and suddenly being transported to another. However, for the overall quality and superiority this film has over others, you will have to accept it. The story is truly amazing, and is unparalleled with any other movie. All of the emotions that the audience feels, the emotions that you are made to feel, really make the experience of Raiders of the Lost Ark.





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