Raiders of the Lost Ark Live Blog

To gear up for the theatrical release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we are currently rewatching the original Indy trilogy. For some added fun, I am trying my hand at keeping a running journal of thoughts for all three movies. First up is Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Raiders comes right in the middle of an impressive 10 year run by Spielberg and Lucas where they could do no wrong. Just take a look at this string of blockbusters: Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Return of the Jedi (1983), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).

Indy needs a guide to help him find this idol about as much as Qui Gon and Obi Wan needed Jar Jar to guide them through the planet core in Phantom Menace. Don't worry readers, I will try to keep the Episode I comparisons to a minimum.

Alfred Molina sighting! He's a good sport in his first movie appearance, getting covered with spiders and employing a lovely Spanish accent. His reaction to that unexpected skeleton was a little over-the-top though, screaming and biting his fist. He is probably just doing some early prepping for his eventual scenery chewing role as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2.

Where does Indy find these scrubs? Seems like “can you confidently swing across a bottomless chasm using a whip?” would be part of his jungle guide interview.

“There is nothing to fear here.”
“Thats what scares me.”

Classic Indy Moment #1 - Swapping the bag of sand for the idol.

Classic Indy Moment #2 - Trying to outrun a giant boulder. You know Indy, it would have been so much easier had you just waited for that giant boulder to roll past you instead of running right into its path. Maybe I am overthinking this.

“Again we see there is nothing you possess that I cannot take away.” The suave yet morally bankrupt Rene Belloq is the perfect foil for the rough and tumble Indy.

I wish Harrison Ford had been my Archeology teacher in college. That would have made that class much more interesting. Maybe not quite interesting enough to write “I love you” on my eye lids though.

Porkins (aka William Hootkins) makes his first appearance. For a fun little easter egg, after his meeting with Indy, they should have had him start to fly away in an X-Wing, then quickly get blown up.

“An army which carries the ark before it...is invincible.” I wish my Bible had that cool illustration of the ark shooting fire and lightning out of it.

Movie Glossary
Instant Sobriety: Anyone who is so drunk they are stumbling around or are close to passing out will quickly sober up if required to contribute something to the plot. Examples: Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day), Tom Cruise (A Few Good Men), Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark).

"The bar’s closed."
"We are...not thirsty."

Is there another villain as weasely yet absolutely terrifying as Nazi interrogator Major Toht?

Sure that monkey is cute, but he is hanging out with a guy that has an eye patch. I smell trouble. Right on cue, the monkey sells out Marion.

This basket chase scene is vintage Spielberg, packed with little punchlines and featuring playful John Williams underscore.

Classic Indy Moment #3 - Shooting the swordsman. I think the swordsman shot first, that must be why Indy felt okay firing away.

Did that monkey just say "uh oh?"

Let’s see, I’m trying to remember where in the Old Testament that it says the Ark is "a transmitter, a radio for speaking to God” It must be in Leviticus or Numbers, I always skip those ones.

"You want to talk to God? Let's go see him together, I've got nothing better to do."

Classic Indy Moment #4 - The Map Room.

"Daaaaa naaaa naa, daaaa naaaa naa... " The Ark Theme gets its first big moment to shine in the Map Room. The Raiders March might be the most famous cue from the score, but the Ark Theme adds the perfect blend of epic mystery to the action. What would these movies be without Johnny Williams? I don't even want to think about it.

Way to pick the Ark over the girl, Indy. If it was Kate Capshaw I would have understood.

Memo to Nicholas Cage and the makers of National Treasure: You should have to dig at least through one sunset and well into the night before finding what you are looking for.

Classic Indy Moment #5 - The Well of Souls.

"Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?" Between the snakes, bugs, and rats, I’d say the snakes are the least squirm-inducing of the grotesques from the original trilogy. What's it gonna be in Indy 4? My guess is George Lucas's double chin.

That is the most sinister coathanger I have ever seen. Seriously, is there anyone more evil than Toht? To paraphrase Mike Myers, he's so evil that he is E-vil.

Meanwhile, back in the Well of Souls, once again what was briefly Indy's is now Belloq's.

Those skeletons harrassing Marion sure are lively, you know, for skeletons. But not to worry, Indy finds the back door in the nick of time. Why didn't they just go in that way in the first place? Sorry, overthinking again.

Here's a riddle for you. Do you know what happens to a burly Nazi soldier that comes in contact with a moving propeller? The same thing that happens to everthing else.

A well-placed plane wing to the lid on the side of the gas tanker there. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong when it comes to Indy.

Classic Indy Moment #6 - The desert truck chase. Indy grabs on to the hood ornament and it slowly bends and breaks off. The beauty of this movie is in the little details like that. The Wilhelm Scream also just made its token appearance, courtesy of a Nazi soldier getting tossed off the truck.

“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage”

He may be sinister, but Toht sure didn't think through things when he selected his desert trudging attire. Meanwhile, eagle-eyed Kristen just spotted a fly that lands on Belloq's face and crawls into his mouth as he calls Indy's bluff. Intentional?

Classic Indy Moment #7 - Opening the Ark. Note to self, when necessary, to avoid the wrath of God, close your eyes.

As Roger Ebert points out in his Great Movies column about Raiders, the young Jewish kid in Spielberg must have relished the chance to "blow up Nazis real good."

I have often contemplated how the face-melting scene would have turned out if the wonders of CG animation were available at the time. Too bad this wasn't George Lucas's movie, or we could have found out in a Raiders of the Lost Ark: Special Edition (cough).

Daaaaa naaaa naa, daaaa naaaa naa...

Classic Indy Moment #8 - The Ark getting boxed up and wheeled into an endless government warehouse. The best finale out of the trilogy, and proof that Spielberg once knew how to end his movies. Previews for Indy 4 show a return to this warehouse. Hopefully they don't ruin the mystique of it, ala the Midichlorians. Oops, another Phantom Menace reference.


Krissy said...

You couldn't get a screen shot of the fly going into Belloq's mouth? That was my favorite part! Otherwise, very nice post.

Ben said...

slow clap....

Erika said...

I just wanted to add that the scene of Indy shooting the swordsman wasn't originally written into the script. There was this huge elaborate fight scene that was there first, but one day when they were shooting that scene, Harrison Ford must have just been having a bad day, or he was tired or something, because instead of doing the scene as it was written, he pulled out his gun and shot him. Apparently the directors loved it because they rewrote the whole scene. Didn't know that.. did you?

Cheryl said...

Are you going to the opening night of the new one?

Dave said...

Me and a friend are going to see it next Friday night (the day after it opens). Kristen and Eddie are going to wait and see it another time.

Spencer said...

Speaking of changing things in the movie using CG, they did change something for the 2002 DVD, in the snake pit they digitally took out the reflection on the glass when Indy is staring down the cobra.

John said...

That bible illustration was created by Ralph McQuarrie - famous for his design work on the Star Wars trilogy.

That was his sole contribution to Raiders.