Reviewed by: Ben McMaster
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina | Director: Steven Spielberg | Producers: Frank Marshall, Robert Watts, George Lucas, Howard Kazanjian | Screenwriter: Lawrence Kasdan, from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman | Released By: Paramount
When I think of the countless times I have seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and loved it, I get a giddy expression on my face. Here is a movie that takes every element from the old Saturday afternoon serials that mattered and delivers it all with a surprising effect. It encompasses heroes, villains, Nazis, archaeologists, chase scenes, fight scenes, dusty old trucks, temples, Nepal, Cairo, South America, artifacts, the wrath of God and a sense of dry, cynical humour. The reason it gets away with all this is because it doesn’t take itself seriously. Roger Ebert believed that “Gladiator” was just as dimwitted as this one, only “Raiders” is ten times as much fun.
I challenge anyone—Christian or otherwise—to dislike this movie. It reminds us how important it is to apply a sense of humour to even the most uproariously ridiculous and often offensive of situations. The violence is cardboard (you just look at Indy’s punches! He doesn’t even really hit them!!), the special effects are rushed and corny, the sexual situations are hinted at but never followed through (Oscar Wilde: “It’s better to talk about it than do it”), the production design is wildly imaginative but never overpowering and the characters are larger-than-life. If you walk away offended, then I guess it’s a personal distaste, but I absolutely love this movie.
To describe the plot would be a bit silly, because it is a bit silly. All I’ll tell you is that it involves the Ark of the Covenant, a grave-robbing philanthropist named Indiana Jones and Nazis. There is a lot of religious satire in this movie. That could be a big no-no to some of you who will actually see it (and most Christians probably will), but the flip-side of this is an all-out attack on Nazism in a “teenager-with-his-first-handgun” way. Steven Spielberg, as we know, has a personal dislike for the evil of Nazism and “Raiders” was his opportunity to release some of that tension through his medium of film. To me, that is a healthy release.
I do not recommend everyone watch this movie. There are some Christians and also secular people who quite simply will not like it because it won’t be their thing. It’s difficult for some to be willing to scratch below the surface and obtain hidden truths from the movies. And that is a shame because even something as shallow as “Raiders” has its merits. There are a lot of people out there who love this movie and I am one of them. I encourage people to get wise about whether you would like this. It just might get you chuckling.
Year of Release—1981