Today is the 40th anniversary of the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is my favorite movie, bar none. The funny thing is that I avoided it at first because I thought it was about religion--some story I read featured the ark or something. The second funny thing is that the first time I saw it was at summer camp, and the van for the group (the kids who stayed a full 8 weeks got to go to town during the evening in between 4 week sessions) was late. We came in just as Marion was drinking the big dude under the table. Yet even if one loses the first part, one of the greatest openings to any movie, and the MF snake in the MF plane (way before Sam Jackson), the movie still rocks.
So, why do I love it so?
- Indiana Jones is such a great character. Smart, clever, resilient, funny, flawed, human (he gets hurt and feels the pain).
- Marion. I married a snarky brunette with freckles. Coincidence? I am not sure. Marion was the first female action hero that I can recall. She was not just pretty, but she was determined, resourceful as her ability with a skillet against bad guys demonstrated, and, yes, she could drink. Indiana was a fool to let her go, and we needed the fourth movie, despite its flaws, just so we could get Marion back in our lives again.
- The best bad guys. Not just the cartoonish Nazis--we love seeing Indy beat them and best them--but Belloq. Whose smarts and arrogance made him a good match, the best match for Indiana Jones of all of the bad guys he faced. He could not have tricked Belloq into drinking from the wrong cup.
- Did I mention the sequence from the tomb to the plane to the truck chase? Any of those would be the best action sequence in a movie but to have them back to back to back? Wow.
- So much funny stuff along the way. The movie was just very well written.
- A great score. John Williams's best stuff? Not sure but it competes well with his Star Wars stuff.
One can quibble--that Indiana Jones is a product of imperialism--it belongs in whose museum--and more, but what a great piece of entertainment that still works today. Its imagery, its quotes and memes, and all the rest are still relevant today and are burned into popular culture.
So, enjoy the ride as the map shows the hero moving across the world.