Back in 1981, if I had told you that a man wearing a fedora and armed with a bullwhip would one day be considered one of the greatest movie heroes of all time, you would probably have laughed. However, that is exactly what happened with Indiana Jones, the star of today’s movie. Granted, when you have George Lucas and Steven Spielberg working together on a movie, you know the movie is going to be good. Still, I don’t think even they knew how big the movie would wind up becoming.
The plot: In 1936, archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones is searching the Peruvian jungle for a golden idol, which resides in a booby-trapped temple. Indiana manages to survive the temple but as he emerges outside, he is confronted by a local tribe, led by a rival archaeologist, Rene Belloq. Indiana is forced to give up the idol but manages to escape the natives and make it to his waiting plane. Back in the states, Indiana is back at his job of teaching at Marshall College when his friend Marcus Brody informs him that there are two members of Army Intelligence that are waiting to see him. After talking with them, Indiana learns that the Nazi’s are searching for the biblical Ark of the Covenant, and they wish for him to find it first. Indiana first goes to see Abner Ravenwood, who had found the headpiece for the Staff of Ra, a necessary item in locating the Ark. However, Abner is dead and the headpiece is now in the possession of Marion, Abner’s daughter. Marion, bitter towards Indiana after a failed romance between them, initially refuses to sell it to Indiana but tells him to come back the next day. However, Marion is soon visited by Nazi Major Arnold Toht, accompanied by some hired help, who is about to torture Marion for the headpiece’s location when Indiana returns. A gunfight occurs, during the course of which the bar catches fire. The headpiece is knocked close to the fire and Toht grabs it, but the headpiece was too hot and he drops it and runs out into the snow. After Indiana and Marion deal with the last of the thugs, Marion grabs the headpiece as her bar burns down informs Indiana that she is now his partner in the venture. The two head to Cairo, where they meet up with Indiana’s friend Sallah, who tells Indiana about the Nazi’s progress. As Indiana and Marion go shopping in town, they are attacked by some bandits, led by two Nazi officers, and Marion is captured. Indiana tries to save her but the truck she is in explodes. After Indiana has a confrontation with Belloq, who is working with the Nazis, Indiana and Sallah speak with a friend of Sallah’s who can translate the headpiece and they learn that the Nazis are digging in the wrong spot. Indiana sneaks into the Nazi camp and learns the true location of the Well of Souls, where the Ark is buried, and while trying to hide from some Nazis, discovers that Marion is still alive but he is forced to leave her there in order to not arouse the Nazi’s suspicions. Indiana, Sallah, and some workers manage to uncover the Well of Souls but when they discover that the floor is covered in snakes, Indiana uses gasoline and torches to clear a path through them. Meanwhile, Belloq tries getting Marion drunk in order to see if she has any more information but Marion tries to escape and runs straight into Toht. Later, Belloq, Toht, and the Nazi commander, Colonel Dietrich, are arguing about what to do with Marion when Belloq notices the workers and has Dietrich summon his men. Back in the Well of Souls, Indiana and Sallah find the Ark and manage to get it up to the surface but after Sallah climbs up, the rope is dropped and Belloq taunts Indiana. Dietrich then drops Marion down into the well and seals it up. Indiana manages to knock a statue loose and send it crashing into a wall, allowing them to escape. Indiana and Marion try to hijack the plane that the Nazis plan to fly the Ark out on but they wind up accidentally blowing up the plane and airstrip instead, forcing the Nazis to send the Ark by truck. Indiana uses a horse to catch up to the transport and manages to retake the Ark and meet back up with Sallah, who has booked passage for Indiana and Marion that night on a tramp steamer. The next morning, a Nazi sub holds the steamer hostage and Marion and the Ark are both captured but Indiana manages to sneak onboard the sub. At the Nazi base, Indiana disguises himself in a Nazi uniform and threatens to blow up the Ark with a bazooka but Belloq calls his bluff and Indiana is captured. That night, Bellow preforms a ritual to open the Ark, unleashing a horde of spirits from inside the Ark. Indiana tells Marion to keep her eyes closed as the spirits summon a vortex of flame which kills all of the Nazis, as well as Belloq, Dietrich, and Toht, but spares Indiana and Marion. Arriving back in the states, Indiana is informed by Army Intelligence that the Ark has been moved somewhere safe and is being researched by “Top Men”. Indiana leaves with Marion as the Ark is loaded into a crate and stored in a government warehouse.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark was highly praised by the critics, earning a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In Roger Ebert’s review, he says “Two things, however, make Raiders of the Lost Arkmore than just a technological triumph: its sense of humor and the droll style of its characters. We find ourselves laughing in surprise, in relief, in incredulity at the movie’s ability to pile one incident upon another in an inexhaustible series of inventions.” The audiences loved the movie as it woulf make over $384 million off of an $18 million budget. The movie would wind up being nominated for 9 Academy Awards and would win 4 of them and was placed into the National Film Registry in 1999.
This truly is one of the best movies ever and one of my favorite movies to watch. The acting was great and Harrison Ford truly created an iconic character with his portrayal of Indiana Jones. The story and plot were great, really showcasing George Lucas’ style of subtle bits of humor mixed into an action packed sequence, such as Indiana facing a sword weilding bandit and after watching him swing his sword, Indiana just pulls out his pistol and shoots him. The special effects were great, although I will admit that while the final scene with the Ark killing the Nazis freaked me out as a kid, and I still like the pillars of flame burning holes though the soldiers, the close up of Dietrich’s, Toht’s, and Belloq’s deaths looked a little cheesy. But that is one small flaw in an otherwise fantastic movie.
Rating: 5 out of 5