Thursday, September 8, 2011

Adventure film 8: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The definitive adventure film for a generation, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) spawned a prequel, two sequels and a television series. Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones alongside Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliot. Click the image below to listen to the podcast (26.2 MB, 1 hour 12 mins).

Recorded Monday 29 August 2011, edited by Murray Ewing.

Notes & Errata: Romancing the Stone was released in 1984. The Richard Chamberlain King Solomon's Mines was released in 1985 and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold was released in 1986.

Purchase the DVD from Amazon UK: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)


  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark was my favorite in the series, with Last Crusade second favorite . I couldn't stand The Temple of Doom, mainly because of the Willie Scott character, but also, I never could warm-up to the little kid in Doom.

    Raiders was pure magic. I was in college at the time, and everyone was buzzing about it. Saw it many times, but not so much in the last few years. I thought Karen Allen was great.

    One thing I do remember about the whole Indiana Jones series, one of our older students in our art department had a connection with the Idaho Film Board. Spielberg needed a canyon scene for the dropping of the yellow raft in Temple of Doom. The Snake River Canyon (near our college) had the look they were looking for (steep rock walls with a big river in the bottom). This student got hired to create the special raft, so it would fall in the canyon correctly. He had to test it before Spielberg film crew came to film it. As I recall, it took at least two days (maybe more) of filming to capture the raft falling with the correct lighting.

    The art department was buzzing about it at our annual art dept. picnic. Everyone wanted to see the footage. Of course it only lasted a few seconds, but we could all say, hey that's our canyon!

    There was a similar canyon scene in Raiders, and after 30 years, I almost forgot which film it was actually in. So watched both films recently. Watching both films confirmed my love for Raiders and distaste for Temple. Now I have to watch Last Crusade again!

    Only saw the last film once. Sometime I'll give it another try, but I can watch Raiders anytime.

    And you mentioned Shogun. I love that series too. Haven't seen it in years though. I'll have to look it up. Meanwhile, I have to watch SHE before the next program. Thanks for another enjoyable program!

  2. Thanks for the comment Linda. I didn't mind the kid (Short Round) in Temple, and in fact, on recent watches, the relationship between him & Indy is one of the better parts of the film — plus the spectacle of the opening scene. I can remember being wowed by the opening of Temple of Doom at the time. I guess that was Spielberg doing Busby Berkeley.

    Love the story about the raft. I now know never to jump out of a plane with a raft unless it's been designed to fall properly!

    Shogun — excellent. The book and the film.

  3. Hey guys
    Really enjoyed this, great job! You reminded me that when I first saw the poster for Raiders (I'd've been 10 I think) I thought the title referred to Noah's Ark too!

    I recently came to the revelation that Raiders is the only Indy film I really like. Temple Of Doom I find really irritating because of the awful attempts at humour (ironically, TOD was widely criticised at the time for being too dark), Last Crusade I think is very dull until Sean Connery turns up (then it does spring to life with Indy, his dad, Sallah and Brody romping through the desert) and Crystal Skull starts well but just went rubbish in so many ways.

    I actually had loads i wanted to say but I listened to the 'cast just before I went to bed and forgot most of the points I wanted to say! :-D

    Ummmm... oh yes, the 'Starting the film with the end of the previous adventure' gimmick was borrowed from the James Bond movies and the 'under the truck' stunt was taken from Stagecoach (or did you mention those?)

    The Richard Chamberlain KING SOLOMON'S MINES was the first film I saw at the cinema that I thought was rubbish - though I do remember fancying Sharon Stone in her shorts!

    One of the things I love about Raiders is the irony of the ending - Indy goes through all these incredible lengths to get the Ark away from the Nazis, actually FAILS, but it doesn't matter cos God kills all the Nazis as soon as they open it anyway! Indy could've actually stayed at home! :-D

  4. Of course — James Bond! We didn't mention that or Stage Coach, so thanks for those.

    And the question re the ending is, why didn't God finish the job and wipe out all the Nazis, the world over?

  5. That'll be the old 'free will' chestnut, Murray!

    Actually, I remember thinking at 12 the Ark had long been abandoned by God (as, probably, had humanity) and it was a remnant of the old magic working on its own. Now I just think the Ark was ascribed to God in ancient times but is actually something else entirely (not sure what!). But maybe we shouldn't get into that too deeply - it works for a variety of beliefs :-)

    Great note on James Bond - didn't think of that.

    I want to watch Last Crusade again, now - need to reassess it, though I agree, none of them can beat Raiders.

    Thanks for your excellent comments too, Linda.