Friday, October 10, 2008

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (Steven Spielberg, 1981, USA) Indiana Jones attempts to outwit his arch enemy Dr. Rene Belloq, the French archeologist who is his dark and morally bankrupt counterpart, battles Nazis, and tries to secure the Ark of the Covenant before Hitler uses it as a weapon of mass destruction! Spielberg delivers a fun, tense, roller-coaster ride armed with an excellent script by Lawrence Kasdan (who also co-wrote EMPIRE STRIKES BACK). The story allows us to see Indiana Jones in a human light and not as some indestructible super-hero; we see his foibles and mistakes and see him physically and emotionally suffer through the film! Therein lays the problem with the other films in the series: Indy is such an icon that the writers of those lame scripts forgot to make him human. He is accompanied Marion, an ex-girlfriend whom he took advantage of years ago, who stands up to his macho machinations and holds her own! Unfortunately, by the films end she is relegated to screaming girl in danger and adoring fan. The pacing is just right allowing us time to breath and experience the characters before the next pitfall. The cinematography is exceptional and should be studied by anyone interested in photography, moving images, or sequential art. Harrison Ford’s roguish performance is offset by his puckish sense of humor…but there is a dark side. Indy is ready to commit suicide after he believes Marion is killed during his confrontation with Belloq. Also, look at his maniacal glee when the stone slab to the Well of Souls is lifted and the treasure is his to posses! We are defined by the decisions we make and Indy turn out to be the good guy, of course…but we need to feel this emotional struggle to make a strong connection to the character. (A)

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