Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

*****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

With an unforgettable opening sequence in which our hero flees through a trap-filled tunnel from a great ball of rock, Raiders Of The Lost Ark is a film which wastes no time and never lets go of our attention. It's a film which has got it all - ancient treasures, evil Nazis, fights, fires, romance, heavy drinking, pits full of snakes, car chases in the desert, and a final dose of something supernatural. Yet this film's real achievement is that, in the midst of all the action, it manages to tell a first class ripping yarn.

As the most famous and most enduringly popular of the Indiana Jones films, Raiders sets the tone for those that follow, introducing us to a range of background characters and visual effects which we'll see repeated but never this well.

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Harrison Ford is in his element as the obsessive archaeologist with a taste for adventure, a character whose appeal he summed up with the explanation "he has no special powers - he's just an ordinary man with a bullwhip to keep the world at bay". He's ably supported by Karen Allen as hard-drinking ex-girlfriend Marion, a woman who enjoys the action for her own reasons and isn't easily discouraged.

The chemistry between the two is terrific and their verbal sparring adds depth to a story much of which takes place at frantic speed. The spectacular set pieces through which it is told are so superbly realised that it's now hard to imagine a time before they were there for other films to refer to. And through it all, John Williams' soaring soundtrack, undoubtedly the best of his career, maintains an expectation of further excitement just around the corner.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark demonstrates what an action movie ought to be. It has the fist fights, the explosions, the desperate chases and the gruesome deaths, but these never get in the way of the story and there's nothing which, in accordance with the story's own internal logic, fails to make sense. This makes it easy to suspend disbelief and accept the most extraordinary ideas about how the ancients kept and defended their secrets. Although the villains are sometimes cartoonish, they too fit in perfectly. There's plenty of comedy underlying the action and a general sense of good humour which makes this a pleasure to watch. Do yourself a favour and give it (another) go.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2007
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Raiders Of The Lost Ark packshot
Indiana Jones races the Nazis to find the lost Ark of the Covenant.
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Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas, Philip Kaufman

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina, Wolf Kahler, Anthony Higgins, Vic Tablian, Don Fellows, William Hootkins, Bill Reimbold, Fred Sorenson, Patrick Durkin

Year: 1981

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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