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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Harrison Ford
Karen Allen
Paul Freeman
Ronald Lacey
Denholm Elliott.
Directors
Steven Spielberg.
Screenwriters
George Lucas
Philip Kaufman
Lawrence Kasdan.
Running Time
115 minutes

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Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Archaeology: a seriously sexy profession


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Plot
Renowned archeologist and expert in the occult, Dr. Indiana Jones, is hired by the U.S. Government to find the Ark of the Covenant, which is believed to still hold the ten commandments. Unfortunately, agents of Hitler are also after the Ark. Indy, and his ex-flame Marion, escape from various close scrapes in a quest that takes them from Nepal to Cairo.


Review
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Tom Selleck was originally pencilled in to play Indiana Jones, don't you know. Of course you do. So, how about the fact that the name of the "obtainer of rare antiquities," actually first belonged to George Lucas' dog? Oh, that too? And herein lies our problem — Raiders Of The Lost Ark is so adored, so worshipped, that it has been analysed to death.

In fact, even if it opened in the UK just one day after Charles and Di tied the knot, in the "Where were you when?" stakes, some would say there's no contest. And, yes, there is a multitude of treasures to be unearthed. The Star Wars-inspired registration of Jock's plane (OB-CPO); the hieroglyphics of R2-D2 and C-3PO in the Well Of Souls; and cameos by ILM's Dennis Muren (as a Gestapo agent) and producer Frank Marshall (a Nazi pilot). More significant, though, is Raiders' resonance. Initially perceived as a $20.8 million spin on the Saturday matinee serials ("I made it as a B-movie," said Spielberg), it would go on to gross $363 million (Paramount's biggest ever earner until 1994's Forrest Gump).

It heralded a new dawn for the summer blockbuster; scooped four Oscars; elevated the dusty image of archaeology to the sexiest profession known to man and reinvigorated the hitherto lost art of whipping schoolmates' bare buttocks with rolled-up towels. "Why'd it have to be snakes?" is Indy's lament, but it might easily have been Karen Allen's. Cast after Spielberg and Amy Irving had split up and Debra Winger passed, Allen had to endure an experience that made Tippi Hedren's in The Birds seem like a walk in the park. Spielberg elicited more convincing screams by throwing live snakes at her head. Legend has it that many of the reptilian extras were never recaptured and still live in the dark recesses of Elstree Studios.

But if the final result is one of the most exhilarating examples of action/adventure cinema — its pre-credit sequence, a glowing homage to ye olde Hollywoode, establishes a breakneck pace that can surely never be sustained, but is — this was not always on the cards. While the finished film arrived 11 days ahead of schedule, early on-set signals seemed ominous, with everyone bar the director taken ill on location in Tunisia. (It's rumoured that he avoided sickness by eating only the cans of Spaghetti-Os he'd packed). It was precisely this unfortunate disposition which resulted in a diarrhoea-striken Ford's suggestion to "Just shoot the fucker," in the now mythical Indy vs. Arab guard face-off, but it was also the latest turn in a growing line of mishaps. "Anything that promised serious injury or total disability, Harrison did," said Spielberg of Ford's insistence on carrying out as many of his own stunts as possible. An insistence which very nearly had fatal consequences when the German Flying Wing fight sequence went awry. "The crew's reaction was the normal one associated with having a film's star run over by an aeroplane when the movie is only half-completed," said Ford in hindsight. "I was a lot more careful after that."

While Ford was perfect as the hell-for-leather, loveable rogue, the locations sumptuous, the special effects breathtaking and the cinematography dazzling, the real success of Raiders' lies in its conception. A product of the near-Holy trinity of Spielberg, George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, it is the collaboration that holds the key to the magic. Lucas' original brainchild (he pitched the idea to Spielberg in Hawaii, where he'd decamped to escape the critical mauling he feared awaited Star Wars), he provided the flair of the set pieces and the frenetic pacing. Add to that his harmonious working relationship with Spielberg — at one meeting Lucas snapped the wingstips off a model Flying Wing, reducing it from four to two engines and securing a reluctant compromise from Spielberg which saved some $250,000 — and his influence is clear.

Kasdan, meanwhile, was the ideal choice as screenwriter. Fresh from co-writing duties on The Empire Strikes Back (1980), his screenplay was exceptional, lending essentially cartoon characters an extra dimension, whittling down an overlong script (scenes with a giant rolling gong and a mine-cart were cut and then re-employed for Temple Of Doom three years later) and easily covering for Lucas' Achilles Heel with his timeless dialogue. Third and most significant in the triumvirate is, of course, Spielberg. His ability to capture a true sense of wonder oozes from every frame, from the opening Paramount mountain match shot, to tour-de-force finale. Indeed, although it was Philip Kaufman's suggestion that the quest should centre around the Ark of the Covenant, the Hebraic tradition suggesting the Arc has awesome mystical powers is a concept more likely to appeal to the Jewish Spielberg than the Methodist Lucas.


Verdict
If Lucas is Raiders' guts and Kasdan its head, then Spielberg is its beating heart.


Reviewed by Mark Dinning

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Empire Star Rating

"I can't find Mr. Jones captain, I've looked everywhere".....

"He has to be here somewhere. Look again" " I found him" "Where?" "There!" BAAD ABAMBAAAAAAAA BAMBADAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHA AWESOME!!!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fac51thehacienda at 10:25, 13 December 2013 | Report This Post


The closest to perfection in cinema history. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by theonering at 09:28, 14 September 2013 | Report This Post


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

If I was to get to the point immediately, ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'' is one of the most deliriously funny, ingenious and stylish American adventure movies ever made and easily one of my all time favourites, if not my favourite. This film made my childhood. I rightly wore the VHS tape out, thats how much I used to watch Raiders. After this film was released it changed cinema from there on. It inspired all the adventure movies that followed because of how this film was pulled off. John Williams ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BJORNtheBLU at 15:04, 14 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: AWESOME!

It's very good but Temple Of Doom is better ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:58, 25 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: AWESOME!

L: Bad Ash L: shitneck The point of this scene is that all those killed when the ark is opened are either nazi or are wearing swastikas, whereas indie is wearing a uniform, but no symbols. It could also mean that he and marion are not killed because of them being tied to the pole therefore not being part of the nazi agenda. i think. ....or it was because both Indy and Marion had their eyes closed (like Indy said to Marion to do). sp; Don't bring logic into this, Bad Ash. ... More

Posted by jcthefirst at 16:42, 25 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: AWESOME!

L: shitneck The point of this scene is that all those killed when the ark is opened are either nazi or are wearing swastikas, whereas indie is wearing a uniform, but no symbols. It could also mean that he and marion are not killed because of them being tied to the pole therefore not being part of the nazi agenda. i think. ....or it was because both Indy and Marion had their eyes closed (like Indy said to Marion to do). ... More

Posted by Bad Ash at 13:46, 25 September 2012 | Report This Post


Re: the ending is utterly naff. Nazis conducting Jewish ceremonies????????????????????

Actually, it's the French archeologist, Belloq who conducts the ceremony. The Nazis simply watch - though one of them says he feels uncomfortable with the 'Jewish ritual'. Nothing naff about that. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by badsanta at 06:57, 23 September 2012 | Report This Post


Will somebody please release 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, CLOCKWORK ORANGE and BARRY LYNDON for the IMAX treatment - I enjoyed RAIDERS! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 123GO! at 20:57, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


This film is brilliant on the IMAX screen - don't just wait around for the Blu-Ray release. The film stands up really well and I must have seen it hundreds of times on a tv screen. And I wasn't disappointed. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 123GO! at 20:40, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: AWESOME!

The point of this scene is that all those killed when the ark is opened are either nazi or are wearing swastikas, whereas indie is wearing a uniform, but no symbols. It could also mean that he and marion are not killed because of them being tied to the pole therefore not being part of the nazi agenda. i think. ... More

Posted by shitneck at 10:26, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: AWESOME!

I really like this film althogh the ending is a bit meh... Indy is tied to a pole the whole time while the Nazis basically kill themselves by opening the Ark. ... More

Posted by grucl at 08:37, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: AWESOME!

L: Fozola what 5 stars should be used to signifyome of the tripe we get served up these days! The 80's were the best decade for movies in my opinion, so many classics and this sits at the head of one helluva table! In a decade where icons were born, none resonates more than the man in the hat! This!! Absotively posilutely one of the greatest and most enjoyable films ever made! The scene on, in and around the truck full of Nazi's moving at speed towards the end of the film is still... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bad Ash at 12:01, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


I love this film :) Although the ending is utterly naff. Nazis conducting Jewish ceremonies???????????????????? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DanTDavies at 11:20, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


Classic

in every sense,wish it was getting a wider release. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danbo1138 at 15:12, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


AWESOME!

THIS is what 5 stars should be used to signify, not some of the tripe we get served up these days! The 80's were the best decade for movies in my opinion, so many classics and this sits at the head of one helluva table! In a decade where icons were born, none resonates more than the man in the hat! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Fozola at 13:24, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


perfect

Probably the only real perfect film ever made. What's to fault. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by theonering at 09:19, 18 September 2012 | Report This Post


Not even Bond is a good as this on his best day, only Jaws is better quite simply the greatest action adventure of all time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by agent cooper at 19:50, 17 September 2012 | Report This Post


IMAX?

So we get a week of it in IMAX and it doesn't even appear that the reviewer saw it this way as there was no critical comments on it? (SLAPS EMPIRE). Come on! Get it together. Surely you could have waited one more day to actually attend the press screening on tuesday! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blindfold at 13:52, 17 September 2012 | Report This Post


Watching this as an eleven year old in my local county cinema (before they knocked it down) was a life-changing moment. I wasn't expecting anything like it. I still think it's the best action movie ever made. It's just a shame about the last two sequels. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by badsanta at 12:53, 17 September 2012 | Report This Post


Hmmmmmm. Apparently I'm the only unbiased post so far. Don't get me wrong, it's a great movie, but five stars, really? If that's the case, this film is in the same degree of quality as The Dark Knight Rises, which is just utter bollocks, because Raiders wipes the floor with Rises even now. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by clarkkent at 11:45, 17 September 2012 | Report This Post


Raiders of the Lost Ark

I hate it when they add "Indiana Jones and the" to the title - It's like Star Wars "A New Nope" to me it's just Star Wars and Raiders of the lost Ark - Apart from that it's brilliant - ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 11:10, 17 September 2012 | Report This Post


SPEILBERG's finiest film with great performance from Harrison Ford ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 22:43, 29 October 2011 | Report This Post


Indiana Jones

UNIQUE ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kris9209 at 23:24, 29 July 2009 | Report This Post


Indiana Jones

UNIQUE ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kris9209 at 23:24, 29 July 2009 | Report This Post


"Trust Me"

Spielberg and the gang set the standard for summertime screen fun with RAIDERS. I'm yet to be entertained by a movie as much as I am with Indy's first adventure. It looks suitably rough n' ready (almost a twin-film to The Road Warrior, another classic), you can almost feel the punches and the desert heat. the truck chase rocks. Number three in Snake-Eyes' Top Ten. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Snake-Eyes at 09:30, 09 August 2008 | Report This Post


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