Raiders of the Lost Ark (PG)
The modern world is divided up into people who have seen this genre-busting slice of derring-do and those that haven’t. Of the former category, the world is further divided into those who have seen this phenomenally entertaining motion picture on the cinema screen as opposed to any large-format flat-screen TV.
If you fall into any of the above categories then be advised that arguably the best adventure movie ever made is returning to cinemas. What’s more it’s heading to IMAX cinemas.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a timeless flick. Conceived and constructed by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg as a throwback to the Saturday matinees of their youth – where the hero rescues the maiden, vanquishes the bad guy, saves the world and still makes it home in time for tea – it occupies a space in the world psyche reserved for perfect films. And Raiders… is a perfect film.
Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones, the wise-cracking, bullwhip-wielding, globe-trotting archaeologist whose thirst for knowledge and antiquities is matched only by his rivalry with René Belloq, his nemesis and an unprincipled man who works for the bad guys.
In his first outing Indy must locate the mythical Ark of the Covenant, the golden receptacle housing the tablets brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. It’s 1936 and the Nazis, fuelled by Hitler’s obsession with the occult, are on the trail of this fabulous lost treasure. If the legends are to be believed it could be the ultimate weapon, giving Hitler the chance to conquer the world.
Opening in breathless style with a sequence that pits Indy against giant spiders, nefarious death traps and a massive boulder that threatens to crush the life out of him, Raiders of the Lost Ark is a frenetic, non-stop race around the world. This first film lays down the foundations of Indy’s character: he’s like the Duracell bunny, never stopping, always focused, prepared to romance the ladies and kill the villains to complete his mission.
Lucas and co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman make Indy the ultimate American hero, equally at home with a whip or a revolver. He leaps from speeding trucks, rides the periscope of a submarine, takes on seemingly insurmountable odds and survives. He’s Superman and John Wayne rolled into one.
Ford, truly breaking through after Star Wars, is the best he has ever been. Dry, ruggedly handsome, macho and funny, he brings plausibility and attraction to a man who can only exist in the movies. Spielberg, embarking on a new beginning following the failure of the self-indulgent 1941, crafts perhaps the ultimate rollercoaster ride, for this a film that never once slows down.
An instant hit on its original release in 1981, Raiders… has enjoyed frequent re-runs in glorious 70mm widescreen. Now released in IMAX, it has the chance to win over new audiences – and a few old ones as well.