Thursday, December 18, 2008

Film Review: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981, Steven Spielberg)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 115 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Eliot, William Hootkins, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, Dennis Muren, John Williams, George Lucas, Pat Roach, Alfred Molina, Lawrence Kasdan
Tag-line: "The Return of the Great Adventure."
Best one-liner: "You want to talk to God? Let's go see him together, I've got nothing better to do."

Ah, Indiana Jones. A true hero for America. He's basically a grave robber, a cultural appropriator, sucker-punch thrower, a 'shoot first and ask questions later' kind of guy. He feels justified in everything he does, and when he gets called out on it, he defuses the situation with a smarmy grin. And the film acknowledges it, with Belloq's whole "shadowy reflection of you" speech, which is the screenwriter Kasdan beautifully channeling the days of Hawks and Huston. According to the original RAIDERS novelization, college-age Indy seduced 16-year-old Marion, promised her the world, and then left her. His friend and favorite professor's daughter! She was so broken down that she followed her dad to Nepal, he promptly died, and she had to work as a prostitute for some years in order to survive.

Now, with THAT subtext, watch their reunion scene, and soak in what a dick Indy is.

Cause that's exactly it. Indiana Jones is a dick. Case in point, in the Nazi sub base, Indy is dressed as a Nazi soldier. His mission- which risks not only his own neck and that of a woman he loves, but possibly the fate of the entire world- hangs in the balance. Yet, when he sees Belloq, he's willing to risk it all just to smack his shoulder into him. Of course, Belloq assumes it's a clumsy Nazi, and exits disdainfully, but Indy could have ruined the entire plan right there. Just so he could be a dick.

And look at that final, smug look of self-satisfaction. That really sums it all up.

Yet... when it all comes down to it, we love Indy. Because in the context of the films, he's usually fighting the most vile, venomous enemies the planet has ever excreted. So keep fighting the good fight, Indy, but cool it with the hypocrisy. There's a pretty blurry line between elitist private collection, 'public' museum, and Hovitos Temple. Aww, there you go with that lopsided grin again. Damn it. Fine. Five stars. But this is the last time!

-Sean Gill

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