Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark ★★★★★

After making 1941, what he considers to be the worst film he made (I agree with this), Steven Spielberg bounced right to his brilliant directing best with this Oscar-winning adventure, and a film that would defy the career of Harrison Ford.

The story concerns an intrepid archaeologist who tries to defeat a band of Nazis to an exclusive religious artefact which is essential to their plans for taking over the world. Fighting against a snake fear and an unforgiving ex-girlfriend, Indiana Jones is in continuous danger, making very narrow escapes at every turn.

Without any doubt, the part of Indiana Jones will be Harrison Ford’s most memorable role, even though I don’t consider it to be the best performance of his career (that would come later in the decade).

Nevertheless, he gives a terrific performance in his part as Indiana Jones, the man who acts like he is determined to keep himself as safe as possible, but it’s going to be a very hard task, especially with all the peril he finds himself in, as well as number of people going after him in pursuit of the relic. He suits the role really well and makes the most of the time he has on the screen – no doubt about that.

Elsewhere, there is a decent performance to be had from Karen Allen in her part as Indiana’s former lover Marion Ravenwood, while Paul Freeman is Indiana’s enemy René Belloq, acting like he is determined to defeat Indiana and John Rhys-Davies is respectable as Indiana’s assistant Sallah.

Also, Ronald Lacey is the agent Arnold Toht and Denholm Elliott is Indiana’s colleague Marcus Brody. The two give very respectable supporting performances, though they aren’t bad.

The direction from Spielberg is excellent because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a very tense atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a terrific standard by Lawrence Kasdan as he makes the movie really easy to follow.

The technical aspects that stand out best are the set, camera, music, editing, sound and visual effects, because the set is absolutely terrific to view throughout; the camera makes very good use of the locations, particularly with any sunny weather, and also captures the tense and dramatic moments really well, which deservedly get the edge-of-the-seat status; the music is very enjoyable to listen to – one of the most recognisable scores in cinema history; the film is edited to a terrific standard, particularly with the zombie melt scene that I believe still has the power to make you feel uncomfortable today; the sound is excellent as you have to listen carefully and you can tell when danger is always looming; the visual effects are dazzling to view whenever they appear on screen.

The movie managed to win 4 Academy Awards: Best Production Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects and those awards were absolutely deserved. The film also rightly got nominations for: Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Cinematography (Douglas Slocombe) and Best Original Score (John Williams).

At the British Academy Film Awards, the movie won the award for Best Production Design (Norman Reynolds), while it also got deserved nominations for: Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Denholm Elliott), Best Film Music (John Williams), Best Cinematography (Douglas Slocombe), Best Editing (Michael Kahn) and Best Sound (Roy Charman, Ben Burtt and Bill Varney). Steven Spielberg got a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.

Overall, the first instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise is one brilliant and dangerous adventure. Harrison Ford is bang on form, Steven Spielberg back to his directing best, with Lawrence Kasdan writing an excellent script. It also works due to the excellent technical aspects and this is one of the best films to have been made in the year of this release.

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