Raiders of the Lost Ark ★★★½

I'm writing an essay on RAIDERS for the Quietus on the occasion of its 40th anniversary. Watching it for the first time since the '90s brought mixed feelings. Even when I saw it as a teen, the scene where Indy shoots the Arab man with the sword for a laugh seemed pretty messed-up, and that colonial arrogance, as well as a sexist attitude towards the supposedly "strong woman" Marion (Karen Allen), is all over the film. But the last half is extremely exciting action filmmaking, especially the 15-minute chase on desert roads.

What surprised me is how classical this now feels. As much as Lucas and Spielberg get blamed for destroying the freedom of New Hollywood, they were still working at a time when actors - or at least stuntmen - really had to interact with fire, insects, etc. Spielberg's takes seem long enough to make this an art film compared to the MCU. GODZILLA VS. KONG is fun, but if RAIDERS embodies a weightlessness that, at best, gave Spielberg and Harrison Ford room for a coded Jewish revenge fantasy which shits on the idea that we have to platform and debate Nazis, even its most callous moments couldn't simply construct a city out of CGI and knock it down.