- It works almost alone without dialogue just focusing on the spectacular set pieces, the editing (Oscar win), John Williams score, and the set design (Oscar win)—silent cinema
- Irresistibly entertaining
- Love the opening graphic match with the mountain in south America and the Paramount pictures logo
- This is a spectacle—plays with and borrows from James Bond (heavy iconography) and Gunga Din—like Bond this starts in medias res—and since it borrows from bond it also borrows from North by Northwest and certainly it has that sort of narrative momentum and set piece focus
- Love the ornate set design iconic opening- the white lights through the trees
- Cairo and Tunisia setting- clearly Spielberg is inspired by Lean and Lawrence—massive cast in the desert
- The supporting players are superb- Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliot and the horrifying Ronald Lacey
- The narrative absolutely steam rolls- there’s nothing here I’d take out and everything has a purpose to propel it forward- even when we show Karen Allen in the drinking contest early in the film it’s used again in her contest and attempt to escape Paul Freeman’s character
- I admire the long silent scenes of Ford looking for the ark with the gorgeously designed sets in the background
- Lots of deadline editing space/time manipulations that Spielberg would be known for largely
- Welles’ Citizen Kane warehouse that goes on forever ending—phenomenal
- Ford is a revelation in the lead- it’s his best work and he’s been very good before (star wars, empire) and after (witness, the fugitive, blade runner: 2049)
- A masterpiece- though I’m not longer convinced it’s necessarily better than Jaws and Schindler for Spielberg’s best
- Siskel “Yes, it’s as entertaining as you have heard. Maybe more so. Raiders of the Lost Ark is, in fact, about as entertaining as a commercial movie can be.”
- Hilarious negative review from a woefully off Pauline Kael
- Camby “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.”
- It’s an incredible bounce back for Spielberg directly after 1979’s film– “1941”– a flex to return to form
- Ebert calls it ” Indiana engages in the best chase scene I’ve seen in a film. (I include, in second place, the chase from “The French Connection” and “Bullitt” in third)”
- I’ve seen the film 20 times and I was blown away by the of the film, the editing, we’re moving, South America, classroom, Nepal, and in Cairo in the first 34 minutes
- John Williams achievement here can’t be overstated- he has so many themes that all work together as a cohesive whole and as I said many of the best parts work as a silent film with his music over the top, Ford’s stoicism and Spielberg’s set piece brilliance- the map room sequence is entirely silent, Ebert’s favorite chase, the shot of Ford drinking after Marian’s supposed death
- It’s not Spielberg’s forte but there is a stunning wall-art quality shot of the sunset here as the men are digging
- a Masterpiece
A top 10 film and flawless at that. Ford’s best performance, and blade runner is one of the all time greatest so are star wars but this is better. Also Schindler’s list , et, and Jurassic park (haven’t seen jaws in awhile) are some of the greatest. A top 10 director, maybe 5 (after welles, scorsese, kubrick, and Ridley Scott)
@ M– top 10 is high praise from you here. Thanks for the comment.
Lol did Pauline Kael like anything every time I’m looking up reviews for my favorite films she seems to always have a negative review.
@Randy. haha i know. She’s not one of my favorites. Not that he was always right but I’m team Sarris in the Kael vs. Sarris wars. To be fair, she was an excellent writer and did champion a lot of great films (she adored the work of Robert Altman for one) but it blows my mind how often she was wrong for someone who did this for a living (not only that she was the most famous film critic at the time).
A movie I wish I made personally along with Manhattan,Chinatown, and Taxi Driver.
i’m glad i didn’t make raiders… because it would be arrogant to love it as much as i do.
Thankyou Drake, your analysis/notes of the movie helped me so much upon rewatching Raiders.
The editing(the travel/map scenes-wow), set-piece bravado, lighting, acting, direction, etc are also signs of a masterpiece which is what I consider Raiders to be now. It may not be the phenomenal suspenseful magic of Jaws or the gorgeous-but-brutally emotionally impactful black and white cinematography of Schindler’s List, but it’s still a masterpiece that is impossible to ignore.
Scientists in the US recently did a study/survey to find the catchiest songs of all time. They concluded that Michael Jackson’s beat it was the catchiest song of all time. Clearly they were wrong….
The raider’s March by John Williams is the catchiest song of all time. I swear once you hear it, it never gets out of your head. The score is a large reason for why I consider Raider’s to be a masterpiece.
Do you believe this is Ford’s best role?
nah id say star wars is his best role. that was before mark hamill and carrie fischer were good actors and they were stale. so for the young characters he kind of led the pack. this is number 2 probably and i don’t get how people don’t appreciate his role in blade runner as much as is warranted
I love Harrison in Blade runner. I definitely appreciate his role. But Blade Runner is Rutger Hauer’s movie. In Raiders, Harrison Ford is by far the best actor in the movie.
Harrison Ford is at his swashbuckling best in The Empire Strikes Back and on a per-minute basis that’s my choice. But in terms of a film he headlines from start to finish, it’s tough to top Raiders.
@Matt Harris – In your opinion, is Ford’s resume (the films he has been in) that of a top 10-20 best actor? He has been in Raiders, Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now, The conversation etc etc. Obviously actors are ranked for more than just their resume. Ford was only in 5 minutes of each of Coppola’s films but he has certainly appeared in some of the best American movies of the 70s and 80s.
As far as pure adventure captured on film this is hard to beat. You barely are given a chance to catch your breath after that amazing opening, as the films narrative propels it forward through spectacular set piece after spectacular set piece. I love the travel scenes with the visualization of the maps over the areas they are traveling. The lighting used in the opening scene is Finches-esque. It might be Spielberg’s most visually stunning film.
If he gets credit for Apocalypse Now and The Conversation in addition to Raiders, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Empire, Blade Runner: 2046 and the rest… then sure. It has to be a very short list of actors with a filmography on that level. Not sure how much credit you can give him for the first two though lol.
@Matt Harris and @Azman– yeah. I love actors who are in great films more than anyone- but if Ford gets a bump from these films look at Ward Bond’s filmography when you get a chance.
1933- Lady For a Day
1933- Wild Boys of the Road
1934- It Happened One Night
1937- Dead End
1937- You Only Live Once
1939- Drums Along the Mohawk
1939- Gone With the Wind
1939- Son of Frankenstein
1939- The Oklahoma Kid
1939- They Made Me a Criminal
1939- Young Mr. Lincoln
1940- The Grapes of Wrath
1940- The Long Voyage Home
1940- The Mortal Storm
1941- Sergeant York
1941- The Maltese Falcon
1942- Gentleman Jim
1943- A Guy Named Joe
1945- They Were Expendable
1946- It’s a Wonderful Life
1946- My Darlene Clementine
1947- The Fugitive
1948- Fort Apache
1948- Joan of Arc
1948- The Three Godfathers
1950- Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
1950- Wagon Master
1951- On Dangerous Ground
1954- Johnny Guitar
1955- Mister Roberts
1956- The Searchers
1959- Rio Bravo
@Drake, Ford’s work should definitely not count(or count very, very little) in Apocalypse Now and The Coversation. He’s barely there for 5 minutes.
This was just a fun question I asked Matt. (I now realise how flawed this question was)
Many ‘actors’ have made brief cameos and appeared in phenomenal movies but their appearances are too short/brief.
I love Sunset Blvd but I wouldn’t consider it one of Keatons best films because he isn’t even in it for 5 minutes.
Surely Scorsese and Hitchock would be top 50 actors of all time if the only thing we ranked was the amount of great movies they appeared in.
@Azman– haha yep- great point about Hitchcock and Scorsese- never thought of that.
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