Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

“Inside the Ark are treasures beyond your wildest aspirations — you want to see it opened as well as I.”

A bespectacled archaeologist named Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is hired by the United States government to locate a priceless religious artifact — the Ark of the Covenant — before the Nazis get their hands on it.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Denholm Elliott Films
  • Harrison Ford Films
  • Karen Allen Films
  • Nazis
  • Romance
  • Scientists
  • Steven Spielberg Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, “this marvelous adventure movie” — directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas — is “much better than the old-time Saturday serials it pays tribute to” yet effectively “recaptures the feeling of excitement and awe they originally held for kids.” The first and best of the [original] “Indiana Jones” trilogy, Raiders features “non-stop nail biting action” as well as “tremendous wit, romance that even young boys will enjoy, nasty villains, amazing stunts, a lovely, brave, capable heroine, and an unbeatable action hero.” Ford and Karen Allen (who plays his unwitting sidekick, Marion) are truly believable as a couple, with Allen serving as the perfect female lead for an action movie: she’s both pretty and tough, ready to take on any adventures and/or men that come her way. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford’s dry wit and good looks make him the ideal real-life folk hero — he’s Clark Kent, but without superhero powers, and all the more refreshingly human for it. Excellent use is made of “exotic” locales across the globe, and the supporting characters — both good and bad — are well-played by a host of fine performers; my particular favorite is Paul Freeman as a French archaeologist collaborating with the Nazis who exhibits the tiniest bit of heart (and lust) towards Allen. John Williams’ instantly memorable score (“dum-da DUM DUM… dum-da DUM”) adds the perfect finishing touch to this most enjoyable adventure flick.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
  • Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood
  • Paul Freeman as Dr. Belloq
  • Excellent use of “exotic” locales around the world
  • The exciting opening sequence
  • The infamous “snake pit” scene
  • A satisfying romance between adventurous equals
  • John Williams’ instantly hummable score

Must See?
Yes. This modern-day classic should be seen and enjoyed by all film fanatics.


  • Cult Movie
  • Oscar Winner or Nominee

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


2 thoughts on “Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

  1. More than likely, young (mostly male) ffs will feel compelled to check this out. If you’re asking me, though – not must-see.

    I actually dreaded revisiting this film. Spielberg is one director who simply annoys me – and has, progressively, with each new film. I’ve actually skipped the last few – or perhaps more than a few; I’m really not keeping up with that.

    Revisiting ‘Raiders’, though, reminded me of why I get no enjoyment at all out of a Spielberg film. It’s pretty clear that Spielberg grew up studying film obsessively. But it seems (to me, anyway) that the one thing he never learned was how to invest a film with genuine emotion (as opposed to being schmaltzy) or an actual personal viewpoint. In other words, to me he apes the moviemaking of others but doesn’t actually make movies.

    And he seems to know little about what to do with actors. Actors in his films always seem to have some weird kind of generic blandness that they’re following.

    I wasn’t crazy about this movie the first time I saw it but this time I was really fighting boredom. To put it more mildly (as perhaps I probably should), I am clearly not the target audience for this…and at least a number of other Spielberg films.

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