Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Steven Spielberg

I’ve made no secret of my love for this movie on my blog, and it was a joy to revisit it for the 101 Action Movies list. This and Jaws always tend to be in my Top 5 movies of all time, and there is, for me, no other film that captures that action and adventure feel so well as Spielberg’s homage to the serials of the 1930s, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Featuring a script by Lawrence Kasdan (fresh off his work on The Empire Strikes Back) based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman, the globe-trotting adventure follows Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), an archaeologist who is more at home in the field than in the class room, despite the pitfalls, traps and enemies one of his usual adventures includes.

He’s brought on by the government to find the legendary Ark of the Covenant, before the Nazis find it. Along the way he has to get help from an ex-flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and seek out the help of his good friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) all while avoiding his nemesis Belloq (Paul Freeman) who is working with the Nazis.


Indy’s look is perfectly identifiable in silhouette, and he lives in a world where the good guy never loses his hat, and the heroic strains of John Williams’ perfect score has become synonymous with adventure.

This is still, for my money, one of the best action movies ever made, completely embracing its heritage, and giving us yet another cliffhanger every 20 minutes or so, just like the original serials.

The film is a stuntman’s dream, and the amazing Vic Armstrong over saw a large percentage of it, and also served as Harrison’s stunt double. And speaking of doubles one of my favorite bits, involves the villain Toht (Ronald Lacey), a shot was needed of Toht shadowing Indy from his departure point in the states, but they used special effects wizard Dennis Murren, who looked remarkably similar when kitted out as Toht.


The stunts are amazing, and even now, having learned how they were all done, still doesn’t make them any less amazing!

It was nominated for 8 Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Director), and received a special achievement Oscar for sound effects editing.

Even now some 30-odd years later, this one still packs a punch, and I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t loved it or seen it more than once.


There are so many fantastic moments (the monkey salute), so many fantastic fight sequences (the flying wing is my fave, though the market place and truck chase are both amazing), it has my favorite music cue in a movie – ever, the track is entitled Map Room: Dawn, it’s filled with what have become iconic scenes and images, and this is a film that just shows Spielberg having fun.

Spielberg and Lucas influenced a large part of childhood and formative years, and I think Indiana Jones will always be one of my favorite characters the two of them, with Harrison’s aid, helped create.

This is a movie I will watch from start to finish anytime I come across it, and there is never a missed beat, a bad scene, or anything I would skip over. I love it all.


The production design, the music, the editing, the story, the cast, everyone in front of and behind the camera gave their all (Harrison Ford was incredibly sick the day they shot the infamous sword fighter scene – there was a long involved fight sequence, and it was suggested that perhaps Indy could just shoot him instead. And it became a perfect Indiana Jones moment.)

I love this film so much, and have seen it countless times, honestly, I couldn’t count…

Do you have a favorite moment from the film? And how many times have you seen it?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s