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1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark

ij_raidersDr. Jones, Dr. Jones, calling Dr. Jones. Dr. Jones, Dr. Jones, get up now (Wake up now!)

That’s it. That’s the only downfall to watching this movie. I get Aqua’s Dr. Jones stuck in my head every time they call him Dr. Jones.

Everything else is perfect.

I have been trying to get my wife to watch this movie for years. At one point early on in our relationship we made some agreement that if I did something she wanted (probably something super easy for me like ripping a phonebook in half or talking down a hostage situation) then she would watch one of the Indiana Jones movies with me. After 7 long years of her saying “Not tonight, I have a headache.” I got sick and she felt bad enough for me that she finally agreed to watch it with me. 1,000,000,001ish times dry heaving into the toilet and a visit to Emergency seem to have been worth it.

Indy NightI have been trying to cut down on my sugar intake (only cream in my coffee, no pop, no candy, reading labels, etc). But for this I threw everything out the window and stocked up. Coke, Swedish Berries, Liquorice All-Sorts, Sour Patch Kids, and Popcorn were prepared. I brought our mattress out into the living room with our 37 pillows. The lights were out and we were all prepared for the perfect movie night. My wife even picked out new sweats and soft t-shirts so I would be extra comfortable.

I don’t think I need to go into great detail what makes this one of the best movies of all time, and certainly one of the most iconic. It’s one of those triple threats. Great casting (Harrison Ford), great writing, (George Lucas) and great directing (Steven Spielberg). From the get go we are exposed to scenes of Indy escaping death whether it be from tribal warriors or giant boulders. We are given a character with strength, intelligence, and common sense, who sees through the crap and can get the job done. Most importantly he has a strong moral compass, so we can easily root for the guy. Even visually, he is instantly recognizable even when we see him only as a shadow or silhouette. The heroes are heroic, the villains are dastardly, the girl is…. a love interest, but still strong, the action is exciting, and the goal is clear. Basic elements that these kind of movies need, but not all can capture. It is an example of film at its best. Everyone knows that. Plus Nazis. Everybody loves to hate Nazis.

Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-indiana-jones-3678057-1280-720But for me, it especially good. It is built straight out of the pulps of the time it is set in. Indiana is very much a Doc Savage character with a little bit of Sam Spade (more on him soon). He is smart enough to make a name for himself as a scholar, but adventurous enough to make some dangerous enemies who want to impede what he is doing for their own selfish gain. His work as an archeologist is a very popular profession for fiction of the time and mirrors movies like the Mummy and comic characters like Hawkman. It is mirrored again later in the film version of The Shadow. These are all characters and franchises that I love. I often wish I had been born in this time.
And I have been watching this movie since I was a child. Over and over and over again. I don’t know how many times I sat in my PJ’s as a little kid and watched Indiana Jones switch the sandbag with the idle, then try to jump across that pit that young Doc Ock ditched him and then run away from that boulder, and then fall asleep after the major action settled down. But as I got older I watched more and more of the movie, and got more and more into it. I’m still discovering things (or maybe rediscovering things) as I watch it now. (For example, I hadn’t t
hought about them using the burnings on the Toht’s hand to rebuild the staff of Ra, because they never outright explain it.) I also noticed this time that Toht is very similar to one of the actors (Peter Lorre) in The Maltese Falcon. According Wikipedia, Spielberg thought the same thing as me and that is why he was cast.

indy-raiders-3And it’s noticing little things like that that really make me appreciate what I am doing with this blog. I like seeing where things come from, and learning about what inspired the directors and writers. If we don’t know where we come from, how will we know where we are going. I don’t know who said that, but I’m pretty sure someone did.

I know this isn’t exactly Science Fiction but it is definitely worth mentioning on this blog. There are slight elements of Sci Fi in the first 3 films, in regards to some of the religious goings on, and definitely in the fourth film, with the aliens, but there has long been a connection between religion and Sci Fi (Stargate, The Mummy, H.P. Lovecraft, etc.) And the characters that Harrison Ford has played such as Indy, Han Solo, and Jack Ryan have been inspiration for many actors and characters (Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy) to come later on.

Thanks for reading.

Pictures from: My Wife, http://www.gamebooks.org/gallery/ij_raiders.jpg, http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/indy-raiders-3.jpg, http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/3600000/Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-indiana-jones-3678057-1280-720.jpg

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