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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

While I do not plan to go through my list in order, I figured for tonight I'd start at the beginning with this classic.  But before I get to the blog... I need to do some thinking.

What do I want this blog to be?  I'm looking back at some of my past reviews/blogs on somesmart & sodblog and there's no real theme or motif (except possibly long-windedness).  I think I need some sort of structure and I can't really think of anything better than to take a page from a friend's blog.  He's a great writer and the layout he's chosen (plot, trivia, review) is simple yet effective.  I hope Will doesn't mind and I want to remind him that imitation is the highest form of flattery. :D

Anyway, might as well start my first MLiF blog (hehe... my blog's acronym is MLiF)

#1 - 1981 Box Office: Gross $209,562,121

The return of the great adventure.
Stephen Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first of three films* that follow an archeology professor who hates snakes and Nazis.  The film opens with our hero, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), deep in the South American jungle where he outsmarts booby traps and a thin, young Alfred Molina but gets out-Hovito'd by nemesis René Belloq (Paul Freeman).  After returning to the US to teach a class or two, the US Army asks for his help in tracking down the Ark of the Covenant before Hitler finds it and becomes unstoppable. However, it probably wouldn't have been a Box Office smash without a little love interest, so the film introduces Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), daughter of one of Indy's old colleagues with an important piece of the puzzle to find the Ark.  The pair travel from Nepal to Cairo to a small Greek island trying to find, and then keep the Ark out of the hands of the Nazis.

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • 1981's biggest grossing film was originally intended to be a small low-budget adventure, however, production costs tripled to $22 million
  • To create the sound of the heavy lid of the Ark being slid open, sound designer Ben Burtt simply recorded him moving the lid of his toilet cistern at home
  • In the map room, one of the buildings has red graffiti written on it that says, "Nicht stören," which is German for "Do not disturb"
  • Early concept art for the character who ultimately became Toht depicted him as a uniformed Nazi officer with a mechanical arm that doubled as a machine gun and a radio antenna built into his head
  • The seaplane's registration, OB-CPO, references Obi-Wan Kenobi and C-3PO from producer George Lucas's Star Wars franchise
  • The monkey raising his paw in Nazi salute is one of Steven Spielberg's two favorite scenes (his other is the "Where doesn't it hurt" love scene on the ship). Frank Marshall says that they got the monkey to do this by putting a grape on a fishing pole and dangling the grape just out of camera range. This took about 50 takes before it actually looked like a Nazi salute. Voice-artist Frank Welker provided the chattering sounds for the monkey, including the "Sieg Heil"-like chirp that the monkey gives when it raises its paw in salute. (Welker later provided similar monkey chatter for Abu in Disney's Aladdin)
  • The famous scene in which Indy shoots a swordsman was not in the original script. Harrison Ford was supposed to use his whip to get the swords out of his attacker's hands, but the food poisoning he had gotten made him too sick to perform the stunt. After several unsuccessful tries, Ford suggested just "shooting the sucker." Spielberg immediately took up the idea and the scene was successfully filmed
"I always knew some day you'd come walking back through my door."
What makes Raiders such a great film is the imperfect hero portrayed by Ford.  We first meet him when, from the shadows, he whips the gun out of someone's hand—pretty awesome, no?  Then, minutes later, we see him masterfully get past a bunch of odd traps (shafts of light and sunken footsteps that cause sharp pointy things to come out of the wall)—how's he do it?!  But what makes Indiana Jones one of the best movie heroes of all time can be seen when he's jumping over the hole and grabs onto a root to keep from falling to his death.  In a close-up, we see Jones smile, almost as if he's thinking (like we are), "Man, that was close!"  Then, the root comes out of the ground and Indy has to struggle to get back up onto solid ground.  He's not a super hero; he has some faults, but the adventures he has are extremely fun to watch.

And, since I have it stuck in my head now, I want to share this video with you:

Ponch's Rating:

*(after watching Crystal Skull, I prefer to believe that it was never ever made)

1 comment:

  1. Cool beans! I can't wait to read about more of your movies.