“Raiders” at the Paramount

May 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments · By

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” is showing at the Paramount tonight!

Geez, what to say about that one? “Raiders” is probably the finest action-adventure film of all time, certainly the best one since the 60’s. Spielberg at the height of his technical abilities, Lucas before he started making condescending crap for his kids, and probably Harrison Ford’s best performance. Plus great character actors like John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, and a young Alfred Molina, & awesome work by ILM.  It’s obviously a pastiche of all of the adventure serials of the 40’s / 50’s that Spielberg & Lucas enjoyed as kids, but the movie was so successful (and so indelibly awesome) that it’s become the tabula rasa of that genre, with every period adventure film since then owing it an obvious debt.

The film was actually initiated when Lucas expressed a desire to make a James Bond film, but Spielberg encouraged him to create his own character instead. Fun fact: the iconic hat, whip, jacket etc. were all created by awesome comics iconoclast Jim Steranko (he was basically the 60’s mod version of Frank Miller, except better) who was hired to do conceptual paintings for the film; the stuff he came up was so awesome they basically wrote action scenes to go around the ideas he came up with.

I didn’t see“Raiders” on it’s first run in the theatre (it came out the year before I was born), but I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime to catch the opening scenes of the  films’ premiere on Network Television at some point in late ’86 or early ’87. I was actually quite skeptical that a film about an archeologist could be any fun, until my parents told me it had Han Solo in it, which sealed the deal. The opening scenes are, of course, awesome, and I spent the whole next day at school anxiously freaking out, holding my breath until I could come home & watch the rest of the movie. I then became so obsessed with the film over the next few months that my neighbor & I collaborated on a 200-page comic book adaptation of the film over the next summer (we were not the only kids in the 80’s to have this obsession with the film.)

The taped-off TV copy of the film I grew up with is so familiar that when I watch the film on DVD now I keep anticipating specific non-existent commercial breaks. My dad also “censored” the gorier parts of the final melting-Nazis scene using a the VCR’s pause button, so that the climactic scene (which may already have been edited for television) more or less implied that the wrath of god issuing from the Ark was so intense that it scrambled the VHS tracking, which was pretty awesome.  I didn’t see the full, unedited version of the film until Cinemathéque (which used to be the same thing as OFFscreen) showed the entire trilogy back-to-back in Newcomb Hall one night in 1995 or 96 or so… it was a pretty fun thing to see on film as an aspiring 13-yr-old action-movie director. The print was kind of old & worn out at the ends of the reels from years of reparatory screenings, but it was still watchable and excellent.

Tonight’s screening, sadly, will be digital (and will almost certainly have the bullshit historical-revisionist title “Indiana Jones and the Raiders… etc”, plus the digitally-cleaned-up snake-reflection continuity-goof, etc), but it’ll still be a fun thing to see with a crowd. 7pm at the Paramount, $6 tickets (or $4 for kids).

Tags: preview · rants & rambles

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Erky // May 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Han shot first!

  • 2 coogan // May 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    i gotta get my hands on that 200 page comic book.

  • 3 James // May 30, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    pretty sure it’s no longer “in print,” as they say. It’s somehow magically even worse than the Marvel adaptation from the early 80’s, which is itself a pretty difficult task. Also, “comic book” is perhaps too strong a term; it was more like “one drawing per page of each event in the movie, spiral-bound by my neighbors dad at Kinko’s.” Jim Steranko, we were not.