Have you seen Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark? Really? That’s funny – because there’s no such movie! ‘Indiana Jones and’ was only added to pretend it was meant to be an ongoing series. And while the sequels Temple of Doom and Last Crusade definitely have their charms, they’re nothing on the original from 1981.
(We’re all fine with adding Crystal Skull to the category of ‘unpleasant hallucinations’ along with the Matrix sequels and Highlander II: The Quickening, right?)
The brainchild of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas – somehow bringing out the best in each other – Raiders is a rare, rare thing. It is a perfect movie. Indiana Jones didn’t grow to be an icon over the years following his first appearance; he was one the moment he appeared on screen. Already fully-formed by Harrison Ford’s rumpled swagger and just the right implication of a mysterious past, Indiana Jones is a worthy descendant of Rick from Casablanca.
Raiders also seems to have barely aged thanks to its pulp style, period setting, Nazi villains, and old school special effects. (In fact, you could once see a cobra’s reflection in the glass stopping it from sinking its fangs into Ford’s face. The reflection was removed in later releases of the film, and that’s a shame.)
Like all contemporary classics, you’ve probably seen Raiders two dozen times on TV in bite-sized chunks separated by breakfast cereal commercials. Indiana deserves better. Playing at the Astor in remastered 4K digital – or, as the Astor’s own Twitter account put it, in “FRICKIN’ 4K!!”)