Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

Indiana Jones
Jon Cruickshank

It is interesting how favourite films usually made a big, first impression during childhood. This is certainly true in my case. When I was a young, I wanted to be Indiana Jones.

I saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” in 1981, when I was eleven years old. It was the first films I saw in the cinema, well, maybe not the first, but among the first. I can honestly say I have never been as awestruck watching anything since.

“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of The Lost Ark” was the first in a series of four films. Released in 1981, Steven Spielberg directed it. He was a wunderkind director, in the 1970s and 1980s. He directed “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

“Raiders” Harrison Ford as the hero, Indiana Jones; he’s a fictional character devised by George Lucas and Phillip Kaufman.  Karen Allen portrayed Marion Ravenswood, the love interest for Jones. Paul Freeman portrays the anti-hero, Belloq.

“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” set in 1936, revolves around a priceless artefact, the lost Ark of the Covenant. Archaeology professor, Dr Jones, sets out to find the Ark in Egypt. In doing so, he must contend with Belloq and the Nazis, who are seeking the Ark to use its supernatural power.

The opposing groups compete to find the artefact and, then, to retain control of it. They constantly attempt to outwit each other. Indiana Jones uses cunning and intelligence as well as some fleet footedness. Belloq and the Nazis use underhand tactics and force.

If the plot sounds fantastical, it is and this is what makes “Raiders of the Lost Ark” such a special film. The intent of “Raiders” is clear: fun and adventure. Even as an eleven year old, it was obvious to me who were the white hats and who were the black hats.

Later in life, I discovered what Nazis were and what they represented. The movie, in a way, soft-soaped the Nazis. In the context of “Raiders,” they were an obstacle for Jones to overcome and little else.

Indiana Jones is one of my favourite film characters. Everything about the character is perfect, from the Fedora to the bullwhip. I love that Indiana Jones is essentially the adventurous alter ego of the college professor, Dr Jones.

Jones is much more believable than any superhero. He prefers not to fight and hates snakes. I love how he thinks a way out of any situation. This is the reason he appeals: he is an intelligent action hero.

The predicaments, in which Jones finds himself, make “Raiders of the Lost Ark” thrilling. Today, as an adult, I consider “Raiders” just less than two hours of the most exciting, action packed set pieces ever put on film. A great story, told superbly, endures.

The first time I saw “Raiders,” it gripped me from the first sequence, as Jones tries to retrieve a golden idol. He triggers a booby trap in an ancient temple, has to escape, chased down a path by a huge stone ball; then someone double-crosses him and he loses the idol, anyway. That first ten minutes sets the tone for the film, and it includes more intrigue and excitement than many other films manage in their entire running time.

My favourite film of all time is “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” because it is funny, scary, thrilling and captivating. The sequels are good, but never quite match the brilliance of “Raiders” film, for me. Neither has anything else. Whenever I watch “Raiders,” it takes me back to my childhood and, yes, I still want to be Indiana Jones.

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