47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Raiders of the Lost Ark is Spielberg's tribute to Saturday matinee serials, apparently, which is good of him, because can there be anyone in this society who remember them first time round?
With an intensely da-able themesong, and some more truly beautiful music to come later, matching some of the beautiful scenes, Raiders was a collaboration between the bearded cap-master and his old mates John Williams and George Lucas. So it's a kid's film. Bring your inner-impressionable side. Be impressed by ageing but not quite laughable special affects; gasp or squeal at 4000 snakes, some tarantulas, rats, and famous rolling boulders, laugh at a naughty monkey and just gasp at the amazing Well Of Souls. Smile smugly when you notice the plane's registration number, and the Star Wars characters carved into the altar-posts of the ark itself. Not only is this film a crackingly entertaining hour and 55 minutes, but you can tell they had a heap of fun making it too.
It began laid back: the original casting took place in George Lucas's kitchen. While filming the bar-fire scene, they did actually burn the whole bar down, and had to rebuild the set to burn it down again, snickering like schoolboys with big matches. They still managed to complete it 12 days ahead of schedule. There was one sad moment though - a tarantula was killed; dropped on set, so if it has its "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" at the end they're lying.The naughty boys. Oh yeah, and Harrison Ford got really bad dysentry, so they tore out the four pages of script where he cunningly fights the Scimitar Swordsman, and SPOILER ALERT well, just shot him, as if you didn't know.
After the confused 1941 (Speilberg's attempt to satirise gung-ho patriotism and war-paranoia) the director needed a hit, and by golly he got one. Set in 1936 with whip-cracking, hat- grabbing, plane-stealing action, much pass-the-artifact plot- swerving, handsome hero-and-his-most-likely-relightable-old-flame and no time for my then six and eight year-old brothers to get bored, Raiders was great "No no, let me take the kids to see it" stuff.
Although not as dark and pacy as the prequel-sequel Temple of Doom, and not as funny or God-fearing as The Last Crusade (In Raiders Indy tells us the ark is the wrath of God - or something), Raiders is the first, the most racist (dopey Nepalese, naughty South Americans, nasty Arabs and no non-Nazi Germans) and the most original of the Trilogy. The main reason for that of course, is that the other two can^Rt help but borrow from it, but its originality is more far-streching than that. Unlike the average Bond, Indy gets beaten up and it hurts. He can't do it all by himself and his script is written by the Star Wars saviour Lawrence Kasdan (Who brought some weeds from the Empire Strikes Back Dagobah set for the Temple Of Souls, apparently!).
If you haven't seen this film already you might not want to bother. If you have, you almost certainly will again, and if you hate Harrison Ford, well, watch it and smile at your knowledge that he's suffering from dysentry half the time. Topical too, with Indy's fourth adventure on the way, I'm certain.
Review by Indiana Jed
Taken from EUFS Programme spring 2000
A deservedly huge film, it takes some restraint to avoid going over the top in admiration for Spielberg's awe-inspiring cliff-hanging action-adventure. Spielberg is obviously at home here, and his superb pacing and immense flair for the visual gag are the perfect complement to the ludicrous Boy's Own storyline.
Spielberg's love of Disney and cartoons contributes essentially to Raiders' innate style. The film has many fundamental elements derived from cartoon lore: bumbling side-kicks, tall shadows on walls to precede entrances, comical fights, pseudo-euro comedy accents, and of course the ubiquitous polarisation of good and evil, here exemplified by the stereotypical Nazi baddies. In fact, if you were clichespotting you would certainly notice the old-fashioned treatment of Asian and Arabic countries, not to mention the Germans. However this is the territory we're moving in - the dated action/adventure yarn where the blend of high adventure and cliff-hanging suspense that, fuelled by a "rule the waves" feeling of colonial supremacy and the stock anti-German reaction (or, more accurately, anti-Nazi emotional manipulation, which we're all used to from those jingoistic war films we've all seen), contributes to an adventure story we can all relate to, whether politically correct or not
With Spielberg's own cartoon-inspired touches, George Lucas'
mind for formulaic high adventure (he co-wrote the original story), John
Williams' suitably traditional orchestral score with its mixture of
melodrama, humour suspense, horror and lusty adventure, and Harrison
Ford's ideal laconic and unimposing hero, Raiders is the ideal
blend for a paradigm of adventure cinema. Tremendous fun.
Review by Mark Radice
Taken from EUFS Programme 1994-95