Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Review
"Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark", Lucasfilm, 1981
Whilst not necessarily an exhilarating watch for contemporary audiences, it's likeable charm that has stood the test of time not only continues to warrant conversation regarding the deconstruction of traditional masculinity that Ford's Indiana Jones represents, but also enables for its surprisingly unpolished presentation its genre/era-defining action that brings to attention the catchy child-like fun of the story that remains touching almost 40 years later.
These quirks that construct this purist lens for adventure comes from the combination of Spielberg and Lucas, who found a perfect middle ground between their respective established sectors of pop culture; the wonder of space and the human-tinged grit of the supernatural that these directors explored in the 1970s comes together effectively here, with the innocently admirable chase for a macguffin, the binaries of the genre that the diegesis touches on in a humorously original way and the playful ping-pong structure of the narrative that contains it. Whilst the unpolished nature of the cinematogragpy may occasionally take away from the spectacle of the experience, the sense of scale is instead conveyed in a more natural (and arguably effective) way through the precisely-slapped-together blend of harsh and intentionally flat lighting that often composes the mis en scene. This attention to detail in highlighting the comically bland is embodied by the characterisation of Indie himself, who feels like a satirist response of the straight-edged hero archetype that defined the mainstream, with his overtly humanistic mannerisms and oblong smugness working alongside his traditionally masculine sensibilities, helping ground a surprisingly jolly aesthetic which mocks the self-seriousness of the diegesis. Carried along by a steady pace that strikes a charming balance between the naive fun of the action and the self-aware wit of the exposition, the directors remain constantly focussed on delivering a tale of pulpy adolescence, slicing straight through the backdrop of religion and politics, utilising iconographic homage in order to truly celebrate the limitless possibilities that the genre can possibly provide.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark not only provided the blueprint for the depiction of modern action being shaped by lovably witty humour, but continues to provide of one the most wholesome cinematic experiences there is to offer, effortlessly carrying the audience by exercising countless biting-yet-grounded set-pieces that remains gracefully captivating to this day.