The Adventure Begins (Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981)
1981 was the meeting of two titans. Steven Spielberg had thrilled the world with Jaws and two years later George Lucas had started to take over the world with Star Wars.The two teamed up to create the ode to pulp novels and action serials of yore.
Dr. Henry Jones, nicknamed Indiana is a professor of Archaeology and adventurer. He is not a treasure hunter, at least not in the traditional sense. He locates artifacts in the belief that they should be shared with the world for education and discovery.
Jones is contacted by the Government regarding the Biblical Ark of the Covenant. Teaming up with an old flame, Marion Ravenwood, Indy must stop Nazis from getting their hands on the Ark. What follows is a series of exciting near misses at getting the Ark.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a roller coaster ride of a film. It has the adventure, heart, and humor that engages the viewer throughout. Indiana Jones instantly has an iconic feel. He is rough around the edges, without being a neanderthal. He is good at thinking on his feet (especially handy in attempts to escape sticky situations. But he is not alone here. Marion is the daughter of his mentor Abner, and she is every bit the adventurer. She is smart and clever, Indy’s equal.
Of course, in a story like this, villains matter. Indy is really dealing with two foes. One is Belloq, who is his greedy counterpart. Belloq is a fortune hunter and seeks the Ark for his own lust for power. He has teamed with the Nazis, led by the creepy Major Toht. The Nazis, of course, seek the Ark to consolidate their power.
Lucas tends to be good at ideas, but a bit goofy on execution, so giving the story to Lawrence Kasdan to write and having Spielberg direct brings all their unique skills together to create one of the best adventure films of film history. It brings the sense of the old serials to a vibrant modern life with terrific characters fighting near impossible odds.