Film & Water #46 – Raiders of the Lost Ark



To celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary, Rob welcomes back fellow Fire & Water Network All-Stars Ryan Daly and Chris Franklin to discuss RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK!

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19 responses to “Film & Water #46 – Raiders of the Lost Ark

  1. Jealous that I wasn’t on this show! I absolutely love Raiders and put it in my top 10 movies. There is always some shuffling of placement. But Raiders is always there.

    I saw it the summer it came out. I was 10. My father was away at a work conference so my mother took me to see it. She was absolutely horrified by it, calling it a terrible film. But I was entranced. It was just brilliant. When my dad came home, we went to see it as he was old enough to remember the serials it was based on. He loved it too.

    As you say, there are no bad scenes in this movie. But my favorite is the scene in the bar when Belloq talks to Indy about the ark and their duality. “See this watch, ten dollars from a peddler on the street. But I take it and bury it in the sand for a thousand years, it becomes priceless.” There is such tension in that scene as their conversation turns darker and tenser. And, as you say, Indy is vulnerable especially there. Drunk and pissed, he is about to get killed if not for the intercession of children.

    The whole cast is wonderful. Again, as you say, the screenplay is perfect giving every character such power. Think about how fully realized the character of Mr. Katanga is. I feel I know so much about him that I could write a movie for his boat and crew.

    But my favorite supporting character is Belloq. Smug, suave, intelligent … he is a super-villain. The line I always insert in my conversations is the ‘it would take but a nudge to push you out of the light’. When I see colleagues acting like pompous jerks, or other geeks raging a bit too much I always say to myself ‘it would take but a nudge’ for me to get there. It grounds me.

    Lastly, in 1996, on the 15th anniversary, the Wang Theater in Boston showed all three Indy movies back to back to back, with a John Rhys Davies Q&A in between Temple of Doom and Last Crusade. I went with my wife. It was such a great time.

  2. Ok first off, how could you snub one half of the Temple of Doomcast?!? It’s because I defended Mutt isn’t it? Hey, maybe that just means you bring me in to talk Crystal Skull? Wait… do I even want that… hold on…

    Man oh man I could write about this to the point that I’d put Diabolu Frank to shame… but I think I’ll spare you that. So here’s some highlights for me.

    Best movie in the franchise is Raiders. Crusade is second, but not as close for me. It’s not as good but it’s wonderfully celebratory. Temple of Doom I’ve come to like less and less as I’ve grown up. Crystal Skull is not good, but not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. And like you guys I never understood why people got weirdly hung up on the alien thing. Part of it was execution, sure. But I also think it points to an interesting bias in our culture where it’s more acceptable and believable to imply that God is real than to imply that there is intelligent extraterrestrial life. George Carlin once pointed out the reverence with which an Easter weekend newscast will talk about Jesus and the dismissiveness that same newscast would have when talking about UFO sightings.

    My favorite scene is the desert chase, due in large part to the music. I actually believe that taken as a whole the soundtrack to Raiders of the Lost Ark is John Williams’ best work. I don’t think that Indy’s theme is the best theme Williams ever did (that honor should go to Superman,) but taking the entire thing into account this is it for me. Ryan talked about the scenes with Brody or Salah talking up the dangers of the Ark and the music reinforces that so well that it makes that climax work. But coming back to that desert scene, I can pinpoint one moment that epitomizes why this score is a masterwork. Indy’s driving the truck. There is only one Nazi left in the back, who climbs out and is crawling along the top of the truck. We’ve never seen this guy before, but the music alone tells us that Indy is in big trouble from this guy so when he bursts into the cab we fear for Indy immediately just because the music told us this was to be taken seriously.

    And to end on an odd note: despite having started watching Indiana Jones movies probably around the age of six I didn’t see the opening of the Ark scene until I was probably 12. My mother had this thing where she hated to keep me from seeing a movie she knew I’d like just because of a single scene so she’d ask me to leave the room (for home viewings) or duck my head (in the theater) for certain parts. And because I trusted her judgment on what I didn’t want to see I actually held true to that even when I was watching these movies alone. So it would be years before I’d see the face melting in Raiders, or the rapid aging in Crusade or even the joy buzzer kill in Batman. For some reason Temple of Doom slipped through the cracks, but I think that’s because I saw that with my grandmother first.

  3. Strong show for a brilliant movie! You guys are the Indy, Sallah, and Marcus of podcasting — I’ll let you figure out Who’s Who

  4. I’m a bit more jolly than Ryan, so I’ll take Sallah. I would never take Indy away from Rob, because he deserves to end up with Karen…I mean Marion.


  5. Raiders is one of the best adventure movies, ever. Like you say, there are no wasted scenes, a great cast of characters and a hero who is human. He isn’t particularly original, as there were Allan Quatermain, Jimgrim, and El Borak in the pulps and characters like Charlton Heston’s cynical pilot, in Secret of the Incas (a major forerunner to this movie). However, he has modern sensibility; he’s somewhat cowardly, he can be ruthless, he’s reckless, he has phobias, yet he does heroic things.

    The cast are all marvelous and it helped boost a few careers. Ronald Lacey was close to giving up acting when he got the role of Todt and he got tons of parts afterwards (including a great episode of Blackadder); Pat Roach went from ex-wrestler, occasional actor & stuntman to full time character actor and stunts.

    This is my favorite; but, I like each for different reasons. This is the best blend of pulps, serials and pure adventure. Temple of Doom is pure pulp, straight out of Talbot Mundy (especially King of the Khyber Rifles) and the movie Gunga Din. Last Crusade has a nice blend of legend and artifacts, while also having some spectacular locales, like Petra. Last Crusade is pretty weak; but has moments.

    I do think Spielberg is a bit full of himself when he says he can’t do comical Nazis, after Schindler’s List. Mel Brooks has been doing it for years.. Satire was a major weapon against their propaganda. It’s a matter of context. Life is Beautiful was able to bring humor to tragedy. You can’t have a concentration camp, without turning it into a deadly serious film; but, you can have Indy battling Nazi agents.

    Great time, guys.

    1. Sorry, I meant Kingdom was weak, with moments here and there.

      I had to wait to see the film, after having the pump primed by Starlog. I had to satisfy myself with the Marvel Super Special Magazine (with John Buscema and Klaus Janson on art and Howard Chakin doing the cover) and the excellent novelization (which had cut material, like Indy strapping himself to the periscope of the sub).

  6. I’m sure most here are familiar with Raiders: The Adaptation where a group of kids recreated the movie shot for shot. If not, check this out:

    1. I was vaguely aware of that; but, it’s a pretty coll story. Heck, most filmmakers started out doing stuff like that. Imagine if they had had the technology available today?

      Fan fic often gets a bad rep (usually deserved); but, sometimes, it helps carry the torch and inspire the actual return of the beloved characters in big budget productions. Star Trek owes as much of its longevity to it, as that helped spawn the early books; Doctor Who fans carried the torch for years, until the BBC woke up (they even had to borrow a couple of Dalek costumes from fans for the Rowan Atkinson Comic Relief special).

  7. I was happy to hear that Ryan’s family also got as much stuff onto blank tapes as my family did.

    My Dad made this tape for me as a kid that was jam-packed with stuff. I remember it had the music video for “A View to a Kill”, some Elton John music video, then it went to the ending of Tag: The Assassination Game, then the Making of Lifeforce followed by The Neverending Story (these being from one showing on HBO), then it went to an episode of the Superfriends where Mr. Mxyzptlk takes Superman and Batman’s capes, and then it ended with three episodes of the Adam West Batman series. Man, I wish I still had that tape. It broke, sadly.

    As for Indy, I’m also someone who enjoys Last Crusade because I saw that in the theatre with my Dad when it came out, but when I got to see Raiders later, I loved it. But I’ll express that more in an e-mail later.

    1. I had tons of tapes like that, Jose. A few years back I popped one in, and was gobsmacked at the eclectic nature of my 10 year old mind. Christopher Reeve Superman movies, M.A.S.K. and GI Joe cartoons, music videos, the Muppets and The Bozo the Clown show live from WGN Chicago! My friends and I used to record the grand prize game. Why? I have no idea.


  8. I was lucky enough to be 13 when this film came out and because successful films were on at the cinemas for long runs back then I saw it multiple times.

    Interesting that you contrasted Indy with James Bond. Personally I think Die Hard did the most damage to James Bond films by showing a visceral, bleeding action hero and how compelling that could be.

    There are so many great scenes, but I wanted to highlight the plane fight. Has there ever been a better action sequence with such a well thought out and presented special geography. Plus it looks like it cost the entire budget of the film!

  9. I’m coming to this a little late, so I’ll try sticking to a bullet list. But first, this was a particularly episode of what’s become one of my favorite podcasts — great job, guys!

    – Here’s how I rank the Indy movies; Raiders, Last Crusade, Temple of Doom, and Crystal Skull. One of the things I like so much about Last Crusade is the father/son relationship, and how much of the plot development depends on intelligence and problem-solving, something that was missing from the more cartoonish Temple of Doom.

    – Man, if there’s something tougher than trying to pick a favorite scene from Raiders, I don’t know what it is. One I always enjoy, though, is the introduction of Marion in her Nepalese bar. It tells you everything you need to know about Marion; that she’s tough, fearless, and clever. (My favorite part in that scene — when she seems to be barely holding on during the drinking contest, and completely sober and in control when it’s over, is pure, undistilled Marion.) There’s a lot of quick, but solid, character building in this scene, both for Marion and for Indy, who (in the past, at least) is something of a jerk. Like Belloq says, there’s not that much separating the two of them. The cinematography is also fantastic, with a real noir feeling to it. Ooh, and if I’m remembering this right, it’s also the first time we see Toht, and the first time we see Indy use the whip.

    – I didn’t have a problem with the aliens McGuffin in Crystal Skull, either. What bugged me was freakin’ Mutt. The terrible acting of a slapped together script, combined with flat attempts at humor, consistently yanked me right out of the movie. Personally, I think it would’ve worked much better if they had brought Short Round back as Indy’s college-educated, adopted son following in his Dad’s footsteps. Speaking of which …

    – I would love to see Short Round come back in an Indiana Jones 5, which could maybe be set sometime just as World War II is ending and the Cold War is starting? Would Shorty’s age work? In any case, the problem is Harrison Ford is pushing it age-wise, and I’m not sure he’d be able to pull it off.

    One last thing, and this might be a total mistake on my part, but I’d kinda like to see Guy Ritchie take a stab at directing an Indy 5. I’m basing this completely off of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which I thought was stylish, caught the era really well, and gave the characters room to breathe. I didn’t care much for many of his other movies, though, so I could be totally wrong.

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