Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Raiders of the Lost Ark


Hurray! There’s going to be a new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It opens on May 22nd. We might not be there that day, but certainly that week! We both loved the originals, so much that we decided it had been too long since we’d seen them. So we’re watching all three before the new one comes out. As action-adventure movies they were known for their outrageous stunt work. Do they hold up in this age when digital wire removal is a separate SFX job, enabling people to fly through the air like kung fu maniacs full of helium? Could they still impress in the CGI green-screen era, when endless complex vistas can be constructed without a carpenter ever hammering a nail?

Yes! They do! And beyond that, they put most action movies of today in the shadow of their vast capacity to entertain. You may not remember, or you may not be old enough to remember, just how hard this first movie hit us all when it first opened. It was as revolutionary as Star Wars, and in some respects even better. It was a return to the days of simple-minded Saturday matinee fistfights, villains, and narrow escapes, only done with modern technology (at the time) and huge amounts of wit and grace, without ever disrespecting its humble origins.

You know the plot, and you probably know the major scenes, so I won’t bother with all that. Seeing it now, it is amazing how much more visceral a stunt is if you know it’s being done by some maniac who really does have his fragile hide hanging out there, rather than the stunts of today which look impossible because they are impossible. That unsung guy subbing for Harrison Ford really did get himself dragged under that truck! And the set pieces, like the fight around the flying wing, where one thing piles on another and then another and then another … sheer genius.