Monday, May 30, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark


“The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions. An army which carries the Ark before it... is invincible.”

            Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my all time favorite movies. Ever since I was little I have had a great love of history and archaeology, I still do which is why I am an Art History major (this mixes the best of social history, art, and archaeology).
            Indiana Jones is a “Professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities.” Indy is the guy that every boy wants to be and the guy all the girls want to date.
            One day his friend and fellow professor Marcus Brody tells him that there are men from the government waiting to see him. They have received a communications from a man named Abner Ravenwood that sounds like a cryptic message. Indiana trained under Ravenwood but the two had a falling out years ago. Part of the message is how the Nazis have found a place called Tanis which is supposed to be the last place the Ark of the Covenant was seen hundreds of years ago.  The two men ask Indiana to find the Ark before the Nazis can get a hold of it because God only knows what could happen if they get their hands on it.
            The first place Indiana goes to for his quest for the Ark is to Nepal where Abner’s daughter Marion is now living and running a bar. He needs to find a medallion  that when placed in the sun at a certain time can give him the location of where the Ark is. Marion is the reason why Indiana and Abner did not talk anymore because he broke her heart. Upon seeing each other for the first time in years Marion gives Indy a good punch in the jaw! Marion claims to not know where the medallion is that if he comes back the following day she will have the medallion he is looking for. When Indy leaves Marion takes the piece out of her shirt where she has it around her neck on a chain.
            A man named Toht who works for the Nazis comes into the bar. He is also looking for the same medallion as Indy. Toht has more persuasive methods to get the piece and soon Marion can no longer hold her own. Toht takes a poker from the fire and brings it close to her face. Luckily Indy comes to the rescue and a fight breaks out in the bar. Of course Indy and Marion make it out of the bar before the whole place goes up in a fiery blaze. Marion yells at Indy “I'll tell you what; Until I get back my five thousand dollars, you're gonna get more than you bargained for. I'm your goddamn partner!” 
            Indiana and Mario fly to Cairo to begin their search for the dig site along with Indy’s friend Sallah. Right away Indiana and Marion are in danger from his archaeological rival Belloq (who is working for the Nazis) and his men. This is the start of the adventure of looking for the Ark of the Covenant.
            Indiana Jones is an amazing character. Harrison Ford almost was not Indiana the role almost went to Tom Seleck (a few other actors also tried out for the part). George Lucas did not want to use Ford since he was Han Solo in Star Wars but since Seleck had to back out Ford came in. I cannot even imagine anyone else being Indiana Jones, Ford is so perfect. Indiana Jones as a character is my idol I wish I could be a daring archaeologist and brilliant historian like him.
            Marion Ravenwood is my all time favorite movie character. She is the ultimate HBIC- Head Bitch in Charge. Right from the moment we first see her Marion wins a drinking game without batting an eye or passing out. When Indy comes walking into the bar she gives him a punch he could never see coming she tells him exactly what he did to her to make her so mad at him. All through the movie Marion is just kick ass she is tough, strong, feisty, and independent. She really is the only woman in the Indiana Jones movies who could keep up and match wits with Indiana. Marion has one of my all time favorite movie lines when she turns around and sees Indiana for the first time:
            “Indiana Jones. I always knew some day you'd come walking back through my door.”
Just the way Karen Allen says this line is so good she just put so much behind it. You can tell she is just a bit hurt about seeing him again but says it with a sly, sarcastic smile.
            There was a program on the History channel which explained how the Indiana Jones movies are very true to how archaeology was done back in the 1930s. In the early 1900s there were no laws for explorers and archaeologists they would just go into countries and take what they wanted (almost all the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cypriot art is stolen and the British Museum pretty much stole all the sculptures from the Parthenon). Digs and ruins were and still are dangerous and real archaeologists, depending on where they are, run into gross bugs and snakes.
            What I find interesting is how the movie dealt with the legend of the Ark of the Covenant. It is still a relic many archaeologists and historians are seeking. Biblical archaeology is very dangerous since much of the Holy lands are in very dangerous areas of Africa and the Middle East. I personally believe there is no Ark left. There were so many invaders that came through Israel that it was most likely stolen from its holy temple and melted.
            Raiders of the Lost Ark is definitely my kind of movie. It makes history and archaeology look sexy and fun. The characters from Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood and Sallah and Belloq down to the henchmen and the swordsman in the market were just perfect. The script is smart and witty. Raiders is such a fun adventure that does not let up for two seconds it is one of the greatest action-adventure movies ever made.


Two of the most iconic movie scenes