Raiders of the Lost Ark| Review
Updated: May 31, 2022
The French New Wave touched every aspect of cinema. From camera movements to editing, its influence is unparalleled. There's no debate on the best film movement of all time, The French New Wave beats all contenders. Obviously, some films are obviously influenced by the movement, like The Manchurian Candidate or The Graduate, but some aren't so obvious. I would argue that Rocky borrows some influence from the movement, though very minuscule. No one thinks of a film like Raiders of the Lost Ark to be influenced by The French New Wave, but I find that to be extremely wrong.
Raiders of the Lost Ark follows the infamous Indiana Jones as he tries to find the Ark of the Covenant. Along the way, he meets villains, makes up with a past girlfriend (Marion), fights, and runs.
Very rarely does an action movie prove itself as a prominent figure in the history of cinema. While there are films that have influenced more technical aspects-- visual/special effects, such as The Matrix, they don't usually come up when talking about their value. Just as The French New Wave influenced Raiders, Raiders influenced other films. It's hard not to see any modern adventure movie pick up on some influence and callbacks to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Easily one can see how many times the famous opening shot has been referenced. The theme/overture of the film is legendary, though I still think John Williams remains somewhat overrated compared to such greats as Ennio Morricone or Bernard Hermann.
Ultimately, Raiders of the Lost Ark resembles the best of adventure movies. While I'm not a fan of most typical 80s movies, except for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Weird Science, Raiders of the Lost Ark is something special. The film is a masterpiece in action as well as composition. The direction of the action scenes resembles the best of Spielberg. My favorite action scene from the film is definitely the Truck-Car chase. Spielberg composes the frames throughout the entire scene to maximize any suspense possible.
Like I said before, The French New Wave obviously influenced Raiders of the Lost Ark. There's editing throughout the film that's obviously borrowed some influence from the movement. Also, I would argue that film is both a style and substance masterwork, like every film in The French New Wave. The action and set designs are both masterclasses in style. While I do think that the film is more focused on style, as opposed to structure, the film nearly carries perfect structure. Every scene connects with the other and flows through perfectly. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas definitely took influence from the adventure serials of their past and used it in their film, again another thing borrowed from The French New Wave.
When I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark, I thought it was overrated. I gave it a 3.5/5 on Letterboxd. My opinion has definitely changed. Now, I see it as perhaps the fifth or sixth best film of the 80s. It's a masterpiece in action, structure, style, and basically every other aspect of film. I took off the 5 points because I still think it's kind of weird that Indiana Jones knew to close his eyes when the Ark of the Covenant was open and the monkey at the beginning adds absolutely nothing and then gets thrown away for no reason.
Time Stamp: October 2020