If you’re like me and haven’t watched this movie before, you need to watch it. You will not be sorry. Honestly, it’s one of those essential movies that you need to watch to have experienced the world. And seriously, you should stop reading and go watch it. I’ll wait for you. 🙂
Having said that, those of us (now that I can include myself in this group) who have seen the movie know why it’s such a great work. Here’s my take on why I think it’s so good.
Mixing of adventure and scare
Ok, so maybe “scare” isn’t the best word for it, but there are definitely some moments that make you tingle. For example, right at the beginning of the movie when Indiana and his Peruvian counterpart are exploring the cave and all of a sudden tarantulas appear on their backs. Like I said the other day, I don’t mind small tiny spiders that don’t do much, but tarantulas give me the creeps! Of course, then the wall comes out with the decomposing skeleton hanging off of it. Which moves. Need I say more about that?
From there you move to the adventure of grabbing the idol and getting it out of the cave, and the escape from the rainforest. That leads into the race to get the Ark and trying to beat the German expedition team (I’m not sure that they were referred to as Nazis in 1936, even though it is three years into Hitler’s rule).
Then, when Indiana finds the Ark’s true location (the Germans having erred on the calculation on the height of the staph), he finds a pit of snakes. Nothing but snakes which are slithering along the floor. He even faces down a (what looks to be) cobra, but they just mention asps in the dialogue. Then Marian falls into the pit, and while leaving, she winds up in a hall of more moving skeletons, including one that has a snake coming out of the mouth. Again, very creepy!
However, it all winds up balancing perfectly as there are only a couple of moments where you want to ball up but the rest of the movie keeps you so engaged that you keep your focus on the movie and nothing else.
Little bits of humor
You could say that all movies have some elements of humor in them, but Spielberg is one of the best to do it. For example, when Indiana is teaching after his quest for the idol, he gets distracted – first by his head teacher, and then by a girl who has put “LOVE YOU” on her eyelids. Even today, that’s a pretty creative way to signal your feeling, and one that is very blunt but would probably land you in hot water for sexual harassment. Then, after Indy gets out of the Well of Souls and gets back to Sallah, he says that he’s going to get the truck. How? Sallah asks. “I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go.” Simple line, and in the context of the movie, completely accurate, but it’s worthy of a chuckle.
The rock chase
Now, even if you haven’t seen the movie (What are you doing reading down here if that’s the case? I told you to stop reading and watch it! ;)), you are probably familiar with this scene. I had been under the impression that it came towards the end of the movie, but it comes right at the start. It’s still amazing to think that Indiana didn’t get run over by it. Of course, it’s been immortalized as part of the ride at Disneyland, which I took when I was there in 2001. One of the things that they said is that there are infinite combinations of the ride to go on. As it happens, I wound up on the one where you go past a wall of snakes, which do move. Below is a great clip of the ride and the area around it – there are a couple of other videos on Youtube of the ride, but this is the best of the ones I watched.
A couple of questions
– Why did Indiana keep the monkey after he was the cause of the first attack in Cairo? (Of course, not that it was a bad thing considering that it found the “bad” dates)
– What happened to the ship that Sallah had hired to take the Ark, Indiana and Marion to London after the encounter with the U-Boat?