Raiders of the Lost Arc: A Summer Hit Despite Critical Reception
Raiders of the Lost Arc: A Summer Hit Despite Critical Reception

Raiders of the Lost Arc: A Summer Hit Despite Critical Reception

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  • Pages: 7 (1688 words)
  • Published: December 8, 2017
  • Type: Book Review
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1981 saw the release of 'Raiders of the Lost Arc,' a rapid-fire, thrilling action/adventure film that became a hugely successful summer blockbuster! The epic was produced by George Lucas and helmed by Steven Spielberg. While the viewers adored it, the critics found it cliche, featuring a tough-looking protagonist and the rescue of a stunning damsel. Regardless, the audience had a contrasting opinion.

The audience enjoyed the constant and thrilling adventure that was also easy to anticipate. The unrealistic nature of the film added humor, which was well-liked. Additionally, viewers enjoyed feeling in control by being able to predict what would happen next. The success of Spielberg's opening sequence can be attributed to his ability to establish the genre early on.

By following the group on a mission to retrieve a small gold


idol while being pursued by enemies in the Amazon jungle, it becomes clear at the outset of the film that it is an action/adventure movie. Although this quest would typically function as the climax in other films, it is merely an introduction in this one, allowing for a lot more action to come. Therefore, not only does the opening sequence establish the genre and introduce the characters, it also alerts viewers to anticipate plenty of further action.

The opening sequence of the film keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and wanting more. Indiana Jones and two Peruvians are trekking through the jungle when one of the Peruvians stumbles upon a terrifying stone statue. The discovery causes him to scream and flee deeper into the jungle. As they continue their journey, Barranca, one of the Peruvians, attempts to kill Indy with his gun t

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end the mission prematurely. Despite Barranca's attempt, Indy manages to hear the gun click and uses his bullwhip to coil it around Barranca's wrist.

The gun drops into the river and fires with no damage. Barranca flees into the jungle. Inside a booby-trapped cave, Indy, Sapito, and the other Peruvian discover the idol, heightening the film's suspense and thrill. However, an error causes the entire cave to begin self-destructing.

As Sapito betrays Indy and runs to the exit, Indy must jump over a pit and continue alone. Around the corner, Indy discovers that Sapito has been killed by a trap. However, Indy secures the idol and leaves the cave. Outside, Bellocq, a peer of Indy, approaches with the Hovitos tribe and takes the idol. Indy seizes an opening to flee, resulting in a pursuit through the jungle.

The introduction to the film shows Indy escaping unharmed, thanks to Jock, an Englishman who pilots a plane and flies off into the sunset with him. This event sets the tone for the film's underlying morality, as Sapito's death after double-crossing Indy suggests that justice has been served. The opening sequence further establishes this theme, as Barranca's attempt to kill Indy only strengthens his reputation as a brave and successful archaeologist, with the hero always coming out on top over the villain. To learn more about similar themes in other films, read about Saving Private Ryan.

The predictability of the film is partly due to the audience's expectation of Indy defeating villains later on. This expectation stems from the stereotypical portrayal of men as the heroes in action/adventure films, which usually lack female characters who are often relegated to the role of

prize. Furthermore, given the film's World War setting where women had lower societal status, it is not surprising that they were not given lead roles as heroines since it was men who were doing the fighting.

Although this perspective may apply to the audience, critics are always searching for a unique viewpoint and may not agree. They would likely analyze the film in detail, seeking a different approach. To differentiate the film from stereotypical action movies, critics would prefer to see women in prominent roles at the beginning. In order to establish the genre, Spielberg employs mis-en-scene and iconography associated with action adventure films. The first scene, with backpacks, sleeping gear, a map, and disheveled characters, suggests to the audience that they are on a journey through an uninhabited area without food or water.

The 2nd scene depicts a desolate location, with a flame torch, spiders, cobwebs, boulders and an intact gold statue. The surroundings appear dark and dusty, implying years of neglect. Moving on to the 3rd scene, the presence of bow and arrows, war paint and crocodile-teeth necklaces within the native tribe suggests a traditional and protective group in a far-off location from modern society. Indiana Jones, recognized by his fedora hat, bullwhip, leather jacket and a bag portrays that he is well-equipped and from a contrasting background than those accompanying him.

The character's iconography follows the typical hero mold by standing out from the crowd, although there are some deviations. For instance, he lacks a gun and wear protective clothing suitable for the film's time period. Additionally, wearing a leather jacket in the Amazon jungle adds to his character and provides amusement. This

detail is impractical considering the location, which renders it a ludicrous detail that elicits laughter from the audience. In the introduction alone, there are approximately 200 shots that captivate viewers and keep their attention. All of these fast-moving sequences occur during the cave escape scene. Spielberg aims to create a sense of urgency and pace as well as leave viewers yearning for more.

The film does not have frequent fading out of the camera except for a brief moment at the start. This is to maintain the pace of the movie. Characters and surroundings are introduced at the same time through multiple close-up shots. Indy, the main character, is portrayed initially as a silhouette to highlight his significance. In contrast, none of the other characters are introduced this way, emphasizing Indy's uniqueness. Additionally, when the group is trekking through the jungle, the camera pans from left to right to convey their journey's length.

The opening shots utilize effective lighting to establish a misty, dark, and dull atmosphere that creates a sense of mystery and spookiness, enticing the audience to continue watching. The jungle initially appears very dark, but a few rays of sunlight shine through the thick trees. The presence of birds suggests that it is early morning, a time when one might expect solitude, further contributing to the eerie ambiance.

As the group travels, the river is illuminated by the sun's rays and reflects light, but the dense jungle remains dark. The travelers' faces are barely visible due to the bright sun, and so far, the audience has only seen glimpses of Indy's back or as a silhouette, making it unclear who the protagonist (hero) is. However,

when one of the Peruvians attempts to assassinate Indy and he escapes into the jungle, Indy is finally fully revealed, accompanied by dramatic music that captivates the audience's attention.

Indy produces the map, which is illuminated by a spotlight, creating an orange glow behind it due to the paper's thinness. This results in everything else becoming very dark so that the audience have no choice but to focus on the map. This indicates the significance of the map as a crucial element in the film, representing the main artifact and reason why Indy discovers the cave that leads to the idol, underscoring its pivotal role in this part of the movie.

Upon entering the cave, Sapito and Indy are enveloped in darkness, creating an eerie and mysterious atmosphere. However, as Indy approaches the idol, the surroundings become significantly brighter, emphasizing its significance in the film. The lighting also changes as Indy moves towards the plane, eliminating the patchiness of the sunlight and directing the audience's attention to the entire screen. Spielberg's use of lighting effectively enhances the scenes in the cave.

The film's use of lighting creates a sense of a larger space and lessens the spooky atmosphere, suggesting that Indy will successfully escape the Hovito's and depart on the plane. The finale of the scene is marked by the plane flying into the sunset, which blends several colors - including reds, yellows, oranges, golds, and browns - to evoke a sense of achievement and completion. These colors are typical of a sunset and underscore how this movie shares similarities in content and structure with other adventure films; however, the film's unique qualities will keep audiences engaged

throughout. The film's soundtrack is characterized by fast pacing, high volumes, crescendos, and minor chords, all of which heighten the spooky atmosphere.

The introduction soundtrack creates a sense of similarity to another film's climax with its fast pace. Additionally, the soundtrack complements the light changes and adds to the suspense by increasing in volume and shifting to a minor key when the lighting darkens. Conversely, as the plane flies into the sunset, the music brightens and ends with repetition and fading out of a perfect cadence, creating a sense of completion. Due to its nature, little dialogue is present in the introduction.

According to me, music is a better medium than words to convey Spielberg's message as it avoids any confusion. The audience comprehends the plot and its progression through the soundtrack. As the pace of this segment is rapid, introducing dialogues would disrupt it. Nevertheless, when dialogues are present, they increase the tension of the situation. For instance, Sapito's dialogue "no one has come out of there alive" heightens the anxiety of viewers as they await the outcome.

The statement by Sapito about Indy's unwavering commitment and bravery adds to his character. It is difficult to isolate one significant aspect that makes this movie compelling and appealing to audiences. Rather, it is the combination of various elements that contribute to its success. The storyline, camera shots, and editing work harmoniously together. Additionally, the lighting complements the soundtrack, and vice versa.

In summary, the film quickly immerses the audience in a thrilling action-packed experience that maintains their attention until the end. The storyline is exciting and not drawn out, making for a complete package.

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