' Cinema Romantico: Dreams Do Come True

Monday, June 05, 2006

Dreams Do Come True

There's only one action film. It's the same as Michael Jordan. There were many players before him and quite a few after but he's the one who matters the most. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is the Michael Jordan of action films. It's it. It's the be-all, end-all of the genre. Nothing will ever equal it. Is it fatalistic to think such a thing? Yes. It's also true.

It's marvelous! Rousing! Inspring! Virtuoso! It takes your breath away at the same time it makes you gasp. It causes your palms to sweat as you grip the side of your chair in excitement. This was before CGI had poisoned every piece of summer entertainment Hollywood has to serve. This was when Spielberg could simply make a movie that was fun and not feel as if he needed to be the guardian of all which is righteous with America. This was Spielberg's finest moment.

However, even with this extraordinary movie Mr. Spielberg still, admittedly, had an inclination to go in the wrong direction. He wanted the character of Marion to be much more of a damsel in distress and incapable of doing much of anything on her own but Karen Allen refused to play her that way. Thank goodness because that's what makes the character entirely memorable. And which caused her not to be back for the sequels and make way for two much less memorable leading ladies.

And for the boneheads who say there's no characterization in this movie I say what the hell are you watching?! Marion's introduction should be a lesson plan for character introductions. The shot contest. What a way to enter a movie! No lines, really, and we know just who this person is. Indy himself is such a great character because he's actually vulnerable. He goes through the whole movie in the hopes of acquring one thing and he doesn't even get it.

Oh, if only I could count the number of times I latched a fake whip around the brown sofa in my basement posing as the truck hauling the Ark of the Covenant and feigning being dragged along a gravel road.

And for Spielberg who has recently become a passionate fan of exposition (see the scenes immediately following the D-Day invasion in "Saving Private Ryan") it is amazing to see the correct lack of exposition here. We go directly from Indy and Marion fleeing an exploding airplane to Indy being told of the truck that will take the Ark of the Covenant.

"Truck?" Indy says. "What truck?" And we're right into the finest action sequence ever captured. If "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is the bible of action movies (and it is) this part is the "walking on the water" passage.

And then the moment that terrifies more me than any moment in cinema history. When Indy looks into the pit, rolls onto his back and sighs, "Snakes? Why'd it have to be snakes?" Which leads to his pal Sallah reciting what I find to be the film's funiest line, "Asps. Very dangerous. You go first." Maybe that's why I go along with Indiana Jones so much. Nazis and poison arrows and an enormous man with a samurai sword and gigantic rolling balls that could crush you do not phase him. They don't even cause him to blink an eye. But snakes? Well, now we've got problems.

I loved this movie so much I even attempted an homage as an 18 year old filmmaker armed with nothing but a VHS camcorder, single tripod and a group of game friends. It was titled "Hawaii Smith and Raiders of the Lost Plate" - telling the tale of adventurer Hawaii Smith (me) seeking the plate used by Jesus Christ at the last supper. It was never finished, sadly, though I did manage to film half of it - including the booby trapped bathroom sequence and my best friend (as the chief villain) on rollerblades hollering the immortal line, "I always wanted to be a figure skater!"

The week of July 21-26 is a week which I am already anticipating for that is the week The Music Box Theater here in Chicago will be screening "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on the big screen?! Surely, you jest? No. I don't. It will be there. And I will be in the front row with a bucket of popcorn and a smile on my face bigger than the one I wore during "The Gift" when She Who Tom Cruise Does Not Deserve found it appropriate to bear the two most dazzling gifts that God gave her.

I have mentioned on many, many occasions all the wonderful and glorious movies I have been able to experience on the big screen courtesy of my move to Chicago. "The Third Man". "Stromboli". "Casablanca" (twice). "Some Like it Hot". But if you had asked me a year ago to name the movies I would most dearly want to see at some point in my life on the big screen I would have said "Last of the Mohicans", of course, and definitely "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

7 comments:

Tobius F. said...

Is this the version starring Harrison Ford or Tom Selleck?

Tobius F. said...

Is this the version starring Harrison Ford or Tom Selleck?

Rory Larry said...

Wait...wait...wait...Armageddon isn't the greatest action movie ever made? Are you sure about that?

Miss B said...

Cheers. Did you hear about the five boys who re-made "Raiders of the Lost Ark" frame by frame over the course of four summers? I read about it in Vanity Fair, but it seems like something you should look into. P.S When is it playing?

Miss B said...

Cheers. Did you hear about the five boys who re-made "Raiders of the Lost Ark" frame by frame over the course of four summers? I read about it in Vanity Fair, but it seems like something you should look into. P.S When is it playing?

Cinema Romantico said...

Indeed. A gang of teenagers who, showing more determination than this teen filmmaker, began and completed a shot-by-shot remake of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Read all about said accomplishment here: http://www.theraider.net/films/raiders_adaptation/
index.php

sarah said...

glad that you get to see it in theaters. make sure to enjoy the part where the actor playing Belloq accidentaly eats a fly... it's way better on the big screen