Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
I thought I'd take a look at the first fifteen minutes of this wonderful movie. A movie that pretty much has it all in terms of an action, adventure and can stand its ground against any movie in this genre that's made today. In fact it probably supersedes any movie that's made today by a long way.
We'll start with the opening credits and logo. Something which a lot of films that are made today lack. That opening logo may only pop up on the screen for a few seconds. But it certainly gets your attention.
The Paramount logo dissolving over a mountain peak that's exactly shaped like the Paramount logo. Very cleverly done. I'm pretty certain this happens in all of the sequels as well.
We're then introduced to the troop of helpers walking over the ridge. It may seem like a very simple opener, but it gets your attention. Especially with that music score by John Williams. It's eerie, it gets your attention as an audience member. Who are these people? Where are they. Where are they going?
At around 1 minute 25 seconds into the movie. The scary statue scares off the helpers. We still haven't been introduced to our intrepid adventurer and archeologist yet. We've only seen his legs and the back of him. A bit of mystery here. Who is this guy?
At around 2 minutes into the movie our archeologist finds the poisoned dart embedded in the tree trunk. The two goons run over to the tree and Alfred Molina's character (Satipo) pulls out the arrow, checks how old the arrow is.
(picking up poison dart)
The Hovitos are near. The poison is
still fresh, three days. They're following us.
If they knew we were here, they would've killed us already.
This sets up the danger.
Around 2 minutes 39 seconds in we get the SUPER: South America 1936. Again letting us know where we are and the time period. You don't need to put the SUPER in straight at the beginning. You can let the scene run a few minutes.
At 2 minutes 50 seconds, Indiana stands on the river bank and checks the map. At this point Barranca decides that he wants what Indiana Jones has.
This is a great little sequence that really sets up the character of Indiana Jones as the explorer and adventurer. Indiana Jones hears Barranca cocking the pistol.
And there we have it.
One of the best character introductions you'll get. Indiana pulls out his whip, disarms Barranca with it. At 3 minutes 15 seconds or there abouts, Indiana steps out of the shadows and we see him for the first time.
You don't need to introduce your main character or characters straight away. You can lead into the introductions.
This sets up the tone of the movie. This guy, Indiana Jones is not someone you mess with.
Barranca runs away with his tail between his legs.
No dialogue in this short sequence. Just action to convey to the audience what's going on.
At 3 minutes 40 seconds they reach the entrance to where the idol is hidden.
Again the audience is reminded of the dangers.
(Indy's first lines)
This is it... This is where Forrestal cashed in.
A friend of yours?
A competitor... he was good. He was very good.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is with the spiders. A bit of humor here when Satipo points out the spiders on Indiana's back. Indiana checks Satipo's back. Oh dear. That's a lot of spiders. Haha.
At 5 minutes 15 seconds. Indiana and Satipo reach the shaft of light.
Stop. Stay out of the light.
Indiana triggers the booby trap and we discover what happened to his competitor, Forrestal. Emphasizing the dangers that are lurking in this place.
This is when the music kicks in. Drawing the audience in.
A little light humor here again when Indiana saves Satipo from falling into the hole. Grabs him by the belt. Haha.
Around 6 minutes 13 seconds they enter the temple where the Gold Idol is kept on the podia.
Let us hurry. There is nothing to fear here.
That's what scares me.
This one line from Indiana shows that he is also a cautious character. Which is funny considering where he is and what he's about to do.
Funny moment when Indiana sets off the trap and the poison arrow hits the wooden torch.
At around 7 minutes 20 seconds, Indiana stands in front of the Idol. We can see how much this means to him by his actions with the bag of sand. But is it too easy?
At around 8 minutes 3 seconds the main trap is triggered when Indiana replaces the idol with the bag of sand.
I'll quote Han Solo here.
Here's where the fun begins.
Indiana makes his way out of the temple only to find that Satipo has jumped across the hole and now has the whip. Around 8 minutes 30 seconds Satipo runs away with the idol and Indiana is left on the other side of the hole.
Will he escape?
A nice touch when Indiana grabs the root. His facial expression says it all.
At around 9 minutes Indiana makes it out, not forgetting to grab his whip.
Poor old Satipo. Indiana grabs the idol.
At 9 minutes 20 seconds he sets off another trap. Will this never end?
Indiana runs away from the boulder.
At 10 minutes we're introduced to Paul Freeman's character, Belloq.
Dr. Jones. Again we see there is nothing
you can possess which I cannot take away.
A nice little sequence here when Indiana runs away at around 10 minutes 40 seconds. And Belloq's character laughs in the background as Indiana makes his escape out of the jungle.
At 12 minutes, Indiana swims to the Biplane.
If you look carefully at the markings on the plane, you'll notice it says OB-CPO. I think that's what's written on the tail of the plane. I might be wrong. A little reference to Star Wars.
The plane takes off at around 12 minutes 15 seconds.
A few seconds after the plane is in the air, we find out that Indiana Jones is not fond of snakes.
I hate snakes, Jock! I hate 'em!
Come on! Show a little backbone, will ya!
A nice little touch that gets played out later on in the movie and in the sequels. A nice little set up here for what's to come later on.
At 12 minutes 54 seconds we find out that Indiana Jones is a college professor. A complete contrast to his little side line as an adventurer/explorer. We also find out that the girls like him. The girl with 'LOVE YOU' written on her eye lids.
A little bit of foreshadowing with him discussing the burial site of the 'gold coffin'.
At 13 minutes 40 seconds or there abouts DR. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) enters the room.
Indiana discusses with Marcus what happened to the idol. Marcus mentions Belloq.
At around 15 minutes 20 seconds Marcus introduces Indiana to the army intelligence men.
Major Eaton and Colonel Musgrove then go on to discuss the whereabouts of Ravenwood etc.
That's not bad going for the first 15 – 16 minutes of a movie. Packs one heck of a punch and a lot of information in there. Sets up the character of Indiana, his adversary, Belloq, the tone of the movie, where the story is heading etc.
Everything works here.
One of my favorite action adventure movies. It doesn't get much better than this. There've been a lot of clones and blatant rip offs over the years. But nothing comes close to what Steven Spielberg and George Lucas created here.
Hats off to Lawrence Kasdan who wrote the screenplay as well.
If you can get hold of the screenplay, read it. Watch the movie. Read it again.
Watch it again.
Welcome to Russell’s website. A storyteller who enjoys writing screenplays for movies. Even though the process is hard. It keeps his imagination working overtime.
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