Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliot, Ronald Lacey
Synopsis: Professor Indiana Jones (Ford) may seem like an ordinary Joe teaching his university class, but under the combed hair and reading glass lies the soul and spirit of an adventurer. After being recruited to help with a matter of national security, Indy must embark on a mission to find the Ark of the Covenant before the malicious Nazis wreak havoc with the powerful antiquity.
It seems fantastically coincidental that as Raiders of the Lost Ark graces the screen for the first time in 31 years (and resurrected in incredible IMAX ratio) Lawrence of Arabia similarly gets an additional release and restoration. Lean’s epic and Spielberg’s iconic masterpiece only share some similarities but they both currently advertising the magnum opus of film-making.
For a decade seemingly shrouded in remakes, reboots and formulaic comedy/action/romantic romps, the idea to bring back ‘The Man in the Hat’ seems perfectly apt. The story of an archeology professor who moonlights as “how does one say it... obtainer of rare antiquities”, who is eventually embroiled in the occult objectives of the Nazi party has little to no pertinence today, but it isn’t the social commentary we seek – rather the basic and best example of adventure entertainment. Adorning local IMAXs for the next few weeks is the memorable score, quotable quips and in-frame action of Indy’s first expedition; nothing could be more welcomed amongst the humdrum of contemporary cinema.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest films of its chosen genre; with nods to inspirations such as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the old morning serials and the Bond franchise, Spielberg and his band of writers aim to be every bit as great as their influences. In many ways it betters them and the opening alone makes the sardonic snake-hater seem like the token adventurer. Ford’s ruggedly handsome face – clean shaven or grizzly – is a captivating screen presence and seeing him the size of four double-decker buses capitalises on his movie star iconography and Indy’s enduring legacy. Furthermore, seeing Karen Allen glorified far beyond the capabilities of make-up and lighting with IMAX’s dimension, purports the notion that she really has the charm, cuteness and candid nature of a true movie star. If IMAX seems like a cheap marketing ploy, Raiders’ restoration demolishes that idea.
Themes of history and preservation that are embroidered into the film’s narrative (and the series in general) act as constant reminders of its classic nature. Not only can you feel part of history whilst watching the new IMAX restoration, you can also remind yourself of the famed moments and hugely quotable script. IMAX is advertised as an immersive experience and with a film like Raiders, that ideology is truly recognised.
The meticulous work gone into touching up the print and sound is, quite simply, stunning. It is not as if the years have been extremely harsh to the original reels but the IMAX print looks and feels brand new. The colour and sound are perhaps the most stand out aspects of the restoration and Williams score in particular is all the more grandiose and elevating. Never has Indy felt so real and interactive. Spielberg’s long shots of Egyptian deserts or ocean horizons stretch so wide on an IMAX screen that you almost feel you are there. Images so clear enveloped with a reworked sound mix (mono to stereo conversions) are faultless.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is the only episode of the quadrilogy being awarded the IMAX treatment and with a dishearteningly limited run. It means that your chance to engross yourself in the hazardous jungles and tombs, the scorching deserts and the electrifying finale is exclusive. When renowned and adored old films are given a second life on the silver screen they should not go ignored and for a film as special as this, the opportunity should not be missed. Even if Indy has been hardened by “the years” the film about him has not suffered any issues and “the mileage” is deservedly immeasurable.
By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on Blogomatic3000