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“Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” Film Analysis Essay (Movie Review)


The film “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” was created by Steven Spielberg and released in 1981. It immediately became one of the most loved fantasy adventure movies all around the world. It became the first part of the legendary series of films about the adventures of Indiana Jones, the brave archeologist seeking for rare artifacts in the most dangerous and mysterious places of our planet. The film is filled with multiple skillfully delivered special effects and unexpected turns of the plot, this is why it is still watched and admired by many people.

The course of events in the movie happens in 1936. The archeologist Indiana Jones is in the jungle carrying and ancient golden idol he found in an old temple. He is surrounded by a group of indigenous settlers led by Indiana’s rival Rene Belloq, also an archeologist. Jones is forced to drop the idol and escape. Back in the USA Indiana has a talk with the agents of military intelligence of the United States; they tell him that the Nazis are looking for his old friend and teacher Ravenwood, an Egyptologist. They need his help in their search for the Ark of the Covenant in the ancient Egyptian city called Tanis, which the recently located.

There is a chance that the Ark might make the Nazi army invincible, this is why the agents want Indiana Jones to find the Ark and make sure that the Nazis would not find it. Jones and his fellow scientists Marion and Sallah go through a lot of trouble. Indiana travels first to Nepal, and then to Cairo to find the way to the Ark hidden in the Well of Souls, which can be opened with the Staff of Ra. Indiana has to face his phobia of snakes in the Well of Souls, yet all the efforts are in vain, because the Nazis and Rene Belloq, who works for them, capture the Ark. Before presenting the Ark to Hitler the scientist wishes to test it. The Nazis travel to an island in Aegean Sea. Indiana comes with them, hiding on their boat. Belloq opens the Ark and finds sand inside. Suddenly creatures looking like angels appear from the Ark. They turn out to be the angels of death and kill the Nazis with fide. Indiana and his girlfriend Marion that shared the whole adventure with him are untouched and safe. In the end of the movie the US army agents state that the Ark now is safely preserved and guarded.

The makers of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” skillfully used all available cinematographic techniques. The scenes are deep with objects on the background and foreground, the frames and shots are filled on the right and left sides. The eyes of the characters are also emphasized to add drama to the scenes. The film’s shots often capture shadows and silhouettes of people, which created unusual images overlapping with each other. There are also many special effects used in the movies. The most interesting one of them is the death of Nazi troops and intelligence leaders, who were killed by the ghosts. Belloq’s head was blown up. The makers of the film achieved this effect by creating a plastic head, adding blood bags and compressed air. The needed effect was captured after the third try. The most impressive scene was the one where Toht’s face melted off his skull. The effect was achieved with the help of gelatin which was one of the main components of the artificial face, as soon as it was heated up – it started to become liquid.

The events of the film happen in 1936, right before the beginning of the Second World War, where the United States of America together with their Allies fought against the Nazi invasion directed at obtaining power over Europe and dominance in the world. “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” demonstrates the importance of the struggle with the Nazis, which was all-consuming and penetrated all aspects of life even spirituality, supernatural powers and mysticism. In the film a group of intelligent and patriotic people resists the Nazis and their quest for the artifacts that would make their troops invincible. The idea of a brave man serving his country and helping to save the whole world from tyrants is one of the basic cultural values in the United States; this is why the images of such heroes are not rare in the American cinematography.

I personally find the movie very entertaining and well made. The plot is interesting and develops constantly; the viewer never gets bored watching this film. The scenes are filled with a lot of action and exciting adventures that keep the audience on edge throughout the film.

At the same time, as most action films, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” lacks some common sense. For example, it features the archeologist that ruins every single ancient temple he enters, which contradicts with the very meaning of his job and archeology as a study.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "“Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” Film Analysis." May 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/indiana-jones-raiders-of-the-lost-ark-film-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '“Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” Film Analysis'. 12 May.

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