Apr. 17 Film Recommendation: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Over the last few weeks I have been watching a lot of films revolving around World War II, in particular, “The Longest Day” (1962) and “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz” (2018). I would recommend both of these for the grown-ups out there. But for the whole family, if you want some good old fashion WWII adventure, one of my favorite movies growing up was “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981).       

I’ve seen "Raiders of the Lost Ark" every possible way; on TV, on the DVDs bought in 1992 for $5.99 with my double quarter pounder at McDonalds, and originally as a wide-eyed 5 year-old on the big screen with my dad. There's just something about Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie (iconic hero, affection, epic spectacle) that brings me back again and again.

The only trouble with the series is that there are zillions of reviews, critiques and dissections already out there, so what I have to offer will probably not be anything new. I will, however, give you one insight. Did you know that some of the more iconic, memorable sequences from Raiders owe quite a lot to Duck Tales? What? Surely it's the other way around? Well, no. The globe-trotting adventures of Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Duey, Luey and Donald, in Carl Bank's Disney comic books from the 1950s came first. If you can find some of these at a flea market, then you'll surely notice the similarities.

The hunt for the Ark of the Covenant is more than just an excuse for action. So many movies these days seem to come up with action first and string them together with a lame plot. Movies like this are quickly forgotten and one of the reasons Raiders holds up is because it works the Covenant Story so well into the plot.

The action comes in a succession of amazing set-pieces. I do enjoy films that have to increasingly better themselves in every scene. Raiders introduced this as a standard that the sequels had to live up to. My favorite scene has to be the massive truck chase through Egypt, which is made up of many of its own smaller sequences spurred on by John William's epic musical score. The Indiana Jones theme song is one of those tunes that just everybody in the whole world knows, truly one of the best movie themes ever. Might it be better than Star Wars? Discuss!

Even 38 years after it first came out it still has the power to captivate me and provokes sheer excitement every time. And in another 40 years it will still be far superior to almost everything out there. Now there's something you can't say about "The Fast and the Furious"! *Sigh* Where did all the special movies go?

I mentioned earlier in the article a documentary on a Mr. Benjamin Ferencz called, “Prosecuting Evil.” It focuses on 99 year-old Ben Ferencz and his role as chief prosecutor of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen during the Nuremberg Trials and his subsequent development of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. It was quite incredible to learn how Ben came to be at Nuremberg and how we went about the proceedings. The commentary—coupled with films and pictures from the concentration camps—made for a striking documentary. Most of the film deals with Nuremberg and leading up to it, but it also goes into the years after and how Ben championed the ICC. Though I do not agree with all of his politics, I can’t help think this man deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Shalom!

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