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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

PG  |   |  Action, Adventure  |  12 June 1981 (USA)
8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 567,543 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 738 user | 222 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.

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(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Top 250 #35 | Won 4 Oscars. Another 28 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ronald Lacey ...
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Wolf Kahler ...
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Barranca / Monkey Man
Don Fellows ...
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Bill Reimbold ...
Fred Sorenson ...
Patrick Durkin ...
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Storyline

The year is 1936. A professor who studies archeology named Indiana Jones is venturing in the jungles in South America searching for a golden statue. Unfortunately, he sets off a deadly trap doing so, miraculously, he escapes. Then, Jones hears from a museum curator named Marcus Brody about a biblical artifact called The Ark of the Covenant, which can hold the key to humanly existence. Jones has to venture to vast places such as Nepal and Egypt to find this artifact. However, he will have to fight his enemy Renee Belloq and a band of Nazis in order to reach it. Written by John Wiggins

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Return of the Great Adventure. See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | | | |

Release Date:

12 June 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Indiana Jones  »

Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,673,731 (USA) (7 September 2012)

Gross:

$242,374,454 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was shown at the Rialto cinema in 1981; when Steven Spielberg produced Gremlins (1984), a billboard with a DJ on it called Rockin' Ricky Rialto is done up in the likeness of Indiana Jones. See more »

Goofs

The Erma/Volmer machine pistol - the submachine gun used in several places in the film - is the MP-40 (Machine Pistol, model of 1940); the handguns used by the Germans are the P-38 (Pistol, model of 1938), neither of which was in use in 1936. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Satipo: [picking up poison dart] The Hovitos are near. The poison is still fresh, three days. They're following us.
Barranca: If they knew we were here, they would've killed us already.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The mountain in the Paramount logo dissolves into the mountain in the Peruvian jungle. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Riptide: Raiders of the Lost Sub (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Raiders March
(uncredited)
Written by John Williams
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A wonderful movie, but I still prefer The Last Crusade.
16 July 2003 | by See all my reviews

Rating: **** out of ****

There is no doubt in my mind that Indiana Jones is the best movie series in the history of cinema. And the one start it all was Raiders of the Lost Ark, a fast-paced adventure packed with one death-defying cliff-hanger situation after another. To this day, Raiders remains one of the best action movies, holding up better than most of today's rapid-cut, MTV-style "thrill rides." Raiders relied on no CGI, no flashy editing, just pure, exhilarating film-making and storytelling, a combo of its kind that has only been surpassed by its second sequel, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Harrison Ford stars as Jones, an archaeologist who dresses in a brown coat and fedora, armed with a revolver and lion-taming whip. A delightful opening involving elaborate booby traps informs us he's used to these adventures (especially his even closer brushes with death in Temple of Doom, which was a prequel). When he returns to the states from his latest "excavation," he's informed by the military that the Nazis are after the ark of the covenant, an artifact that could possess the power to make the Nazis an invincible army. So Jones sets out to retrieve the ark first, in what will prove to be one of his greatest adventures.

There's probably little doubt that Raiders is the fan/critical favorite of the trilogy, but there are a few things that I actually have to gripe about, blasphemous as it may be. For one, even though the story is excellent, it's not without its holes. Most perplexing is in the film's opening scenes, when we wonder why Jones bothered to bring along potentially traitorous porters when it's such a short distance from the river to the cave temple. Also (spoilers), one needs only to see the film once to realize that if Indy had never tried to intercept the Ark, the Nazis would a) have never found it or b) still would have suffered the same horrible fate regardless.

The action sequences are superb, though an early bar shootout isn't quite as adrenaline-pumping as it could be and looks quite bland compared to the film's other action scenes. Thankfully, the following street chase is playful and exciting and keeps the joyous momentum flowing. Overall, I'd still argue that both Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade boast more inventive action but there's no questioning that the action scenes in Raiders are fantastic and likely superior to any film you may have seen the last few years.

As bitchy as I may sound, I'm not trying to harp on Raiders, at least not too much. The movie does feature the famous (and deservedly so) truck chase, one of the most unbelievably thrilling and exhilarating action setpieces I've ever seen (and given an extra boost by John Williams' beautifully rousing score). To this day, even with the recent chase scenes in The Matrix Reloaded and Terminator 3, this sequence has yet to be surpassed.

Other standout sequences include a sarcophagus almost entirely decorated with snakes, imposing statues, and well-preserved mummies, and Jones' mano-a-mano battle with a seemingly impervious Nazi mechanic. The finale takes the film dangerously close to the horror genre, climaxing things with a truly memorable (and quite frightening) light show for the ages. Every Indiana Jones film has a scene that scarred me as a kid and I think every one who's seen Raiders knows what I'm referring to (as well as its sequels)

I've said it before, Harrison Ford is wonderful as Jones, embodying a hero that's cool beyond words, yet still entirely human and believable. The supporting cast isn't as up to par: Paul Freeman makes for a decent but not particularly menacing villain as Belloq and Karen Allen is somewhat annoying as Indy's love interest, but there are an equal share in gems, particularly Denholm Elliot as Marcus Brody and John Rhys-Davies as Sallah (The Last Crusade wisely gave these actors/characters more screen time).

Raiders of the Lost Ark was revolutionary cinema, paving way for summer blockbusters that would attempt for the same winning mix of thrills and humor. Only its sequels matched and/or surpassed it, but some have actually come close (The Mummy). If you haven't seen Raiders yet, put it on the top of your list.


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