Thursday, June 9, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark: An Instant Classic

Monday, faithful reader Jon Freestone asked, "Does turning 30 now make Indian Jones a classic movie or does it have to wait another 20 years? At what age does a movie turn into a classic?" I've given it some thought and decided that Raiders of the Lost Ark was a classic the moment it premiered on June 12, 1981 for several reasons including the following three.

Anytime John Williams is involved in a movie, that movie has a better chance of being considered a classic. And if you don't think the movie's score doesn't have anything to do the timelessness of a movie consider how dated Star Wars would be if Luke Skywalker was racing through the bowels of the Death Star to the sounds of the Bee Gee's Staying Alive! Truly, as the Mormon a cappella group Moose Butter observed, John Williams is the man!

Indiana Jones is one of film's greatest creations. He's someone the audience immediately relates to. Contrast him to the protagonist of Avatar--a character so bland I can't even remember his name and so boring I don't even want to bother searching online to find out--and it's clear why Raiders will always be a classic and why Avatar will never be one.

Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in the 1930s and not the 1980s, making it timeless right from the start. Movies that take place in contemporary time can be classics too (see, Groundhog Day and Better off Dead), but it's a much greater degree of difficulty for them to become so as they have to overcome the numerous visual clues that set the movie at a certain point in time. Raiders was so expertly made that, other than the climax where the Nazis' faces melt off, it looks like it could have been filmed today.

These reasons, and others, helped to make Raiders of the Lost Ark a classic from the beginning and one of my favorite movies of all time.


  1. Sorry for the lateness in posting this, folks. I was at a hotel this morning and on the road all day and I wasn't about to spend six dollars to use the internet this morning. (Especially, when those six dollars would contribute to Paris Hilton's lifestyle!)

  2. I was worried about you, dude. Thought maybe Belloch caught up with you or something!

  3. Thanks for including a link to the song John Williams is the Man. I really like it.