Sunday, May 6, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Ark


Raiders of the Lost Ark

#60 (1998) and #66 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 American Movies List
Raiders of the Lost Ark (also known as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, and starring Harrison Ford. It is the first film in the Indiana Jones franchise. It pits Indiana Jones (Ford) against a group of Nazis who search for the Ark of the Covenant because Adolf Hitler believes it will make their army invincible. The film co-stars Karen Allen as Indiana's former lover, Marion Ravenwood; Paul Freeman as Indiana's nemesis, French archaeologist René Belloq; John Rhys-Davies as Indiana's sidekick, Sallah; and Denholm Elliott as Indiana's colleague, Marcus Brody.

The film originated with Lucas' desire to create a modern version of the serials of the 1930s and 1940s. Production was based at Elstree Studios, England; but filming also took place in La Rochelle, Tunisia, Hawaii, and California from June to September 1980.

Released on June 12, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark became the year's top-grossing film and remains one of the highest-grossing films ever made. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1982, including Best Picture, and won four (Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects) as well as winning a fifth Special Achievement Academy Award in Sound Effects Editing. The film's critical and popular success led to three additional films, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), a television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992–1996), and 15 video games as of 2009. In 1999, the film was included in the United States Library of Congress' National Film Registry as having been deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

* Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones, an archaeology professor who often embarks on perilous adventures to obtain rare artifacts. Jones claims that he has no belief in the supernatural, only to have his skepticism challenged when he discovers the Ark. Spielberg suggested casting Ford as Jones, but Lucas objected, stating that he did not want Ford to become his "Bobby De Niro" or "that guy I put in all my movies", a reference to Martin Scorsese, who often worked with Robert De Niro. Desiring a lesser known actor, Lucas persuaded Spielberg to help him search for a new talent. Among the actors who auditioned were Tim Matheson, Peter Coyote, John Shea, and Tom Selleck. Selleck was originally offered the role, but he was unavailable for the part because of his commitment to the television series Magnum, P.I. In June 1980, three weeks away from filming, Spielberg persuaded Lucas to cast Ford after producers Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy were impressed by his performance as Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.
* Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, a spirited, tough former lover of Indiana's. She is the daughter of Abner Ravenwood, Indiana Jones' mentor, and owns a bar in Nepal. Allen was cast after auditioning with Matheson and John Shea. Spielberg was interested in her, as he had seen her performance in National Lampoon's Animal House. Sean Young had previously auditioned for the part, while Debra Winger turned it down.
* Paul Freeman as Dr. René Belloq, Jones' arch nemesis, Belloq is also an archaeologist after the Ark, but he is working for the Nazis. He intends to harness the power of the Ark himself before Hitler could, but he is killed by the supernatural powers of the Ark when his head explodes.
* Ronald Lacey as Major Arnold Toht, an interrogator for the Gestapo, who tries to torture Marion Ravenwood for the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. He dies by the supernatural powers of the Ark when his face melts. Lacey was cast as he reminded Spielberg of Peter Lorre. Spielberg had originally offered the role to Roman Polanski, who was intrigued at the opportunity to work with Spielberg but decided to turn down the role because he wouldn't be able to make the trip to Tunisia. Klaus Kinski was also offered the role, but he hated the script, calling it "moronically shitty".
* John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, "the best digger in Cairo" and has been hired by the Nazis to help them excavate Tanis. Although he fears disturbing the Ark, he is an old friend of Indiana Jones, and agrees to help him obtain it. Spielberg initially approached Danny DeVito to play Sallah, but he could not play the part due to scheduling conflicts. Spielberg cast Rhys-Davies after seeing his performance in Shogun.
* Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody, a museum curator, who buys the artifacts Indiana obtains for display in his museum. The U.S. government agents approach him with regard to recovering the Ark, and he sets up a meeting between them and Indiana Jones. Spielberg hired Elliott as he was a big fan of the actor.
* Wolf Kahler as Colonel Dietrich, a ruthless Nazi officer leading the operation to secure the Ark. He is killed by the supernatural powers of the Ark.
* Alfred Molina, in his film debut, as Satipo, one of Jones' guides through the South American jungle. He betrays Jones and steals the golden idol, but is killed by traps before he can leave the temple.
* Vic Tablian as Barranca and the Monkey Man

Producer Frank Marshall played a pilot in the airplane fight sequence. The stunt team was ill, so he took the role instead. The result was three days in a hot cockpit, which he joked was over "140 degrees". Pat Roach plays the Nazi mechanic with whom Jones brawls in this sequence, as well as a massive sherpa who battles Jones in Marion's bar. He had the rare opportunity to be killed twice in one film. Special-effects supervisor Dennis Muren made a cameo as a Nazi spy on the seaplane Jones takes to Nepal

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