Raiders of the Lost Ark


Recently, I attended an IMAX showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the adventure classic by Spielberg and Lucas, starring Harrison Ford.  Seeing it on the very big screen was fantastic, and they did a good job of cleaning up the image without making it look “done.”  During the scene where Indy faces the cobra, you used to be able to see reflections on the glass that stood between them.  That appears to have been fixed.

Yet, watching the film years later as an educated adult, I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with some glaringly apparent errors in continuity, geography, and cultural inaccuracies.  Also, there were some things that just didn’t seem to make sense.    Now, I’m not talking about the continuity errors that you would have to be paying super-close attention to have noticed; i.e. the position of a particular object from shot to shot (visit for a fairly comprehensive rundown of that stuff).  I’m talking about mistakes that positively cannot be ignored.

Why is the Ark hidden in the Egyptian city of Tanis if it was stolen from Solomon’s temple by ancient Babylonians?  Wouldn’t they likely have brought it to their capital city of Babylon?  How would the Babylonian Empire ever fall if they possessed the power of the Ark of the Covenant?  We would all be under their rule by now, don’t you think?  Then again, how would the kingdom of Solomon ever have been defeated if they had the power of the Ark to back them?  Doesn’t make any damn sense.

When Indy gains control of the truck which contains the Ark and is fleeing the Nazis, he moves quickly from a bleak, craggy desert (which Belloq told Marion is “three weeks in every direction”) into a lush palm forest.  What the what?

I feel like a modern moviegoer almost knows a bit more and/or can easily access so much information now via online sources that it can be pretty difficult for some movies to hold up to even the slightest scrutiny.  It didn’t ruin the film, but it lost some of its magic for me.  I guess that’s a function of watching it with the eyes of an adult.

Nevertheless, I still love this film on the whole and it is my favorite of the entire franchise, followed closely by Last Crusade.  Don’t even talk to me about Crystal Skull which was such a massive disappointment.  The Beef is annoying as hell, and they couldn’t get a decent story together.  It was further ruined by the fact that pre-Columbian crystal skulls are a bunch of hooey.  While I admit some are very beautiful, they are not true Mesoamerican artifacts.  Get over it.