I’m watching and writing about the Top 100 Movies of All-Time this year, based on multiple film publication lists. You can read more about how I came to rank and place the films on the list at my introduction post here.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
List Appearances: 6/10
Average Rank: 21
Highest Rank: 7
Total Final Score: 6150
“When I grow up, I want to be an archaeologist!” I said when I was 7.
“Do you even know how to spell archaeology?” I was often asked. Short answer: yes.
I loved history from an early age, and I reckon it had a lot to do with Indiana Jones. He was my hero. I wanted to be him, finding artifacts rooted in historical significance. I was certain I would find the lost ark or Atlantis. I did realize that I was unlikely to run away from bad guys or own a whip and that the most action I’d see would be a tiny chisel and brush, but I wanted to taste the victory of a great find.
Needless to say that I love Indiana Jones, and Raiders of the Lost Ark will always be one of the best movies ever made in my opinion. It seems that position is held by many others, given its placement on this list. I can’t even begin to say which parts are my favorites, because I love every scene, every detail, every quip.
In the opening scene, from the iconic hat and whip, to that bag of sand (that probably was exactly the right weight before he let some out) to the boulder rolling downhill, you are fully transported into Indy’s world. There is no ambiguity about who the villains are, though I’ve realized in recent viewings that Indiana is the villain at the start, taking the local indigenous peoples’ holy relics.
That sentiment aside, this is a good-hearted ride. The action sequences hold to this day, thanks to some great stunt work and practical effects. The car ride, the airplane fight, the chase through the crowded streets of Cairo, and the hilarious sword-fight turned gunshot scene (which was fully an improvised take by Ford). I still cringe incessantly during the Well of Souls sequence; my heart beats faster, worried about both Indiana and Marion as their torchlight fades (even after possibly hundreds of viewings).
I struggle to say which Stephen Spielberg movie I love the most, but Raiders is always top on the list. I can’t think of a better movie that belongs on the top 100 of all time.