Film Society offers ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in a scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” (imdb.com)

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Film Society is kicking off its ’80s films series with one the greatest action films of all time “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

The screening begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Public Library.

“Raider of the Lost Ark” was released in 1981, but it was inspired by films of the past. The story came from George Lucas who based “Raiders” off his love of old film serials from the ’30s and ’40s, which is why the film is set in 1936.

In the film Professor Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is hired by the United States Government to locate the Ark of the Covenant, the box that carries the Ten Commandments, before the Nazis can find it. The film is loosely based on true events. As a form of propaganda the Nazis promoted archeological digs to locate the Ark of the Convenant as well as other biblical artifacts.

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” was the first of the Indian Jones film and it has an impressive production history. Lucas pitched the story to Steven Spielberg while the two were on vacation. Spielberg had always wanted to direct a James Bond film and Lucas said this film would be better than Bond.

In the early ’80s Lucas, Spielberg and Ford were a cinematic dream team. Lucas and Ford were both riding off the success from two previous Star Wars Film and Spielberg was the master director behind “Jaws” and “Close Encounters.” Expectations for the film were high, but Raiders surpassed audience expectation and helped form one of the most successful genres of the ’80s: the Action Film.

Prior to the Æ80s there was no real concept of an “action film.” The closest comparison was the Adventure film. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” can be classified as an adventure film too, but unlike predecessors, this film cranked up the tension and physical stunts. The result was a film with more action than most. This led to dozens of copycats throughout the ’80s.

The character of Indiana Jones is unique from other action heroes in that he is a college professor rather than a spy or cop. Unlike James Bond or other perfect heroes, Jones is allowed to fail.

The opening sequence of “Raiders” is about Jones going to extreme lengths to secure a golden idol only to lose it to a rival who put in half the effort. This is a consistent theme across all the Indiana Jones films. He rarely succeeds on the first try and his victories often create new problems.

Jones might managed to steal a enemy truck, but only after being punch several times, thrown out of the truck, nearly run over and dragged by the vehicle and shot in the arm. Just because he is alive at the end of the film does not mean he accomplishes his main goal.

The New Ulm Film Society hosts screenings at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month in the library basement. Before and after the film members of the film society will facilitate discussion about the movie.

The screening is sponsored by the Optimist Club of New Ulm.

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