Monday, June 11, 2007

Top Ten Films: Part Four

What can be written about Raiders of the Lost Ark that has not already been said? Probably nothing. Among its many other accomplishments, however, it must be mentioned that it made fantasy and adventure stories of this sort respectable. Fantastic adventures had always been found on film, but seldom had they been pulled off so effectively. In the thirties and forties, adventure films were very popular, drawing viewers back again and again with cliffhangers each week. But these films were never viewed as anything better than B Film product.

Spielberg and Lucas had already created the “Summer Blockbuster” with Jaws and Star Wars in the seventies. But with Raiders, they reinvented the old adventure yarn as truly first class filmmaking. It was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar! The adventure movie was here to stay. Raiders was followed by two (soon to be three) great sequels as well as: Goonies, Romancing the Stone, The Princess Bride, the Robin Hood remakes, the Zorro films, The National Treasure films, and more.

It did more than just reinvent the adventure genre, however. It also began a new sub-genre perhaps best described as a supernatural or magical adventure. Young Sherlock Holmes, Big Trouble in Little China, the new Mummy movies, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies all owe their existence to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As enjoyable as all these listed films are, the original is still the best. From the opening mini adventure in the Amazon to the shot of the government storing the Ark in the giant warehouse at the end, it is all cinema magic. For that matter the two sequels (yes both of them) are too.

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