In 2014, it’s difficult to appreciate the awe felt by uninitiated audiences who saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in theaters in 1981. Think about the film’s opening scenes, which introduce Indiana Jones and his now-iconic fedora in the jungles of South America. He narrowly avoids getting shot in the back by his mutinous guides, proves his Zorro-esque expertise with a whip, cleverly maneuvers through the deadly booby-traps of an ancient Peruvian temple, flicks away tarantulas like they’re gnats, nabs the prized golden idol but sets off a chain-reaction of destruction that includes a giant boulder chasing him back out into the sunlight, finds himself surrounded by angry natives and a smug Eurotrash rival, outruns them and their poisonous darts to an idling sea-plane that barely gets him in the air in time — only to find himself sharing the front seat with a giant snake, which we soon learn, is his kryptonite.
In just 12 minutes and 47 seconds, audiences experienced more pulsating action than most action movies stuff into two full hours. It was exhilarating. And it only picked up steam from there. Indy fought Nazis in Nepal and re-teamed with lost love Marion (Karen Allen), infamously dueled with an Arab swordsman in Cairo, discovered the Well of Souls where the mysterious Ark was hidden (guarded by hundreds of slithering asps), and then stole the Ark back from the Germans in the death-defying stunt that had Indy being dragged underneath and behind a speeding truck — a clever homage to the classic scene in John Ford’s iconic western Stagecoach. READ FULL STORY