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Being that it was a sneak preview, I was one of the first people in Baton Rouge to see it.  A film critic from the biggest newspaper in town was in the audience that night too.  He gave the film a five-star rating in the paper along with a glowing review that remained published for the entire year-long run of the film.  Yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark enjoyed an uninterrupted engagement that lasted at least twelve straight months at Cinema 8 in B.R.  That’s how popular it was.  It was a feat not even equaled in Baton Rouge by Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back.

John Williams’ score for the film is his third most iconic after Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977).  I received the soundtrack on album for my birthday later that year.  I reveled in it every time I listened to it, just as much as my Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back albums (*See my post about the music of The Empire Strikes Back on this blog titled “Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi…Williams: The Music of The Empire Strikes Back“). I still enjoy the CD I have now.

The action of Raiders is legendary, even spawning an exciting stunt show attraction at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida called the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular that is still in production since its premiere in 1989 (the show is currently on temporary hiatus due to a labor dispute) along with the rides Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Temple of the Crystal Skull at Disneyland in California and Tokyo DisneySea in Japan respectively.

To all you would-be filmmakers out there: Raiders is a masterclass on how to make the quintessential action-adventure film.  Pay attention and take notes.

I can see a father or mother talking to their child about the film today, or a teacher showing the film to their students.  The conversation might go something like this:

Child/Student:  “Did a man really slide under a moving truck like that?

Parent/Teacher:  “Yes, he did.  Many of the stunts you see in the film were performed by real people and used real vehicles.  That is how they used to make movies.

Raiders is pure escapism. It is absolute movie magic. It has no political agenda or social views.  It was made to do exactly what I think all movies should do—entertain us.

Raiders of the Lost Ark proved to me that sometimes you really can’t judge a book by its cover (or a film by its TV commercial/trailer).  June 5, 1981—what a great day to be a kid, and what a great day to become a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark!