Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

When Dr. Indiana Jones – the tweed-suited professor who just happens to be a celebrated archaeologist – is hired by the government to locate the legendary Ark of the Covenant, he finds himself up against the entire Nazi regime.

I wrote about Raiders… in more depth on my blog:


Raiders is not a movie that lacks for classic moments, but its fiery climax ranks among Spielberg’s greatest sequences. Visually, the opening of the Ark rhymes with the ending of Close Encounters of the Third Kind—a gigantic light-and-sound show on a mountaintop, with all of the film’s characters gathered around to watch. But where Close Encounters’ aliens stood in for a kind of benevolent, New Age deity (with the Devils Tower transformed into a neon version of Burning Man), the Old Testament God unleashed in Raiders has no pity. His wrath reverses Close Encounters’ bliss-out and anticipates the vaporized corpses of War of the Worlds. In that film, Tom Cruise’s Ray Ferrier advises his daughter to close her eyes to shut out the carnage, echoing Indy’s similar order to Marion; they remain blind to the spectacle while we get our money’s worth. […] With Adolf Hitler in ascendance and World War II on the horizon, the opening of the Ark isn’t just a showstopping climax; it’s a stand-in for the real-world detonation of atomic bombs on Japan, shifting the location, targets, and meaning of the 20th century’s most apocalyptic act of violence until it signifies—powerfully and humorously—in a different manner: as a Jewish filmmaker’s act of fantastical, special-effects revenge, getting the last laugh on the Nazis and rewriting history in the process.

Adam Nayman (The Ringer)