There was an anniversary this week that I almost missed. It's one of those things that makes you stop and think, "Wow! Has it really been that long?" Well, it has. On June 12, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in theaters, and Indiana Jones was born.
I missed the first 20 minutes or so of it the first time I went to see it. I was extraordinarily upset with my parents for that. Especially because I'd spent at least half an hour telling them it was time to go or we'd be late. We were late. Because we were always late. The second time, we caught, maybe, two minutes more than we had the first time. Yes, it wasn't until my third trip to see Raiders that I got to see the opening sequence with the tarantulas and the boulder. But I didn't go with my parents on that third trip, so that explains it.
When we think of George Lucas, we tend to just think of Star Wars. After all, no other single movie ever has had the impact on movie-making and culture that Star Wars has had. And it was the sole creation of Mr. Lucas. We forget that Indiana Jones was also the sole creation of George Lucas. Okay, yes, Spielberg disapproved of Indiana Smith, and helped tweak some things here and there but the concept was all Lucas. And Indiana Jones has had his own impact on culture and entertainment. And in the midst of all of this... Harrison Ford.
Just to say it, every major studio in Hollywood turned down Raiders at least once. Including 20th Century Fox. They all said it would never work. How insane is that? But it just shows how difficult it is for anyone to get anything new past the powers that be, even the creator of Star Wars.
All of that to say that I got to see Raiders on the big screen again, last night, for the first time in 20 years. 20 years ago, I saw it at an IMAX in Chicago. I don't think I realized, then, that they were showing it because it had been 10 years. Last night, I got to see the 30th Anniversary presentation of Raiders of the Lost Ark at Stag Theater at Skywalker Ranch. I know. How cool is that? Yes, I know someone.
The really weird thing? There were people there, people that work at Lucasfilm and Skywalker Sound and ILM, that had never seen Raiders before. I don't just mean they'd never seen it on the big screen, like my friend that I went with, but people who had never, ever seen the movie before. Ever. At all. And they work for George Lucas! I mean, I could understand Howard the Duck, but how do you work for George Lucas and manage to miss ever seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark? It's inconceivable!
There wasn't any fanfare along with the event, although there was a special message from John Rhys-Davies. Before the movie, they showed the original movie trailer. Oh my gosh! It was SO horrible. I can't even begin to explain the amount of cheese. Trailer making has come a lot farther than I would have thought. Or maybe not. From seeing the trailer, it's hard to see how anyone would have wanted to see Raiders, but I'm sure it wasn't worse than other trailers of the day, so I guess it still makes sense.
Raiders is still a great movie. I say that in the sense that if it was being released now for the first time, I believe it would still have the same kind of impact. It's a great story. Seeing it on the big screen, again, I noticed things I've never noticed before. Like the pilot, Jacques, at the beginning, isn't wearing any shoes as he sits on the airplane fishing. When Indy shoots the swordsman in black, some guy from the crowd grabs up the dropped sword and runs off cheering. And, when Indiana is in the map room, one of the miniature buildings has something written on it in. It's bright red, so I'm amazed that I've never noticed that before. No, I have no idea what it said. I'm pretty sure it was written in German, although I'm not positive about that. It's still a fun romp, even 30 years later.
And the theater... well, it's a nice theater. First time I've ever been. Not to the ranch, but to the tech building and Stag Theater. If only I could have figured out what the two statues were supposed to be of (but there were no placards, and my friend didn't know either) my night would have been complete. At the end, they gave us some of the old Marvel Indiana Jones comics. Just like new.
Even if you're not a fan of Indiana Jones, you can't deny the impact, the influence, the character has had. It's hard to imagine a world without Indiana Jones. I'm glad we don't have to.
Remember, adventure does have a name!
>cue the music<