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“Raiders of the Lost Ark” Movie Analysis

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    In Steven Spielberg’s 1981 action adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, A archaeologist by the name of Indiana Jones ( Harrison Ford) tries to beat the Nazis in finding The Ark of the Covenant who are seeking it for world domination. While in pursuit of finding The Ark of the Covenant, Indiana Jones is tested with many dangerous road blocks such as constantly battling the Nazis, battling against being trapped in a snake filled bunker, and battling to save an vengeful ex-girlfriend named Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). Ultimately, the Nazi’s take control of the Ark and try to use it in the middle of a mountainous region in a desert, but the Nazi’s are consumed by the Ark for looking at it. This leads to Indiana Jones taking possession of the Ark of the Covenant and handing it over to the United States Government where it is hidden away. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards. Steven Spielberg was nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards and the film is placed at number 60 on AFI’s Top 100 Films considering this film to be of the greatest films of all time. Through the use of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and acting, the viewer is able to experience and understand how Indiana Jones stopped the Nazis from becoming a world domination.

    The use of mise-en-scene is displayed through the entirety of the film. In the film, we see the use of mise-en-scene through the setting, costumes, props, and lighting. The setting of the film puts us in a pre World War II conflict in the desert showing desert towns and desert camps set up by the Nazi army in pursuit of the ark. Throughout the movie, we see Nazi cars, trucks, and planes which all contribute to the creation of the setting. Each setting that is displayed shows the presence of the Nazi forces which emphasizes the fact Indiana Jones is in a very crucial conflict with the Nazi regime. In the shot above we see a group of Nazi soldiers sitting at a table eating a meal, all the soldiers have their hats off which infers that the men are hot and sweaty since they are the desert. In the scene, it is shown that there are hundreds of people digging and looking for the Ark which is believed to be underground, so the men sitting at the table gives us the comprehension that the men are taking a break. Also, in this scene we see Indiana Jones on the left dressed up as one of the locals, he is doing this to blend in with everyone else, this shows the risk that Indiana Jones is willing to take in order to achieve his goal.

    Due to the costumes and the makeup in the film, the viewer is able understand the time period and the setting we are in. The costumes help understand the time period of the late 1930’s by using the old German or Nazi uniforms, the old hat that was very popular during the 1930’s, as well the dull colors used n the uniforms. The costumes also help us identify where the film is taking place. The civilians in the film are dressed in tunics, cloaks, and head scarfs which show what a typical desert outfit would be to prevent sand from hurting you in a sandstorm. The makeup in the film, gives Indiana Jones the look that he is very sweaty, he has been beat up, he is tired, and overall gives the audience the feeling that he has been through a lot of conflicts. The props in the film, help create the viewer to believe the movie is very realistic through the use of old looking outfits, cars, weapons, maps, little technology, and many more.

    The lighting and color in the film varies throughout the film. For example, during times in the film where Indiana Jones is successful, the lighting is usually more on the brighter side and more bright colors as well. Whereas when Indiana Jones is in defeat in the film, the colors usually tend to be dark and more dull colors while the lighting is usually dark as well. Also in the film, when see the Nazis making a move or executing their plan, the lighting tends to be darker giving the audience a feel of anger because we do not like to see the antagonist succeed. In the scene above we can see that the lighting is bright hencing they are the desert but the bright lighting and more natural colors are also apparent because Indiana Jones is making a move and being successful with. This pattern of lighting is again used throughout the whole film as a whole.

    The soundtrack of the is one of the main reasons for the success of the film. The sounds of this film were nominated by the Academy awards for best sound, therefore the music and sounds plays a vital role in the movie. The music of this film was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The Raiders March which has evolved into one of the most iconic songs today that has come to symbolize Indiana Jones was first introduced in this movie. In this film, it is very common that you hear the Raiders March during times where Indiana Jones is in battle or is escaping from someone. When the audience hears the Raiders March, it gives the audience a feel of heroism because Indiana Jones has just saved the day or whatever might be occurring. The sounds and the music of the film are a very important factor to the film’s success because without the iconic sounds and music the film would be nowhere in comparison of where it is today.

    The cinematography also plays a vital role in the film’s success. The film seems to be pretty split on where it was filmed. In the film, there is a lot of scenes where it appears to be filmed in a studio, you can tell this by first whether or not the scene is inside or outside. If a film has a scene that is inside a building then it is most likely filmed inside a studio, so in this film, there is a good amount of scenes that were filmed inside a studio. There was also a pretty even balance in the film of natural and studio lighting. There were a good amount of scenes outside in real life places so natural lighting played a huge factor in the cinematography of the film. In the film, there was periods of time where the lighting was really bright on characters but most of the time the contrast of the light was lower than normal. The direction of the lighting in the film typically came from the side or in front of the character and in some occurrences came from above so shadows could be displayed. In the film, there was a variety of shots used to capture the characters but the most prominently dominate shots that were used were the medium, medium close-up, long, medium long, and close up. There was also other shots used like POV shot. For example, in the scene above we see Indiana Jones looking into a telescope and he is at a medium shot range but the people in the background of the shot are at a long shot distance. After this screenshot, the camera then cuts to the POV of Indiana looking through the telescope. The film did have a good amount of close up shots, these shots were usually at the eye-line level. The film had a lot of cuts in it, where there was action there would be a lot of cuts and jumping around to different places. There was also the use of tracking shots in which the camera would move along the dolly while a character was sitting still of walking somewhere.

    The editing of the film has a variety of editing techniques, there are times of a lot editing and times of little editing . There is a lot of scenes in the movie where there is little editing, this occurs during the more slow scenes when not much is going on. Once again, there is a lot of cuts when it’s comes to the action packed scenes. The use of the quick cuts is allows the viewer to believe there is more action going than there really is. However, there is some other types of editing techniques like the dissolve used the in the film. The dissolve technique is used in the film as a substitute to the cut the method. Instead of using the cut to go from one scene to another, they used the dissolve technique where the image in the old scene would dissolve away while the new scene would start to appear. In the film, the editors also would edit in things that were not apparent in real life, for example in one scene the viewer can tell that the weather is obviously edited into the movie because it is a setting outside and the lightning and thunder is happening every couple seconds. These editing techniques a just one of the vital factors that went into making this movie a success.

    The acting in the film displays the talent of Harrison Ford who plays the main protagonist, Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones is an archaeologist and is a teacher as well. From the opening scene to the very end of the movie the viewer can see what a tremendous leader Indiana Jones is. He is a man that very smart with his decision making, he seems to make all the perfect decisions in order to save someone or achieve his goal. For example, when he comes across Marion as she is tied down to a pole, Indiana Jones and Marion are very happy to see each other and as he starts to untie Marion she says that Nazis have been talking about and looking for him. Indiana Jones then makes the conscious decision that is best that she stay where she is because when the Nazis realize she is gone they are going to know Indiana Jones is near and start looking for him. Therefore, Indiana Jones is a really smart man even though it is very risky that Marion stay where she is. Harrison Ford is able to capture the emotions of Indiana Jones brilliantly and makes acting seem so easy, that just shows the pure talent of Harrison Ford as an actor. The way that Harrison Ford displays his emotions, fighting skills, and acting skills come so naturally that the audience fully engages in the movie and want to see Indiana Jones achieve his goal of capturing the Ark.

    In conclusion, there are many factors in the film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, that make it one of the greatest movies to ever be made. The mise-en-acne, cinematography, editing, and acting come together to create an amazing film. The mise-en-scene in the film helps create the setting of the film taking place in the pre World War II era. The use of the props and the costume help the viewer identify where in the world the film is taking place and the continues to help the viewer formulate the time period. The mise-en- scene also captures the battles and roadblocks that Indiana must go through to achieve his goal of capture the Ark before the Nazis and bring it back to the United States. The cinematography uses a wide variety of shots that can be displayed in the film. Whether it be a close up, medium shot, or long shot the use of these angles work together in making the viewer have the most realistic version of what it is like to be Indiana Jones. The editing of the film sets the pace for the whole entire film. The film is filmed with fast cuts and long takes, whatever it may be, the editing of film is one of the most important factors in the making this a successful film. The editing helps the viewers view the film is different ways which could ultimately lead to the viewers seeing the film in a different perspective. The acting in the film bring the film full circle in creating one of the greatest films of all time. Whether the actor is a protagonist or antagonist the use of their acting skills help the viewer creating a feeling of passion and interest for the film. Without the great acting skills of the actors in the film, this film would not be as iconic as it has come to be. Raiders of the Lost Ark is an action packed film and through the cinematic elements of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and acting the viewers are able to experience and see what the life of Indiana Jones consist of.

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