Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • PG
  • Steven Spielberg (1981)
  • US
  • 110 min
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Film Review
Reviewed By
5 out of 5

Executive producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg minted fresh excitement from the cliffhanger serials of their youth in this breathless fantasy extravaganza. Hold on tight, because it starts at full throttle and never lets up as unorthodox archaeologist Indiana Jones (a part that fits Harrison Ford like a glove) searches Egypt for the fabled Ark of the Covenant and finds himself up to his neck in booby-trapped caves, snake chambers, Nazi spies, religious demons, damsels in distress and even a spot of romance. The brilliantly evocative 1930s-set saga treats all the old clichés as if they've just been newly minted, and adds dazzling special effects to craft a wonderful action yarn that rattles along with wit, invention and the raw spirit of true adventure. The climactic unleashing of the artefact's awesome holy fire remains a spine-tingling masterwork of visual-effects ingenuity and ambitious dramatic force. No surprise then that one of the four Oscars this fabulous production picked up was for visual effects (the others were for art direction, sound and editing). The cast, including Karen Allen, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies and Paul Freeman (as the smoothest villain imaginable), doesn't put a foot wrong in this definitive action masterpiece, and storyteller Spielberg is at the height of his powers, delighting the imagination with terrific eye-grazing tableaux, nail-biting tension and engaging characters. The two sequels that followed in the 1980s, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, followed manfully in the footsteps of this gloriously nostalgic paean to Hollywood's Saturday matinée ideals and atmosphere.

Plot Summary

Action adventure starring Harrison Ford and Karen Allen. Indiana Jones's outrageous exploits take him around the world in search of the legendary Ark of the Covenant, a religious artefact of unspeakable power wanted by the Nazis. With the help of an old flame, Indy takes on his enemies in a terrifying and death-defying battle to the finish.

Cast and crew


Indiana Jones
Harrison Ford
Marion Ravenwood
Karen Allen
Paul Freeman
Ronald Lacey
John Rhys-Davies
Denholm Elliott
Wolf Kahler
Anthony Higgins
Alfred Molina
Barranca / Monkey man
Vic Tablian
Colonel Musgrove
Don Fellows
Major Eaton
William Hootkins
Giant Sherpa / Big German mechanic
Pat Roach
Tutte Lemkow
Terry Richards
Frank Marshall
George Harris (2)


Steven Spielberg

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Some violence and swearing.
Available on video, DVD and BluRay
Released 21 Sep 2012
Certificate PG