I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark last weekend and had almost forgotten what an incredibly fun movie it is! I've seen it a dozen times or more (probably only Casablanca has been watched more), but it has been quite a while since my last viewing. And I'm not sure I've watched my DVD version of it either.
But on the "big" screen, it was a gas! It looked great and I'm pretty sure the did some picture cleaning when they printed it. For instance, I couldn't see the reflection of the cobra when he first goes down into the tomb where the Ark is, which used to be pretty obvious. The upscaling to 1080i looked superb and the sound was fantastic.
I won't even bother to give you a plot synopsis, because if you don't know the story of Indiana Jones, Marion Ravenwood and the quest for the Ark, you probably have no desire to see it. If it happens to be one of those movies you've never really sat down and watched, stop everything right now and go see it. This represents an incredible nexus of talent, from producer George Lucas, to director Steven Spielberg, writer Lawrence Kasdan, to amazing lead actors like Harrison Ford and Karen Allen, and a top notch supporting cast including Denholm Elliot (perhaps my all time favorite British character actor), John Rhys-Davies, Alfred Molina, and Paul Freeman.
There's a wonderful "Making Of..." featurette on the bonus fourth disc of the Raiders trilogy set. It includes both contemporary footage of the filming as well as interviews today with Ford, Allen, Kasdan, Lucas, Spielberg and others. Some wonderful anecdotes, like Rhys-Davies saying he had never been so sick on a set, and that the desert scenes were filmed in Tunisia, just like Star Wars, right down to using the same canyon Luke hunted womp rats in.
A movie that almost certainly earns a place on my embryonic Desert Island list, Raiders is a nearly pitch perfect adventure movie. I particularly like how various themes work their way through the movie, like snakes, drinking games and the like. Karen Allen was one of my main cinematic crushes in the 80s and she still looks great. Karen, if you're reading this, call me and we'll do lunch!