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TV & Film

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Hemal Jhaveri June 27, 2023


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This week on Ten Movies:

Is there a more iconic Harrison Ford role than Indiana Jones, the bullwhip-snapping, fedora-clad, globe-trotting archeologist who fights Nazis and pillages artifacts from their cultures of origin, which was the style at the time?

It can be difficult to step back from this movie’s cultural primacy and just watch it as a movie. When you do, it’s an adventuresome thrill ride, impeccably made, as Indy and his pal’s zip from one precarious encounter to another. Part of the charm is Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Indiana Jones, toeing the line between heroic and roguish, and – unlike modern action stars – often surprised by the peril in which he finds himself and occasionally in danger of getting badly injured or even dead.

But is Indiana Jones, as a character, the hero we are led to believe? Or is he, as Hemal maintains, “like every bad boyfriend you’ve ever had”?

In this episode, Hemal and Brian also interrogate the ideological valence of the film, from the troubling way in which Marion Ravenwood, the movie’s sole woman character (played with delightful grit and humor by the underrated Karen Allen) is portrayed and treated, to the questionable choice of having the film’s Egyptian and Nepali characters played by white guys – including John Rhys-Davies, noted Welshman, as Indy’s loyal and resourceful sidekick Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir.

Though it must be admitted, we also thoroughly enjoyed Rhys-Davies in the role. Do we contradict ourselves? Very well then, we contradict ourselves. We are large, we contain multitudes.

 

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