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Cameron H.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark  

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  1. 1. Does Raiders of the Lost Ark belong on the AFI List?

    • It belongs in a museum!
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    • It’s digging in the wrong place...
      1

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  • Poll closed on 10/27/18 at 03:33 AM

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Raiders Of The Lost Ark

UNSPOOLED #23OCTOBER 17, 2018

This week Amy and Paul uncover 1981’s rollicking Indiana Jones adventure Raiders Of The Lost Ark! They ask if Indy is actually a good archeologist, find out whether Belloq really ate a fly, and discuss what makes the film’s action sequences so irresistible to kids. Plus: Indiana Jones superfan Guy Klender shares his wealth of Indy knowledge, and talks about his work on the Raiders fan remake.

What do you think the film The African Queen is about? If you haven’t seen it, call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your best guess! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com, and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts.

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36 minutes into this episode both Amy and Paul start praising Melania Trump, because she dresses like a *villain* in this movie [†]. Says Paul - "I love it" Says Amy - "Two points."

No hint of derision, and we all know this administration is the worst ...Actual, for real, villains.

W the entire Eff. 

[† - Melania as Belloq in the news, if you missed it - https://bit.ly/2NN6RcY]

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I haven't listened yet, but I want to start off this thread where the Psycho thread ended, in which DannytheWall asked about the effectiveness of Hitchcock's black-and-white films vs his color films.  I think that his B&W films ARE more impressive in a way, because Hitchcock was a master of light and shadow, and I never felt like his color films were able to show that off in the same virtuosic way.  I was thinking, reading DannytheWall's points, that maybe it's just not possible to master light and shadow in a color film.

That was until I rewatched Raiders of course, in which Spielberg's use of light and shadow is every bit as masterful as Hitchcock's.  (To see this more clearly, check out Soderbergh's B&W edit of Raiders, and really marvel at how well it works.)

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I'm going to have to be a downer on this episode as well. Amy and Paul seemed to just gush over their fandom of the film through a nostalgic lens versus an actual criticism. I also loved, LOVED, the Indiana Jones movies growing up (though The Last Crusade was my favorite). But, there are some flaws that I really think, especially these days, Amy and Paul just glossed over: 

1. Indy and Marion's backstory. Basically that their entire relationship is predicated on him taking advantage of her when she was underage. Amy and Paul just shrug that off as, "well, yeah, that's inappropriate, but he's so much sexier than Tom Selleck!" really bummed me out. Granted, it's given a total pass (even encouragement?) in the movie, and at the time, I think that deserves at least a little discussion, no? 

2. Marion and the white dress. Amy mentions that Karen Allen questioned why her character had to wear that dress, and then Spielberg added that into the scene where she gets it as a gift. Her character was a hard-drinking, bar-owning, ass-kicking, pre-war pants-wearing bad ass. I, too, would have questioned that costume choice. Also, that she goes from being the bad ass to damsel in distress, and that Spielberg relies on the trope of violence against women as plot device (was that whole scene to get her in the dress?). I just don't like it. She could've been held captive and not had a rape-y guy force her into a dress. That was just unnecessary. 

Also, with the fandom rabbit hole they went down, Paul and Amy seemed to totally miss discussing what makes this an actual piece of cinema worthy of AFI other than that it was just "fun." They did mention the sunset, but as Bleary points out, the use of shadow and light, and the cinematography is beautiful. Not to mention the completely iconic opening action sequence. I would have loved to hear more of a discussion about that. Also the score. Also fighting the nazis. 

Just a lot of missed opportunities in this episode. I'm loathe to say it, but I'm disappointed. 

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I liked the episode to be honest, though it wasn't my favorite guest segment.  But I think, honestly, Paul & Amy match my interest in Raiders.  Like it's really fun, and I've always liked it, but what else is there really to say.  Snakes' points are good, but they did bring them up, and I'm not sure how much more in depth they could or should have gone?  I liked the focus on the fun, or the 'child-like' angle of the movie.  Is the movie flawed, sure it is, but let's talk about how fun it is and why and how. That's why the movie is on the list.

I do not think Paul & Amy were in any way encouraging of the underage relationship, nor praising Melania, and I feel safe in speaking for them on that.

 

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Anyone who thinks Paul and Amy are actively praising Melania Trump . . . has not followed their politics very well. "Love it" means they are enjoying how stupid her choices are.

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7 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

Anyone who thinks Paul and Amy are actively praising Melania Trump . . . has not followed their politics very well. "Love it" means they are enjoying how stupid her choices are.

I wish I knew which HDTGM minisode had a musical theme that edited a bunch of out of context quotes about him loving nazis just to refute this.

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4 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I liked the episode to be honest, though it wasn't my favorite guest segment.  But I think, honestly, Paul & Amy match my interest in Raiders.  Like it's really fun, and I've always liked it, but what else is there really to say.  Snakes' points are good, but they did bring them up, and I'm not sure how much more in depth they could or should have gone?  I liked the focus on the fun, or the 'child-like' angle of the movie.  Is the movie flawed, sure it is, but let's talk about how fun it is and why and how. That's why the movie is on the list.

I do not think Paul & Amy were in any way encouraging of the underage relationship, nor praising Melania, and I feel safe in speaking for them on that.

 

 Fair points, and I don't mean to be 100% down on the episode, and I do love the movie as a whole. I just felt like they glossed over too much, and didn't take a look at the film much outside of nostalgia. Raiders seemed to just get a much more superficial treatment than a lot of the other movies, including ET, in which they at least acknowledged they had a hard time viewing subjectively outside of how omnipresent it was during their childhoods (and mine). 

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10 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I liked the episode to be honest, though it wasn't my favorite guest segment.  But I think, honestly, Paul & Amy match my interest in Raiders.  Like it's really fun, and I've always liked it, but what else is there really to say. 

 

That's why I didn't bother re-watching Raiders or Lord of the Rings. I probably won't bother re-watching Star Wars either.  I love them all dearly, but I've seen them soooo many times and I feel completely talked out about them. 

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So then I guess the question becomes, is lack of depth a benefit to this movie?  Or is it not as superficial as I think?  What makes it stand out above other superficial, fun movies?  Why is this on the list and not, like, Fast And The Furious or something? 

(That sounds like a silly question, and hate myself for writing it, but I think it's still my question.)

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15 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

So then I guess the question becomes, is lack of depth a benefit to this movie?  Or is it not as superficial as I think?  What makes it stand out above other superficial, fun movies?  Why is this on the list and not, like, Fast And The Furious or something? 

(That sounds like a silly question, and hate myself for writing it, but I think it's still my question.)

I think Raiders scratches so many different itches. It’s an Adventure/Paranormal/Romance/Mystery/Comedy. And somehow, it manages to feels both nostalgic and fresh at the same time. Something like The Fast And Furious movies - which I think are just fine - are more one note, and if you don’t dig that note, then you’re not going to feel the symphony. Also, the Fast movies - especially the earlier ones - already feel dated. Setting Raiders in the past allows it to feel more timeless.

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17 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

So then I guess the question becomes, is lack of depth a benefit to this movie?  Or is it not as superficial as I think?  What makes it stand out above other superficial, fun movies?  Why is this on the list and not, like, Fast And The Furious or something? 

(That sounds like a silly question, and hate myself for writing it, but I think it's still my question.)

Um, Indy vs Dom?

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I think the issue here is that a podcast is an audio format, and most of what is special about Raiders is visual: the framing of the shots and how they are cut together. It's a masterclass in how to construct an action-adventure movie for visceral/emotional pleasure. It's hard to get that across in audio.

I know that I didn't fully see the "specialness" of Raiders (especially over the other Indiana Jones movies) until it came out on DVD and I got to watch it in widescreen. Good Lord, this movie is gorgeous, and always beautifully framed. I'd say it's deserving of a place on the list just because of how well-made it is.

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2 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

1. Indy and Marion's backstory. Basically that their entire relationship is predicated on him taking advantage of her when she was underage. Amy and Paul just shrug that off as, "well, yeah, that's inappropriate, but he's so much sexier than Tom Selleck!" really bummed me out. Granted, it's given a total pass (even encouragement?) in the movie, and at the time, I think that deserves at least a little discussion, no? 

This seems grosser in retrospect, not just in a post-#MeToo era, but also after having read some of the early discussions between Lucas/Spielberg/Kasdan and also the novel/comic-book adaptations that actually peg her age.

In the movie itself (absent any outside information), I'd argue that the "I was a child" line reads as more ambiguous. I know that when I originally saw the movie, I took the "child" line as meaning that she was maybe college-aged or late high school (18 or 19) and he was mid-20s. Maybe a little skeevy and you could see why her father would be angry, but not as bad as Indy deflowering Marion at fifteen. Harrison Ford and Karen Allen are actually about eight years apart in age, which doesn't seem wildly out of line for a romantic couple. In some cultures the age of consent is as young as 15 or 16 -- something that you might have to consider given the time period and the globe-trotting nature of this movie.

2 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

2. Marion and the white dress. Amy mentions that Karen Allen questioned why her character had to wear that dress, and then Spielberg added that into the scene where she gets it as a gift. Her character was a hard-drinking, bar-owning, ass-kicking, pre-war pants-wearing bad ass. I, too, would have questioned that costume choice. Also, that she goes from being the bad ass to damsel in distress, and that Spielberg relies on the trope of violence against women as plot device (was that whole scene to get her in the dress?). I just don't like it. She could've been held captive and not had a rape-y guy force her into a dress. That was just unnecessary. 

You know, this was also my interpretation when I first watched this scene, but since then I've reconsidered. First, it's maybe a little patriarchal to assume that Marion can't still be the same tough personalty while sometimes also dressing more feminine. Secondly, the way the scene plays out is that she's going along with Belloq's request so she can try to escape. It almost works, too, but then those damn Nazis show up. I don't think this reflects poorly on Marion's intelligence or spunk.

There's almost always something in a more than 20 year old movie that does't quite play as well to modern social consciousness, but I'm not sure Raiders is especially bad in this regard.

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30 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

This seems grosser in retrospect, not just in a post-#MeToo era, but also after having read some of the early discussions between Lucas/Spielberg/Kasdan and also the novel/comic-book adaptations that actually peg her age.

In the movie itself (absent any outside information), I'd argue that the "I was a child" line reads as more ambiguous. I know that when I originally saw the movie, I took the "child" line as meaning that she was maybe college-aged or late high school (18 or 19) and he was mid-20s. Maybe a little skeevy and you could see why her father would be angry, but not as bad as Indy deflowering Marion at fifteen. Harrison Ford and Karen Allen are actually about eight years apart in age, which doesn't seem wildly out of line for a romantic couple. In some cultures the age of consent is as young as 15 or 16 -- something that you might have to consider given the time period and the globe-trotting nature of this movie.

This is something i've wondered about as well. Was she a literal child? If she's the same age as Karen Allen at the time of filming, she's 29-30. I have definitely been "I was a dumb kid" about something I did then realized "No, I was a freshman in college". So, maybe she was 18. I definitely take "child" and "young and naive". That doesn't clear Indy from wrongdoing because the older, wiser, more experienced person shouldn't be treating partners this way.

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16 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

This is something i've wondered about as well. Was she a literal child? If she's the same age as Karen Allen at the time of filming, she's 29-30. I have definitely been "I was a dumb kid" about something I did then realized "No, I was a freshman in college". So, maybe she was 18. I definitely take "child" and "young and naive". That doesn't clear Indy from wrongdoing because the older, wiser, more experienced person shouldn't be treating partners this way.

Yes, I think you can definitely take away from this that Indy was kind of an asshole. It's unclear as to whether or not he was a pedophile.

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Just now, sycasey 2.0 said:

Yes, I think you can definitely take away from this that Indy was kind of an asshole. It's unclear as to whether or not he was a pedophile.

Yeah. At best, he was dismissive of her and should know better. I wouldn't say he didn't sleep with her underage because, well, the relationship probably took place in the late 20s or early 30s. A guy in his 20s fucking a 16 year old was perfectly legal in much of the US and disgustingly common.

So, I'm not saying he didn't do it but I interpret it as she was just young not underage.

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Paul and Amy talked about how perhaps Lucas and Spielberg's divorces influenced the more negative portrayal of the female lead in Temple of Doom (probably true). I'll also point out that George Lucas' wife at the time of Raiders had a big hand in making Marion the character she was:

"[Marcia] was instrumental in changing the ending of Raiders, in which Indiana delivers the ark to Washington. Marion is nowhere to be seen, presumably stranded on an island with a submarine and a lot of melted Nazis. Marcia watched the rough cut in silence and then leveled the boom. She said there was no emotional resolution to the ending, because the girl disappears. ... Spielberg reshot the scene in downtown San Francisco, having Marion wait for Indiana on the steps on the government building. Marcia, once again, had come to the rescue."

Source: https://www.syfy.co.uk/news/3-ways-which-marcia-lucas-helped-save-star-wars-0

Can you imagine that? If you never saw Marion again? I think Lucas' early work (Star Wars and Raiders) would not have had the same kind of spunky, smart women they did if Marcia had not been in his life. (And as I noted in the Taxi Driver episode, she was also a great film editor in her own right.)

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4 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

I'm going to have to be a downer on this episode as well. Amy and Paul seemed to just gush over their fandom of the film through a nostalgic lens versus an actual criticism. I also loved, LOVED, the Indiana Jones movies growing up (though The Last Crusade was my favorite). But, there are some flaws that I really think, especially these days, Amy and Paul just glossed over: 

1. Indy and Marion's backstory. Basically that their entire relationship is predicated on him taking advantage of her when she was underage. Amy and Paul just shrug that off as, "well, yeah, that's inappropriate, but he's so much sexier than Tom Selleck!" really bummed me out. Granted, it's given a total pass (even encouragement?) in the movie, and at the time, I think that deserves at least a little discussion, no? 

2. Marion and the white dress. Amy mentions that Karen Allen questioned why her character had to wear that dress, and then Spielberg added that into the scene where she gets it as a gift. Her character was a hard-drinking, bar-owning, ass-kicking, pre-war pants-wearing bad ass. I, too, would have questioned that costume choice. Also, that she goes from being the bad ass to damsel in distress, and that Spielberg relies on the trope of violence against women as plot device (was that whole scene to get her in the dress?). I just don't like it. She could've been held captive and not had a rape-y guy force her into a dress. That was just unnecessary. 

Also, with the fandom rabbit hole they went down, Paul and Amy seemed to totally miss discussing what makes this an actual piece of cinema worthy of AFI other than that it was just "fun." They did mention the sunset, but as Bleary points out, the use of shadow and light, and the cinematography is beautiful. Not to mention the completely iconic opening action sequence. I would have loved to hear more of a discussion about that. Also the score. Also fighting the nazis. 

Just a lot of missed opportunities in this episode. I'm loathe to say it, but I'm disappointed. 

I completely support your right to be a downer, being that I was the one who kind of shit on E.T. for that episode.

As far as the Indy and Marion backstory, I generally agree with sycasey:
 

2 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

In the movie itself (absent any outside information), I'd argue that the "I was a child" line reads as more ambiguous. I know that when I originally saw the movie, I took the "child" line as meaning that she was maybe college-aged or late high school (18 or 19) and he was mid-20s. Maybe a little skeevy and you could see why her father would be angry, but not as bad as Indy deflowering Marion at fifteen. Harrison Ford and Karen Allen are actually about eight years apart in age, which doesn't seem wildly out of line for a romantic couple. In some cultures the age of consent is as young as 15 or 16 -- something that you might have to consider given the time period and the globe-trotting nature of this movie.

I always had the same thought, that Indy was late-grad-school/early-post-doc aged, and Marion was college-aged.  That certainly doesn't mean it isn't a bit inappropriate (having gone through grad school and seen fellow grad students and occasionally post-docs date undergrads, I have pretty firm feelings on the skeeviness of it.  I was once a teaching assistant for a class in which the instructor was a post-doc, and I noticed a year afterwards that the instructor was now married to one of the students in that class, which certainly made me rethink some things that I had witnessed between the two of them back then.)  According to a cited fact on Wikipedia (I'm too lazy to check out the citation), it was actually Karen Allen herself who came up with much of the backstory between Marion and Indy, including the romance during her teenage years.  Does that make it better?  I think the time period does have something to do with it, but at the same time, it ultimately doesn't matter if Marion was 15 or 20 or 25: when Marion says "I was a child" and Indy responds "You knew what you were doing," there's no way to read it except that Indy is an asshole.

As far as the white dress goes, it does seem male gaze-y, but I think it functions to make Belloq look like a misogynist asshole, and I think it portrays Marion in a strong light too.  She is never timid or scared in that scene, she rolls with a punches in such a way that the viewer believes SHE is the one in complete control instead of being the hostage.  As sycasey pointed out, she uses the dress as part of her escape plan.  I've always felt that I wished her escape plan had actually worked, even if just for a minute, but at the same time, I like that she's not a victim.  And I don't ever see her as a damsel in distress.  When she gets stuck in the plane's cockpit, it's when she's being proactive and going after the pilot, and that's the only time when Indy really has to rescue her.  At all other points, Indy is in the same situation she's in.

While I think they could have talked about directing or cinematography choices a little more, I think Paul and Amy basically nailed what makes this film the best action film in history: the breathless pace, the iconic setpieces, the brilliant score, the strong performances, and the story that makes enough sense to tie it all together.  I've heard people nitpick the fact that Indy knew to close his eyes at the end as coming out of nowhere (there was a scene in the script that wasn't shot where Indy read about this aspect of the ark mythos), but I always took it for granted that Indy knew his shit.  His academic proficiency is part of what makes the character so interesting and easy to root for, that he's a nerd who had to learn to be a pseudo-badass to fuel his nerd-dom.  To Paul and Amy's points, he's not a fighter.  It's always questionable whether he has the physical abilities to get out of these messes, but it's never in question whether he has the knowledge to get out of them.

Anyway, I could go on and on.  Suffice it to say that this joins 2001 as my only 5-star films of the AFI list so far.  And I really don't think it's nostalgia either, since as a child I enjoyed Raiders and Last Crusade roughly the same.  It wasn't until my early 20s that I rewatched Raiders again with a fresh eye and saw what a masterpiece it really is.  I still think Last Crusade is a great, fun movie, but it's nowhere near the artistic level of Raiders.

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I buy the argument that Marion was in young adulthood during her relationship with Indy, and I never saw him nor do I see him as a pedophile, but someone who took advantage of a young girl. As they are in the movie, their age difference isn't a big deal, but I do think there can be a problem with a guy in his mid-late 20's and a girl of 18 or 19. Though, sure, at the time, that would have been totally normal. Why it was "wrong" as Marion claims, is a gray area. This is not a hill I'm willing to die on :)

I also didn't meant to imply that Marion wasn't still a complete kick-ass woman even in a dress, just that it was an unnecessary over-sexualization of her that miffed me. We also didn't need to watch her change into it. I wish Amy would have talked more about the problematic means by which Spielberg found to have Marion wear the dress, and his need to use it at all. All my girly-ness loved the dress growing up, but as an adult, it feels forced and out of place.

That all said, I have been wrestling with whether I think Raiders belongs on the AFI list, and I've decided it does. .It's beautiful, beautifully acted, exciting, and undeniably iconic. Despite my main two quibbles with the film, my main disappointment with the episode really comes down to wishing Paul and Amy would have also spent more time discussing the achievements of the movie and what makes it so iconic. That's not to say they didn't mention some of the best scenes like the face melting and head exploding, but I wish they'd gone a little deeper. Maybe, like psycho, this has been talked over to death? But I didn't even know there was a shot-for-shot remake. I wish they'd at least gotten into why so many people love the film enough to try to do that with this of all Spielberg films. Like I said, just some missed opportunities in their discussion. 

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Well, unlike Psycho, the Raiders remake was a fan remake.  It showed up in film circuit/festivals and other type of things kind of as a curiosity (I know I saw it listed as part of the local film festival here a few years back.  I think I heard it showed up at the... Harry Knowles 24 hour butt numb thing.  I can't remember what it's called off the top of my head).  The Psycho remake on the other hand was a major release (like the Night of the Living Dead remake, also from around that era).

I'm still behind and need to catch up with Psycho fully (though I've been listening to the episodes).  I'm debating whether I'm going to watch Raiders.  For the most part I don't care for Spielberg and them mentioning how it was a, "it's what kids think is scary," kind of hits one of the things I think I dislike about Spielberg's movies (at least of what I remember of them).  Though for my own personal curiosity, I did rewatch E.T. (I think it was a rewatch. Weirdly, I have definite memories of playing the Atari video game when it came out, but I struggled to remember if I had actually seen the movie), just because in my memory, I think I liked Jaws and Close Encounters, but then after that... it seems like there's something about his sensibilities that just kind of puts me off. I'll just leave it at that for now.

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My standard list comparison post

AFI (2007 | 1997): 66th | 60th

BFI Critic's poll, 2012 (ranking, US filtered ranking, votes): 447th (all), 173.436th* (US), 3 votes

BFI Director's poll, 2012 (ranking, US filtered ranking, votes): 546th, (all) 229.32th** (US), 1 votes

IMDB (rank, rating): 43rd, 8.5 rating

Metascore: 85

TSFDT (ranking, US filtered ranking): 217th, TBD

Oscar BP status: not nominated, winner Chariots of fire

Box Office Ranking*** (rank, amount): 1st, $212,222,025

*: 97 of the top 250 are US films, I'm extrapolating to guess its US-filtered rank

**: 42 of the top 100 are US films, I'm extrapolating to guess its US-filtered rank

***: https://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=1981&p=.htm

I don't really have a strong opinion on this one.  On the AFI it's far enough down that it doesn't feel out of place compared to what's around.  I guess I'm a little surprised it isn't a little higher on the IMDB list.  As stated, I'm not a big Spielberg fan, but I would have guessed the crowd-pleasing nature of Indiana Jones would have caused it to be ranked higher.  It seems like a film that would do well with the IMDB list.

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12 hours ago, bleary said:

That was until I rewatched Raiders of course, in which Spielberg's use of light and shadow is every bit as masterful as Hitchcock's.  (To see this more clearly, check out Soderbergh's B&W edit of Raiders, and really marvel at how well it works.)

Yeah! It reminds me of a supercut I once saw that was titled something like "Every Spielberg character looking into light." Pretty much a signature auteur style.  

To side rail a bit to answer by other question, I think the oversaturated colors of many 60s-ish movies fall a bit into uncanny valley territory. It's not real enough to be really real and that's unsettling.

Although that might be why Raiders works so well but Crystal Skull (among its MANY faults) falls flat -- the practical effects of Raiders makes it way more visceral of an experience than a CGI environment.     

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