This week Raiders of the Lost Ark turns 30. And what mileage Indiana Jones has given us.
I saw the movie at the theater when it first came out. It was the summer movie. And I don’t know if you remember, but many reviews, while positive, considered the action scenes too much: ubiquitous and almost frantic. Raiders, it seemed, was something new and crazed. One of my best friends saw it, and came back wide eyed. She said: “I felt like I had to duck. It was insane.” So I knew I had, had, had to see it.
I saw it in Chicago, with my mom’s best friend from college. And we got lost on the way to the theater. We arrived late and scurried to our seats fifteen minutes after the showing had started.
The first scene we saw was Indiana Jones delivering a college lecture on archaeology. It was sedate. The biggest surprise came when the coed closed her eyes and Indy saw Love You written on her eyelids. Well, yeah. I could relate. It was Harrison Ford. But where was all the berserk action?
Still, we settled in, and of course the story quickly took off. We loved it. Every second of it. And when the credits rolled and the lights came up, we looked at each other and whispered: Should we stay here for the start of the next showing, to see what we missed?
In the hierarchy of bad things, this shouldn’t even have registered. And it shouldn’t have been difficult. Who would notice two quiet people slouching in their seats as the theater emptied? Except that my mom’s friend was sitting in the aisle in a fairly flashy electric wheelchair, and I’m sure I was clutching a 55 gallon drum of popcorn and enough Junior Mints to feed the greater Chicago metropolitan area. We weren’t inconspicuous.
But we risked it. Wild, I tell you — my youth was one long, mad, off-the-rails adventure. And then the lights went down again, and…
Oh my God. That’s how the movie opens? We watched with our mouths hanging open.
Indiana Jones. I may not have known that some day you’d come walking through my door. But I’m glad you did.