Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Sometimes it is only with the help of a great film critic that I can really see a film. I have loved this film since the first time I saw it, sitting in a movie theater in the Loop in Chicago. I was aware of loving the whiz-bang, thrill-a-minute ride. I loved the characters, and I loved the fun of it. But I could not say why it was a film I was happy to see again and again. It’s just now, after reading Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” review, that I realized this film had been singing to my Jewish soul.
Ebert was writing partly in answer to Pauline Kael’s characterization of the film as “impersonal,” inferior to Steven Spielberg’s work before and after. He points out that this film is deeply personal for Spielberg, that it is a young Jewish boy’s fantasy of the revenge exacted from Nazis who seek to “steal the heritage of the Jews and use it for their own victory.”
OK, enough of me stealing from Roger Ebert. Click the link to his review. Read it. He does a wonderful job of unpacking the reasons that this is a film with genuine Jewish content stuffed into every crevice of a crackerjack fun ride.
Serious Holocaust education is important and vital if we are not to forget. However, anyone who has actually sat through all 9 1/2 hours of Shoah will tell you that getting a Holocaust education is heart-breaking and soul-wrenching. If, after you have done your serious study, you find that you need an antidote, something to lift the heart a bit, Raiders of the Lost Ark might be just the ticket.