Film of the week: Raiders Of The Lost Ark
BBC One, Saturday, July 20, 6:30pm
Five years ago George Lucas and Steven Spielberg committed cinematic sacrilege when they unleashed Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull on the world. With its CGI gophers and monkeys, an extra-terrestrial MacGuffin and the ever so slightly less sprightly Harrison Ford, it ran roughshod over the memory of everyone’s favourite fedora-wearing, bullwhip-carrying action hero.
It was all a far cry from Indy’s first screen outing. A transcript of Lucas and Spielberg brainstorming the story for Raiders Of The Lost Ark was posted online recently, revealing their desire to combine the Saturday morning adventure matinees that Lucas enjoyed in his youth with evil Nazi villains and Old Testament myth. The meeting took place over 35 years ago, but their passion for the project still leaps from the page.
That passion leapt off the page and into the film, too. Back then these were two filmmakers undeniably in love with their art and determined to master it, but still having an inordinate amount of fun in the process. So it should be no surprise that from the idol-pinching prologue to an awe-inspiring conclusion, Raiders Of The Lost Ark is frame perfect and an absolute pleasure to watch, no matter how many times you have seen it.
Set the recorder for:
ITV1, Friday July 19, 10:35pm
When Ridley Scott announced his next picture was to be the story of a former Roman soldier, forced into the life of a gladiator, who leads an uprising against a corrupt republic, you could have been forgiven for worrying it would turn out to be a grandiose Spartacus knock-off. Instead, Scott enlisted the talents of a promising Australian actor by the name of Russell Crowe and a cast of fine British thesps, and helped revive the historical epic. Well worth every one of its five Oscars.
Channel 4, Saturday July 20, 10pm
Despite having George Clooney as its lead, The American was always going to struggle to win the hearts of less than broad-minded viewers. For this isn’t gorgeous George of the Ocean’s films; this is George the contract-killing, prostitute-patronising antihero. Photographer/music video director turned filmmaker Anton Corbijn eschews Hollywood artifice for European atmosphere, and The American is all the better for it.
Film4, Saturday July 20, 10:35pm
Asked for his views on the planned adaptation of his revered graphic novel, Watchmen author Alan Moore dismissed it out of hand, asking “Do we need any more shitty films in this world?” He needn’t have worried – the film ended up being as faithful to its source material as it’s possible to be. While its story may ultimately be better suited to the pictorial format, Watchmen the movie is a valiant effort at intellectualising the superhero genre. The anti-Avengers, if you will.