Stephen Spielberg, Indiana Jones And The Lost Ark Of The Covenant
“When carried, it was always wrapped in a veil, in tachash (*1) skins and a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.” The sacred container, according to Biblical Text, held the fragments of the Ten Commandments and other sacred objects of the Israelites, believed to be touched by the hand and word of God.
Held sacred by all religions as the touchstone to supreme knowledge and power, it became the central theme of Stephen Spielberg’s 1981 adventure masterpiece, Raiders of The Lost Ark, the first and arguably the best of the Indiana Jones trilogy. The film changed the course of Harrison Ford’s career, from actor to mega star, and provided the popcorn fan base with something more than just salt and butter. An exciting accumulation of death defying feats, integrated into an archaeological adventure, romanticizing history and legend with clarity and humor, styled to memorialize the cliffhanger movie serials of the thirties and forties.
Set during World War II, an interesting choice by Spielberg since the Holocaust was one of the most prominent aspects of what became the world’s ultimate struggle of survival of light over darkness, included the beautiful and captivating images of Cairo in the desert setting, a crypt filled with snakes to protect the hidden chamber where the Ark was held. The ending beautifully portrayed in the film justifies the notion that some mysteries should remain secret as man is not meant to see the word of God until perhaps the final transition from one world to the next that we all anticipate at life’s end.
Karen Allen, who portrayed Marion Ravenwood, provided the most electric chemistry of any of the succeeding films. Her return in the widely anticipated Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is a welcome addition that raises the question of whether Jones has a long lost son to carry on the future installments of the series now that Indiana is eligible for Medicare.
Allen, also known for her sensitive portrayal of Jenny Hayden, a young, recent widow, suffering the accidental death of her husband who encounters an extra-terrestrial, remarkably played by Jeff Bridges in 1984’s science-fiction love story Starman, director by John Carpenter. The film earned Bridges, one of Hollywood’s finest character actors, an Oscar nomination for best Actor.
Perhaps the secrets of the fourth installment, set to be released May 22nd, 2008, will be revealed as the theaters darken, the curtains rise, the commercials and endless promotions of other films have passed and the musical score made famous by the Indiana Jones series begins, suggesting that the final crusade of Jones will lead us to some kind of temple of doom filled with either snakes, insects, rats, bats or some hybrid unknown to mortal man as the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull unveils the secret of Spielberg’s prolific mind.
In any case, this film will probably break all box office records and earn Harrison Ford mega millions, including a percentage of all action figure toys. A review of the film will follow the premiere, assuming it is possible to navigate through the expected throngs of movie goers expected to line up for hours, camped on the city streets, to await escape from Phantasy’s Distraction.
*1) tachash refers to the animal skin used to cover the sacred objects and the tabernacle. It is believed to be a mammal, although which one is open to speculation.