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Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation

  Directed by: Eric Zala
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, Philip Kaufman, George Lucas
Starring: Jayson Lamb, Angela Rodriguez, Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 53rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"An inspiration" - a review by andy-j

The year is 1982, you're 11 years old and you and your friends have a whole summer to mess around in. What are you gonna do with yourselves? Well, if you're anything like Jayson Lamb, Chris Strompolos, and Eric Zala, you'll take on the mammoth task of creating a scene-by-scene remake your favourite big-budget movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). And so, with precious little reference material (at first), a shoestring budget and inspirational levels of motivation, this is exactly what these three young men did over the next five years. The result is, without a doubt, a truly amazing achievement.

There is no hiding the fact that this is an amateur effort. The sound is awful, with pops, buzzes, background noise and, at times, jarbled and barely audible dialogue. The picture quality is just as bad - shot on betamax tape, the visuals are grainy, washed out and subject to plenty of interference. I'm telling ya, if you haven't seen the original, you'll really have no chance of being able to follow what is going on (then again, why would you see this if you haven't seen the original?). In a way though, it's something of a shame that these boys aren't growing up today and shooting with commonplace digital technology. But then again, today's culture mightn't influence them to make such a film. But anyway.

In any case, that's my only real beef with this film. There are plenty of really great things about Raiders - The Adaptation that shine. Firstly is Chris Strompolos, who plays Indiana Jones. He is consistently spot-on. Watch his face as he attempts to remove the idol in the opening scenes without triggering a trap - he has the mannerisms that Harrison Ford gave Indy down pat. Watch his face when he's fighting or under pressure - he talks through clenched teeth in the exact same way. At such a young age, he really is a remarkable actor.

The lack of anything resembling a budget meant many compromises were to be made, and it's these that ironically add to the film by injecting some unintended humour. The boys didn't have a monkey, so they used a small dog instead. No large cast of extras for the crowd scenes for this lot! They just have people go offscreen then come back on a few seconds later! And because they obviously don't know what the locals are saying in the bar scene, they just have the extras babble on excitedly in gibberish. Hilarious. What is equally entertaining though, is watching the parts of the movie when the boys manage to avoid making such compromises. The most impressive is, without a doubt, the amazing shot-by-shot remake of the extended car chase scene. It is a highly demanding segment, with difficult camera angles, highly physical stunt work, and expensive props. They pull it off flawlessly. There are plenty more examples - the effects as the ark is opened, the exploding truck and the fight in the burning bar. All are testament to the real talent and ingenuinity of the filmmakers.

But of course, the thing that really stands out about Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation is not what ends up on the screen. It's the tremendous efforts of three young men, in making their vision a reality. It is right that this remake is becoming recognised throughout the world and loved by Señor Steven Spielberg himself, because their efforts and motivation are geniunely unique and inspiring. If it were me, I would have gotten to the planning stages and then put the project on-hold, much like I have done in the past (I swear, it'll happen soon). Maybe there will be kids who see it (the film, not my website) and will be inspired to do a similar sort of thing. Or even create Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation - The Adaptation.

If you are ever lucky enough to have the chance to see this movie, see this movie.

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 29 Oct 2005

"I can hardly believe my eyes" - a review by pearly

Back in 1982, school friends Jayson Lamb, Chris Strompolos, and Eric Zala hatched themselves a plan. They were all obsessed with Steven Spielberg's recent release, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), so they thought: why not make a shot-for-shot remake? Why not, indeed. Seven years and at least one hospital visit later, they were finished. And what then? Well... nothing, really. The film was screened once in their home town, so that the participants could see how their efforts had paid off, and the three guy's mothers could freak out ever so slightly at the outrageous stuff their sons had been doing all this time, and then the film was chucked onto a shelf and promptly forgotten about for the next twenty years.

At which time, by a series of unusual events, it found its way to Spielberg himself, who watched it, loved it, and asked to be put into contact with the filmmakers themselves. And it was only at this point that the guys, now all grown-up-like and with proper jobs, realised that they were onto something. Of course, being that the original film is copyrighted, the distribution is darned near impossible, but due to Spielberg's interest in the project, the film has been allowed some limited screenings, only where one or more of the filmmakers is in attendance to speak about the film, and meaning that any screening gets itself the tagline: "This Will Most Likely Be Your Only Chance To Ever See This Film!".

What's amazing about the film is the absolute attention to detail that's gone into it, and the level of quality that the boys managed to achieve given their extraordinarily limited budget. The whole thing was shot on Beta Max, and it's now suffering the ravages of age. The sound levels are all over the place, and just like any home movie, you can tell the changes in shot purely based on the levels of background noise. The tracking on the visual sometimes loses it and rolls around vertically. But none of this stuff is the point. The point is that these guys have done, with their limited resources (and remembering that back in the eighties, resources for the average Joe were significantly more limited than they are nowadays), an absolutely gobsmackingly great job of this film.

When I heard that this was a shot-for-shot remake, I wondered how the guys could have pulled such a thing off. Less than a week before I saw the adaptation, I watched the original in preparation (a plan of attack I would recommend for anyone, so that none of the experience is lost whilst watching the adaptation), and sat wondering how the guys were going to be able to pull off some of the more adventurous shots in the film. And whilst it's true that some things were changed (the sea plane at the end of the first sequence is replaced by simply a motor boat, and the character of the monkey is lovingly recreated using Chris' dog, Snickers), as the film went on, it was amazing to see the number of shots that weren't compromised (plus, some of the changes were pretty hilarious, which just added another dimension to the film). It's testament to the boy's amazingly perfectionist personalities that they were able to pull this thing off.

There are times when the film drags a little, and you're just waiting for the next interesting bit, and there are sections where the audio is basically useless, but Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation has to be admired as a feat of gargantuan proportions. The bonus is, given the current limitations on distribution, upon watching it, you'll most likely also get to hear one of the boys (in my case, Chris Strompolos) speaking about their experiences making the film (lots of interesting info at this site, if you're up for a read), and this portion of the evening should also prove fascinating and mind boggling.

Truly an experience that'll have you shaking your head in disbelief for days afterward.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 26 Oct 2005

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.00
Lowest rating: 8 (by andy-j, pearly)
Highest rating: 8 (by andy-j, pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. I was lucky enough to be in this movie. even though they got my last name I am happy for Eric and Chris. anybody know where I can get a copy?

    A comment from William Kuhn on Thu 02 Mar 2006 07:02 #

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