Exactly three decades ago, filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas brought to the screen one of the biggest blockbusters of all time when Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark made its debut in theaters around the country.
The story of the heroic archeologist and his quest to fight Nazis, win the heart of Marion Ravenwood, and find the fabled Ark of the Covenant made more than $300 million at the box office, reinvented the action-adventure genre, and catapulted actor Harrison Ford into the stardom.
While the flick celebrated its 30th birthday this past weekend, it remains one of the most beloved and influential films in pop culture. Besides providing plenty of thrills and chills, the classic tale of good versus evil also offers several important life lessons.
1. Women are just as tough as men:
Marion Ravenwood, Indiana's love interest and the heroine of the film, is far from a typical damsel in distress. She's wicked smart, independent-minded, tough as hell, and can drink any man under the table. When the character (played by Karen Allen) first meets Indy at the start of the film, she nearly knocks his block off with a right cross to the jaw. Plus, she's also pretty handy with a machine gun.
2. Less is more:
One of the more epic scenes in the film is when Indiana is confronted by a sword-swinging badass in the middle of a crowded Cairo marketplace only to blow him away in non-nonsense fashion after a withering look. As hilarious as this sequence is, it came about almost accidentally, and is a perfect example of how simplicity is sometimes better. Originally scripted as a complicated battle between Indy and the swordsman using his whip, actor Harrison Ford (who was wiped out from dysentery and the desert heat) asked director Steven Spielberg if he could simply "shoot the sucker."
3. It's okay to fight dirty once in a while:
Indiana Jones is quite the flawed character. While he's heroic, tough, intelligent, and charming, the archeologist and adventurer is by no means perfect. He's also willing to bend the rules or even be a little villainous himself, as demonstrated by his fistfight with a ginormous Nazi airplane mechanic. After being pounded repeatedly by his opponent, a bloody Indy starts fighting dirty to help even the odds, including kicking him in the junk, tossing dirt into his eyes, and biting his arm.
4. Re-enacting movie stunts isn't wise:
Of the dozens of eye-popping stunts seen in the film, one of my personal favorites as a kid was the sequence where Indiana is dragged behind a truck while chasing after the Nazis and the ark ... So much so that I occasionally would try to reenact the scene with friends, often with very painful consequences. Along with a few buddies, we tried holding onto the bumper of mom's station wagon as it left the driveway, resulting in some gnarly bruises and scrapes.
5. Cockiness will eventually bring about your downfall:
Overconfidence might be a potent partner to have in your arsenal when talking up a hottie, but it's also brought forth the tragic downfall of many folks. In Raiders, it eventually causes the death of the film's main antagonist, Rene Belloq. The French archeologist and Nazi collaborator, who's obsessed with digging up the ark for Adolf Hitler, is bursting with confidence that he alone can exploit its power for his benefit. It proves to be a deadly assumption, as his hubris leads him and the Nazis to open the ark during the film's climax, only to be melted into screaming piles of goo by the supernatural spirits contained inside.
6. Don't screw with the supernatural:
During this same scene, Indiana Jones is spared the same fate as the film's villains. Throughout the film, the character is warned by various wisemen and shaman that the ark is powerful and is something to be respected and "not to be taken lightly." As a result, he heeds these warnings and refuses to look at the ark, keeps his eyes shut, and lives to fight another day.