Indiana Jones Raiders Of The Lost Ark, IMAX Fail
I love Indiana Jones. I’ve seen all the movies more times than I can count, am able to quote them on command and will forever adore Indy and his fedora. The re-release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in Imax made me incredibly happy, but after seeing the film, I left disappointed and wishing it hadn’t been in Imax.
Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in 1981 and looked absolutely stunning. The distant shots silhouetting Indy against the desert sun were perfection and his narrow escape from the giant rolling rock of doom had me on the edge of my seat.
Over the last 31 years, movie effects have come a long way, but I was perfectly willing to put aside my modern day expectations and enjoy a trip down movie memory lane. I secured the perfect seat right in the middle of the theater, sat back, and was incredibly disappointed.
It wasn’t the movie itself, which is just as wonderful as ever, but the experience of watching it in Imax. This wasn’t filmed for this type of theater experience. It was filmed for the now very old-fashioned theaters we had back in 1981. You know, the ones without stadium seating or the dome style Imax screen.
As a result, there were times during the film that perspective was glaringly out of whack. It actually blurred during some of the action sequences and throughout, it just felt off. I know they went back and enhances the visuals and sound before this release, but it just didn’t work. The effect was horribly distracting and reminded me of when they first started colorizing black and white films.
Colorizing seemed like a fantastic idea. If they’d had color when they were originally filming, then surely they’d have used color so adding it after the fact seemed like be an improvement. It turns out the idea was very wrong.
The shadows, the textures, the feel of the film was created knowing there would be no color. Suddenly adding rouge to everyone’s cheeks and color to their clothes looked wrong. It was harsh and unforgiving and had you noticing the color, not the movie. It too was a distraction.
Indy in Imax is like colorizing black and white films. Even the seat-rumbling sound didn’t feel right because it was somehow too much, overwhelming the movie and detracting from my experience. Would they have filmed it differently if they’d known it was being shown in Imax with a huge screen and incredibly sound? Yes, and maybe then it would have worked, but as an afterthought, not so much.
But they didn’t film it for Imax and something was horribly lost in the translation. Although I still enjoyed seeing the movie I couldn’t help but wonder how much better it would have been if they left it alone and just shown it as the movie experience it was originally intended to be.
Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
comes out on Blu-ray on September 18th, and I’m really looking forward to watching it on the tiny little screen in my living room. I think I might be happier. We could learn a lesson from Indy. He doesn’t touch up the paint on the artifacts he finds. We shouldn’t feel the need to touch up Indy.