Jesse Jarnow

raiders’ raiders

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– There is a suspension of disbelief in watching Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, and Jayson Lamb’s shot-for-shot adaptation of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which (beginning when they were 12) took them seven years to complete. Obviously, the cast isn’t digging in the desert near Cairo. There are just too many trees. There is little believability to the firefight in the Nepal bar. But, so what? There’s a suspension of disbelief in watching the original Raiders, too. It’s just something one deals with when watching movies.

– In Raiders, though, the disbelief is smoothed over by big budget special effects and Harrison Ford’s charisma. In the Adaptation, it is the opposite, coming via the sheer low fidelity of the project: the analog video blur that coats the actors’ mid-scene age changes, or the distortion that occasionally permeates the soundtrack, a tape warble transforming a melodramatic string swell into something like a theremin moan. It intensifies the disbelief until the movie becomes about something else entirely.

– With a plane replaced by a boat, a monkey by a puppy, dramatically speaking, the big tension isn’t what’s going to happen, but how it’s going to be executed. How are they going to shoot lightning ghosts from the Ark? Or make that dude’s face melt?

– What is the “correct” order in which to screen the films in a double feature? Does one show the Adaptation first, to let the audience members’ memories guide their viewing, and then show the original, to see how it matches up? On one hand, that’s probably more satisfying from a traditionally dramatic point of view, but why should Spielberg have primacy over the marquee?


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