Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)



Critic Consensus: Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is no ordinary archeologist. When we first see him, he is somewhere in the Peruvian jungle in 1936, running a booby-trapped gauntlet (complete with an over-sized rolling boulder) to fetch a solid-gold idol. He loses this artifact to his chief rival, a French archeologist named Belloq (Paul Freeman), who then prepares to kill our hero. In the first of many serial-like escapes, Indy eludes Belloq by hopping into a convenient plane. So, then: is Indiana Jones afraid of anything? Yes, snakes. The next time we see Jones, he's a soft-spoken, bespectacled professor. He is then summoned from his ivy-covered environs by Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) to find the long-lost Ark of the Covenant. The Nazis, it seems, are already searching for the Ark, which the mystical-minded Hitler hopes to use to make his stormtroopers invincible. But to find the Ark, Indy must first secure a medallion kept under the protection of Indy's old friend Abner Ravenwood, whose daughter, Marion (Karen Allen), evidently has a "history" with Jones. Whatever their personal differences, Indy and Marion become partners in one action-packed adventure after another, ranging from wandering the snake pits of the Well of Souls to surviving the pyrotechnic unearthing of the sacred Ark. A joint project of Hollywood prodigies George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, with a script co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman, among others, Raiders of the Lost Ark is not so much a movie as a 115-minute thrill ride. Costing 22 million dollars (nearly three times the original estimate), Raiders of the Lost Ark reaped 200 million dollars during its first run. It was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1985) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), as well as a short-lived TV-series "prequel." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: PG
Genre: Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: George Lucas, Philip Kaufman, Lawrence Kasdan, Willard Huyck
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 21, 2003
Box Office: $3.1M
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


Harrison Ford
as Indiana Jones
Karen Allen
as Marion Ravenwood
Wolf Kahler
as Dietrich
Denholm Elliott
as Marcus Brody
Vic Tablian
as Barranca
Don Fellows
as Col. Musgrove
William Hootkins
as Maj. Eaton
Bill Reimbold
as Bureaucrat
Patrick Durkin
as Australian Climber
Malcolm Weaver
as Ratty Nepalese
Sonny Caldinez
as Mean Mongolian
Pat Roach
as Giant Sherpa/1st Mec...
Terry Richards
as Swordsman
Steve Hanson
as German Agent
Martin Kreidt
as Young Soldier
Eddie Tagoe
as Messenger Pirate
Tony Vogel
as Tall Captain
Ted Grossman
as Peruvian Porter
Terry Leonard
as Driver of German Tru...
Vic Armstrong
as German Soldier
Sergio Mioni
as Driver of German Tru...
Rocky Taylor
as German Soldier
John Rees
as Sergeant
Reg Harding
as German Lieutenant
Billy Horrigan
as Gobler's Gunner
Jack Dearlove
as Mr. Ford's Stand-In
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Raiders of the Lost Ark

Critic Reviews for Raiders of the Lost Ark

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (10)

Raiders of the Lost Ark has more size than substance but nevertheless it's a delightful special big surprise package of a movie that should turn Indiana Jones into a national figure.

Full Review… | June 16, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Yes, it's as entertaining as you have heard. Maybe more so. Raiders of the Lost Ark is, in fact, about as entertaining as a commercial movie can be.

Full Review… | August 4, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Raiders of the Lost Ark has it all -- or, anyway, more than enough to transport moviegoers back to the dazzling, thrill-sated matinee idyls of old.

Full Review… | August 8, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The thrills are fully consumed while you're seeing this movie, and it's totally over when it's over. It's a workout. You feel as if you'd been to the desert digs: at the end your mind is blank, yet you're parched, you're puffing hard -- you want relief.

Full Review… | May 27, 2008
New Yorker
Top Critic

Raiders of the Lost Arc could be a silent film at times, because Spielberg favors actions over words, telling the story with great camerawork. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review… | October 19, 2015

It is intensely watchable, with the relentless accumulation of effects used here for the purposes of eliciting suspense rather than provoking comedy.

Full Review… | June 16, 2015
The Spectator

Audience Reviews for Raiders of the Lost Ark


The first of the successful series, an exhilarating and entertaining adventure with a delicious humor, a charismatic protagonist and a lot of fast-paced action, where each scene is more exciting than the one before - and it never lets the viewer down or loses its pacing.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

Swashbucklers were deeply unfashionable at the time when Raiders was made, and it took the talents of the then new golden boy of Hollywood to breathe new life into the genre. With a bespectacled alter ego who is a million miles away from his action man persona like an archaeological Clark Kent, Indiana Jones became an iconic action figure who was often knocked on his backside, played fair only when it suited him and was far more interested than his treasure than getting the girl. Sound familiar? Yes without Raiders, Captain Jack would probably never have existed. Like POTC, this film takes its cues from the golden age of the Hollywood swashbuckler, to the point where Ronald Lacey's sinister yet effeminate secret policeman and Paul Freeman's amoral gentleman rogue could easily have been mistaken for Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet respectively. The action is as superbly handled by Spielberg as always, the truck chase scene being one of the all time great stunt sequences and the wholly unexpected finale that blends religious mythology with gothic horror is fantastic. A perfectly judged combination of slam bang set pieces and humour that makes for flawless family entertainment.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

My love for this great classic is truly beyond words! As a kid, it was a moment of magic for me every time Indy in his iconic adventure gear appeared on screen. Whether it was narrowly escaping a giant boulder of death, or opening a can of whoop-ass when faced with some Nazi bad guys, you could always count on him to deliver some first-rate fun. And there couldn't have been anyone better to execute it than artisan story-teller Steven Spielberg. Nor any better music composer than the legendary John Williams, whose instantly recognizable themes are classics in their own right. Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman and John Rhys-Davies - there's not a single performance in here that isn't totally fantastic. So prepare yourself for a helluva good time. Because whenever Indy whips up some action, it's impossible not to stick around and watch.

Mike S

Super Reviewer

Raiders of the Lost Ark Quotes

– Submitted by Aaron P (15 months ago)
– Submitted by Aaron P (15 months ago)
– Submitted by Scott W (16 months ago)
– Submitted by Scott W (16 months ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Raiders of the Lost Ark on our Movie forum!