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December 31, 2011 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Shot-by-shot comparison of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" vs. scenes from 30 different adventure films made between 1919-1973
posted by Artw (62 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christian Marclay has finally made it
posted by Beardman at 1:24 PM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


That sure is a lot of people walking. I'm not sure how else you can film people walking.
posted by empath at 1:29 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seeing Raiders tomorrow at midnight, can't wait!!
posted by ReeMonster at 1:36 PM on December 31, 2011


I'm not sure how else you can film people walking. There are in fact about a million ways to film people walking, but that's not really the point of the comparison, is it?
posted by Cortes at 1:53 PM on December 31, 2011


@ReeMonster - at the IFC Center? Saw it last night - the restoration is ~gorgeous~
posted by rmannion at 2:21 PM on December 31, 2011


I watched about four minutes of this and was a bit disappointed. I'd loved to have had some idea as I was watching (maybe this is at the end?) which movies they'd pulled the shots from. Without that information, it really seems like "well, Raiders of the Lost Ark sure did plunder those old movies for ideas, didn't it?" but that was the point of Raiders. So the concept was interesting but the execution left something to be desired, unless the goal was to make me want to watch Raiders one more time. Twist my arm, please.

Having said that, I'd love to see someone do some shot-by-shot tracking of some of the pieces of Star Wars with the movie serials Lucas plundered to make it. Star Wars and Raiders are very similar in that respect and you could probably find the influences the same way.
posted by immlass at 2:25 PM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd love to see an Indiana Jones movie recut as a slapstick comedy... Oh wait...
posted by blue_beetle at 2:32 PM on December 31, 2011


Have you guys seen Kiss Me Deadly (1955) by Aldrich / Mickey Spillane? It's one of my favorite Film Noirs, one of the more manic ones that appeared at the end of Film Noir's "cycle." It kind of has the same ending as Raider's, except without the whole face-melting and religious elements (although one could argue otherwise). Anyway, totally worth your time.
posted by bxyldy at 2:45 PM on December 31, 2011


That was really cool!

I'd have liked the information on which movies, and which shots from which movies, too. Not only would I have learned a bit more, but I got confused about how many movies were actually being quoted in Raiders. I'd like to know if it was one or five or 10.
posted by OmieWise at 2:47 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have you guys seen Kiss Me Deadly (1955) by Aldrich / Mickey Spillane?

I think most fans would say it's an Aldrich / Bezzerides film or at the least an Aldrich / Bezzerides / Spillane film.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:22 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


WHAT WAS REPO MAN ABOUT - REALLY?
Nuclear War. Of course.

posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on December 31, 2011


If you liked this, you'll love Everything is a Remix: The Matrix.
posted by djb at 3:27 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing i found interesting, is yes, a lot of the shots are similar, but i feel the Raiders ones show what difference a different director can make. I feel they are better, more atmospheric and more interesting. The angle, lighting, etc. even if they are supposed to be the same thing.

I know it will never happen, but i'd love to see talented and or famous directors each take on a movie. Say, Star Wars. Same script, but everything else is up to them. I guess you'd really only see short films like this, but can you imagine "Micheal Bay's Star Wars!!!(explosion!!)" or "Star Wars, a michel gondry film" or the whole range in between? It's seeing how people take script to screen that really showed me how much directors can do. (sorry for the tangent)
posted by usagizero at 3:29 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to see Wes Anderson's Star Wars. Bill Murray would make a fantastic Obi Wan Kenobi.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:33 PM on December 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Tikashi Miike's Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.
posted by empath at 3:36 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


So does this say 'Spielberg borrowed heavily from all these previous serials, and I am revealing it with my clever research' or does it say 'I am under 40 and assumed that all relevant modern film history began in 1977 and watching some other stuff has shown me this is not the case'?
posted by biffa at 3:38 PM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


He says it took him 20 years to collect all the source material, so I think it's more a labor of love. That Spielberg borrowed is no big surprise. That so many films had the same weight trick was interesting to me.
posted by nomisxid at 3:42 PM on December 31, 2011


George Lucas' Apocalypse Now.
posted by Snyder at 3:45 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heesa great man. Meesa small man.
posted by Trochanter at 3:52 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Star Wars, a michel gondry film"

Man, I actually want to see this.

Apparently David Lynch turned down Return of the Jedi and ended up making Dune instead. I'm not sure if that's a loss or a win, and I like both movies.

I recently rewatched all six Star Wars movies back to back, with a critical yet open/objective eye - because I haven't been kind to them in the past.

If you watch them with the idea in mind that they're just fun, cheesy B-movie space operas all prettied up - they're all still quite enjoyable. And I've come to accept that that was Lucas' intent all along - visually believable live action space opera comic books. Even the fades, dissolves and wipes that he uses in all six films allude to comic book panels and transitions, with a healthy appropriation of Flash Gordon and many other classic works of pseudo-science fiction.

It's not supposed to be realistic or believable at all. It's supposed to be fantastic. I mean, for fuck's sake. Real magic, wizards and sword-fighting knights all set in a technological world is the central theme.

Sure, there's a thousand annoying continuity issues and world-holes in the canon. Many of them are infuriatingly stupid, like slow-moving laser bolts that can be dodged. But that all goes out the window if you can get it into your head that they're just pretty (and quite lowbrow/populist) comic books.

Same goes for David Lynch's Dune - just with a lot more Flash Gordon, epic space opera and glam.

And the same goes for Raiders of the Lost Ark - though I haven't seen the last one yet.

But, yeah. I'd love to see weird, fringe directors do parallel universe re-takes from Star Wars or something. That would be cool and seriously weird.
posted by loquacious at 4:00 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're making me do this, aren't you. OK: Star Wars vs My Little Pony.
posted by SPrintF at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The original "Raiders of the Lost Ark", 1951, starring Charleton Heston
posted by 445supermag at 4:41 PM on December 31, 2011


I know it will never happen, but i'd love to see talented and or famous directors each take on a movie.

I can picture it now. Star Wars, directed by Sergio Leone. Soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. I would genuinely love to see that.
posted by tim_in_oz at 5:18 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


That Spielberg borrowed is no big surprise.

For those who mightbe 'under 40 and assumed etc etc etc,' it's not only not a surprise but something Spielberg was absolutely explicit at the time of the first Indiana Jones release. He talked quite a bit about how he was looking to create a series in homage to the films he had loved as a kid. The quotes are direct and intentional, not unknowing.
posted by Miko at 5:32 PM on December 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Influence/plagiarism issues aside, this is a pretty incredible piece of editing. I was going to ask how long this must have took the person(s) making it but nomisxid mentions two decades worth of scoping out footage upthread and I don't doubt it. If I were Spielberg, I'd probably write them a thank-you note.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:41 PM on December 31, 2011


Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.
― Jim Jarmusch
posted by zardoz at 5:50 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


What stinkycheese said. This is pretty good as a piece of archival collage composition. There are only so many ways that you can show table on screen, so chances are that Raiders would overlap with someone else by sheer chance. I would have really liked it better if I could tell which extended stretches were identical -- like, 4 or 5 significant visual shifts -- rather than one shot of person here, one shot of door there.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:28 PM on December 31, 2011


By the way, hands up if you think the use of the whip was the coolest fucking thing about Indiana Jones.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:29 PM on December 31, 2011


Another comment about watching it: I really like how, if you watch both narratives in tandem, Alfred Molina's olde tymy avatar transforms from comicarry funny chinaman to beautiful dame to comic fatso -- Alfred Molina is occupying that almost completely substitutable role.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:33 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty cool. What Miko said. I'd wager Spielberg screened all those movies and included those references as a homage and not as plagiarism.

I don't really like this plagiarism witch hunt the Internet is on, this effort seems to be a labor of love to identify Speilberg's influences. If it was made today Raiders would cause an Internet shitstorm with people stumbling over themselves to decry it. Sometimes people reference things they love, or use them as a way to elucidate ideas.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:11 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem, I don't take this as a witch hunt. I took it as a "look how cool it is that Spielberg included all this stuff and how smart I am for finding it!" That's how I took it -- neato.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:29 PM on December 31, 2011


Yeah, I really don't think this is akin to Who Do You Think You're Fooling? - Raiders was, as said above, a stated homage. Still, I had thought it was a little more original than it seems it was. The tumbling boulder in a cave, for instance: I was a bit shocked to see that in B&W.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:54 PM on December 31, 2011


Still, I had thought it was a little more original than it seems it was.

But I'd still say the point wasn't to be original, just clever in referencing, recombining and redeveloping the ideas with then-cutting edge production and pacing.

Consider its intended audience. I remember seeing the movie with my Boomer dad, born 1947, in 1981. He (and his age cohort) was the original audience for the film, not me at age 11, and not kids in general (as might be the case today now that it's sort of in the kid-movie pantheon). It wasn't marketed to kids. My dad absolutely recognized the tropes - that was the fun part for him and his friends, spotting the callbacks to the treasure hunt/spy/swashbuckler/Nazi-hunt movies of his childhood. He understood exactly what was going on - there was no suspicion of "borrowing" required because the references were so overt, and both director and audience were thinking together of the same origins.Ebert's original review says "This movie celebrates the stories we spent our adolescence searching for in the pulp adventure magazines, in the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, in comics -- even in the movies." The New York Times' original review says "Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most deliriously funny, ingenious, and stylish American adventure movies ever made. It is an homage to old-time movie serials and back-lot cheapies that transcends its inspirations to become, in effect, the movie we saw in our imaginations as we watched, say, Buster Crabbe in Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars or in Sam Katzman's Jungle Jim movies."

I think if they seemed original to any of us at all, it's by the sheer accident of our age, meaning that we saw this film first and the antecedents second. For the actual audience that the film was aimed at when it was made, the pleasure came from its non-originality, the simple updating of some classic settings and plot structures with great production values and a little post-counterculture wit.

In the NYT review, Vincent Canby gets all the jokes. He just wishes it were more self-consciously clever:
Mr. Spielberg has also managed to make a movie that looks like a billion dollars (it was filmed in, among other places, Tunisia, France, England, and Hawaii) yet still suggests the sort of production shortcuts we associate with old B-movies. The Cairo we see on the screen is obviously a North African city but, also obviously, it's not Cairo. There's not a pyramid in sight. My one quibble with Mr. Spielberg is that he didn't insert a familiar, preferably unmatching stock shot of Cairo into the scene to make sure we got the point. Sam Katzman would have insisted on it but, I suppose, we can't have everything. Just almost everything.
posted by Miko at 8:41 PM on December 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think if they seemed original to any of us at all, it's by the sheer accident of our age, meaning that we saw this film first and the antecedents second.

And that's where I think you're going a little overboard. Of course there are some original things in it. I can speculate (hero watches ornate swordsmanship display of rival and then casually shoots them point blank; popular film in which villains faces melt or explode, etc.), that's not really the point. Being utterly unoriginal can be a feat in itself; I can't bear to watch the shot-by-shot Gus van Sant remake of Psycho, for instance, but I dare say it probably has a few original touches too. In spite of itself.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:01 PM on December 31, 2011


I thought it was pretty interesting, and impressive from an obsessive POV, but was surprised people here seem to be taking it as an insult to Spielberg (unless I’m just reading people wrong). I also had no idea that anyone would think those movies were, or were supposed to be anything like, original. That would kind of be contrary to the whole point. I must be getting old.
posted by bongo_x at 10:19 PM on December 31, 2011


hero watches ornate swordsmanship display of rival and then casually shoots them point blank

It's pretty well known that that was Harrison Ford's innovation. He was supposed to get into a sword vs whip fight with the swordsman, but he he was ill and suggested that Indy just shoot him instead.
posted by immlass at 7:56 AM on January 1, 2012


And that's where I think you're going a little overboard.

How so? I'm really unclear. You seem to be both disappointed it's not more original, and insistent that it contains originality. Of course there's originality within the film, but its basic premise is 'look at the fantastic update we gave to this terrific old material that we all remember.'

It's pretty well known that that was Harrison Ford's innovation.

One of the two reviews I linked calls that shot something like "the oldest joke in film." Ford might have suggested it but even that wasn't his own idea.
posted by Miko at 9:03 AM on January 1, 2012


Here it is, in the Ebert review: "the biggest laugh comes from the oldest and most obvious gag, involving a swordsman and a marksman)." Also (it's amazing how short the TV Tropes memory is. Across many categories, there are almost no references older than the 50s).
posted by Miko at 9:11 AM on January 1, 2012


Ford might have suggested it but even that wasn't his own idea.

No doubt. I'm pretty sure I've seen something like it in a pre-code silent film. "Addition" would have been a better wording.
posted by immlass at 9:12 AM on January 1, 2012


All roads lead back to MetaFilter: Raiders of the Lost Ark Story Conference. I'd really like to download the document, but I have an extremely low level of trust for the weirdo host sites it seems to reside on.
posted by Miko at 9:30 AM on January 1, 2012


On reading the script, it looks as though the usual "Ford changed the scene" idea is indeed BS, but in a little different way than one would expect. It's written right in that Indy dispatches an Arab swordsman with his gun. But after that there's supposed to be another attack from a Samurai in which Indy defeats him with his whip. If they cut the scene short, they did it by just dispensing with the whip component, not by adding in a gun component.
posted by Miko at 9:44 AM on January 1, 2012


That scene takes place in China and was completely cut out of the shooting script.
posted by empath at 12:34 PM on January 1, 2012


I see this pretty much how I see the epic sword fight in The Princess Bride. Definitely a nod.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:11 PM on January 1, 2012


That explains the confusion. Empath, do you have a link to the shooting script?
posted by Miko at 2:57 PM on January 1, 2012


Nope. I don't think anyone does, outside of lucasfilm.
posted by empath at 3:49 PM on January 1, 2012


I see this pretty much how I see the epic sword fight in The Princess Bride. Definitely a nod.

William Goldman's screenplay for The Princess Bride opens the fight with this, right after the "You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you" bit:
And what we are starting now is one of the two greatest sword fights in modern movies (the other one happens later on), and right from the beginning it looks different.

Because they aren't close to each other -- none of the swords-crossing "en garde" garbage.

No, what we have here is two men, two athletes, and they look to be too faraway to damage each other, but each time one makes even the tiniest feint, the other counters, and there is silence, and as they start to circle --
And later, just before Inigo knows something Westley doesn't, Goldman specifically invokes the old school.
The two men are almost flying across the rocky terrain, never losing balance, never coming close to stumbling; the battle rages with incredible finesse, first one and then the other gaining the advantage, and by now, it's clear that this isn't just two athletes going at it, it's a lot more that that. This is two legendary swashbucklers and they're in their prime, it's Burt Lancaster in "The Crimson Pirate" battling Errol Flynn in "Robin Hood" and then, incredibly, the action begins going even faster than before as we

CUT TO:

INIGO.
And he was absolutely correct.
posted by Spatch at 3:54 PM on January 1, 2012


So maybe it was adapated. In any case, the same gag is built in there.
posted by Miko at 4:01 PM on January 1, 2012


You seem to be both disappointed it's not more original, and insistent that it contains originality.

I'd say I was surprised that certain details in the opening sequence pre-dated Raiders, but not really disappointed. Was I insistent it contained some originality? Sure, because even cinematic homages/pastiches/whathaveyou almost inevitably bring original elements to the fore; to me, that goes without saying.

I think we're basically in agreement here. Your initial statement that I had a problem with -

I think if they seemed original to any of us at all, it's by the sheer accident of our age, meaning that we saw this film first and the antecedents second.

- seems tempered by your follow-up -

Of course there's originality within the film, but its basic premise is 'look at the fantastic update we gave to this terrific old material that we all remember.

No problem with what you're saying there. I agree, that was the basic premise of Raiders.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:01 PM on January 1, 2012


The snake in the place was probably original - there was no equivalent in the older footage - and the whole joke (other than Jacques's "show a little backbone", which is funny in light of what Indy has just gone through) was used to foreshadow Indy's later revulsion with the snakes in the tomb containing the Ark.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:06 PM on January 1, 2012


I mean, if you really wanted to make a case for original content in Raiders, you could probably just watch it with the Code in mind, as well as the history of technical development. Indy's buddy dead and bloody with spikes visibly exiting his face? Indy face to face with a rearing cobra (in a tight single shot)?

There are things in Raiders that either wouldn't have been allowed, wouldn't have looked believable, or simply weren't physically possible of because the innovations in cinematic techniques and equipment since the original source films were made.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:13 PM on January 1, 2012


I don't really think we do disagree. My point was basically that you could only imagine Raiders as totally original if you were unaware of the antecedents. For those who are aware, the enchantment is in the updating and weaving of the many conceits, not the conceits themselves. As you note, the level of depicted violence in the film definitely updates the implied violence in the earlier films, but it's just that, an update to fit its tastes and times. Any remake of something from earlier in film history, whether it's King Kong or The Shop Around the Corner/You've Got Mail or whatever, is going to feature a much higher tolerance for graphically depicting violence and/or sex and of course will use contemporary lighting, locations, special effects. Those changes alone, though, aren't enough to argue for originality in my view. They're technical as opposed to conceptual.

That's not to say there wasn't original work put into developing the film's characters, plot, pacing, etc. Indeed there was. Reading the conversations in those meeting notes gives some idea of just how and where the creativity was applied. It's not that I don't think there was originality at all, just that the originality wasn't in the tropes or devices or specific script elements themselves, it was in the idea to build an entirely new character on some very familiar bases, with a wink and nod to the audience who knew the referents.
posted by Miko at 5:40 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Star Wars bears an uncanny resemblance to Kurosawa's 1958 Hidden Fortress.
posted by neuron at 6:27 PM on January 1, 2012


William Goldman's screenplay for The Princess Bride

And the screenplay was almost word-for-word and beat-for-beat from the novel, which came out in the early 70s.
posted by empath at 6:41 PM on January 1, 2012


Star Wars bears an uncanny resemblance to Kurosawa's 1958 Hidden Fortress.

I'd say "vague resemblance", but Lucas has noted the influence himself.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:49 PM on January 1, 2012


That Spielberg borrowed is no big surprise.

Indeed, since everyone does and that's how things get done. What is a surprise is how some people insist this is not so, and that things that aren't completely originally suck, and that artists, people, and companies are constantly ripping off others. If the legal battles around patents and so forth ever bleed into fiction it will be an even sadder day than it already is.
posted by juiceCake at 7:06 PM on January 1, 2012


Weren't Spielberg and Lucas also borrowing from Carl Barks' old Uncle Scrooge comics? As a kid growing up in the '80s, I'd read those reprint issues (and watch DuckTales), but I didn't see the Indy movies until later on.

And I'm not too familiar with the Tintin comics, but I believe that was an inspiration also, which is funny considering people are saying how his Tintin movie evokes Indiana Jones.

And the same thing might happen when people inevitably say how "John Carter" is reminiscent of "Avatar."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:15 PM on January 1, 2012


And it's kind of interesting that the clip doesn't even include maybe the most overt references to old-timey adventure films.. the line moving across the image of a map.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:22 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was great. Surely I spotted Gary Cooper, the most gorgeous man who ever lived, in there? Those fucking ants are creeping me out, though.
posted by h00py at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2012


TheSecretDecoderRing: Spielberg apparently only heard of Tintin in 1983, when French reviewers compared Raiders to Tintin, according to this NYT story about the new Tintin film.
posted by immlass at 2:02 PM on January 2, 2012


Weren't Spielberg and Lucas also borrowing from Carl Barks' old Uncle Scrooge comics?

Yup. So was Inception, arguably.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:37 PM on January 3, 2012


I thought I remembered hearing that the opening scene in particular was inspired by Barks, but considering that particular Scrooge story was from '54, and the stuff seen in the OP's clip, Barks may well have been doing some homaging himself.

The Inception thing is kinda crazy, though, but I can't imagine Nolan deliberately trying to get away with that. He may as well have tried to adapt the story into an animated movie, which actually would be kind of cool. (Heck, they oughta do another DuckTales movie, while Alan Young is still alive!)

And it looks like that Scrooge story was done by Don Rosa, in 2002. I wonder what he thinks of the whole thing.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:37 AM on January 6, 2012


usagizero: I know it will never happen, but i'd love to see talented and or famous directors each take on a movie. Say, Star Wars. Same script, but everything else is up to them.

Previously, roughly.
posted by stebulus at 9:22 AM on January 8, 2012


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