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Raiders: The Tribute
June 1, 2003 11:19 PM   Subscribe

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. Harry Knowles reviews a shot-for-shot remake of Speilberg's classic movie done, over the span of seven years, by 10-11-12 year olds. Speilberg, upon seeing it, was "astonished" at its "ingenuity and imagination." There's even a preview.
posted by adrober (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Is that ever the coolest. Thanks for linking that great story.
posted by frykitty at 11:38 PM on June 1, 2003


Damn, I wish there was a place to download it. I made stupid movies with my friends when I was a kid, but this sounds like they really forth an amazing amount of effort.
posted by password at 11:42 PM on June 1, 2003


What password said. I'd kill to get my hands on a copy of this.

Makes me say, yet again, "I wish I had done that".
posted by christian at 11:49 PM on June 1, 2003


This is what the elusive *it* is all about.
posted by nthdegx at 12:37 AM on June 2, 2003


And the kiss between Indy and Marion was the actor who played Indy's first kiss ever. Captured for everyone to see on the silver screen!
posted by PenDevil at 12:42 AM on June 2, 2003


The preview features music from Amon Tobin. I'm sold.
posted by iamck at 12:47 AM on June 2, 2003


Am I the only one who thinks this is very creepy? Reminds me of the character in the Borges story re-writing Don Quixote word-for-word. For kids to dedicate all that talent and initiative to reproducing Hollywood exactly seems rather sad and unhealthy.
Unless I've got it completely wrong, and these kids were incipient avante-garde artists making a sly post-modern deconstruction of Hollywood.
posted by rolo at 2:57 AM on June 2, 2003


I wish there was a DivX of this... I would love to see it, but don't think there's much chance in the UK
posted by jiroczech at 3:41 AM on June 2, 2003


This could be the start of something bigger.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:57 AM on June 2, 2003


OK. There's a time and a place for slating Hollywood. Spielberg himself has said he regrets his simplified/stereotypical portrayal of Nazis/Nazism. But: Raiders of the Lost Ark is simply an awesome film and there is nothing unhealthy about wanting to to pay homage to it in this way. I hope their time and effort is rewarded.
posted by nthdegx at 5:09 AM on June 2, 2003


I've got no problem with homage, but repeating something shot for shot seems to me a rather empty way of paying respect. A follow up Raiders in the style of the films (like all those star wars fanboy ones) would seem much more appropriate.

What is the point in remaking it shot for shot? At least Van Sant (see my link above) had a reason, whatever you think about it. This film, and I've only seen the clip, has obviously taught it's young makers some skills, but surely nothing more than technical expertise and a vague sense of movie theory from seeing how one shot leads to another.

I don't mean to diminish their achievement, I just think it's seven years in which they could have done something much more interesting. (And it's got nothing to do with hollywood, I'd feel the same if they'd remade Shoot the pianist shot for shot).
posted by ciderwoman at 5:28 AM on June 2, 2003


What is the point in remaking it shot for shot?

Well, if you're an aspiring filmmaker, to learn the craft. Artists used to copy the works of masters all the time, as a means of learning technique. Some art students still do this: I know that form time to time I've seen art students making copies of the masters in the Chicago Art Institute Museum.

If you're a fan, then it's just about loving something. Why cover a song? Why recite a poem you haven't written?
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:57 AM on June 2, 2003


but repeating something shot for shot seems to me a rather empty way of paying respect.

For adults, making a film as a career choice, yes. But these were three twelve-year-old kids who, for whatever reason, wanted to see if they could climb that personal Everest. My hat is off to them.
posted by vraxoin at 6:09 AM on June 2, 2003


Must. Get. Copy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:27 AM on June 2, 2003


I would like to point out that not all shot-for-shot movies and applauded by the masses.
posted by Dagobert at 6:27 AM on June 2, 2003


I cannot honestly believe I'm reading comments calling this sad, unhealthy and empty. Have you people no souls? I wish I had accomplished something this massive and creative in my childhood.
posted by GeekAnimator at 6:32 AM on June 2, 2003


We caught the last showing of this at the Alamo Drafthouse yesterday, with the (now grown-up) filmmakers in attendance. They gave a great talk and Q/A session afterwards, and the film itself was one of the best things I've seen in a theater in quite some time. Just amazing. Entertaining, and inspiring. Bravo to those kids, and to any other kids out there working on other projects like this, right now...
posted by majcher at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2003


Hmph. It's an exact shot-by-shot remake of the original, and Spielberg is complimenting the filmmakers' "ingenuity and imagination"? Sounds like disguised auto-egomassage to me.
posted by Vidiot at 7:01 AM on June 2, 2003


Spielberg himself has said he regrets his simplified/stereotypical portrayal of Nazis/Nazism.

Uh, what?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:08 AM on June 2, 2003


Vidiot: I think Spielberg was referring to the kids ingenuity in building all their own props and sets, finding or sewing their own costumes, learning how to light a scene properly, doing their own cinematography, scouting locations to match those in the film, doing all their own stunts and, best of all, blowing up a motherfucking truck!

When I was 10 I was playing Thundercats in my backyward with friends with large sticks for swords ferchrissakes.
posted by PenDevil at 8:02 AM on June 2, 2003


Hmph. It's an exact shot-by-shot remake of the original, and Spielberg is complimenting the filmmakers' "ingenuity and imagination"? Sounds like disguised auto-egomassage to me.

Spielberg had 20 million dollars and a full cast and crew to make the movie; that these kids managed to recreate a multimillion dollar production that included a waterplane liftoff, multiple archaeological digs, a Nazi book burning, a chamber full of snakes, an Egyptian bazaar, a trained monkey, and a grand finale that includes the ark opening up and -melting- everyone, shot-for-shot on a twelve year old's budget... I'm thinking that's damned ingenious and imaginative.
posted by headspace at 8:07 AM on June 2, 2003


Well, I want to see it, and I love the suggestion made over at AICN that this version be included in the Indy DVD set coming out this fall.
posted by Songdog at 9:04 AM on June 2, 2003


Stavros, apologies, I expressed that way too casually. I meant to say that Spielberg, since making Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan has expressed some regret at his simplistic portrayal of German soldiers under the Nazi regime within the first and third Indiana Jones films.
posted by nthdegx at 9:23 AM on June 2, 2003


"What is the point in remaking it shot for shot?

Well, if you're an aspiring filmmaker, to learn the craft"


That's kind of my point, I don't think they really are learning the craft in the best way. I'm not saying they shouldn't have done it, just it would have been better if they'd made their own film, learnt storytelling, script writing, pacing, characterisation, plot points, all the things that are missing from so many films today, and had fun doing it in the Indiana Jones style.

Of course I'm going to congratulate a bunch of kids who manage to pull off something this spectacular, just think it's a shame they didn't want to tell their own story, or make up their own Indiana Jones story.

Here in the UK there used to be a kids TV show called ScreenTest, which was a movie quiz show. Every year they'd run the Screentest Young Film Maker of the year competition. Being the seventies all the entries were on super 8, and I remember being astounded at some of the films that were turned out. Surely it has to be better to do something like that than spend 7 years slavishly copying the work of someone else?

And yes, I do steal toys from children and kick puppies in my spare time.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:33 AM on June 2, 2003


* watches and waits until ciderwoman is through flailing the sword about menacingly, then casually shoots her *
posted by yhbc at 9:38 AM on June 2, 2003


"Surely it has to be better to do something like that than spend 7 years slavishly copying the work of someone else?"

from what I gather the movie has been done for a long time, and is just now getting press. they havent been working on it since they were 12 ;-) the actors dont age noticably in the movie either.
posted by outsider at 9:42 AM on June 2, 2003


Huge kudos for having the dedication and drive to finish this, as teenagers, when there are plenty of other things to do than spend seven years recreating a favorite film. Hell, seven years of my life NOW is a long time to devote to a collaborative project.

And as a sort of response to ciderwoman, you might think about it this way: all these kids had going into this project was a script, and a very thorough storyboard. No hollywood budget, no camera crew, no stunt doubles, probably limited (if any) ability to shoot on location, and most of all, no existing experience. Plus they were all still in school. With a completely unlevel playing field -- with all of the things they DIDN'T have when they started -- I'd be hard pressed to call this "slavishly copying." It's not just about the cinematography, but about filmmaking.

How would you, at 15 or so, recreate the scene with the Ark and lightning shooting out, hundreds of Nazis, melting faces? How would you create any one of the sets, let alone all of them, or the various non-Indy costumes? The easiest part was probably knowing what the scenes needed to look like ahead of time. The challenge would have been how to get there, doing it all after school or on weekends, hoping none of your co-stars move away before you're done.

There's a great deal of "ingenuity and imagination" necessary to do what they did. It'd be so much easier to just to do a different Indy story they'd written themselves, bang it out over a summer vacation, one or two sets, only a few props, no explosions, no truck chases, no hulking Nazis getting chopped up in propeller blades. But where's the challenge in that? What would they learn, other than how to write clumsy teenage dialog, and how to point the camera at their friends?
posted by RKB at 11:27 AM on June 2, 2003


I've got no problem with homage, but repeating something shot for shot seems to me a rather empty way of paying respect.

I agree. After all, I've come to expect a certain level of maturity and complexity from movies made by 12 year olds.

Also, I'm not sure why this is a shot-for-shot remake of star-wars. Seems like a pretty empty gesture when they could've told an entirely new story.
posted by chrisege at 12:40 PM on June 2, 2003


Well, seems to be just me here, but once again I'm not asking for maturity, nor complexity (and I don't think I have in any of my previous posts) and once again I of course commend kids for producing this.

However, I've been working in the film industry for twelve years, and I've spent quite a bit of my spare time teaching and I can't tell you how depressing it is to ask your (solidly middle class) students to produce a short script only to be given eight sub-Tarantino scripts. I swear not one of my last class has ever seen a gun, and yet every script I was given involves either a bank raid gone wrong or a hit man with a dilemma.

So while I applaud these kids please excuse me for wanting someone to use that amount of energy to produce something else. Is it really such a crime to hope that twelve year olds might make a film about their own lives, or adapta story that has some relevance to who they are? If I wanted to teach kids to write I'd encourage them to read, but then to write their own stories. Even if they just gave me another chapter of Indiana jones at least it would be their chapter.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:40 PM on June 2, 2003


When I was around 12, I meticulously planned out remakes of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back that I intended to make in stop-motion animation with my Kenner Star Wars action figures and toys.

I rewrote the screenplays to include timings for the animation in frames, adapted the blueprints from the real sets to match up with the scale of the toys, and created storyboards for every shot.

This went on for months and months, and I never even made it out of pre-production. It was both a labor of love--Star Wars was my whole life at that point--and a way to live out my fantasy of working at ILM.

So I get why these kids did this. They wanted not just to be Indiana Jones, but to see what it was like to create Indiana Jones. I don't think it's empty--it's enthusiasm bordering on insanity, and I love that.
posted by notclosed at 2:59 PM on June 2, 2003


Ciderwoman, yes I do hope that kids will make films about their own lives and so on. But as a teacher, I think we've swung a bit too far out on the pendulum towards expecting that its always in best interests for kids to do original work. Sometimes, kids do learn by copying. Copying rote or simplistic stuff is almost never useful (that's the drudgery on the other side of the pendulum), but copying something that is extremely complex often teaches kids the process, because they have a model for what the end product can look like.

So in the house building project I'm running in my classroom at the moment in sixth grade math, kids will next week be making their own roof to put on top of the houses they've designed. But before they build their own, I'm asking them to copy a couple of models exactly. It helps them understand where the challenges are, and the places where their models don't match the originals give them insight into what to watch out for when they're doing their own.

I guess it depends on whether you're interested at any given moment at the process or the product. The kids copied Indiana Jones, yes, but I have no doubt that they learned a staggering amount about the process of filmmaking. They'll be better filmmakers for the experience, and those skills will be transferable to all of the original stories they have yet to write.
posted by Chanther at 3:03 PM on June 2, 2003


And just to add, I'm reading Truffaut's interviews with Hitchcock now and he says in his Introduction that what made Hitchcock such a master was his all-expansive technical efficiency. Too many brilliant directors, says Truffaut, get caught up in the technical mire. These kids gave themselves an indispensible training in the "how," and now they have their whole lives to concentrate on the "what."
posted by adrober at 3:47 PM on June 2, 2003


All good and valid points, I just hope you're wrong when you say that they'll end up being better filmmakers for it. the last thing I need right now is to be up for a job only to be undercut by some eighteen year old whiz kid.

There's already too many of us trying to make films. Shouldn't they all be out smoking crack or listening to rap music?
posted by ciderwoman at 4:44 PM on June 2, 2003


it really such a crime to hope that twelve year olds might make a film about their own lives, or adapta story that has some relevance to who they are?

but isn't that the point? it seems to me that these kid's wouldn't have chosen to do raiders if they didn't consider it seminal to that period of their own lives; i.e., relevant to who they were at that time on a level that perhaps no other piece of cultural production could be.
posted by juv3nal at 8:00 PM on June 2, 2003


I'm surprised at the reaction to this project here.

I was at BNAT4 last year at The Alamo Drafthouse
and I was one of the lucky ones to see most of this flick
without any introduction or explanation.
The crowd really did groan when it was taken off the screen.

It's not really about Raiders - we all know that movie.
(Raiders is a homage to the 30's cliff hangers anyhow.)
Personally, I thought it was great to re-live Raiders
through the eyes of kids that were my age
when I saw the movie the first time in 1981.
People started passing this flick around in 1989
and they didn't make it for any of us in the first place.
Each shot of their version of the film was interesting again,
like the whole movie was fresh and new.
A real 13 year olds interpretation of love, fear or panic
is so different than the Hollywood version of kids emotions.
The best part is that these kids actually ACT!

Please check this out if you get a chance.
There must have been 300+ people in line
at midnight on a Friday and they all left smiling.
posted by supershauna at 11:43 PM on June 2, 2003


relevant to who they were at that time on a level that perhaps no other piece of cultural production could be.


Sorry, I just don't buy that. When I was a kid nothing stopped me making up my own stories. And if I really, really liked a TV show, then maybe I'd right a story that involved the characters from that story. What I wouldn't do is just right down the episode I'd just seen.

I can go along with Chanther in that it's good they will learn so much, but I just cannot accept that it's a good thing to copy the work of someone else in this way.

And I don't see that the kids set out to, God, do I have to say reimagine?, raiders with the intention to make each shot of their version of the film was interesting again. What next? Raiders shot by people at the retirement home so that we can re-live raiders through the eyes of people who saw the original 30's films? Would it have been so interesting to watch Barney's great adventure seen again through childrens eyes, or is it just that we all love raiders?

What they need is some kind of Young film makers club...
posted by ciderwoman at 3:06 AM on June 3, 2003


Well I'm glad it wasn't just me. Like you, Ciderwoman, I've taught film to young people and it is depressing how many will regurgitate what they saw last week on t.v. as though they just thought of it, and many undergraduate film students who were obsessed with the paraphernalia of film making to the exclusion of content. I too made narrative films when I was 11 (standard 8mm was the format then) which were pretty rough, but at least they were original stories.
And I just don't agree, Chanther, that they are gaining a huge amount of transferable skills 'when they have original stories to write', any more than learning to touch type makes you a writer. The really hard thing to grasp about film making is the translation of thoughts and concept into the film medium - slavish imitation gives you little insight into that process. The most exciting things I've seen by young filmmakers have often been very rough technically but full of ideas.

As I said, an amazing achievement but creepy.
posted by rolo at 6:28 AM on June 3, 2003


Ciderwoman - Bitter much?

They accomplished something. Something that took years of work and dedication. Certainly more than I ever did at their age. Why does it matter so much to you that it wasnt some masterpiece of originality? Everybody's got to start somewhere, right?
posted by Irontom at 7:27 AM on June 3, 2003


Irontom, if you read some of my posts you'll see that there's no bitterness there, in fact I constantly say how I applaud them for doing it. And for that matter I never asked for a masterpiece. So please, go back and read the arguments.
posted by ciderwoman at 8:31 AM on June 3, 2003


I don't understand why this bothers people. Aspiring painters have always copied older works as a way to practice their craft and learn the tricks their predecessors developed. Musicians play existing music for years before they think about composing music of their own, and will sometimes play along with recorded solos - over and over - until they can match whatever the original performer did. (This is mostly a jazz thing, but rock guitarists do it too.)
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:34 AM on June 3, 2003


Ciderwoman writes: "And if I really, really liked a TV show, then maybe I'd right a story that involved the characters from that story. What I wouldn't do is just right down the episode I'd just seen."

Where do you teach?
posted by adrober at 9:08 AM on June 3, 2003


I've taught 16mm film production and film theory classes at a number of places in the UK. Anymore detailed information would allow those spielberg kids to track me down and harrass me in a shot for shot play misty for me kind of way.
posted by ciderwoman at 12:10 PM on June 3, 2003


I've taught 16mm film production and film theory classes at a number of places in the UK. Anymore detailed information would allow those spielberg kids to track me down and harrass me in a shot for shot play misty for me kind of way.

And as a reply (of kinds) to Mars, when I was being taught film the best class we ever had was when one of the RA lecturers came down and we analyzed the first 5 minutes of psycho. His point was that the studio would always be trying to shorten a film, so every shot that ended up in the final cut was there for a reason, often many reasons, and he made us go through every single shot in the first five minutes and work out why it was there. I learnt more in the two days we did that than in the rest of the three years, and I'd say that is akin to a musician playing over anothers solo.

When I'm teaching one of the most fun things we'd do is I would give the class three pages of script (usually the opening three minutes of The Maltese Falcon). I'd taught them the basics about shot structure, so then I'd get them to put a shot list together for these three pages.

Sometimes what they came up with was ridiculously overcomplicated (but good), big crane shots with reflections of the Golden Gate bridge in skyscraper windows, moving through a window to see sam Spades detective diploma on the wall (Huston does it with a still of the GG bridge and then the classic Sam Spade detective agency sign on the glass door), but for the most part they came up with good, simple ways of getting the information across on screen.

Very raely did they produce exactly the same shot as Huston, and it made it all the more fun when we'd watch the opening of the film after. They'd come away seeing how a master like Huston did it, but also knowing that they could produce something good themselves.

And then they'd all carry me aloft out into the grounds of the old school, cheering as they went. Or is that dead poets society?
posted by ciderwoman at 12:20 PM on June 3, 2003


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