Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation
January 19, 2011 2:08 PM   Subscribe

In 1982, three 12-year-old friends began work on Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. The shot-for-shot recreation was finished in 1989, and received its world premiere in 2003 (prev.). Watch the first ten minutes. More scenes via the BBC review and the Today Show.

"Because Raiders of the Lost Ark was still not available for rental or sale in video stores when the boys started in the summer of '82, they had no reference copy of the movie they were seeking to remake shot-for-shot. So, they got everything Raiders that they could get their hands on – photos from magazines, the published screenplay, storybooks, making-of publications, action figures, an illicit recording of the soundtrack from smuggling in a cassette recorder into a movie theater showing Raiders when re-released in 1982. With the amassed material, and by memory of seeing Raiders in the theater, they cobbled together a composite reconstruction of the original Raiders, shot-by-shot, laying it out in storyboard form."
posted by Paragon (20 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this at a charity screening in Minneapolis, and it was the raddest fucking thing I'd seen in a while. A little tough to watch in spots, because of some focus problems, but that didn't really matter, there was pretty much raw joy radiating from the screen.
posted by COBRA! at 2:14 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have seen this. It is full of awesome and absolutely straddles the line between madness and genius.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:26 PM on January 19, 2011

So I've been wanting to see his movie for eight years now?
posted by Songdog at 2:26 PM on January 19, 2011

See it on a big screen if you can, and marvel at how they managed to pull off the truck chase without killing anyone.
posted by Iridic at 2:29 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I linked to the original thread under that pesky "prev." - none of the links are the same, although they're on the same topic.
posted by Paragon at 2:38 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Things always seem like such a good idea and great adventure when you're 12. The fact that they kept doing it for 7 more years, through puberty and teenage angst, is really quite a feat.

Here's a direct link to the letter that Stephen Spielberg sent them in 2003.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:41 PM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I saw it a few years ago. One of the kids answered questions. They nearly burned up their basement filming the scene in Marion's bar. It's a lot of fun.
posted by CarlRossi at 2:49 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Legendary Geek heroes of the Dark Ages, before the Internet and Netflix, when you had to re-make the film yourself in order to re-watch it.
posted by stbalbach at 3:38 PM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

And soon to be adapted for the big screen by Ghost World writer Daniel Clowes. Hopefully the kids got $$$$$ for the rights to the story.
posted by AzraelBrown at 3:39 PM on January 19, 2011

Nailed it! I especially loved the spot at 9:20 where he delivers the perfect Harrison Ford bug-eyed Dr. Jones look-of-confusion-and/or-exasperation. I also cheered when I noticed none other than the legendary purple Crown Royal whiskey pouch making a cameo in the Golden Idol swap scene. My brother and I used to treasure those little purple bags for everything from dice-storage to jumping bean holders. It was always a good day in the Balrog household when dad ran out of Canadian blend!
Watching this seriously took me back to my childhood, saving up for VHS tapes and running around in the forest with the handicam.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:33 PM on January 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

This is amazing. I just wish they weren't so stingy with the screenings! I'm assuming they can't legally put it into wider release or on TV (at least not for profit), but there's no reason they couldn't put the whole thing up online and share their opus with the world. I mean, if the original Raiders had been available only to hipsters and superfans in a handful of select cities, these rural Mississippi kids would never have fallen in love with it in the first place.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:42 PM on January 19, 2011

I also saw this, about 10 years ago or so at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. I think it was one of (if not the) first showing of it in public. The 3 main guys were in attendance and talked about their experience making the film, its reception, their contact with Lucas & Spielberg. The audience was cheering throughout almost the entire movie. One of the best things we learned about how they filmed it: to recreate the scene where Marion Ravenwood's bar burns down, they actually started a huge fire in the basement of one of the kid's houses. So amazingly, beautifully, and wonderfully irresponsible.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:54 PM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I saw the reenactment as the SF Indie Film Festival a few years back and went for drinks with Chris and Jason. Not shooting the plane scene was a huge regret that hangs over Chris to this day. They even had a plane lined up for the shot.

They also told me, while they were never threatened with any lawsuit or C&D, just to keep everything kosher they donate any money from any appearances at talks or film festivals to charity so they don't profit off it.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:57 PM on January 19, 2011

I met Chris when he screened the film here and it is worth seeing the whole thing. The kids literally grow up in front of your eyes (though somewhat out of order) and amazingly, manage not to kill themselves. The crowd at the screening went bonkers.

The studio's awareness of the film probably keeps screenings small. There had been some talk that The Adaptation would be released as a DVD extra when the Raiders boxed set came out. That might have made it worth picking up.
posted by *s at 8:16 PM on January 19, 2011

This is about the greatest damn thing I've ever seen. Sure, I "made movies" (awful, awful movies) with a camcorder and a few friends, but this... I wish I was half as passionate about something, anything, as these guys were in making this film. Just wow.
posted by xedrik at 10:15 PM on January 19, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation Q&A (from a Portland screening in 2008)
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
posted by blueberry at 12:37 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Awesome. I loved how faithfully he mimicked Harrison Ford's hand gestures as Indy prepares for the idol swap.
posted by scody at 1:16 AM on January 20, 2011

This isn't Sweding, it's...Norwegianing!
posted by ericbop at 7:39 AM on January 20, 2011

And soon to be adapted for the big screen by Ghost World writer Daniel Clowes.

Hasn't this been done?
posted by ninebelow at 5:58 AM on January 21, 2011

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