Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Watching Again: Raiders of the Lost Ark


Here are my thoughts while watching this one again.

  • I watched this movie many, many times on VHS—so many times, in fact, that the tape broke and we had to tape the tape. When it came out on DVD, it was amazing to watch it on my computer. Now I can see the high-definition quality on a big TV screen, and I love it.

  • The opening sequence is a great example of how a GM could use the end of a previous adventure as the start of a new scenario, kicking off the action in media res before slowing things down t introduce new plot elements.

  • The subtitles help me understand lines that I've misunderstood for more than forty years.

  • The opening sequence also introduces one of the main villains for the film—and Indy's fear of snakes—which is sensible story development.

  • It is fun to see Indy go from fieldwork to the classroom. This could also be interesting in an RPG, with characters having to shift between roles and skill sets in different settings.

  • Yes, the implication that Indy took advantage of a young Marion is discomfiting. There is no getting around that.

  • Toht is just one in a series of excellent villians; the GM did a great job of creating NPCs for this adventure. He, along with Bellog and the German mechanic, are so solid that the German boss villain, Dietrich, does not need to be so distinctive.

  • When Toht unwittingly burns the imprint of the medallion into his hand, it's a good example of how a failed roll can still bring about success.

  • I love the use of “travel by map” as a segue between scenes. It shows off just how much of the world Indy is covering in this globetrotting adventure.

  • We have some great foreshadowing here, when both Brody and Sallah warn Indy about messing with the Ark. This comes up again when Belloq is so excited to pursue it, whether or not he must then turn it over to Adolf Hitler.

  • Indy is presented with a chance for an awesome bullwhip vs. sword fight, but goes for his pistol instead. I could see many of my players making the same choice.

  • We see more use of Bennies to manipulate the story when the monkey gives away the fact that Marion is hiding from the attackers in a basket, and that the Nazis switched baskets before loading one onto the truck that ends up exploding.

  • The map room is a fun example of a puzzle that does not require puzzle solving. As long as the heroes acquire the needed item and made some skill checks, then they can find what they need to learn from this encounter.

  • That is a tough spot for Indy, having to decide if he frees Marion or continues his search for the Ark without her. This is a tough GM.

  • Continuing that theme, the GM clearly plays upon the hero's Hindrance in the Well of the Souls. “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”

  • When Dietrich has Marion thrown into the Well, we see some dissention in the ranks among the villains. That's good writing.

  • Indy's player has to be spending some Bennies during the fight with the German mechanic, and must be making some good Soak rolls.

  • That is the greatest love scene of all time.

  • When the Nazi stencil is burned off of the crate, that should be a warning to the villains.

  • The deus ex machina ending might seem disempowering for the heroes, but in this case I think it is entirely appropriate. After all, the foreshadowing (mentioned above) should make it clear that this is a sacred and powerful relic, not a magical item for them to use or sell.

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