Raiders is, hands down, my favorite film of all time. It is a movie that changed the way I looked at movies as a kid, and I know it sounds strange, but it helped to shape the kid I was, and the person I would become.
When Raiders first opened, on June 12th, 1981, a 13 year-old Slyde had decided he didn’t want to see it, thank you very much. He had heard that the movie was about an archeologist searching for an ancient artifact, and in my youth-addled mind it sounded to me like it was a National Geographic documentary. That just sounded boring as shit to me, so I passed on it.
Towards the end of Summer of that year, they decided to re-release it, and my childhood friend Rich kept harping all damn Summer how “mint” the movie was (ah, the 80’s!), and that I HAD to see it. So, when my parents told me they were going to see it, I asked if Rich and I could come along.
That turned out to be, at the time, both the best and worst decision of my life.
It was the BEST decision because I finally got to see the movie that, to this day, I would watch more than any other movie EVER. That movie became fucking MAGICAL to me.
It was the WORST decision because Rich was a right prick the whole time. He was one of those kids who just HAD to rub it in if he knew something that you didn’t, and since he had seen the movie already, he kept leaning over to me during the film and telling me what was about to happen. After the scene where the truck blows up that we THINK is carrying the basket with Marion in it, Rich leaned over to me and whispered, “Don’t worry.. she’s not dead. They switched baskets!”, I promptly punched him in the nose and moved my seat.
But in the end, not even a thoughtless youngster could tarnish what would become one of the best movie experiences of my life. I fucking LOVED Raiders, from the opening scene to the closing credits, and that feeling of awe-inspiring AWESOMENESS has never left me.
When my family got our first VCR, the first movie I asked for was Raiders. In the years that followed, I would watch it again and again, every few weeks, savoring every bit of it. Even though I’ve since graduated to dvd’s and Blu-Rays, I STILL have that original tape.
That Fall, I pleaded with my parents to buy me a whip and the official Indiana Jones Stetson. In the end, I bought the hat myself, and against their better judgment, they bought a 13 year-old a real whip. I would set up soda cans in my basement, and practice for hours and hours, trying to get the snap and my aim just right to be able to hit every can on my first try. I got really fucking good at it, too. I practiced with gusto, thinking that when I one day became a super hero, I could incorporate the whip into my costume and that it might one day save my life from an army of evil ninjas.
I’m still waiting for that to happen.
But I’m ready.
When the sequels came out, The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade, I took those days off from school so I could be the first person I knew that would see them. Even though they didn’t quite measure up to that special experience of the first film, the magic was still there. I loved ALL those movies.
And now, 30 years later, I still love them, and no matter how old Harrison Ford gets, I will always have a slightly gay man-crush on him, just for the way that he made a 13-year old boy feel during that very special Summer of 1981.