Thursday, December 01, 2016

"Lost" in Adaptation

You might recall my recent account of re-watching Raiders of the Lost Ark (this time, with the score supplied live by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra). It shoved Raiders to the front of my mind, which in turn pushed me to watch a documentary I've had on my list for a while -- Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.

Raiders! is the story of two best friends who in turn cajoled their friends into helping them create a shot for shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. What makes this notable is that they did it as teenagers, pouring into it all their allowances and spare time over a seven-year period (from 1982 to 1989). In the present day, as adults, they've reunited to shot the one scene they'd never completed: the fight on the airfield.

As a documentary, Raiders! reflects on many intriguing topics. There's the passion of fandom, and how it can transport people of all ages away from the trials and tribulations of life. There's a coming of age component, and one example of how friends can drift apart over the years. There's a look at obsession, and the examination of how much a person is willing to risk to achieve a lofty goal.

Mostly, though, the documentary gets me quite curious to see the actual fan film itself. That's because the real appeal to all this is in what these kids were actually able to accomplish. I don't know about you, but I definitely went through a phase where I begged my parents to let me play with the camcorder so I could make my own rudimentary films. I know the scope and quality of those efforts, and I also know the attention span I had for sticking with any given one.

In the snippets of the teens' film that you see in the documentary, any of my childhood movie aspirations are put to shame. I mean, think about some of the amazing visuals Steven Spielberg packed into Raiders of the Lost Ark -- fleeing from a giant rolling boulder, a fist fight in the middle of a burning bar, an action sequence that sees the hero crawling over and under a moving truck. These kids actually did all this stuff! Quite unsafely in many cases, but they actually did it all. I mean, I can understand that they never shot the airplane sequence as children, but there are tons of other sequences they never should have been able to pull off either.

So ultimately, Raiders! (the documentary) is an oddly inspirational little tale about following your dreams, even if the specific dream in this case maybe isn't as inspiring. I'd grade it a B.

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