Raiders of the Lost Ark – Analysis Part 1
The Long Take
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) is for me, the quintessential action/adventure film.
It contains 1459 individual shots and has an Average Shot Length of 4.6 seconds.
There are several iconic and unforgettable shots in this cinematic classic.
I would like to focus on one specific shot…the 2nd longest shot in the film.
My film editing tip is revealed at the end of the video.
This long take in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” asks an important question. What drives Indiana Jones? Glory? Power? Integrity? Righteousness? Honor? What makes Indy who he is and is he really that different from Belloq? This quiet dialog exchange carries as much power as the largest explosion.
Steven Spielberg and editor Michael Kahn could have edited this scene many different ways. Clean close-ups of each character cut back and forth. A slow dolly push in to a final close up on Indy. Dirty OTS matching handheld shots…etc.
They chose a static 2-shot with an out-of-focus Indy in full foreground profile. Why? Because it worked. The writing, acting, cinematography, set design, shot composition, sound and wardrobe in this shot were perfect. It’s a magical scene.
Watch the video to see the power of the long take in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
*UPDATE: FLOORPLAN ANIMATIC with Camera and Dolly movements*
The longest shot in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” runs 94 seconds. It’s a masterclass in camera movement, framing, staging, lighting, set design, wardrobe and ultimately…storytelling through visuals.
Jonathan Ochmann (vimeo.com/patchflyer) kindly shared with me an amazing animatic he created to explicitly show what Spielberg and legendary DP Douglas Slocombe did on the day to capture this shot.
Until next time…