With DVD technology available for so many years now, it would seem that every major Hollywood blockbuster had already been released on DVD – even two or three times in some cases. But as most of you know, there have been several glaring omissions, notably with major films from powerhouses Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. It’s difficult to find many titles on DVD from either director – so Indiana Jones, a movie that involved both of these talented individuals, must have required a minor miracle just to get the go-ahead. To get all the way to a final release with over three hours of bonus material... now there’s a feat!
Without a doubt, Indiana Jones is the ultimate adventure hero. Many imitators have come and gone over the years, but for the perfect mix of action, stunts and comedy, all wrapped up with a great soundtrack, one can always rely on the Indy trilogy. With Raiders of the Lost Ark currently ranked as the number sixteen best movie of all time, it’s no wonder that Indiana Jones has been one of the most eagerly anticipated DVD releases!
All three movies – Raiders of the Lost Ask, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – are being sold as a boxed set, with a special fourth disc for special features. So, even if you only wanted the first movie, you must still purchase the complete collection. The list price of the set is nearly $70 – which falls somewhere between the price of two-and-a-half or three individual releases.
The boxed set is available in two versions, full screen and widescreen. Of course, widescreen is the only way to see these movies. Spielberg makes liberal use of the entire 2.35:1 frame, making the pan-and-scan copy a real mockery of what the director originally intended. Interestingly, on the day I picked up my widescreen copy the store was nearly sold out of that edition, while plenty of full screen copies remained – perhaps the word is finally starting to get out.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Although the movie has been titled this way on the box, rest assured that the title screen has not been modified in the actual film. In his first on-screen outing, Indy learns that the Nazis are looking for the Ark of the Covenant and plan on using its supernatural powers to take over the world. The U.S. government doesn’t take fondly to that idea, and hires renowned archaeologist Indiana Jones to find it first. Will the powers of good triumph over those of evil? But of course!
This film is the oldest of the series, made in 1981, and its presentation suffers in comparison to the two newer productions. Every Raiders copy I’ve seen has always started off very grainy and a little on the dark side, and this DVD release is no different. Fortunately, the situation improves after a few minutes (but returns on any map overlay scenes). The rest of this THX-restored anamorphic DVD is quite good – indeed the best this movie has ever looked – but it still isn’t up to the overall visual quality of many other films, even from the same time period.
Colors are accurate, although slightly muted, while black levels are excellent throughout. The film is extremely clean with absolutely no visible dirt or lint, although a small amount of artificial edge enhancement can be seen. The movie occupies 7.8 gigabytes of a dual-layered disc – more than the other two movies, which are also longer. Guess that film grain takes extra space! The layer change occurs during an adequate spot at 0:50.45 into the film, or 0:01.16 into chapter 15.