5/29/14: Raiders of the Lost Ark


“Jerry Garcia & I are very much alike. Music is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the pure faith into the realm of spirituality. Our methods have differed. I am but a shadowy reflection of him. But I didn’t know this at first. It took a nudge to for me to see the light.” That nudge came at Grateful Dead 9/2/78 – Giants Stadium. Heading there, I’d seen Jerry live just 4 times. The show was fantastic, as expected. What wasn’t expected was the Diamond Vision ‘Thank You for helping fund our upcoming shows in Cairo’ message that followed the Encore: 3 shows, 9/14-16 – Gizah Sound & Light Theater. “You see, it seems that for the 2 prior years, the Dead had teams of scouts running around the world looking for all sorts of mystical venues. Jerry was a nut for the notion. He was crazy obsessed with Egyptology.” In fact, a quote from the Egyptian Book of the Dead is encrypted on the front cover of their first, self-titled album: In the land of the dark, the ship of the sun is driven by the Grateful Dead. “And in 1978, apparently, Kent R. Weeks’ UC Berkeley Theban Mapping Project was going on in the desert outside Cairo.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the band helped fund it, and our wild ride that Saturday aided generations to come study the Cradle of Civilization.

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Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place mainly in Egypt in 1936. It picks up where Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments left off, in the Cradle of Civilization: Moses secured the Stone Tablets in the Ark of the Covenant. But the Ark was lost to history perhaps a millennium before the birth of Christ. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is a professor of archaeology, a securer of antiquities, and sort of a Depression era cowboy. The Nazi’s are on the trail of the Ark in Egypt, and Indy is commissioned by the U.S. Army to get it first because “an army which carries the Ark before it is invincible”. Karen Allen plays Indiana’s ex-girlfriend (Marion). And Ronald Lacey is great as the evil Nazi Major Toht (spelled T-o-h-t but pronounced ‘Toad’, the German word for Death/The Grim Reaper when spelled T-o-d). He’s never called by name in the film. He got the role because he reminded Spielberg [impersonating] of Peter Lorre.

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Raiders, the highest grossing film of 1981, was nominated for 8 Oscars at the 54th Academy Awards, winning 4. It also received a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing. Special Achievement Academy Awards are given for exceptional contributions to a film for which there is no category. They’re honored with an Oscar statuette. The 1st of 18 total Special Achievement Academy Awards thus far was given in ’73 to The Poseidon Adventure for Visual Effects. The most recent: In ‘95 for the First Feature-Length Computer-Animated Film, Toy Story. The coolest: 1978 for Alien, Creature and Robot Voices. Care to guess for what film? Yes, Star Wars! To receive a Special Achievement Award, a film must be over 40 minutes long, released in L.A County only once with a start time during that calendar year, on specific mediums, run for 7 consecutive days with proper credits, and submitted for consideration by a specified date. So, a movie must be submitted for Oscar consideration to receive a Special Achievement Award. Nomination is by special Board of Governors meeting and/or recommendation of the Animated Feature Film Award Screening Committee with 2 secret Board of Governors’ ballots: To determine which film(s) is/are eligible for the Award(s) based on most votes; and to vote Yes or No for each Nominee, with 2/3 present voting Yes for the Award to be granted. So now, watch the embedded trailer below, then add Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark to your Netflix Queue. “It’ll be a fitting end to your day’s pursuits. And maybe later a permanent addition to your anthology. Who knows? In a thousand years, it may even be worth something.” 4 Stars!!

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