The Raiders March – John Williams

End of the week. Let’s go out on a high. The biggest, the best, the ultimate cinematic joy ride. Raiders Of The Lost Ark is considered by many (myself included) to be the greatest film of all time. If you’re looking for rugged heroes and ballsy heroines, Nazi punching, magic boxes, horse riding, creepy crawlies, gun slinging, man over board, globe trotting, more Nazi punching, exploding planes, boats, trucks and bars, buried treasure and good hats you can’t go wrong with Steven Spielberg making a love letter to his own childhood cinematic adventures.

Indy my friend

Indiana Jones is the cooler than cool hero with the greatest theme tune and the best stories. I was 5 years old when I first saw Harrison Ford running from that huge boulder. I was 14 by the time he rode off into the sunset with Sean Connery, John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliot.

Thank you John Williams. You were the composer who soundtracked pretty much every childhood in the western world for more than a generation. Even if a kid doesn’t know if they like music or not they know the themes for The Raiders March, Star Wars, Superman, Jurassic Park, E.T, Close Encounters, Jaws, Hook, Harry Potter and err Schindler’s List? There aren’t many composers who get to do all the franchises and have moments in all of them the whole world can recognise. The love themes, The Dual Of The Fates, The Imperial March, Hymn To The Fallen, Hedwigs Theme. All instantly recognisable anywhere.

This is not Indy’s first appearance on SFTD either. I chose an image of him punching a Nazi back when tikki torch wielding micro-penised incels were prancing around Charlottesville missing the point of the freedoms won for them by diverse and superior men and women who fought this idiocy and won three generations previously. I posted Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off! and couldn’t think of a more fitting image than the man in the hat dispensing scholarly wisdom with his fists.

I hate these guys.

The first time it was on British TV it was Christmas. 1984. Same year again. Seminal stuff. I’d been to see Indy already. And The Temple Of Doom (Southend’s ABC this time not the Grays State). But here I was presented with an opportunity. That Christmas Day I was gifted with perhaps the greatest gift a ten year old SteveForTheDeaf could receive. A radio tape player. Almost a whole BoomBox, but a mono version. It was grey and silver. There was a smoked plastic cassette deck and in the center of it’s one massive (Well about 4 inches) speaker was a tiny rectangular hole with the word “mic” stenciled next to it. I could play my own tapes! AND I could record off the radio. I could get to work Home Taping and Killing Music right away.

This is where Forrestal cashed in

That night after Christmas dinner and board games we were allowed to watch Raiders Of The Lost Ark on TV. I sat in front of the telly with a newly unwrapped cassette in the deck ready to capture John Williams majestic score at the start of my very first ever mixtape. The first of thousands as it turned out. Admittedly it was a wild track recording. The board-mix really capturing the atmosphere of the venue, including my Nan asking what I was doing and cutlery clanking on the dining table as Mum laid out the evening buffet (Christmas Tea was always cold cuts, salad and shooters role (basically a massive sausage roll) with real Coke for us kids and beer, wine or whiskey for the grown ups).

From the moment Indy was making the girls blink “I Love You” at him and packing his bags to get on the red line flight to Nepal I was poised to capture the recording. Big Bro pointed out the best bet would be to wait until the crate turned the corner in that massive warehouse at the end and the theme played in full over the credits somewhere around the Nazi’s discovering Tannis.

*SFTD Movie factoid* I’d always heard that line as “The Nazi’s have discovered Tennis” and had a strange mental image of an attempt to play a doubles match with Himmler and Adolf vs Indy and Marion.

Big finale. Set me up for a life in Warehousing

By the time I’d played it back to check that Nana ForTheDeaf wasn’t louder than the opening brass (it was OK she was more a backing vocalist) something else was on and we were being told to take our Matey* upstairs and get ready for bed.

The hours spent riding around on a bike with that cassette blaring from the one speaker behind the bungee chord holding it to the handlebars were happy ones. Little did I know that was the last Christmas Nana ForTheDeaf would be with us. The tape is long gone, I can still hear the faint “What’s he doing?” in my head whenever Mrs ForTheDeaf and I settle down to watch an Indy on a rainy day… Like today (post written in the past not the day of publishing disclaimer).

I’ve used this tune as my outro music when DJing in clubs and bars. It really sends people off with a bounce in their step and a grin on their faces. Even if one Dude every single night declares it to be Star Wars or Superman due to their run in with the recreationals. It never fails to lift my mood. It puts me back in mum and dad’s front room, sat too close to the TV. Big brother showing me how to hit play and record at the same time and the whole family watching .

Fortune and Glory

*if you understand that reference you are old and grew up in the UK during the 80’s. Hiya!


13 thoughts on “The Raiders March – John Williams

  1. Right on! ‘Raiders’ theme is epic. I would even say Raiders is better than John William’s other famous theme for that little film called Star Wars. That’s saying something for a Star Wars geek like myself. In all honesty, John William’s Schindler’s List theme is possibly his greatest achievement. But that argument is for another day. Like you, Raiders left such an impression on me as a kid that today I can confidently say it sits easily in my top 5 favourite movies of all time. And that theme is still forever young. A timeless piece of music that conjures feelings of grandeur. Haha, I feel fearless every time I hear it. Nice one mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw it at the cinema in Jacksonville North Carolina. I was in the service at the time. I didn’t grow up in the UK in the 80s but back then,they always showed good films at Christmas, unlike now.

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  3. Still the best of the series in my book. The music, the action, the big scene where the swordman was going to kill Indy and he pulled out a gun and shot him…bang! I actually saw this one in the theater when it was released. Oh the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I remember correctly, that with the swordsman scene was improvised. He was supposed to fight him, but it was hot and it’d already been a long day so, being a fed up Harrison Ford (lol), he just shot him and, credit to the other actor and all the extras, they just rolled with it. It was so good they left it in the film. At least, that’s what I remember. I could be wrong about that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hollywood Reporter (2016-11-10):

        “During the interview, Marshall recounted the tale, after a bit of prodding, of the famous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene in which Harrison Ford’s Indie takes down a sword-spinning baddie with a nonchalant gunshot.

        “We had been shooting in Tunisia in 130 degrees for six weeks and we had three days left,” Marshall said. “We were supposed to shoot this huge fight between the whip and the sword. It took the whole morning to shoot just three storyboards.”

        At lunch, Marshall went to talk to director Spielberg to explain that production was taking longer than anticipated. The brief meeting turned out to be the impetus for Hollywood history.

        Ford was “not feeling well,” and talk emerged to nix the big fight in lieu of something a bit quicker, although it’s unclear whose idea it actually was.

        “Nobody will say who said what,” Damon said at the roundtable, chiming in.

        “Somehow, somebody said, ‘I’ve got this gun, why don’t I just use it?’” Marshall recalled.

        Whoever the instigator, the idea got the ball rolling quickly. “After lunch, we did three shots, and we were two days ahead of schedule, and it’s the biggest moment in the movie,” said Marshall.

        The producer was quick to glean the lesson from the anecdote. “The key there is, when you’re given that challenge, solving it gets you to a better place and gets you to a better idea.””

        So, if this is accurate, it wasn’t quite improvised I guess, but not as planned anyway.

        Liked by 2 people

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