For this installment of Throwback Thursdays, I decided to revisit Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)—the first installment in the Indiana Jones trilogy—since I didn’t realize how long rewatching the whole trilogy would take. The movie trilogy and the character of Indiana Joneswere some of my formative influences as a child. I dreamed of unlocking the world’s mysteries and these movies showed an academic leading a glamorous life of adventure, hunting mysterious artifacts and overcoming difficulties using his knowledge and reasoning powers. However, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark as an adult rather requires that I turn my brain off if I want to actually enjoy it because of the number of glaring issues regarding racial and cultural representation, as well as gendered character tropes.
The Indiana Jones movies, especially the first and third ones (that is to say, the two good ones), are favorites in my household. Upon our most recent rewatch, however, I was struck by the realization that they are just some of a number of movies and franchises in which the narrative of the movie itself proves the existence of a certain religion’s God, while at the same time undermining that religion’s believers. These films aren’t billed as “religious”, and they don’t necessarily push a proselytizing message—we never see Indy asking someone else if they’ve accepted Jesus as their personal lord and savior—but nevertheless, throughout the films the actual, objective power of Jewish and Christian artifacts is emphasized.