Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Released 21-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
THX Optimizer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 110:36
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Spielberg

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Harrison Ford
Karen Allen
Paul Freeman
Ronald Lacey
John Rhys-Davies
Denholm Elliot
Alfred Molina
Wolf Kahler
Anthony Higgins
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music John Williams

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Catalan Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Indiana Jones trilogy is the second of the big three sets to reach DVD. The first was Back to the Future, which arrived last year. This year it's Indiana Jones. Maybe next year it will be time for Star Wars? I've been waiting a long time, starting from about the first time I contemplated buying a DVD player, for this. Can you spell "extreme anticipation" and "heightened expectations"? Could any DVD live up to that?

    The first film in the series, which I still think of as Raiders of the Lost Ark (even if it has been officially renamed to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark to fit with the other two, the credits on the film still call it Raiders of the Lost Ark), was released in 1981, and became an instant classic. It blends comedy and action seamlessly, and even has a neat little love interest that doesn't interfere with the story flow. I think it's the strongest of the three films, partly because it was made to be able to stand alone.

    Should I describe the story? I guess so, even if most of us know it well. Dr Jones (Harrison Ford) is a renowned archaeologist, but he has something of a weakness for adventure. He's not content lecturing young students about ancient civilisations; he'd rather be trekking through jungles trying to find valuable relics. This film is set prior to World War II (1936), when there seemed to be more adventure in the world.

    He returns from an unsuccessful trip to South America, where he was deprived of a treasure by ruthless rival archaeologist René Belloq (Paul Freeman), and resumes lecturing, working for Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott, who gets a bigger part in the third movie). He is approached by US Army Intelligence to look into some strange doings by a group of Nazis — they seem to be very interested in some ancient archaeological artefacts of a religious nature, and may have unearthed Tanis, the city where the long-lost Ark of the Covenant was concealed. This fascinates Jones, and he tears off to investigate.

    This film does a superb job of blending Hitler's fascination with the occult, Biblical mythology and archaeology — I don't know how much of it is authentic, but it doesn't matter, because we're willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. And it's quite a ride.

    I was wondering how well the special effects would hold up today, over twenty years later, after we've seen the world of visual effects develop so much. I'm surprised, and delighted, to see that they still look very good indeed.

    I'm not sure how many times I've seen this film, but I don't tire of it — I can say that with confidence, given that it's 22 years since I first saw it. I fully expect to watch this DVD many times, both alone and with friends.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 16x9 enhancement. The original aspect ratio was 2.35:1, so this is quite acceptable.

    The image is sharp and clear. Shadow detail is very good. There's negligible film grain and there is no low level noise.

    Colour is well-rendered, and there is enough in the way of bright colour so we can appreciate that. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts — this film has been superbly restored (hmm, maybe that's what the "meticulously restored and remastered frame-by-frame" note on the back cover means?). There are a couple of optical artefacts, such as the red lens flare at 50:50, but that simply makes the film seem more real.

    There is almost no aliasing. I did see a faint trace at 55:40, but I'm only pointing it out to indicate how little there is. There is no moiré and there are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in eight languages, including English. I watched the English subtitles. They are well-timed to the dialogue, close to word-for-word, and easy to read in an attractive font. They are placed on the picture, rather than in the black bar underneath (that's about the only criticism of them I can make).

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 48:45, at a brief pause. It will be invisible on many systems, and only visible on others as a slightly longer pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The soundtrack is provided in three languages. I only listened to the English, which is Dolby Digital 5.1, at 448kbps. The original sound is credited as Dolby Stereo (that means surround-encoded), so this is a remix, but it's a good one. About the only criticism I can make is that it is just a little lacking in dynamic range — I would expect the loud spots to be just a little bit louder, but it is only a small point.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, without sounding artificial. Audio sync is never a problem.

    This is a John Williams score, complete with the famous Indiana Jones theme. Good stuff.

    The subwoofer gets plenty to do (including a certain rolling boulder...). The surrounds support a variety of directional sound effects, and are used to deepen the soundstage for the score, although there are periods when they are inactive. Quite a decent surround mix for a soundtrack that wasn't made 5.1 in the first place.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The only extras on this disc are DVD-ROM based. Most of the extras in this set are on the fourth disc. I was expecting a commentary, but there isn't one, which is a shame.


    The menu is a nice piece of design, with a cute opening transition, and nice animation and music behind what is really quite a simple menu. It is easy to navigate.

THX Optimiser

    The usual tests that are supposed to allow you to optimise the settings of your equipment for playing this disc.


    If you put this DVD into a PC, it gives you access to the special web site. In a regular DVD player, all you get is one page of instructions (not much of an extra...).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc is scheduled for simultaneous release. I would expect it to offer identical features, just in NTSC instead of PAL, and probably with a different selection of languages.

    Given that this disc is essentially as good as you might want, I see no reason to go for the NTSC transfer.


    A movie that will probably find its way into almost every collection. It has been given a good presentation on DVD. Sure, there are no real extras on this disc, but there's an entire disc of extras in the set. More importantly, the film has been given an excellent transfer.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    On a DVD player there are essentially no extras on this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, October 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
digital tampering - Nick H (do you have a spare 60 seconds-read my bio)
Not tampering,fixing. - Anonymous
Region 4 Vs Region 1 - Mickey Juice
Framing issues - Gary McSweeney REPLY POSTED
Rating? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Tampering... - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
Indy - it's out - Anonymous
Indy pack - at HMV as well...but expensive! - TurkeyTom
I got it from Myer - MickJT
JB is Cheap! - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
staining on Raiders disc - easyrider
Coffee stains/watermarks on DVDs - Mickey Juice
more coffee stains - MickJT
RE: Why couldn't DVD's be made like floppy disks? - MickJT
Floppy disk solution - Mickey Juice
Disc problem - DMM (yeah bio whatever)
RE: Disc Problem. - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
DVD vs TV Widescreen - TazDC REPLY POSTED
dvd vs tv widescreen difference - Trevor
Digital TV version in HD - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Easter Egg - Anonymous
re: Disc problems - Mickey Juice
coffee stains - Johnny Wadd (i am bionic)
I had a dent on my copy too. - Christopher
. - Christopher
Subtitles cannot be on the black bar in widescreen mode! - NextDeep REPLY POSTED
Australian Climber - Brent R (bio-zet is especially formulated for front loading machines)
Re: Australian Climber - Anonymous