Raiders of the Lost Ark – The Adaptation
directed by Eric Zala
Rolling Boulder Films
Days after writing my review for Raiders!, I was lamenting that I would probably never see the fan film that the documentary was based on. Due to the vagaries of intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights, and large corporations, I was sure that there would never be a formal release of the Adaptation. The only way I would be able to see it would be at a convention or film festival, and according to the RaidersGuys website, their tour was not coming to Memphis. Imagine my surprise when that weekend, I noticed a Facebook post from the Indie Memphis Film Festival about a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark – The Adaptation at their youth film festival. It was a perfect fit. I bought tickets immediately.
The Adaptation is everything I expected – low quality video, poor audio, impressive visual/special effects, and a whole lot of heart. The amount of care put into this fan film made over seven summers in the Eighties is phenomenal. The sets are detailed. The costumes range between comical and fantastic. The acting… well, the acting is a bunch of teenagers with no training. It’s adorable and silly, most of the time. But some of the scenes, especially between Chris Strompolous as Indy and Angela Rodriguez as Marion, are surprisingly powerful. As a fan, you know what is coming, and are pleasantly surprised at the gravity portrayed.
As noted in the Raiders! review, there was one scene that was never finished when they were kids. SPOILER Warning for Raiders! – They did complete the infamous Airplane Scene a couple of years ago and integrated it into the Adaptation. The jarring change from 4:3 grainy home video to 16:9 high definition digital is one thing, but the change from teenagers to actors twenty five years later is amazing. It’s a true testament to the heart of the film makers that the primary actors all returned for the new scene – Indy, Marion, Belloq, and Dietrich – and that the chemistry between them was still present. The sets and props are top notch this time around, and the special effects and pyrotechnics are spectacular. So much so, that I was worried the rest of the film would be a let down. I needn’t have worried. After switching back to the home video footage, we still have the impressive truck scene, the scenes on Katanga’s boat and the German “U-Boat”, and of course, the special effects laden climax with the Ark.
All told, this was a very fun movie to watch, especially with an audience. There was laughter, groans, and thunderous applause. Afterwards, Chris (Indy/Producer) and Eric Zala (Belloq/Director) held a Q&A session for the audience and stayed around for a meet and greet afterwards. This was the second to last stop on their current tour, but keep an eye out on their website for future dates. The Adaptation is an important film. It shows what is possible, even far away from Hollywood, if no one tells you that something can’t be done. These kids had very little in the way of resources, but they had spare time, passion, and support from their friends and family. They also had very limited entertainment options back then. No constant distractions from the Internet, tablets, and smart phones. This boredom led to creativity. This creativity has stuck with them their entire lives. Parents, teachers, and anyone with kids in their lives can use this to inspire the next generation of artists. And now The Adaptation is available on DVD at the RaidersGuys website. Sure, it’s not the same as seeing it with a theater full of fans, along with the star and director, but it’s still a memorable experience.