Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • Review Date: September 12, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1981
  • Running Time: 115 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Indy's first adventure is a rip-roaring action masterpiece.
  • Review Date: September 12, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1981
  • Running Time: 115 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Perseverance, teamwork, and trying to do the right thing are ultimately rewarded, although some of Indy's methods are iffy. Standing up to bullies (in the form of the Nazi party) is a strong theme.

Positive role models

Indy is brave, resourceful, loyal, and smart, and he's dedicated to preserving historical artifacts and protecting them from those who would misuse them. That said, you probably don't want your kids imitating him, especially given the violence he's forced to use. Marion is a strong, independent female character who often takes matters into her own hands. On the downside, many of the movie's ethnic characters (Arab, German, and French) are shady or downright barbarous.

Violence

Lots of hand-to-hand battles (fists, swords, whips) and plenty of guns, including one iconic point-blank shooting. Frightening/gross close-ups of melting faces and vengeful ghosts. A memorable scene of a man's head hitting a propeller -- blood splattering is shown. Indy is pursued by spear-wielding natives who want to kill him. Indy and Marion are lowered into a pit of poisonous snakes; there's also a close enounter with some very large spiders. A bar fire leads to a man's hand being badly burned/scarred. Near-constant peril.

Sex

Some kissing and flirting (Indy's female students, in particular are quite blatant about it). When Marion is held captive, she's forced to dress up for her captor so he can admire her (she changes behind a screen as he waits/watches). Later the dress is cropped quite short. Implied sex between Indy and Marion; he's shown shirtless and getting out of bed.

Language

Language includes one "s--t," plus "goddamn," "hell," "bastard," "damn," and "oh my God."

Consumerism

Nothing in the movie, but there's plenty of Indy merchandise available.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In a scene played for laughs, Marion wins a drinking contest by pounding down enough alcohol to kill the average person. Other scenes also show wine/spirits drinking, including one in which Marion pretends to get drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Raiders of the Lost Ark is a rip-roaring adventure with lots of hand-to-hand battles (fists, swords, whips) and plenty of guns. There's not too much blood and gore (though many young children are likely to be scared by a climactic face-melting scene, as well as one in which a thug's head meets the business end of a plane propeller), but it's still way up there in the body count department. Much of the thrill of this beloved movie is in the fright factor, so cadavers, snakes, spiders, and nasty villains (mostly Nazis and Nazi sympathizers) also abound. A couple of scenes feature drinking, including one in which the heroine knocks back a dangerous amount of alcohol to win a contest. And there's a bit of language, including one "s--t."

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

After a heroic jungle rescue, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) forks over a valuable relic to dastardly French archeologist Belloq (Paul Freeman), under threat of death by a band of spear-wielding natives. Indy is then sent by the U.S. military to outdo the Nazis in a race to find the secret resting place of the Ark of the Covenant -- which purportedly contains the remnants of the Ten Commandments. He reconnects with former girlfriend Marion (Karen Allen), and they end up in Cairo, where they battle all manner of thugs -- Nazi and otherwise -- as they search for the Ark.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

When director Steven Spielberg and writer/producer George Lucas set out to recreate the serial adventure movie of the 1940s, they forged a masterwork of action-adventure. INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK includes what may the best opening 10 minutes in movie history. The key to the movie's success is Ford's Indiana Jones, archeology professor and grand adventurer, who seems perfectly at home as both a mild-mannered Clark Kent type -- right down to the glasses -- and a larger-than-life hero. Ford played a similar character in Star Wars, but here he's front and center. With Raiders, Ford established himself as one of the greatest action-adventure heroes of all time.

Despite the movie's superior quality, it's fun to note the small continuity and effects mistakes. Medallions appear and disappear, guns fire seven bullets, the glass separating a hissing snake and Karen Allen is clearly visible. And the biggest goof of all: How the heck does Jones stay with a submerging submarine for hundreds of miles? (Spielberg claims key scenes got lost in editing.) If you go back to the film, which you and your children will almost certainly want to do, it's fun to pick out where even the best filmmakers make little mistakes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what Indiana Jones stands for. If he's a good guy, why does he break the rules? Is that OK? What separates him from the "bad" guys? Are real-life bad guys as thoroughly evil as the ones in movies?

  • Why is Indy so popular? Why is it so hard for other movies to duplicate the Indy formula?

  • What makes for a good action film? Is action more important than plot?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1981
DVD release date:October 21, 2003
Cast:Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
Director:Steven Spielberg
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Adventures, History
Run time:115 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Written byAnonymous September 21, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Very iffy (and not just the violence)

The violence goes past a PG-13 rating because of gun\sword fights as well as a part where Indy and some tough guy are fighting and the tough guy gets chopped up (off-screen, but they show blood splattering everywhere) and there is also a REALLY creepy part where the bad guys' faces melt (I'm surprised they didn't create the PG-13 rating at that point) and there is also a LOT of drug content which also goes past a PG-13 rating so this is NOT for young ones.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written bykarimck May 15, 2009
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Who cares if "all of the other kids" have seen it!

I wish I would have checked this site before watching this movie with my 5 and 7 year olds. Most of their friends had seen it and other mothers told me it was fine for my kids. Not so. My kids were scared by the "creepiness" which occurs when Indy is inside the tomb and at the end when the Ark is opened and people literally MELT. They were afraid to be alone for a couple of days after watching this movie. I felt like a fab parent. :(
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 10 years old July 15, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

fun for preteens and up

love danger and advencher this will blow your mind away not my fav but it is a mix of nashanol tresher and pirets of the carebbean and a pinch of star wars but a cup of fun but deservs a PG-13 but grat movie but not famly fun
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Adult Written byDr3w November 7, 2011
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Not As Clean As You Think

This film defies age. I don't know how many of my teenage guy friends still enjoy the Indiana Jones movies. My favorite is The Last Crusade, but this is a good one too. That said. I don't understand why so many people let their children see this movie. I saw it at age fourteen and it was still intense. People get impaled through the head with spears. Riddled with blowdarts. Burned to death. Shot and have blood dribble out of their mouth. Melted. Have their heads explode. Get shredded by an airplane propeller and have their blood spray a window. Some of this is fairly fake-looking, but I don't think that mitigates the violence. The Indiana Jones films try to gross you out with disgusting violence. This film was originally going to be rated R. Does that surprise anyone? It didn't surprise me at all. The language used in this film is overall not that bad for a PG movie in the eighties, but it should still be noted that there are about eight uses of cursing in this film (including one s-word). Also, Indiana Jones and his girlfriend have a very strongly implied tryst. The film shows them kissing on top of a bed in a fairly sensual scene and later shows her naked wrapped in the sheets so no nudity is visible there. Earlier in the film, the said girl-friend's bare back is visible as she changes and she wears a dress that isn't terribly modest. That all said, I think a lot depends on your teens when deciding whether or not to let them see this film. However, I don't think I'd let most kids under the age of fourteen see this particular Indiana Jones movie. The PG-rating is deceptive parents. Don't be fooled by it into thinking that this is a family movie. This was nearly rated R, remember? Treat it at least like a PG-13 (and an edgy one at that).
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Common Sense Kids Action