Back in 1981 many of my generation were gobsmacked by the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark. For some of us it helped shape our love of cinema, yet for a few kids in Mississippi the film would be the start of a quest that would last for years.
Raiders! tells the story of three kids who decided to take up a video camera in 1982 and do a shot-for-shot remake of Spielberg’s film, a feat even more preposterous prior to the age of home video releases. Over the course of eight years they toiled on the project, occasionally almost killing themselves along the way. The documentary follows the process of the making of the original film, as well as the reuniting of the key players as they try to finish the one missing piece that eluded them for decades.
Mixing archive footage with contemporary talking-head interviews and behind-the-scenes shooting, Raiders! is a testament both to the tenacity and lunacy of these kids. For such an astonishing story the documentary is pretty straightforward, but it manages to effectively convey both the passion and obsession at the heart of the adventure, it’s a funny, sweet, and at times inspirational tale of how a love of cinema can manifest in profound ways, and how an on-screen spectacle can birth a real-life adventure unlike any other.
This review was originally published as part of our Hot Docs 2015 coverage