"In 1982, a group of eleven-year-olds in Mississippi began a shot for shot remake of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
It would consume the next seven summers of their youth."
I feel like we've all heard tell of this band of youngsters who took on a pretty huge - nay nearly insurmountable - task. I was immediately fascinated by the story when I first heard about it. What remarkable dedication the group must have had. And what an act of pure love for a movie. I certainly did my fair share of re-enactments of parts of movies that I loved when I was a kid. I even "designed" a few role playing games centered around JAWS, THE TERMINATOR and GHOSTBUSTERS, but I never took on the task of making movies or re-staging the stuff from the films I loved. There are very few kids who would have had the persistence and tenacity to pour their energy into something like this for seven years. It's obviously quite a remarkable thing and a very inspiring story.
In a kind of perfect way, the first voice we hear is John Rhys-Davies' voice. The rest of the story is told by the filmmakers themselves and lots of others. Chris Gore, Eli Roth, and Harry Knowles make brief appearances early on. It's enjoyable to find out more and more about the guys behind this amazing fan film as the documentary goes on. They are a fascinating group and it's neat to get to know them through their own accounts as well as through their parents, siblings and friends. It's fun to hear from the people who were in the cast of the remake over the years too. One guy says he played something like forty parts throughout the course of filming, including also being assistant cameraman. There's also quite a bit of old VHS footage of local news and talk show interviews that the boys did over the many years they were working on the project in the 1980s. What's neat about this documentary is that it is not only about the guys who made the movie as kids, but also it addresses the one scene they never got - the "flying wing" scene where Indy fights that giant bald mechanic dude near the airplane as its propellers are in full effect. So there's the whole nostalgic side of things with the fellas recalling what they did for those seven summers and revisiting footage from their remake (and some fun behind-the-scenes stuff too) and the present day pressures of getting the plane built and actually shooting the scene as adults. There's even a part of the movie where we see the filmmakers pitching their idea to shoot the airplane scene to an investor who quickly realizes he won't be getting any of his money back. So there's a bit of the enjoyment of Project Greenlight mixed in here and it makes the whole thing more engaging and exciting. As you may or may not know, making a movie is a very difficult venture. Small or large budget, there is a lot that can go wrong and foul things up. I sometimes have trouble even watching behind the scenes on films when this kind of distress is illustrated because it can be kinda tough to sit through. Basically, you are watching people under great amounts of pressure, trying to achieve an artistic vision in the face of adversity. Compromises often have to be made and the artistic vision must be adjusted to fit the new circumstances. After all the years that these guys spent on their movie, you can't help but root for them to finish what they've set out to do. All in all, it's a touching story of a few kids who were going through some tough times on a personal level (parental divorces, rough home life stuff) and who found refuge in this remarkable undertaking that became a huge part of their lives.
-16-Page Booklet including some of the original storyboards and more
-Dual Audio Commentaries Featuring Directors Tim Skousen & Jeremy Coon and film subjects Chris Strompolos & Erica Zala
-Outtakes from the RAIDERS Adaptation
-Q&A From the 2003 Premiere of the Adaptation at Alamo Drafthouse
You can purchase RAIDERS! on Blu-ray here: