Monday, July 09, 2007

Teens in Peril!
Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation

I checked out the special screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation at Anthology Film Archives over the weekend. I was turned away from Friday's show because I only showed up an hour and a half in advance, and apparently that wasn't enough to combat the Village Voice-reading hipster hordes. Saturday worked out much better for me, because my "all or nothing" girlfriend dragged me down there SIX hours before the show started. Dizzy dame.

If you don't know, The Adaptation is a shot-for-shot remake of Spielberg's first Indy flick started by 12-year olds Eric Zala (director), Chris Strompolos (producer/star) and Jayson Lamb (special effects) in 1982 and wrapped up seven years later when they were nineteen. It's painstakingly complete, with the only omission being the runway fight that ends in a gruesome propeller chopping. Everything else is there, from the rolling boulder to the Wrath of God. More words and pics after the jump.

With dark features and a soft midsection, Strompolos doesn't look much like Harrison Ford at first glance, but his performance (impression?) is pitch perfect. Ford uses his face to great comic effect in the original Raiders, and Strompolos has every eye roll, every chin rub, every grimace down perfectly. It's clear this kid spent hours in front of the mirror practicing these bits, and it reeks of awesome geeky obsession goodness.

The film is incredibly exciting, and one of the main reasons for that is the fact that the kids playing all the parts are in nearly constant danger. Not shiny, make believe, Hollywood danger, but the tangible, terrifying, seriously life-threatening kind. You'll witness gasoline-doused kids catching on fire, startled snakes snapping at adolescent faces, kids falling out of and being dragged under moving trucks... The Adaptation has every peril of Spielberg's original, except without the safety nets inherent in an adult production. There's a persistent feeling throughout this movie that you won't feel watching a Hollywood film, the feeling that at any moment the on screen action could turn into real life tragedy. Seriously, if you love seeing kids in mortal danger, skip Hostel 2 this Summer and track down The Adaptation.

Experiencing the filmmakers' insane accomplishments in extreme closeup is what lends the movie its charm. Their enthusiasm for pulling off particularly harrowing scenes is overtly visible in their performances, making it impossible to keep a smile off your own face. You never forget, no matter what's happening on screen, that you're watching kids grow up in front of your eyes. You'll remember the feeling of young love when Strompolos plants one on his Marion (Angela Rodriguez) and can't hold back an excited grin for the rest of the scene, and it's impossible to not recall your own adolescent awkwardness when Rodriguez nervously undresses in front of her male peers to recreate Marion's imprisonment by Belloq (played here by director Eric Zala). This vicarious experience persists throughout the movie, and it's a big part of what makes it such a unique moviegoing experience.

Track down a screening if you can, and stay tuned for the Daniel Clowes-penned biopic.

1 comment:

Brice said...

Oh man I'm so dissapointed I didn't get to see that. I really wanted to go and had to work.