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Raiders of the Lost Ark



SmokeScreeners review:   

Year of Release:  1981

MPAA Rating:  PG

Director:  Steven Spielberg

Distributor:  Paramount

In this film 8 smoking incidents occured, 6 of which were inside and 2 of which were outside.

The film was reviewed by Dr. Barry Hummel on 1/11/2008.

Dr. Barry Hummel posted the following additional comments:

"Raiders of the Lost Ark is a fabulous film.  Set during the rise of the Nazis during the 1930's, the film tells the story of an academic archeologist, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) as he races to beat Nazis to a religious relic, the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

Fortunately, we never see Dr. Jones using tobacco.  Sadly, the same cannot be said for his love interest, Marion Ravenwood.  The following scene takes place early in the film, when the villains arrive at Marion's business to try and track down a pendant that will lead them to the resting place of the Lost Ark:


Notice how Marion uses the cigarette as a symbol of power.  She dangles the cigarette in her lips as she speaks to the Nazi, a sign of disrespect.  As he draws closer, she blows smoke in his face... using the smoke as a weapon to try back him off.  He coughs, but holds his ground, at which point she turns to leave.  Could it be that she is actually nervous underneath that tough image that she is trying to convey with that cigarette?  

After this encounter, Marion decides to help Dr. Jones.  She gives him the pendant, and accompanies him to Cairo to search for the Lost Ark.  In Cairo, Marion is abducted, but in the confusion Dr. Jones thinks that Marion has actually been killed.  To console himself, Indy heads to a local bar to drown his sorrow in a bottle of whiskey.  But this is not your typical bar:


Indiana Jones has stgepped into a hookah bar!  Technically, it may have been accurate to put the character in a hookah bar in a city like Cairo in the 1930's.  But, is it really necessary?  Does the tobacco use really add anything to the scene?  It becomes even more disturbing when you realize that Indy's friend, Sallah, sends a group of children into the smoke-filled bar to rescue him from the danger.

I would never argue the accuracy of such a scene.  I would, however, dispute the necessity of including it.  Hookah use in the middle east in the 1930's may have been commonplace, but children and adults watching a classic film like Raiders of the Lost Ark rarely discuss the historical context of such tobacco use.  It just adds to the false perception that tobacco use is normal... and that the majority of Americans use tobacco.

If you doubt that scenes like this have an impact, you should read up on the rise of hookah use in the United States in recent years."



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