Review: INDIANA JONES & RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall

John Williams’ legendary score is performed in full for the first time since the original soundtrack was recorded in 1981.

By: May. 26, 2024
Review: INDIANA JONES & RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall
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Review: INDIANA JONES & RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall In 1973 George Lucas wrote a story titled “The Adventures of Indiana Smith”, inspired by the adventure films of the 1930s and 1940s. While on holiday with Steven Spielberg, Lucas pitched his story, and convinced him to direct a trilogy of films. Spielberg suggested that the surname was changed to Jones and the rest is history. Simply known as Raiders of the Lost Ark when it was originally released, the film features an incredible score by the great John Williams.

Set in 1936, government agents advise archaeologist Indiana Jones that the Nazis are actively seeking to recover the lost Ark of the Covenant in hopes of using its power for their nefarious ends. He then embarks on a quest to recover the Ark, facing a myriad of dangers and adventures on the way.

With sly humour, ground-breaking special effects and white-knuckle action, the film cemented Harrison’s Ford’s status as an action hero icon. Karen Allen is feisty and funny as the hard-drinking Marion and their on-screen chemistry sizzles.

The action set pieces remain really impressive even after 43 years, such as the heart-stopping scene where Indy is chased by a boulder and the face of a Nazi villain melts before our eyes. There is romance and comedy, but the essence of the film is pure, escapist adventure. It really does feel like an old-fashioned comic book battle between good and evil.

The film was Spielberg’s fifth collaboration with Williams and his music encapsulates that spirit of adventure perfectly. Indeed, Williams’ score was nominated for an Academy Award, losing out to the less memorable Chariots of Fire.

As part of their brilliant Films in Concert series, the Royal Albert Hall has employed the London Symphony Orchestra to perform the score for the first time since they recorded the original soundtrack in 1981. It is a thrilling result.

This film was the first outing for the iconic “Raiders March” which is now an instantly recognisable theme; exuding confidence, optimism and fully embracing Indy’s spirit of adventure. Williams originally offered Lucas two themes for Indiana Jones and Lucas liked both, so Williams blended them together.

“Marion’s Theme” gives some necessary feminine input to the score’s rather masculine identity. Using delicate solo flute and sumptuous strings, this is the most beautiful music in the film with its sweeping themes.

The “Ark Theme” has huge gravitas, matching the visual awe that Spielberg creates on-screen, with its ominously repeating three-note phrases. The incredibly sinister “Nazi Theme” is suitably menacing and threatening. The London Symphony Orchestra are on truly sparkling form, bringing life and sparkle to the score throughout.

Film buffs do not need reminding that John Williams was a musical genius, but what a pleasure to hear his score played live in all its glory, against the backdrop of one of the best action adventures of all.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 May at 2.30pm. The Films in Concert Series continues with The Lion King in Concert on 5-6 July.

Photo Credit: Aliya Al-Hassan




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