EW's movie critic answers reader mail. Owen Gleiberman tells what movie has had the most influence on others

By Owen Gleiberman
Updated May 21, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Raiders of the Lost Ark: © Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

EW’s movie critic answers reader mail

What modern movie has had the most influence on other movies? — Bianca
The one with the most revolutionary impact on the way that movies flow and feel — on what they are — is ”Raiders of the Lost Ark.” ”Jaws” and ”Star Wars” remade the film industry, but they were classically designed Hollywood adventures. In crafting their ultra-revved version of the old matinee serials, director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas replaced the ebb and flow of dramatic suspense with a new rhythm of one climax after another: an all-sensation-all-the-time structure that became the template for every future cinematic ride, from ”Cliffhanger” to ”Van Helsing.” In ”Raiders,” boulders and snake pits are simply hurdles for Indiana Jones to clear. There is physical tension, even excitement, but no conflict, just a daisy chain of action-events. Only a prig would fail to find ”Raiders” fun, but what Spielberg couldn’t have foreseen is that his experiment in zip-zip summer escapism would change, if not destroy, the DNA of storytelling as we knew it.

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