In the 1980s three boys, Chris, Eric and Jayson, decided to recreate Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot. It would go on to become a Kaufman-esque undertaking which consumed seven years of their lives. This documentary looks at how they did it, and reunites them in the present day as they film the epic final scene: Indy’s plane fight sequence.
The three people at the core of this film are reminiscent of Anvil. They made a commitment which bound them together for life, and they went through thick and thin together to get it finished. There’s also a pleasing irony in the way their quest for an elusive prize reflects the character that inspired them. In order to bring the project to fruition they risked life and limb clinging onto the front of moving trucks, playing with fireworks and dressing as Arabs in Mississippi. And scenes of the teens practising amateur pyrotechnics are frankly hard to watch.
In a sign that Spielberg hit his target audience on the nose, all three boys had recently divorced parents and used the project as an escape, while taking full advantage of parental preoccupation to engage in unsupervised and often highly dangerous film production. They’re also helped by the fact one of them looks weirdly like Harrison Ford. The film they created is remarkably innovative, and in spite of all the home made special effects (including a dog playing a monkey) it’s still better than Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot remake of Psycho.
The story is told through interviews with the boys (or men), as well as their parents and others involved with the film, managing to gather real insight into what made them pursue this holy grail. It even features star of the original film John Rhys Davies, although it’s not clear if he’s a presenter or interviewee. And while it may not pack in additional meaning beyond its main subject the way Three Identical Strangers or Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened did, the result is a fascinating and funny picture of teenage passion which is a real life Son of Rambow and a tribute to the sheer escapism of cinema.