An Indy Fan's Quest: Raiders on the Big Screen

By Aaron Gantt


It was the chance of a life time, the ultimate adventure, the chance to see the greatest piece of cinematic art in the history of mankind on the big screen: Raiders of the Lost Ark! Before I begin my story, I must say that no matter what it takes, if you haven't seen it already (even if you have), you must see Raiders on the big screen! It is something everyone must experience to truly understand what makes Indiana Jones so great. Now, I shall take you on my journey; my quest to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen!

The Chance of a Life Time

I first learned about this event back in July of 2003 on's Club Obi-Wan forum. It was there that an Indy Gear summit was arranged. Our mission: to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen. It was too good to pass up, but my prize was in Louisville, Kentucky, about an eight hour drive from where I live, but I was determined to make it. The Louisville Palace in Louisville was holding two screenings, one on Friday and one on Saturday. I was destined to see both. And so, after a long drive from my home I arrived on Friday August 29th, 2003 at the Louisville Palace. At about 6:45 PM, I purchased my ticket and entered the theater. I was the first one there. I found my seat on the lower level about 7 rows from the front - the perfect spot to experience Raiders. It was quite a suspenseful wait, but anticipation would only improve my viewing experience. Finally, at 7:30 PM, the curtains where drawn and the crowd of by then around 1,000 movie-goers broke out cheering and applauding as the Paramount logo appeared on the screen. The crowd was enthusiastic to say the least. There was an abundance of applause, laugher and cheering throughout the film. There was also a wonderful reaction to the most famous fly in cinema history.

Two hours later my life had changed forever. I had finally seen Raiders of the Lost Ark the way every Indy fan should see it - on the big silver screen! Seeing my favorite film of all time like that is something I shall never forget. It's just like being there right with Indy, racing the boulder, dodging darts, fighting Nazis and looking on as the Ark is finally opened. It was all beyond words. It was an event in my life that created memories and feelings that I shall cherish until the day I die. And I got to do it again the next day...

The Summit

Our "Indy Gear summit" was held at Cunningham's, a classic restaurant that has been around since the 1870's, complete with vintage photographs from the past all around. It was very nostalgic and gave the restaurant a wonderful atmosphere to it. I was the first to arrive at around noon. We requested the reservations, which were under the name "Jones" and proceeded to our private booth. The guests for the lunch: Daryl Manley and company, "Junior", "Blackthorne Rose" and two of his buddies, Chris Albro and Kevin Dorse.

Once everyone was there, we began trading stories of our Indiana Jones experiences and showing off our own hats and jackets. Basically, the kind of things Indy fans love to do. This was the first time I truly connected with people when it came to Indiana Jones. If you've never attended an Indy Gear summit then I highly recommend you do so, it's an amazing experience! It's a good way to get feedback about gear and most of all, it's a chance to to talk with true fans, unlike some family members who just give you a strange look because you wear a dusty old fedora all the time.

After we had all sat there and chatted for about an hour or so, we made our way to the Palace Theater directly across the street from Cunningham's. We got our tickets, and continued in the theater. As we entered, I couldn't help but reminded of when Dr. Jones is first entering Pankot Palace in the first act of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and how strikingly magnificent it all seemed. The painstaking work done on this building was truly amazing. It was fitting that we would see Raiders in a theater such as the Palace, whose history dates back to the 1920s - a relic of the Jazz Age, and a time in America before The Great Depression. But I digress. I, along with my newfound friends entered the lobby of the Louisville Palace and got a quick tour from the manager. Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance for a backstage tour for time was not on our side, and our adventure awaited us, but none-the-less, there is quite a lot of interesting history on the Palace that was to be had. If you ever make your way to Louisville, you'll want to pay them a visit for sure.

Eye Catchers

I sat there once again waiting in the theater among movie patrons, casual film fans and 6 very eager, very excited Indiana Jones fans. As the curtains opened, the crowd fell silent. And without any delay - no theater advertisement, no movie trailers, no "Silence is Golden" cartoons - that giant Paramount logo appeared on the screen. One thing you must remember when watching Raiders on the big screen in this particular situation, is that the film itself is probably 22 years old ("It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage."), but I was surprised to see that the film was crisp and clear. Far better than I had anticipated and probably as good as it was in 1981. Much like any other fan, I've seen Raiders hundreds of times. But what I didn't know was that I had never truly seen it before, at least not like this. There are so many details that I had never noticed before that were made perfectly clear with just one viewing on the big screen. Growing up with a VHS copy of Raiders, watching it on a 32" television screen makes for quite a jump when you finally see it on the big screen, and it afforded many opportunities to pick up on little details that tend to get lost when viewed on a TV. Maybe you've spotted some of these details before, but in any case, here are a few things that we all noticed while watching Raiders on the big screen:

You'll notice that glass 'human-like' eyes were put in the golden fertility idol to create the illusion of it watching Indy when he pours out some of the sand from his sandbag.

When Ford climbs into the bi-plane just as he escapes the Hovitos, I noticed that he isn't wearing his satchel or holster, the same goes for when he's inside the cock-pit with Reggie.

You can spot the Flying Wing under a tarp in the background as Indy is going preparing to rappel into the Map Room.

And of course, that infamous fly in the approach to the alter scene is about 2 feet long when you spot it on the big screen.

These are just a few of the things you can spot if and when you see Raiders of the Lost Ark in a theater. It is amazing the many more details you can see when you're looking at a 20 foot screen. So keep that in mind next time you see Raiders on the big screen, you never know what you may spot.


There's not much else to say about my journey to Kentucky to see Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's an experience I'll never forget, and it's something that every Indy fan should enjoy. There's nothing like sitting in a theater, and in this case, the Louisville Palace, and seeing the greatest film ever made. I'd like to personally thank Junior for setting up this summit and I'd like to thank everyone for coming, it was a truly wonderful experience and has taken my appreciation of Raiders to a new height. It was amazing to sit there and watch the adventure unfold on the big screen, and to share the feelings and excitement countless other fans have felt for so many years. So no matter what it takes, everyone must see Raiders like it was meant to be seen; on the big screen.