Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 11+
Indy's first adventure is a rip-roaring action masterpiece.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Raiders of the Lost Ark is a rip-roaring adventure with lots of hand-to-hand battles (fists, swords, whips) and plenty of guns. There's not too much blood and gore (though many young children are likely to be scared by a climactic face-melting scene, as well as one in which a thug's head meets the business end of a plane propeller), but it's still way up there in the body count department. Much of the thrill of this beloved movie is in the fright factor, so cadavers, snakes, spiders, and nasty villains (mostly Nazis and Nazi sympathizers) also abound. A couple of scenes feature drinking, including one in which the heroine knocks back a dangerous amount of alcohol to win a contest. And there's a bit of language, including one "s--t."
- Families can talk about what Indiana Jones stands for. If he's a good guy, why does he break the rules? Is that OK? What separates him from the "bad" guys? Are real-life bad guys as thoroughly evil as the ones in movies?
- Why is Indy so popular? Why is it so hard for other movies to duplicate the Indy formula?
- What makes for a good action film? Is action more important than plot?
The good stuff
Positive messages: Perseverance, teamwork, and trying to do the right thing are ultimately rewarded, although some of Indy's methods are iffy. Standing up to bullies (in the form of the Nazi party) is a strong theme.
Positive role models: Indy is brave, resourceful, loyal, and smart, and he's dedicated to preserving historical artifacts and protecting them from those who would misuse them. That said, you probably don't want your kids imitating him, especially given the violence he's forced to use. Marion is a strong, independent female character who often takes matters into her own hands. On the downside, many of the movie's ethnic characters (Arab, German, and French) are shady or downright barbarous.
What to watch for
Violence: Lots of hand-to-hand battles (fists, swords, whips) and plenty of guns, including one iconic point-blank shooting. Frightening/gross close-ups of melting faces and vengeful ghosts. A memorable scene of a man's head hitting a propeller -- blood splattering is shown. Indy is pursued by spear-wielding natives who want to kill him. Indy and Marion are lowered into a pit of poisonous snakes; there's also a close enounter with some very large spiders. A bar fire leads to a man's hand being badly burned/scarred. Near-constant peril.
Sexy stuff: Some kissing and flirting (Indy's female students, in particular are quite blatant about it). When Marion is held captive, she's forced to dress up for her captor so he can admire her (she changes behind a screen as he waits/watches). Later the dress is cropped quite short. Implied sex between Indy and Marion; he's shown shirtless and getting out of bed.
Language: Language includes one "s--t," plus "goddamn," "hell," "bastard," "damn," and "oh my God."
Consumerism: Nothing in the movie, but there's plenty of Indy merchandise available.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: In a scene played for laughs, Marion wins a drinking contest by pounding down enough alcohol to kill the average person. Other scenes also show wine/spirits drinking, including one in which Marion pretends to get drunk.