EVENT REVIEW: Raiders of the Lost Ark Live at The Royal Albert Hall

As the rest of geekdom debates whether the recently announced fifth Indiana Jones film is a bold move by Disney or big mistake how about we look back at the film that gave the world a new hero and adventure a new name? In fact how about we experience that film in a whole new way?

In 2016, to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary, Raiders will be shown on the big screen at the Hall whilst the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Ludwig Wicki, simultaneously perform John Williams’ legendary score.

This live-in-concert experience will allow fans of Harrison Ford’s action hero to experience the film in a brand new way, and will mark the first time that a full Williams score has ever been performed on the Hall’s famous stage.

The big question is did the evening live up to the hype I had created in my own head?

From the moment you step out into the main auditorium and are faced with that familiar Indiana Jones icongraphy emblazoned on the giant cinema screen you know you are in for something special. I don’t know if the performance was sold out but by the time the lights went down I could count the empty seats I saw on one hand. The excitement for a film which I’m sure most of the attendees had seen more than once was intoxicating. All around me there were numerous people dressed as Indy while other guests walked to their seats humming the theme or were busy taking selfies of themselves with the screen as a memento of the event.


As a life long Indy and film soundtrack fan to say my expectations were high was an understatement. By the time Indy had declared his hated for snakes, as he made his escape from Belloq and the Hovitos, my expectations had been met and smashed through the auditorium roof. I have listened to the entire Raiders soundtrack many, many times over the years and I pretty much know every string and every trumpet call but hearing it live was as close as I will get to evoking those same feelings I had the first time I saw it. The first time I heard the Raiders March triumphantly blasted out from the orchestra or the majestic, crescendo building, Map Room track is not something you will soon forget.

At several points during the film I glanced from the screen to the orchestra to make sure they were playing because the musical cues with what was going on the screen were flawless. I would love to see a behind scenes video or article on how all this is put together.

The fact that the emphasis was on the music meant that the film was subtitled and there were some moments where the actors voices and some of the sound effects sounded a little muted alongside the music. Did not spoil my enjoyment one bit but it’s something worth highlighting if you are going to be checking these any films in the ongoing season out for the first time.

Speaking of seeing the film for the first time a pair of fellow geeks took their son to the performance. He had never seen Raiders before and loved the screening. I was incredibly envious of him because what a way to experience Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time.

A new fan is born!

A new fan is born!

To give the audience that old school cinema feel there was an intermission half way through the performance to make the mad dash for snacks, drinks and have a chance to rave about the first half of the film. When we retook our seats the orchestra welcomed us back by playing ‘The Adventures of Mutt Williams’ which was taken from the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls soundtrack. It was a fantastic piece of music and got the crowd jazzed up again, which made it a great choice to kick off the second half of the film.


I could tell you how much I enjoyed Raiders of the Lost Ark Live but the fact the orchestra received a standing ovation (which I led in my row) that lasted several minutes says more then I ever could.

One of the best parts of the evening was actually the the walk back to our hotel. There were hundreds of grinning Indy fans heading in the same direction who couldn’t stop talking about the experience. To me that is geekdom, fandom or whatever you want to call it at his finest, a shared experience which is enjoyed by all.

There are several more films coming up some in this film with live orchestra season (*coughs Gladiator,Aliens and ET*) and if you are a fan of any of them I would urge you to raid the old piggy bank and make the trip. You will not regret it.

Rating: 5/5
GS Blogger: Nuge /@geeksyndicate

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