Hailed as the greatest fan film ever made, Raiders of the Lost Ark: the Adaptation is a shot-for-shot remake of the first Indiana Jones movie, made in the eighties by two teenagers and their friends for $5,000 in their backyards.
Forgotten for ages, thankfully it was rediscovered 15 years later and became a hit in the US, featuring in Vanity Fair and the Today Show.
Fans include Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino and even Steven Spielberg himself and it is with his (and George Lucas's) blessing that last night I was lucky enough to see the UK premiere of this labour of love, held in aid of Medicinema, a wonderful charity that provides cinema screenings in hospitals.
Special entrance and everything
The organisers had gone all out to get us into the spirit. We were greeted with "poisoned" margaritas and ushered into a bar surrounded with displays of original storyboards and props from all of the Indiana Jones series.
I spotted Indy's whip, the Sankara Stones, the sword of the Grail Knight and more.
Smiling waitresses brought us trays of canape after canape, all inspired by the Indy films.
There was snake surprise draped on rocks (vegetarian sushi), steaming sheep's eyeballs (lychees stuffed with blueberries on dry ice) and chilled monkey brains (thick raspberry compote).
There was also a stand manned by Wested Leather who made the original Indy jacket.
My husband moseyed over and was mildly embarrassed that Peter Botwright, the owner, recognised that he was wearing one of their jackets.
Hubby then bought an authentic gun-belt and holster to make himself feel better (no, he does not and will never own a gun).
He wasn't as bad as some though - I spotted at least three guys in full Indy cosplay.
We also bought raffle tickets for a draw to win a(nother) jacket, a storyboard, a replica Holy Grail or a year's VIP Vue pass.
Finally we were ushered into the theatre, but not before they offered us vials of blue antidote to negate the effects of the poisoned margarita - and no, we didn't have to scrabble on the floor for them.
After the IGN/Vue/Medicinema official welcome and intro, the film began. And what a film!
Never had I realised quite how dangerous the original ROLA is nor how many flames are involved - every other scene had our plucky young stars setting fire to each other and to the set.
They recreated pretty much the whole darn movie, except the bit where a villain gets mushed by the plane's propeller - but hey, they did get hold of a plane and they even got hold of a submarine!
The attention to detail is astounding and the three leads are fabulous - Chris Strompolos as Indy, Eric Zala as Belloq and Angela Rodriguez as Marion Ravenwood.
I also adored the lack of continuity insofar as the actors visibly aged throughout the film - the boy who plays Sallah grows about a foot by the end.
The best, most technically brilliant scene (and the one of which the makers are proudest) is the car chase - Indiana genuinely falls under a moving truck, gets dragged behind it, climbs over, punches out the driver, throws everyone out and takes control - there are some truly amazing buckles.
At the end there was a Q&A session with Chris and Eric who came across as genuinely lovely people.
I got hold of a mic and asked them if they were still in the film industry and apparently due to the revived interest in the Adaptation, they were inspired to jack in their corporate jobs.
They set up a production company called Rolling Boulder Films and their next project is a "Southern gothic action adventure" film set in Mississipi called What the River Takes.
Fingers crossed for their success, because if they can make Raiders of the Lost Ark at the age of 12, who knows what they're capable of now?
Chris and Eric also drew the raffle and I was gutted that I was only one number off winning the Holy Grail. Hilariously, later on, one of the raffle organisers accosted the hubby thinking he was the guy who won the jacket and then fretted "Oh, but there's so many of you, we'll never find him".
After the Q&A, we all went back to the bar where I snaffled a huge promo poster and managed to shake hands and get autographs from Chris, Eric and Rene Belloq himself aka Paul Freeman (who had also attended the screening, much to the intense, fanboy delight of Chris and Eric).
L-R: Chris "Indy" Strompolos and Eric "Belloq" Zala
All in all, it was a fantastic evening and a fantastic movie. Obviously, the film quality is a bit ropey (Betamax!) and the sound quality isn't great, but it is a testament to the skills of Chris, Eric and their friends that I'd be extremely proud to have it in my collection.
I really hope Spielberg, Lucas and Kasdan let Rolling Boulder Films release Raiders: the Adaptation on DVD; it is after all a loving homage to their own film and it would be a tragedy not to share its brilliance with a wider audience.
Rolling Boulder Films are here.
Find out more about the charity Medicinema at www.medicinema.org.uk
All screencaps from http://www.theraider.net/
Grossest party snacks ever:
The BBC reports:
If you want to find out even MORE about their movie and how they made it, visit your local bookstore and pick up my book, Homemade Hollywood, which is about the history of fan films from the 1920s to today. The Raiders guys got their own chapter, due to the sheer size and scope of their incredible story.
I made the news at theraider.net as well!
ps I'll be ordering your book from Amazon :)
It was a real treat to have the opportunity to see it - I understand screenings are pretty rare.
I can't wait to see their new film!