When talking about the opening to Sergio Leone’s Once Upon the Time in the West, I was reminded of the opening sequence that in many ways sealed my nearly thirty year love affair with film: the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Watching this sequence unfold in the dark light of the Baldwin Century movie theater was perhaps one of the greatest moments in my life. After I saw this scene, I immediately committed to stay for the second showing—and watched the whole movie through again. I’m not sure the second time was as good as the first, but I certainly know that from then on the character of Indiana Jones was forever branded in my imagination as the figure of all that was holy and right.
I soon after went home and asked for a fedora, leather jacket, and whip, and a decades long love affair was born. In fact, this scene from Raiders prompted me to buy my first film magazine—which featured the behind the scenes making of the film—and it was the moment I realized that films weren’t made sequentially. I couldn’t believe everything was pieced together and filmed out of order— I was sure they just started rolling the camera and the events unfolded somehow naturally. The whole concept blew my mind and nearly crushed the sense of magic I had attributed to the light on the screen up and until that point, but I guess that which does not kill your sense of wonder only makes it stronger.