Symphony of Raiders

The movies of George Lucas have been said to have a lot with silent movies. This is both a slap at his dialog and a complement to his visual style. If you think of his movies there are numerous visuals that are iconic.

Friday night sometime after five, I got a call from my friend Jeff. He started to tell me something about symphony and having an extra ticket. I didn’t need more explanation. “I’m in.”, I said. If I’d let him finished his prepared sales pitch I would have heard that he had an extra ticket for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to play John Williams score of Raiders of the Lost Ark live on stage synchronized to the movie playing on a screen behind the orchestra. Now I was excited. I had 90 minutes to get to Dallas and find a parking spot.

The tickets where excellent: row A on the Orchestra side. This was my first time at Meyerson. It is a very modern looking theatre. The musicians slowly arrived and started turning their instruments. Every once in a while your hear a familiar refrain. When the first violinist came in, there was applause. Finally arrived the conductor looking like Russell Crowe with an extra mop of hair to help in his direction.

Without any preamble the lights dimmed and the Paramount logo appeared above the Orchestra. There was a bit of a glow on the musicians lest you forget why you were there. It appeared that they had a special cut of the movie without the score but with dialogue and foley effects intact. This is a good thing as there are a few moments in the movie that the Orchestra was able to rest.

The conductor had a custom version of the movie that was marked up with visual cues. A virtual scan bar acted as metronome. Color dots seemed to denote changes. The result was perfect synchronization with the film. It was fascinating to see some off-label uses of the instruments such as plucking the strings of a violin. The array of percussion instrument kept that section running to and fro. And since this was a Williams score it was the brass section that was there to play the triumphant themes.

There was an intermission just before the digging at the Well of the Souls. I’ve seen this movie dozens of times as a perineal favorite. Sometimes I watch the other movies in the series but they all pale. I thought it funny to hear full belly laughs from the audience at the appropriate parts.

When the movie first came out in 1981 I did not see it in the theater. I do remember my grandmother telling about it in great detail especially the romantic scene on the ship where Indy gets clobbered with the mirror. It would be months later before I finally saw it at the dollar theater. Yes, it was really a dollar.

The movie has really stood up to the test of time. The symphony experience was incredible and I would eagerly repeat whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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