I have seen Raiders in nearly ever format that’s existed: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and projected theatrically (of course). I’ve watched Raiders at least once a year or so since I was a kid. Sometimes more often. I went through a phase about a decade ago where I probably watched it a dozen times a year. 

Every single person involved in this flick is at the top of their game. But you don’t need me to tell you that. 

What I will say is that I finally got a chance to watch my new-ish 4K copy tonight. And wow. This is easily the best it’s looked or sounded outside of cinema. And since we all know and agree that this is obviously a perfect movie, and I have nothing more to say (except that this is an interesting relic of America’s own fascination with and misunderstanding of the Hebrew God), I’ll just talk about the 4K transfer instead. 

The HDR here is excellent, to the point where overexposed bloom doesn’t exist. Look at the sequence where Indy finds the map to the Well of Souls. You can see the sun now — you couldn’t before — and watch it illuminate the staff. In that same scene, when Sallah is discovered by the Nazis, the background behind him no longer blooms. The sky is bright, but Sallah is in focus. The entire film has the same extremely consistent look throughout. White balance is consistently excellent (the Blu-ray has that strange yellow tint so many Blu-rays have), and overall highlight detail is noticeably improved. 

The same is true of shadow detail: look at the scene where Indy and Sallah find the Ark (it’s two chapters later, and yes, I’m trying to keep these scenes close together). In previously releases, they’re practically silhouettes. Thanks to the extended range of HDR, you can make out much of their faces now, revealing performances that just weren’t there before. This is true of every dark scene — black crush no longer exists. There are more snakes in the Well of Souls than you thought. 

Finally, the sound: even in my modest 5.1 setup, I find Atmos a large improvement over the older programmatic surround sound. It’s obvious in nearly every moment of Raiders. This is a bombastic soundtrack. Totally delightful. No comparison to what we had before. 

I popped in my old 1080p Blu-ray copy after watching it and it felt like travelling back in time. The previous Blu-ray was excellent. This upgrade is like suddenly owning a reel of Indiana Jones in your home. 

The only downside of the new 4K presentation is that it’s painfully obvious when the DP missed focus. The thing is, by comparison, nothing was in focus on my Blu-ray. So rather than complain, it’s worth celebrating: this copy of Raiders is a real find.

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