Not being terribly well yesterday I wanted to curl up and watch some cinematic comfort food. I picked Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which I’d not seen since I was 13. It was interesting how different the film is from the version of the film I’d carried in my head, particularly in terms of pacing.

My imagined Raiders is much more of a convoluted race for the Ark, and when the goodies find the Ark and the baddies subsequently get it, they open it immediately and the film ends. The long – and very exciting – truck chase scene I had completely forgotten about. The aeroplane fight I had moved much earlier in the movie. The pirate ship / U-boat stuff near the end – vanished. So the version of Raiders I watched last night was in one sense oddly disappointing.

‘My’ version conforms a lot more to the action film genre conventions Raiders did its bit to forge. But in 1981 they were unrefined, and so now it seems to me that Raiders misses tricks or even gets things ‘wrong’. The sadistic giggling Nazi is introduced and used very much as Marian’s adversary and the genre-schooled viewer expects him to meet a separate end at her hands. There are also pains taken to individualise the villains – Belloc is bad, Nazi chief is worse, Nazi giggler is worst – but for the last third of the film they all act together and all die together too. Indy and Belloc don’t get a final confrontation – or at least not one that Indy wins. And after the truck chase there’s a final 20-30 minutes with hardly any action at all – no wonder I’d mentally truncated it.

So Raiders now feels full of set-ups that don’t always pay off. But on the other hand this made it a more interesting film than I was expecting – OK, I knew the soul-sucking end, but how it got there surprised me (and I’d completely forgotten that lovely final payoff shot). It also reminded me that most of the genre conventions that make blockbusters predictable become so because they’re dramatic best practise, too.