Thursday July 27, 2023, at 7:30 pm
Written by Michael David Martin
When thinking about this epic 1981 Steven Spielberg classic film, one word comes to mind, adventure. Looking back, I remember waiting two to four hours in line because back then, a big buzz movie maybe played in only one San Francisco theatre. Those were long hours for a tiny child to stand on his little legs covered in beige corduroy pants. Come to think of it, I probably had on a members-only jacket staying true to early 80s fashion and hip SF style. Who knew that my world was about to change by a whip-wielding archaeologist in a brown hat that must have had super glue around the inner rim to keep it on? A high-crowned, wide-brimmed sable fedora, to be exact. Sometimes even risked his own life to ensure he didn’t lose it while chasing historical ruins and treasures. I must have searched every hat store in San Francisco to find that same hat with no luck. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully develop my fashionista tracking skills then, but the seeds were planted.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Jaws (1975) were the only Spielberg blockbusters I had seen during the late 1970s on cable TV or the movie theatre. The Nazi battling, religious relic adventure movie seemed entirely out of left field as something fresh and new. You’re immediately drawn in and enchanted from the start, and I knew I was in for something special. Then boom, like a cannon, you’re thrown into the very first big action, and from there on, it’s a roller coaster ride of epic fun and excitement. Spielberg plays on the innocent adventure movies of an earlier time introducing the world to one of its greatest movie heroes. Yes, Indiana Jones was born! The magic of Indy, along with his fantastical acting comrades, was rated PG, surely to attract young and old fans. I was lucky to have a film-loving uncle who took me to all the best of the best, including Star Wars, which also starred the excellent Harrison Ford! Why do I mention Star Wars, besides Harrison making both Han Solo and Indiana Jones legendary and iconic characters, you ask? Both movies have the epic score of the incredible John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra, which is tailor-made for any great symphony. Lucasfilm (George Lucas) also acted as a story writer and executive producer on all four Indiana Jones films.
From the moment we entered Davies Symphony Hall, I had the jitters of excitement and felt like I was reliving my childhood days of seeing Raiders of The Lost Arc for the 1st time. Well, this can be considered a 1st as it’s the first time watching our beloved SF orchestra take the film to new musical heights. Saying I was beyond ecstatic would be an understatement. The halls were packed as I anticipated on Thursday summer eve. As the bells rang, we were ushered to our seats in the orchestra section, one of my favourite places to sit as you feel encompassed by the entire performance. We had the pleasure of Constantine Kitsopoulos conducting our fantastic San Francisco Symphony tonight. His long list of symphonic repertoires and films with live orchestras proceeds him. He was no amateur in bringing each note of the movie to life, and I couldn’t wait for the 1st beat. Nothing is better than hearing the memorable Raiders of the Lost Ark symphonic hook with a live audience inside Davis Hall. Wow, just phenomenal! Our beloved SF Symphony Orchestra and conductor Constantine locked so tightly with the film onscreen that it was almost as if they were meant to be one. This unison allowed the entire audience to get even deeper into the adventure. Seeing a classic movie at Davies Hall had a similar energy to my first time watching this film in 1981, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was even more exciting. Of course, back then, you couldn’t have a cocktail during intermission or sit in an orchestral room with epic sounds like the Davies Hall. We had to do our best to sneak in alcohol as kids, and many times we were caught and ousted from the theatre. Ah, those were the days, ha-ha. The Davies Hall, on the other hand, delivers comfort, class, service, and an atmosphere second to none. Honestly, there is nothing like it! Harrison Ford went on to star in Bladerunner the following year, creating another iconic film and character to add to his list of accolades. If there is ever a request in my book, I’m begging anyone listening at the SF Symphony, PLEASE, can you add Bladerunner to the roster? I’ll even wait in line for 3 hours to experience the magic of that film brought to life with arguably the best orchestra in the country. Ah, I can only dream, and until then, all I can say is, wow, what a night!
Constantine Kitsopoulos (Conductor)
San Francisco Symphony
John Williams (Composer)
Steven Spielberg (Director)
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