Seven years later, after an odyssey that tested their relationship as well as their filmmaking acumen, the result was a remarkable shot-for-shot replica—except for the airplane fight sequence in the North African desert. VICE’s new series “American Obsessions,” which unearths stories of the strange cultural phenomena that capture the public imagination, debuts with an 11-minute short about Zala and Strompolos’ homemade passion project, including the campaign, thirty years after “Raiders” first appeared in theaters, to shoot the airplane scene.
VICE, the irreverent news organization famously taken down a notch by late New York Times media columnist David Carr, is not always quite so brave in its reporting as founder and frequent correspondent Shane Smith seems to think: his “VICE Special Report: Killing Cancer,” for instance, skirts tough questions about cost, scale, access, and safety in order to focus on successful viral cancer treatments, and VICE’s half-hour news magazine, which returns to HBO for its third season on Friday, continues to suffer from the same “safari-helmet-and-human-shit” arrogance Carr noticed. (As VICE’s Caitlin Bruner points out, Carr softened his position on the organization in a subsequent column that praised VICE News’ documentary “Islamic State.”)
But “American Obsessions” parlays VICE’s youthful energy into eccentric subjects (pinball, “Sailor Moon,” Lisa Frank, Cabbage Patch dolls) that deserve to be rediscovered with fresh eyes. By the end of this 11-minute segment, Zala and Strompolos’ “Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adapation” is not only a “love letter” to Indiana Jones, but also a wistful portrait of nostalgia in action.