Ruthless Individuality: Criticism’s Past, and Hopefully Its Future

Writing in The New Yorker in June of 1981 about the upcoming film Raiders of the Lost Ark, film critic Pauline Kael made it clear that she was not a huge fan. The action sequences left her exhausted and unmoved. “Kinesthetically, the film gets to you,” she wrote. “It gets your heart thumping. But there’s no exhilaration in this dumb, motor excitement.” And later in the same review: “Seeing Raiders is like being put through a Cuisinart — something has been done to us, but not to our benefit.”