Indiana Jones Wiki

"The Return of the Great Adventure."
―Re-release tagline[src]

Raiders of the Lost Ark is an action/adventure film created by George Lucas and released through Paramount Pictures in 1981. It is the first Indiana Jones movie ever released and is considered to be chapter twenty-four in The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones. To be consistent with later titles in the franchise, the film was retitled Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark for its video release packaging in 1999, though the original title is retained onscreen in the movie. It is usually referred to simply as Raiders among individuals with more connection to the film.

Lucas began production on the movie soon after the surprise success of his 1977 motion picture Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. While the filmmaker vacationed in Hawaii with friend and director Steven Spielberg, Spielberg mentioned how he'd always wanted to make a "James Bond-like film". Lucas countered that he had a story that was better, and proposed a concept he and writer/director Philip Kaufman had worked on in 1975 based around Lucas' desire to see a movie-style return of 1930s and '40s action serials. The story was set aside while Lucas finished his work on Star Wars. Spielberg's comment gave Raiders new momentum and together, with Spielberg directing, contacted Lawrence Kasdan to write the screenplay.

Set in the early half of the 20th century, the film is the story of an archaeologist named Indiana Jones hired by the US government and pitted in a race against time to locate the mysterious and supernatural Ark of the Covenant before it falls into the hands of Adolf Hitler and his regime of Nazi supporters who seek to use the Biblical artifact's power as a means for world domination.

Shot in just 73 days and with a budget of around $20,000,000 (US), the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark on June 12, 1981 saw the movie quickly become the highest grossing film of the year with $384,140,454 worldwide, and in 1982 was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture from which it won four: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. It was re-released on video in 1999, again in 2003 for the DVD release and once more in 2008.[1] In 2012, the film received a restored, high-definition home video release as part of Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures.


Prologue: South America, 1936[]


Indy being chased by a giant boulder

The story begins with Dr. Indiana Jones's journey into the South American jungle with a group of porters to find the Golden Idol of Fertility within the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors. Jones avoids various traps, the betrayal of his two guides, Barranca and Satipo, and a giant rolling boulder that chases him out of the temple. Waiting for him outside is his nemesis, French archaeologist René Belloq, and a small army of Hovitos natives. Belloq steals the idol from Jones, who barely escapes in a pontoon plane piloted by Jock Lindsey waiting nearby.

United States[]

Back at the school where Jones teaches, two US Army intelligence men meet with the archaeologist in the auditorium along with museum curator Marcus Brody, a good friend of Indy who has brought the Washington men to see him. The pair explain that the US has intercepted a cryptic Nazi message that mentions a Professor Abner Ravenwood being under the scrutiny of German intelligence. Indy, a former student of Ravenwood, helps interpret the message as an indication that the Nazis are close to finding the Ark of the Covenant — a golden and jeweled chest constructed under the guidance of God and Moses that housed the remnants of the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Legends imply that Adolf Hitler could use the Ark to render his rising army invincible.

The Germans believe that Ravenwood has the headpiece to the Staff of Ra needed to pinpoint the Ark's resting place. The headpiece is a disk with a crystal at its center that, when affixed to the top of a shaft of specific height, focuses a beam of sunlight onto a model of Tanis, an ancient Egyptian city, thus revealing the Ark's resting place following its theft from Jerusalem by Pharaoh Shishak in the 10th century BC.



Indy engages Toht and his men in a gunfight.

Indy flies via a Pan Am Clipper to snowy, mountainous Nepal to speak with Marion Ravenwood, the professor's tough-minded and independent daughter, only to find that her father died and that she's reluctant to part with the headpiece. Jones is chased away but a sadistic and ruthless Nazi agent named Arnold Toht who had followed the archaeologist to Marion tries to take the piece from her by force, threatening her with a hot iron.

Indy, noticing the commotion, returns to the bar and engages in a fierce gunfight with Toht and his men. Marion then teams up with Indy. The pair drive off the assailants, although in the process Toht inadvertently brands the markings of one side of the headpiece onto his palm when he tries to grab the artifact from the fire which broke out during the commotion.

Cairo, Egypt[]

Jones and Ravenwood fly to Cairo and meet Indy's friend Sallah, a skilled Egyptian digger, to find help in decoding the markings on the headpiece that specify the height of the staff needed to use it effectively.

While touring about Cairo's markets, Indy and Marion encounter hired swordsmen, which results in a huge street fight. Although Indy fends off the attacking mercenaries, Nazi operatives grab Marion and throw her into a truck. The vehicle crashes and explodes when the pursuing Indy dispatches the driver with his pistol. Devastated at losing Marion to the blast, Indy retreats to a local tavern and re-encounters Belloq, hired by the Nazis to find the Ark. Attempting to attack the Frenchman despite his sermon about the relic's wonders, Jones is rescued by Sallah and his children from Belloq's armed bodyguards.

That evening, Sallah takes Indy to an old Imam who decodes the markings on the headpiece. He notes that the reverse face of the piece says that the staff must be shortened out of respect for the Hebrew God. Only having access to the information on the front side of the artifact as imprinted onto the hand of Toht, the Nazis have misread the headpiece and their staff is too long. Jones and Sallah realize that they're digging for the Ark in the wrong place so move to take it out from under the Nazis.


Infiltrating the dig, Indy and Sallah use the headpiece in the Map Room to pinpoint the Ark of the Covenant's location. Afterwards, Jones discovers Marion alive at the Tanis site. She has been bound and gagged by her captors but Jones decides to leave her behind and come back for her later, as her disappearance would jeopardize his finding the Ark.


Indy and Sallah in the Well of Souls.

When Indy and Sallah recover the Ark from deep within the snake-infested Well of Souls, Belloq and the Germans forces led by Colonel Dietrich surround the entrance, take possession of the Ark then trap Indy and Marion inside the chamber that housed the Ark. They escape though a weak stone wall and arrive in time to see a Luftwaffe aircraft being prepared to fly the Ark to Berlin.

After attempting to stop the pilot, Indy gets entangled in a fight with a muscular soldier around the spinning propellers of the plane. Marion knocks out the pilot and subdues Nazi reinforcements with the plane's coaxial machine gun while Indy — outclassed by his foe — hides his face when his opponent is torn apart by a propeller. Indy and Marion flee as burning gasoline ignites the aircraft but Belloq and Dietrich see the Ark loaded onto a truck headed for Cairo.

Stealing a horse and charging after the truck convoy, Indy manages to take control of the vehicle carrying the Ark, defeats the Nazi soldiers in the back and on the other support vehicles, and escapes from Belloq and Dietrich. Reaching Cairo with the Ark, Indy and Marion depart from a happy Sallah and sail with it on the Bantu Wind, a ship bound for England, under Captain Katanga.

During the night, the label on the crate the Ark is in mysteriously burns away.

Opening of the Ark[]

A Nazi U-boat with Belloq and Dietrich on board stops the ship and takes back the Ark and Marion, but Indy covertly travels with it as a stowaway. It docks at a submarine pen on an island in the Aegean Sea, where Indy steals a soldier's uniform. Threatening to destroy the Ark with a rocket launcher, Indy is instead convinced by Belloq to surrender, giving in to his own deep desires as an archaeologist to see the Ark's contents.

Marion and Indy are tied up and forced to view a ceremony where Belloq opens the Ark in front of a group of German soldiers. However, to his dismay, the Ark appeared to only contain sand, angering Dietrich and amusing Toht. A strange force suddenly destroys the equipment the Nazis were using to film the opening. Indy warns Marion to shut her eyes as spirits emerge from the Ark and float around the Nazis. Belloq shouts out it's "beautiful" but a spirit with the face of a woman floats towards him, and suddenly takes on a malevolent countenance. Toht and Dietrich scream at the sight. Belloq looks back into the Ark, and flames form above it. Bolts of energy shoot through the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. Dietrich's head collapses in on itself, Toht's face melts off his skull, and Belloq's head explodes. The fire rises up through the clouds before the Ark pulls in the remains of the dead and seals itself shut. Having witnessed none of it, Indy and Marion realize that their ropes have been burned off, and embrace after having been spared from the wrath of God.

Epilogue: Washington DC[]

Back in the US, the two Army intelligence representatives in Washington DC assure Indy that "top men" are studying the Ark. In reality, the Ark of the Covenant is sealed in a wooden crate and stored in a giant government warehouse filled with countless other similar crates.


  • Costume Design .... Deborah Nadoolman
  • Visual Effects Supervisor .... Richard Edlund
  • Mechanical Effects Supervisor .... Kit West
  • First Assistant Director .... David Tomblin
  • Production Supervisor .... Douglas Twiddy
  • Assistant Production Manager .... Patricia Carr
  • Second Assistant Directors ....
    • Roy Button,
    • Patrick Cadell
  • Location Manager .... Bryan Coates
  • Continuity .... Pamela Mann
  • Associate to Mr. Spielberg .... Kathleen Kennedy
  • Additional Photography .... Paul Beeson, B.S.C.
  • Operating Cameraman .... Chic Waterson
  • Assistant Cameraman .... Robin Vidgeon
  • Second Assistant Cameraman .... Danny Shelmerdine
  • Dolly Grip .... Colin Manning
  • Gaffer .... Martin Evans
  • Head Rigger .... Red Lawrence
  • Art Director .... Leslie Dilley
  • Set Director .... Michael Ford
  • Construction Manager .... Bill Welch
  • Property Master .... Frank Burton
  • Assistant Construction Manager .... George Gunning
  • Assistant Art Directors ....
    • Fred Hole
    • Michael Lamont
    • John Fenner
    • Ken Court
  • Production Illustrator .... Ed Verreaux
  • Production Artists ....
    • Michael Lloyd
    • Ron Cobb
  • Sketch Artists ....
    • Roy Carnon
    • David Negron
  • Decor & Lettering Artist .... Bob Walker
  • Draftsman .... George Djurkovic
  • Scenic Artist .... Andrew Garnet-Lawson
  • Modeller .... Keither Short
  • Chief Buyer .... David Lusby
  • Art Department Assistant .... Sharon Cartwright
  • Head Plasterer .... Bert Rodwell
  • Supervising Plasterer .... Kenneth Clark
  • Master Painter .... Eric Shirtcliffe
  • Construction Storeman .... Dave Middleton
  • Property Master (Tunisia) .... Peter Hancock
  • Property Supervisor .... Charles Torbett
  • Armorer .... Simon Atherton
  • Wardrobe Supervisor .... Rita Wakely
  • Wardrobe Assistants ....
    • Sue Wain
    • Ian Hickinbotham
  • Chief Make-Up Artist .... Tom Smith
  • Make-Up Artist .... Dickie Mills
  • Chief Hairdresser .... Patricia McDermott
  • Hairdresser .... Mike Lockey
  • Stunt Arranger .... Peter Diamond
  • Senior Effects Technician .... Peter Dawson
  • Effects Technicians ....
    • Terry Schubert
    • Rodney Fuller
    • Trevor Neighbour
  • Effects Engineering .... Terry Glass
  • Special Effects Equipment Supervisor .... Bill Warrington
  • Special Effects Electrician .... Chris Condon
  • Special Effects Carpenter .... Roy Coombes
  • Special Effects Welder .... Yves De Bono
  • Effects Assistants ....
    • Ken Gittens
    • Ray Hanson
  • Animal Handlers ....
    • Michael Culling
    • Steve Edge
    • Jed Edge
  • Sound Design .... Ben Burtt
  • Supervising Sound Effects Editor .... Richard L. Anderson
  • Sound Effects Editors ....
    • Steve H. Flick
    • Mark Mangini
  • Supervising Dialogue Editor .... Curt Schulkey
  • Dialogue Editor .... Andy Patterson
  • Assistant Dialogue Editor .... Eric Whitfield
  • Production Sound .... Roy Charman
  • Sound Boom Operator .... John Salter
  • Production Maintenance .... George Rice
  • Re-Recording ....
    • Bill Varney
    • Steve Maslow
    • Gregg Landaker
  • Music Recording .... Eric Tomlinson
  • Orchestrations .... Herbert W. Spencer
  • Supervising Music Editor .... Kenneth Wannberg
  • Assistant Film Editors ....
    • Phil Sanderson
    • Bruce Green
    • Colin Wilson
  • Apprentice Film Editor .... Julie Kahn Zunder
  • Apprentice Sound Editor .... Rupert Grives
  • Foley Editor .... John Dunn
  • Sound Effects Recording .... Gary Summers
  • Recording Technician .... Howie Hammerman
  • Research .... Deborah Fine
  • Assistants to Mr. Marshall ....
    • Patty Rumph
    • Barbara Harley
  • Assistant to Mr. Spielberg .... Marty Casella
  • Assistant to Mr. Kazanjian .... Laura Kenmore
  • Assistant to Mr. Lucas .... Jane Bay
  • Production Assistants ....
    • Gill Case
    • Daniel Parker
  • Doctor .... Dr. Felicity Hodder
  • Production Accountant .... Arthur Carroll
  • Assistant Accountant .... Michael Larkins
  • Location Accountant .... Stefano Priori
  • Still Photographer .... Albert Clark
  • Unit Publicist .... Derek Robbins

2nd Unit

  • Operating Cameramen ....
    • Wally Byatt
    • Gerry Dunkley
    • David Worley
  • Assistant Cameraman .... Chris Tanner
  • Second Assistant Cameraman .... Eamonn O'Keefe
  • Dolly Grip .... Jim Kane
  • First Assistant Director .... Carlos Gill
  • Second Assistant Director .... Michael Hook
  • Continuity .... Maggie Jones
  • Doctor .... Dr. Hassam Moossun

Special Visual Effects Produced at Industrial Light & Magic Marin County, CA.

  • Optical Photography Supervisor .... Bruce Nicholson
  • Production Supervisor .... Thomas Smith
  • Art Director-Visual Effects .... Joe Johnston
  • Matte Painting Supervisor .... Alan Maley
  • Visual Effects Editorial Supervisor .... Conrad Buff
  • Production Co-Ordinator .... Patricia Blau
  • Production Associate .... Miki Herman
  • Animation Supervisors ....
    • Samuel Comstock
    • Deitrich Friesen
  • Effects Cameraman .... Jim Veilleux
  • Camera Operators ....
    • Bill Neil
    • Don Dow
  • Assistant Cameraman .... Clint Palmer
  • Optical Printer Operators ....
    • David Berry
    • Kenneth Smith
    • John Ellis
  • Optical Line-Up ....
    • Mark Vargo
    • Warren Franklin
    • Tom Rosseter
  • Assistant Art Director .... Nilo Rodis-Jamero
  • Illustrator .... Ralph McQuarrie
  • Matte Photography .... Neil Krepela
  • Modelshop Foreman .... Lorne Peterson
  • Model Makers ....
    • Steve Gawley
    • Mike Fulmer
    • Wesley Seeds
    • Paul Huston
    • Charlie Bailey
    • Sam Zolltheis
    • Marc Thorpe
    • Bruce Richardson
    • Ease Owyeung
  • Animators ....
    • John Van Vleit
    • Kim Knowlton
    • Garry Waller
    • Loring Doyle
    • Scott Caple
    • Judy Elkins
    • Sylvia Keulen
    • Scott Marshall
  • Assitant Effects Editors ....
    • Peter Amundson
    • Howard Stein
  • Assistant Film Editor .... Duwayne Dunham
  • Prodiction Co-ordinator .... Laurie Vermont
  • Cloud Effects .... Gary Platek
  • Special Make-Up Effects .... Christopher Walas
  • Laboratory Technicians ....
    • Tim Geidman
    • Duncan Myers
    • Ed Jones
  • Still Photographer .... Terry Chostner
  • Administration Assistant .... Chrissie England
  • Production Accountants ....
    • David Kakita
    • Shirley Lee
    • Laura Kaysen
  • Still Lab Technicians ....
    • Roberto McGrath
    • Kerry Nordquist
  • Electronic Systems Designer .... Jerry Jeffress
  • Computer Engineering .... Kris Brown
  • Design Engineer .... Mike Bolles
  • Electronics Engineers ....
    • Mike MacKenzie
    • Marty Brenneis
    • Garry Leo
  • Electronic Technicians ....
    • Cristi McCarthy
    • Bessie Wiley
    • Melissa Cargill
  • Equipment Engineering Supervisor .... Gene Whiteman
  • Machinist .... Udo Pampel
  • Special Projects .... Wade Childress
  • Supervising Stage Technician .... T. E. Moehnke
  • Stage Technicians ....
    • William Beck
    • Dick Dova
    • Bobby Finley III
    • Edward Hirsch
    • Patrick Fitzsimmons
    • John McCleod
    • Peter Stolz
  • Pyrotechnics .... Thaine Morris
  • Ultra High Speed Camera .... Bruce Hill Productions
  • Color Timer .... Robert McMillian
  • Negative Cutter .... Brian Ralph
  • Additional Optical Effects ....
    • MGM Optical
    • Modern Film Effects
  • Titles .... MGM Titles

Tunisian Unit

  • Production Co-Ordinator .... Tarak Ben Ammar
  • Production Supervisor .... Mohamed Ali Cherif
  • Production Manager .... Hassine Soufi
  • First Assistant Director .... Naceur Ktari
  • Location Managers ....
    • Habib Chaari
    • Abdelkrim Baccar
  • Assistant Art Director .... Hassan Soufi
  • Accountant .... Ridna Turki

French Unit

  • Production Manager .... Dorothy Marchini
  • First Assistant Director .... Vincent Joliet
  • Production Assistant .... Junior Charles
  • Accountant .... Stella Quef

Peruvian-Haiwaiian Unit

  • Production Co-ordinator .... Dan Nichols
  • Second Assistant Director .... Louis G. Friedman
  • Location Manager .... Maile Semitokol
  • Gaffer .... Alan Brady
  • Transportation Captain .... Harry Ueshiro
  • Accountant .... Bonnie Radford


Filmed in Panavision®

Recorded in Dolby Stereo®

Color by Rank Film Laboratories
Prints in Metrocolor®

™ and © Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL) MCMLXXXI
All Rights Reserved

No. 26345 Motion Picture Association of America

Music Performed by The London Symphony Orchestra

Our Appreciation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Cooporation

Photographed in France, Tunisia, Hawaii
and at EMI Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, England

The persons and events in this film are ficitious. Any similarity to actual persons or events is unintentional.

This motion picture is protected under the laws of the United States and other countries. Unauthorized duplication, distribution or exhibition may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

Original Soundtrack Album on CBS Records




Other characters[]






Raiders of the Lost Ark map

Representation of the flight paths taken in the movie.

Organizations and titles[]

Vehicles and vessels[]

Weapons and equipment[]


Behind the scenes[]



Raiders title card.


Re-release poster.

In the early 1970s, during what was supposed to be research for his space-fantasy story, The Star Wars, a distracted George Lucas began noting ideas for an archaeologist who was actually a grave robber that sought out supernatual artifacts.[2]

Like Star Wars, Indiana Smith–as it was then known–was inspired by the 1930s and '40s matinee serials that Lucas had enjoyed in his youth. Where the space-fantasy was influenced by Flash Gordon, Indiana Smith had its basis in the likes of Don Winslow of the Navy, the globetrotting serviceman who took the fight to the Nazis, and Tim Tyler's Luck whose protagonist "was always looking for the lost graveyard of the elephants or the golden eye of some idol" according to Lucas. He felt that making the latter comparatively more realistic had appeal. However, the main visual that struck the filmmaker was the image of Zorro leaping mid-chase from horseback onto a moving truck during Zorro Rides Again (1937).[2]

Looking for people to develop the project, Lucas approached his friend, writer-director Philip Kaufman. In fleshing out the concept, Kaufman told Lucas about the Ark of the Covenant, influenced by an old dentist of his who was obsessed with the lost relic's legendary powers. The two filmmakers' work together also resulted in the film gaining its title: Raiders of the Lost Ark, the idea being that Indiana Smith's adventures would be a series of pictures with each installment prefixed with the Raiders of title. However, Kaufman was struggling financially so when he was offered the chance to write the screenplay for Clint Eastwood vehicle The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Kaufman took the job and progress on the first Raiders film stalled.[2]

Lucas turned his attention back to Star Wars then retreated to Hawaii to avoid its 1977 opening night in Los Angeles. Joined on the vacation by director Steven Spielberg, Lucas told his friend about his Raiders series over dinner one night.[2] The next day, when Spielberg expressed his interest in directing a James Bond film, Lucas responded that Raiders of the Lost Ark was "better" and, envisioning a trilogy, convinced Spielberg to take the helm for the first movie and its sequels.[3] A director himself, Lucas had no intention of being in that role for Indiana Smith's adventures as the experience on Star Wars had been bad for his health to the point that he was eyeing retirement.[2]

For the film's screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan had caught Spielberg's attention with his script for Continental Divide (1981) which evoked a 1930s/'40s sensibility that Spielberg and Lucas were looking for in Raiders.[2] Spielberg had also taken notice of producer Frank Marshall while visiting the set of Peter Bogdanovich and was impressed by Marshall's ability to juggle his workload and lunch on the move to the point that he didn't actually stop to eat.[4] As executive producer, Lucas met with Spielberg's suggestions. After interviewing Marshall to gauge his interest in the project, Lucas asked him to stay back as Spielberg was on his way. The director brought Kasdan with him to meet Lucas for the first time, and Lucas introduced Kasdan and Marshall to each other as Raiders of the Lost Ark's writer and producer respectively.[2]

Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan met in January 1978 for a five-day story conference to brainstorm and structure the Indiana Smith concept out of which Kasdan would write the screenplay. The discussions resulted, among other things, in the Smith character becoming Indiana Jones. Spielberg had hated the original name, feeling it was too evocative of the 1966 Steve McQueen feature Nevada Smith. It was an easy concession for Lucas who had simply wanted a generic name that tapped into American culture. He also suggested that Jones hailed from Indiana although the character himself was named after Lucas' dog.[2]

Despite Harrison Ford being the first name Lucas had replied with when Kasdan asked during their meetings who he saw for Jones, Lucas was not looking to cast him. In addition to not wanting the frequent collaborative relationship typified by Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro—Ford had roles in Lucas' preceding American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars (1977) projects—the filmmaker had assumed that the actor would not be inclined to commit to a three-picture deal. Lucas and Spielberg would focus their search on less-established actors instead.[2]

Comic book artist Jim Steranko was commissioned to produce four concept paintings for pre-production to help establish the look of the film and the character of Indiana Jones in particular. As part of his notes, Lucas forwarded the Zorro image along with annotated copies of Steranko's own illustrations for Robert E. Howard's El Borak short story "Three-Bladed Doom" as a visual guide.[2] Steranko's paintings and a copy of Kasdan's screenplay formed a presentation packet used to help pitch Raiders of the Lost Ark to movie studios.[5]

The early 1970s had been dominated by action films either with a certain gritty realism, such as the Dirty Harry series, or that were massive productions with huge casts and elaborate special effects such as The Poseidon Adventure. By contrast Raiders of the Lost Ark is comic book-like in tone, with a glamorous heroine, over-the-top villains, and impressive stunt work combined with moments of comedy. It was also limited in its ambitions as it was shot in only 73 days, the plot is rather straightforward, and there are only a few principal characters.

There were three stunt doubles for Harrison Ford, the primary being British born stunt man Vic Armstrong, who reportedly resembled Ford to the degree that people off camera often mistook him for Harrison Ford. But Ford fought to do much of the fights and stunts himself, citing there wouldn't have been much else for him to do if he wasn't in the thick of it.

All of the scenes taking place in Cairo, Egypt were actually filmed in Kairouan, Tunisia. The scenes of the Tanis excavation and Jones leaping from horseback onto the convoy truck were filmed just a few hundred meters from the Tunisian canyon at Sidi Bouhlel on the outskirts of Tozeur. The U-boat scenes were shot at La Rochelle, both outside the harbor and inside the U-boat bunkers there, built by the Germans in 1942. Filming was done here due to the need to obtain a U-boat to film with — the film "borrowed" the U-boat that was being prepared for filming Das Boot, which was also filming at the same time and in the same area.

The film was originally set to be rated R because, during the climax of the film, there is a visual of Belloq's exploding head. After the effect was obscured by a column of fire, the rating was lowered to PG.

Deleted scenes[]

  • The Chachapoyan fertility idol, sought by Jones and Satipo in South America in the opening scenes of the film, was designed with eyes that would unnaturally follow Jones around the room. Although this was eventually cut from the film, the idol's eyes can be seen scanning back and forth briefly as the camera pushes in for its first real look at the artifact, just after Jones bounds over the steps leading up to the sanctuary.
  • Right before Indy leaves the Raven he comes to Marion Ravenwood and they kiss.
  • The original version of the Cairo swordfight pitted the Arab Swordsman's sword against Indy's whip. Harrison Ford had been suffering from dysentery and exhaustion due to the extreme heat of Tunisia during filming. As originally planned, the scene was elaborately choreographed, with Jones facing the expert swordsman and trying to defeat him with just his whip. Some footage of the planned fight was shot (and was seen in at least one of the movie's trailers) but the filming was proving to be very tedious, both for Ford and the crew, and at some point Ford had had enough. It has been widely reported that he said something to Spielberg along the lines of, "Why don't we just shoot the bastard?" Spielberg liked the idea so scrapped the rest of the fight sequence.
  • The Imam warns Indy and Sallah about the dangers of the Ark of the Covenant: if anyone touches or looks at the Ark they will die, thus explaining the final moments of the film when Indy and Marion are spared from the wrath of God.
  • While Indy is down in the Map Room, Sallah accidentally spills water from a marmite on two soldiers and promises to return with more.
  • Dietrich orders that Sallah be executed and directs a young soldier to do it, but the boy is unable to do it and lets Sallah go instead.
  • Right when Indy and Marion escape the Well of Souls, Indy comes face to face with a surprised Arab guard and knocks him out.
  • When the Nazi submarine goes underwater, Indy lashes his whip onto the periscope and rides all the way to the Nazis' secret island base.


While the movie takes place in 1936, sources vary on the exact time placement.

When the map showing the flightpath of Indiana Jones' plane journey to Nepal is displayed, the Himalayan state of Sikkim (located between Nepal and Bhutan) is shown as being part of India, when in actuality, Sikkim didn't join India until 1975. The map also displays Thailand, which was actually called Siam until 1949. Additionally, when the map showing the flightpath of Indy and Marion's plane journey from Nepal to Egypt is displayed, the red line passes over Jordan. However, Jordan was named Transjordan until 1949.

The Nepal to Egypt flightpath map mistakenly displays Qatar as part of Saudi Arabia, when in fact Qatar was a British protectorate at the time, and has never been part of Saudi Arabia. It also shows Lebanon as part of Syria, when in fact Lebanon was a French territorial mandate at the time, and hasn't been part of Syria since 1920.

In the Nepal scene, one of the Nazi thugs is seen firing an MP40, which was designed in 1938, entered service in 1939, and didn't exist back in 1936. The Nazis at Tanis are depicted in uniforms of the Afrika Korps of the German Army, which didn't exist until 1941. It was the SS affiliated Ahnenerbe (which was never part of the Afrika Korps) who went digging for artifacts during that era. Considering that Egypt was still a British protectorate in 1936, armed and uniformed Germans wouldn't be permitted there.

During the Well of Souls scene, when Indy stares at the cobra, the snake's reflection is visible in the glass separating the two to prevent the cobra from actually harming any of the actors (the reflection was digitally removed for the DVD releases).


Can you find R2-D2 and C-3PO?

In the scene where Indiana Jones is lifting the Ark of the Covenant out of its holding place in the Well of Souls, one of the hieroglyphs is meant to resemble Star Wars characters C-3PO and R2-D2. The Ark of the Covenant was later added as background elements to the 2009 Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Liberty on Ryloth". It later returned in a similar role in the 2016 Star Wars Rebels episode "The Wynkathu Job". The Staff of Ra also had a role in the 2009 Clone Wars episode "The Gungan General".

When Indiana Jones is breaking out of the Well of Souls, he shoves a heavy stone block out of the wall. The sound effects and shadow indicate the block bounced.

Vic Tablian plays not only Barranca, who attempts to murder Jones by the water just after the opening credits (and is later seen as a victim of the Hovitos), but also the "Monkey Man" who rides the motorcycle following Jones in Cairo. Pat Roach, the actor who played the giant Sherpa and large mechanic with whom Jones brawls in the bar and Flying Wing sequences respectively was such a formidable opponent for Jones that he returned in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in similar roles as huge, burly fighters.

In the airplane scene, a drivechain can be seen turning the plane's undercarriage in several shots.

Several of the vehicles used by the Nazis are either anachronistic or not German at all, or both. The Cairo truck that flips over and blows up is a Mercedes-Benz L 701, which wasn't manufactured until 1943. The gas truck and troop carrier seen at the Tanis airfield are both British Morris-Commercial models, CD and CV respectively, and are both from two to three years after the movie is set. The German Mercedes-Benz 320 staff car is actually a Jaguar MK9 with a modified MK5 body, two were built for the movie by Classic Cars of Coventry. The cargo truck is a Mercedes-Benz LG3000 replica built on a GMC CCKW. The troop car is a total fabrication.

In the scene where Jones threatens to destroy the Ark, he's holding a Soviet RPG-7, which didn't appear until 1961, well after World War II. He should be using either an anti-tank rifle or a rifle-fired grenade, since the film takes place years before the outbreak of the Second World War. This scene was also shot in the same Tunisian canyon where George Lucas shot a scene involving Jawas kidnapping R2-D2 in his earlier film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Later in the scene, when Belloq is negotiating with the RPG-toting Jones, it appears that a fly crawls into actor Paul Freeman's mouth. Since the DVD version, however, viewers are in a position to see the bug fly off at the moment it "enters" his mouth, ending rumors that Freeman actually swallowed it.


The $20-million film was a huge success, easily the highest grossing film (earning $210 million approx.) of 1981, and, at the time, one of the highest-grossing movies ever made. According to the 2005 edition of The World Almanac (from Variety data), the first two Star Wars films are the only pictures released prior to 1981 that have out-earned Raiders.

Film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 93% critic rating with a 96% audience score, with the critics consensus calling it, "one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time." Metacritic gave the film 90/100, saying it's, " astonishing cliffhanger after another...".[6]

The box office success of the film led to a prequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and two sequels, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

The 1954 Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge adventure "The Seven Cities of Cibola" (Uncle Scrooge #7) is popularly credited as the inspiration for the rolling boulder booby trap during the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The movie plot also has a similar premise to many Carl Barks "Uncle Scrooge" comic books which often centered around journey for a famous treasure. In turn, an episode of the TV series DuckTales, based on the Uncle Scrooge comic books, is titled "Raiders of the Lost Harp".

Critics consider the 1954 Paramount Pictures adventure film Secret of the Incas starring Charlton Heston as adventurer Harry Steele on the trail of an ancient Incan artifact to be prototypical to Raiders of the Lost Ark in both theme and style.[7] While the film is not officially credited as an influence, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman notes that the Steele character's outfit was the direct inspiration for Jones's attire and asserts that Secret of the Incas is Raiders almost shot-for-shot.[8] Noting the similarities himself, executive producer Howard Kazanjian has said that when he asked George Lucas and Steven Spielberg about it, neither man claimed to have seen it.[5]

Film director Michael Bay worked on the film in a minor capacity, filing its storyboards at Lucasfilm Ltd.. Having thought that the finished product was going to be bad, seeing the film in theaters actually convinced Bay that he wanted to be a film director.[9]

Director David Lean cited Raiders as one of his favorite films after it came out. Lean's Lawrence of Arabia is on record as being director Steven Spielberg's favorite film. During the Map Room scene, Indy is dressed very similar to Lawrence.

In 1998, the American Film Institute placed the film at number 60 on its top 100 films of the first century of cinema. In 1999 the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

An amateur shot-for-shot remake was made by Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb. It took the boys seven years to finish from 1982-1989. It was discovered by filmmaker Eli Roth, given notoriety by Harry Knowles of AintItCoolNews and acclaimed by Spielberg himself.


'Raiders of the Lost Ark' was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1982 and won four (Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration). It won numerous other awards including seven Saturn Awards.


Home video[]


Raiders of the Lost Ark 2003 DVD cover.

Raiders of the Lost Ark DVD 2008

Raiders of the Lost Ark 2008 DVD cover.

The film was released on VHS, Beta, CED and laserdisc, and was one of the first films which led to the concept of consumers owning films, rather than renting them.

For its 1999 VHS re-issue, and the subsequent DVD release four years later, the outer package bears the new title Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, the title in the film itself remains unchanged, even in the restored DVD print. This change was made to correlate with the titles of the film's prequel and sequel. Raiders was later released on DVD in 2003 and was reissued in May 2008.

Toy line[]

There was a toy line for Raiders of the Lost Ark released in 1982 by Kenner thought it only lasted through 1983. Numerous action figures, vehicles, playsets, and a 12 inch Indiana Jones large sized action figure were released. Years later, in 2001, Disney Parks released an Indiana Jones toy line based on Raiders. A second line was also released in 2003. On May 1, 2008, a brand new Raiders toy line hit stores in conjunction with the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Video games[]

The only video game based exclusively on Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in 1982 by Atari for their Atari 2600 console.

Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures's first twelve levels are based on the movie, as are the first six of LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.

Notes and references[]

External links[]

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Novel (Adventures of Indiana Jones) · Junior novel (Collector's Edition) · Storybook · Read-Along Adventure · Mighty Chronicles
Partial adaptations
Indy's Adventures · Traps and Snares · Great Escapes · The Search For Buried Treasure
Soundtrack (The Soundtracks Collection) · The Movie on Record
Comic · 1 · 2 · 3 · Marvel Comics Super Special · Marvel Movie Spotlight · Omnibus 1 · The Gold Goddess
Video game · Greatest Adventures · Trading cards · Indiana Jones Heritage · Raiders of the Lost Ark Game
Adventure Pack · Sourcebook
LEGO Indiana Jones
LEGO Indiana Jones Adventures · The Original Adventures · The Adventure Continues
Activity books
Coloring/Activity Book · Things to Do and Color · Indiana Jones and his Life of Adventure · Annual 2009 · Annual 2010 · Activity Annual · Winter Activity Annual · Golden Treasure Sticker Book · Heroes and Villains Sticker Book · The Greatest Adventures of Indiana Jones
Behind the scenes
The Making of: (Book · Documentary) · Great Movie Stunts · The Illustrated Screenplay · Original Movie Script · From Star Wars to Indiana Jones · A Look Inside · Making the Trilogy · Indiana Jones: An Appreciation · Creepy Crawlies · Travel with Indy: Locations · Stunts of Indiana Jones · Sound of Indiana Jones · Light and Magic of Indiana Jones · Music of Indiana Jones · Indy's Women · Indy's Friends and Enemies · The Complete Making of Indiana Jones
On Set With Raiders of the Lost Ark: (From Jungle to Desert · From Adventure to Legend)
Script development
Story conference transcript · Screenplay drafts
Home video
VHS (The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones) · DVD (Adventure Collection · Complete Adventure Collection)
Blu-ray (The Complete Adventures) · 4K (4-Movie Collection) · LaserDisc
Great Movie Stunts & The Making Of Raiders of the Lost Ark
Other material and merchandise
Toy line · Collector's Album · Official Film Poster Magazine · LEGO Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Brick
Indiana Jones films
Raiders of the Lost Ark · Temple of Doom · Last Crusade
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull · Dial of Destiny
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
Feature-length episodes
Curse of the Jackal · Mystery of the Blues · Scandal of 1920 · Phantom Train of Doom
TV movies
Hollywood Follies · Attack of the Hawkmen · Treasure of the Peacock's Eye · Travels with Father
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones
The Early Years
My First Adventure · Passion for Life · The Perils of Cupid · Travels with Father
Journey of Radiance · Spring Break Adventure · Love's Sweet Song
The War Years
Trenches of Hell · Demons of Deception · Phantom Train of Doom
Oganga, The Giver and Taker of Life · Attack of the Hawkmen · Adventures in the Secret Service
Espionage Escapades · Daredevils of the Desert
The Years of Change
Tales of Innocence · Masks of Evil · Treasure of the Peacock's Eye · Winds of Change
Mystery of the Blues · Scandal of 1920 · Hollywood Follies
Timeline of films
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1936 September 1936 1936
Indiana Jones and the Legion of Death Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients