Raiders of the Lost Ark Review
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
December 10, 1981
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
The monkey raising his paw and saying (in his own language) “Heil Hitler”
was thought up by George Lucas and is one of Steven Spielberg’s two favorite scenes (in the video box set, he says his other favorite is the “where doesn’t it hurt” love scene on the ship). In Empire magazine, Frank Marshall said that they got the monkey to do the Nazi salute by putting a grape on a fishing pole and getting the monkey to reach for the grape, which was dangling just out of camera range. This took about 50 takes before it actually looked like a Nazi salute. Voice-artist Frank Welker provided the chattering sounds for the monkey, including the “Sieg Heil”-like chirp that the monkey gives when it raises its paw in salute. (Welker later provided similar monkey chatter for Abu, the spider monkey in Disney’s Aladdin (1992).)
Idea for the character
George Lucas first dreamed up the idea of an adventurous archaeologist about the same time he came up with the idea for the Flash Gordon-type space story which became Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977).
Michael Bay had some involvement..
in the storyboards of the action scenes. After the film’s success, he was inspired to be a director.
On the Bonus Features DVD
…John Rhys-Davies talks about how when he auditioned for the role of Sallah, he was concerned since the script originally described Sallah as a “5-foot-2, skinny, Egyptian digger”. Steven Spielberg mentioned that when he first heard Rhys-Davies speak, he reminded him of the Shakespearean character Falstaff. Spielberg then told Rhys-Davies that for his performance as Sallah, to combine his earlier role as “Vasco Rodrigues” from the miniseries Shogun (1980) with the character of Falstaff.
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas disagreed on the character of Indiana Jones: although Lucas saw him as a Bondian playboy, Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan felt the character’s academic and adventurer elements made him complex enough. Spielberg had a darker vision of Jones, interpreting him as an alcoholic similar to Humphrey Bogart’s character Fred C. Dobbs in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). This characterization fell away during the later drafts, though elements survive in Jones’s reaction when he believes Marion to be dead.
Indy’s leather jacket
Indy’s battered leather jacket was actually brand new and had to be artificially aged by the costume department. There were 10 jackets for general wear and tear and stunt purposes.
Only Indiana Jones film in the series to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Experimental black-and-white version
In 2014, Steven Soderbergh published an experimental black-and-white version of the film, with the original soundtrack and dialogue replaced by an electronic soundtrack. Soderbergh said his intention was to encourage viewers to focus on Steven Spielberg’s extraordinary staging and editing: “This filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day.”
Casting of Harrison Ford
Steven Spielberg first suggested Harrison Ford for the part of Indy. George Lucas was initially against the idea as he had already worked with Ford in American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). Lucas had noted his film colleague and close friend Martin Scorsese earned a reputation for casting Robert De Niro in most of his movies, and didn’t want Ford to become know as what he called “My [Lucas’s] Bobby”.
Steven Spielberg’s most storyboarded film
With four illustrators, this was Steven Spielberg’s most storyboarded film of his career to date.
In the map room, one of the buildings has red graffiti written on it that says, “Nicht stören”, which is German for “Do not disturb”.
Theory as per The Big Bang Theory
An episode of The Big Bang Theory (2007) includes mention of a theory stated by the character Amy that Indiana Jones supposedly had no effect on the outcome since the Nazis actually did get the ark. This is false, however, because Belloq states in the beginning of the movie that following Indy around is his usual way of finding things, which is the basis of their rivalry. This along with scenes where Belloq is advising the Nazis indicate that Belloq has told the Nazis to follow Indy around until he leads them to the ark, as he has led Belloq to previous discoveries.
George Lucas directed..
a few second unit shots, in particular the monkey giving the Nazi salute
The well-known line “Indy, they’re digging in the wrong place!” is in fact a misquote. The true line is simply “They’re digging in the wrong place,” and is spoken by both Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and Indiana (Harrison Ford).
Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.
Voted number 20 in Channel 4’s (UK) “Greatest Family Films”.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #66 Greatest Movie of All Time.
Voted #2 on Empire magazine’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time (September 2008).
Although there is a fan theory that Indiana Jones has no impact on the plot (the Nazis found the Ark and opened it despite his attempted intervention) this fails to account for Marion. Had Indy not shown up, the Nazis would have killed her. He also saved her life again when the Ark was opened and he told her to close her eyes, something she wouldn’t have done had he not been there.
RT/Meta Critic Review
This bullwhip-cracking action-adventure launched the series starring Harrison Ford. (Click here to see)