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Trivia / Raiders of the Lost Ark

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  • Acting for Two:
    • Renowned British wrestler Pat Roach gets killed twice in this film - once as a giant Sherpa left in the burning Nepalese bar and once as the German mechanic chewed up by the plane's propeller.
    • Vic Tabilan plays Indy's treacherous guide and the monkey man.
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  • California Doubling: On-location filming took place primarily in Hawaii and Tunisia, doubling for South America and Egypt respectively. In Hawaii, they filmed on the island of Kauai, where Speilberg would return to shoot the Isla Nublar scenes for Jurassic Park. Tunisia also plays the Nazis' secret island for the scene when Indy threatens to blow up the Ark. In fact, it's the same canyon where R2-D2 was captured by Jawas in A New Hope. The submarine base is actually located in France, and was also featured in Das Boot, which was being filmed at the same time incidentally. With the studio sets built at Elstree Studios, most of the U.S. scenes were filmed at the nearby Royal Masonic School, with the result that England doubles for the U.S.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Michael Sheard was the runner-up to play Toht before ultimately being cast as the U-boat captain. He would play Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  • Deleted Scene: Scenes cut from the film:
    • In the uncut conversation between Indy and Marion at the Raven Bar, Marion explains the cause of Abner's death and tells Indy about the difficult last two years of her life. After having arranged the following day's appointment for the delivery of the medallion, Indy turns to leave, only to return under Marion's urge; she grabs his jacket and pulls him close for a kiss. The whole Raven Bar scene was cut because it was considered too long. The kissing part can be seen in The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark documentary. The scene appears in a script draft, the novelization and the Marvel Comics movie adaptation.
    • A plot element involving the Ark of the Covenant was cut from the film and is only hinted at during the finale when the Ark is opened. Basically, there were 2 rules about the Ark not mentioned in the final cut of the film: 1. If you touch the Ark, you die. 2. If you look at the Ark when it is opened, you die. This is first explained in additional dialogue for the scene when Indy and Sallah visit the Imam. Before translating the writings on the headpiece that give the height of the Staff of Ra, Imam warns Indy not to touch the Ark or look at it when it is opened. The next scene involving this Ark subplot is when Sallah and Indy remove the Ark from the Well of the Souls. When Sallah first sees it he reaches out to touch it. Indy stops him before he does and reminds him of Imam's warning. Then they insert long poles through each side of the Ark to lift it out of its crypt. Notice that nobody ever touches the Ark throughout the rest of the film until the finale.
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    • While Indiana Jones is in the Map Room trying to find the exact location of the Well of the Souls, two German soldiers approach Sallah and order him to help them remove their truck that had been stuck in the sand. In the process Sallah loses the rope with which he was supposed to help Indy get out of the Map Room. In a continuing scene we see Sallah entering a German tent looking for something to substitute his missing rope and awhile later he comes up with a "rope" made of bed sheets and a German flag. What we don't see is Sallah in a state of panic wandering in the Nazi camp at breakfast time. A group of German soldiers ask him to serve them water from a marmite. Sallah spills the content of the marmite on the German officers' uniforms and leaves promising to return with fresh water. The scene called for smoke in the background but unfortunately the tires used to produce the smoke were too many, thus making the scene too dark. Steven Spielberg opted to cut this scene instead of spending half a day shooting it again.
    • With Indy and Marion left to suffocate in the Well of the Souls the Germans decide that Sallah should be executed. A young German soldier was supposed to carry out the dirty job but things changed when he later started having second thoughts. A German youth vacationing in Tunisia had been hired for the part of the young soldier. The funny thing is that this inexperienced young man managed to express brilliantly the moral dilemma of a young soldier forced to decide whether or not to kill a harmless stranger; this is the business of foreign wars, and this unknown German boy was able to convey it as well as any actor. The result was beyond description, with this German student playing an intensely moving and emotional scene, making David Wisnievitz and Karen Allen call it the greatest moment since the film began. Spielberg said the bitter truth was that brilliant and memorable though the scene was, it would probably end up on the cutting-room floor because it was just too long. So it did.
    • There was a small cut during the scene where Indy and Marion escape from the Well of Souls. When Indy pushes the large stone brick out of the room filled with mummy's, there is an Arab guard standing outside. When the Arab and Indy come face to face, Indy simply knocks him unconscious. Evidence of this scene still remains in the film. As Indy steps out of the chamber, he pauses and looks off to the left side of the screen. In the following shot, when Indy and Marion run from the building to the German plane, that Arab is visible lying on the ground by the building.
    • Indy surviving the submarine journey by lashing himself to the periscope with his whip. In the final film, the plot hole goes largely unnoticed. Most people seem to assume either that Indy snuck inside the sub or that it stayed on the ocean surface for the duration of the tripnote . This cut scene did appear in the Marvel Comics adaptation. The few pictures that have been found prove that they indeed filmed at least part of this scene.
    • Most of the scenes mentioned above, as well as several more not, have since been uploaded to YouTube. Of note is that Indy doesn't actually use his whip to lash himself to the periscope, instead simply clinging to the apparatus with his limbs.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Ronald Lacey shaved his scalp to play Toht. While walking to the Ark-opening ceremony, he removes his hat to wipe his brow, and the shadow of his stubble can be seen.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • The French Belloq is played by the very British Paul Freeman.
    • The Welsh John Rhys Davis plays Sallah.
    • The British Ronald Lacey plays the Nazi torturer Toht.
    • The British Alfred Molina plays the South-American Sapito.
  • Fan Remake: A now-famous shot-for-shot remake, conducted over the course of several summers by some enterprising Mississippi boys; it received Steven Spielberg's approval many years later.
  • List of Films You Should See By the Age of 14: #34
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: During one scene, Spielberg had set up a ring of torches to keep the snakes away, but being cold-blooded reptiles, they are naturally drawn to sources of heat and kept slithering nearer. At one point, he just grabs one by the 'neck' and stares it in the eyes, yelling:
    "Why do you like fire!? You're supposed to hate fire! You are ruining my movie!"
    • The opening sequence featured live tarantulas on Alfred Molina, but they did not move until a female tarantula was introduced.
  • No Stunt Double: Harrison Ford did most of the stunt work himself, including the scene in which he is getting dragged behind the truck. He sustained several bruised ribs from the stunt and later said "if the stunt was dangerous, we wouldn't have done it."
  • Orphaned Reference: When Indy and Marion head from the Well of the Souls to the plane, you can see an unconscious man in the background. This is the result of a deleted scene where Indy knocks him out after escaping.
  • Prop Recycling: The U-boat sailing prop was the U-96, rented from the production of Das Boot. In fact, the German crew woke up one day to find it was suddenly missing because someone forgot to tell them that Spielberg was borrowing it. The secret U-boat base was filmed at the La Rochelle U-boat Pen, which was also used in the filming of Das Boot.
  • Recycled Set: The Well of Souls sequence was filmed on the set of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: The swordsman chase scene originally involved Indy disarming the man with his whip, but Harrison Ford was sick with dysentery at the time, and he asked if he could just shoot the man, which the final cut had him doing.
  • Star-Making Role: For Harrison Ford. Star Wars was a huge success and his Lovable Rogue became an Ensemble Dark Horse, but it was after Raiders of the Lost Ark that he stopped being "the guy from Star Wars" and became Harrison Ford. Tellingly, despite his ties to George Lucas, Ford only got the role when first pick Tom Selleck couldn't get time off from Magnum, P.I., considering Lucas was against using Ford after using him in several of his previous films to avoid being like Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The legendary Cairo swordsman scene is one of the most famous in all movies. Harrison Ford had become horribly sick and was feeling too ill to shoot the (planned) highly elaborate sword, so he suggested Indy just shoot the bastard, and the rest is history.
    • Harrison Ford ad-libbed the line "It's not the years, honey. It's the mileage."
    • Ford's stumble in the boulder scene was deemed to look authentic and was left in.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Harrison Ford was always Spielberg's first choice for the role, but Lucas vetoed it because he already used Ford in American Graffiti and Star Wars and didn't want the public to associate the two like they did with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. He relented after the other choices didn't work out.
    • Spielberg had originally offered the role of Toht to Roman Polanski, who was intrigued at the opportunity to work with Spielberg but decided to turn down the role because he wouldn't be able to make the trip to Tunisia. Klaus Kinski was offered the role of Toht, but he chose to do a killer snake film Venom (1981) instead because it offered more money.
    • Tom Selleck was the second choice to play Indiana Jones, but he couldn't make it due to his commitment to Magnum, P.I.. Ironically, filming for the series didn't start until a few weeks after Raiders wrapped up.
    • Actors considered for Indiana Jones included Nick Nolte, Steve Martin (who chose to do Pennies from Heaven instead), Bill Murray (who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with Saturday Night Live), Chevy Chase, Peter Coyote, Jeff Bridges, Sam Neill and Jack Nicholson.
    • Sean Young auditioned for Marion. Amy Irving was also considered.
    • Jonathan Pryce was considered for Belloq.
    • Danny DeVito was originally offered the role of Sallah, but he was busy with Taxi.
    • Early storyboard sketches show Toht originally having a light in one of his eyes and a cannon for an arm that could transform into a flamethrower! No, this was Spielberg's idea shot down by Lucas for being far-fetched, why do you ask?
    • An early draft of the script had Indy traveling to Shanghai to recover a piece of the Staff of Ra. During his escape from the museum, where it was housed, he was to be sheltered from machine gun fire, behind a giant rolling gong. Also in the same script, Indy and Marion flee the chaos caused by the opening of the Ark in a wild mine-cart chase sequence. Both of these scenes were cut from the script, but ended up in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
    • On a more disturbing note, Lucas and Spielberg actually considered making Marion twelve in the backstory when she first had a relationship with an adult Indy. For perspective, that's the same age as Short Round. (Not that the final product was that much of an improvement; in the official backstory, Marion was fifteen and Indy was still in his twenties.)
    • The iconic scene where Indy shoots the sword wielding guard was actually meant to be a lengthy sword fight that would have taken three days to shoot. However, Harrison Ford was suffering from dysentery at the time and could only film scenes in ten minute increments. Thus Ford and Steven Spielberg decided it would be better to simply have Indy shoot the swordsman instead.
    • When Brody first goes to Indy's house to discuss the mission, Jones is dressed the way he is because he is entertaining a young woman in his bedroom. The script originally planned to show her before moving to the next scene, to give Indy a more worldly persona (like James Bond). However, her appearance was cut, as Spielberg thought that being a playboy did not fit Indy's character.
    • In the original draft, Toht and Dietrich are named Belzig and Schleimann. Also in that draft, Toht/Belzig is in the rear car during the desert chase, and goes off the cliff with it. Dietrich is not present for the opening of the Ark, which takes place inside a Tabernacle tent. Instead he is outside, and is killed while pursuing Indy and Marion in their escape.
    • In Lawrence Kasdan's earlier drafts of the film, Indy was the direct cause of Barranca's death instead of the Hovitos. When Barranca pulls his gun out on Jones, the archaeologist uses his whip to make Barranca shoot himself.
  • Word of God: On the Pinball Protagonist arguement, Lucas and Spielberg have countered that Belloq only opened the Ark because Indy showed up, and he wanted a final "screw you" to his rival, and that Hitler would have been savvy enough not to open it.
  • Word of Saint Paul: Karen Allen came up with her own back-story for the character, such as what happened to her mother, her romance with Indiana at age 15, and her time in Nepal; Spielberg described it as "an entirely different movie". This even included Marion prostituting herself following her father's death.


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