Raiders of the Lost Ark

As with Star Wars, the George Lucas-produced Indiana Jones trilogy was not just a plaything for kids but an act of nostalgic affection toward a lost phenomenon: the cliffhanging movie serials of the past. Episodic in structure and with fate hanging in the balance about every 10 minutes, the Jones features tapped into Lucas's extremely profitable Star Wars formula of modernizing the look and feel of an old, but popular, story model. Steven Spielberg directed all three films, which are set in the late 1930s and early '40s: the comic book-like Raiders of the Lost Ark, the spooky, Gunga Din-inspired Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the cautious but entertaining Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Fans and critics disagree over the order of preference, some even finding the middle movie nearly repugnant in its violence. (Pro-Temple of Doom people, on the other hand, believe that film to be the most disarmingly creative and emotionally effective of the trio.) One thing's for sure: Harrison Ford's swaggering, two-fisted, self-effacing performance worked like a charm, and the art of cracking bullwhips was probably never quite the iconic activity it soon became after Raiders. Supporting players and costars were very much a part of the series, too--Karen Allen, Sean Connery (as Indy's dad), Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri, Denholm Elliot, River Phoenix, and John Rhys-Davies among them. Years have passed since the last film (another is supposedly in the works), but emerging film buffs can have the same fun their predecessors did picking out numerous references to Hollywood classics and B-movies of the past. --Tom Keogh

Genre: Action, Adventure
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Won 4 Oscars. Another 30 wins & 23 nominations.
 
IMDB:
8.5
Metacritic:
85
Rotten Tomatoes:
95%
PG
Year:
1981
115
Website
5,261 Views

Maj. Eaton:
Dr. Jones, we've heard a great deal about you.

Jones:
Have you?

Maj. Eaton:
Professor of Archaeology, expert on the occult and, how does one say it... obtainer of rare antiquities?

Jones:
That's one way of saying it. Why don't you sit down? You'll be more comfortable.

Col. Musgrove:
Thank you. Yes, you're a man of many talents. Now, you studied under Professor Ravenwood at the University of Chicago?

Jones:
Yes I did.

Maj. Eaton:
And you have no idea of his present whereabouts? [Indy and Marcus exchange a look]

Jones:
Uh, just rumours, really. Somewhere in Asia, I think. I haven't spoken to him for ten years. We were friends but we... had a bit of a falling out, I'm afraid.

Col. Musgrove:
Now, Dr. Jones, you must understand this is all... strictly confidential. Yesterday afternoon, our European section intercepted a German communiqué that was sent from Cairo to Berlin. Now--

Maj. Eaton:
You see, over the last two years, the Nazis have had teams of archaeologists running around the world looking for all kinds of religious artifacts. Hitler's a nut on the subject. He's crazy. He's obsessed with the occult, and right now, apparently, there's some kind of German archaeological dig going on in the desert outside of Cairo.

Col. Musgrove:
Now we've got some information here, but we can't make anything out of it, and maybe you can. [He reads the communiqué] Tanis development proceeding. Acquire headpiece, Staff of Ra, Abner Ravenwood, U.S.

Jones:
The Nazis have discovered Tanis.

Maj. Eaton:
Just what does that mean to you, uh, "Tanis"?

Brody:
Well it-- [Jones interrupts him]

Jones:
The city of Tanis is one the possible resting places of the Lost Ark.

Col. Musgrove:
The Lost Ark?

Jones:
Yeah, the Ark of the Covenant. The chest the Hebrews used to carry around the Ten Commandments.

Maj. Eaton:
What do you mean, the commandments? You're talking about the Ten Commandments?

Jones:
Yes, the actual Ten Commandments. The original stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Horeb and smashed, if you believe in that sort of thing. Didn't either of you guys ever go to Sunday school?

Col. Musgrove:
Well, uh, I--

Jones:
Look, the Hebrews took the broken pieces and put them in the Ark, and when they settled in Canaan, they put the Ark in a place called the Temple of Solomon.

Brody:
In Jerusalem.

Jones:
Where it stayed for many years. Until, all of a sudden, whoosh, it's gone.

Maj. Eaton:
Where?

Jones:
Well nobody knows where.

Brody:
However, an Egyptian pharaoh...

Jones:
Shishak.

Brody:
Yes... invaded the city of Jerusalem around about 980 B.C. and he may have taken the Ark back to the city of Tanis and hidden it in a secret chamber called the Well of Souls.

Maj. Eaton:
Secret chamber?

Brody:
However, about a year after the pharaoh had returned to Egypt, the city of Tanis was consumed by the desert in a sandstorm that lasted a whole year. Wiped clean by the wrath of God. [the agents exchange looks]

Col. Musgrove:
Well, obviously we've come to the right men. Now, you seem to know all about this Tanis.

Jones:
No, no, not really. Ravenwood's the real expert. Abner did the first serious work on Tanis. Collected some of its relics. It was his obsession, but he never found the city.

Maj. Eaton:
Frankly, we're somewhat suspicious of Mr. Ravenwood. An American being mentioned so prominently in a secret Nazi cable.

Brody:
Rubbish. Ravenwood's no Nazi.

Col. Musgrove:
Well what do the Nazis want him for, then?

Jones:
Well obviously the Nazis are looking for the headpiece to the Staff of Ra and they think Abner's got it.

Maj. Eaton:
What exactly is the headpiece to the Staff of Ra?

Jones:
Well the staff is just a stick, [gestures with his hands to convey the length of the staff] I don't know, about this big, nobody really knows for sure how high. And it's... [he draws a diagram on a blackboard] it's capped with an elaborate headpiece in the shape of the sun with a crystal in the center. And what you did was you took the staff to a special room in Tanis, a map room with a miniature of the city all laid out on the floor, and if you put the staff in a certain place, at a certain time of day, the sun shone through here and made a beam that came down on the floor here... [[he contemplates the enormity of such a potential discovery] and gave you the exact location of the Well of Souls.

Col. Musgrove:
Where the Ark of the Covenant was kept?

Jones:
Which is exactly what the Nazis are looking for!

Maj. Eaton:
Well what does this Ark look like?

Jones:
Uh, there's a... picture of it right here. [He opens an old leatherback Bible to an illustration showing the Israelites holding the Ark above them, with great beams of light emanating from the Ark, piercing the ranks of the opposing army surrounding them, with the soldiers in various states of agony and death.] That's it.

Maj. Eaton:
Good God...

Brody:
Yes, that's just what the Hebrews thought.

Col. Musgrove:
[pointing to the firebolts] Uh, now, what's that supposed to be coming out of there?

Jones:
Lightning ... fire ... power of God or something.

Maj. Eaton:
I'm beginning to understand Hitler's interest in this.

Brody:
Oh yes. The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions. An army which carries the Ark before it... is invincible.

Jones:
Belloq.

Belloq:
Good afternoon, Dr. Jones.

Jones:
I ought to kill you right now.

Belloq:
Not a very private place for a murder.

Jones:
Well, these Arabs don't care if we kill each other. They're not going to interfere in our business.

Belloq:
It was not I who brought the girl into all this. Please, sit down before you fall down. We can at least behave like civilized people. :[Indy then sits down as the monkey crawls off his shoulder and scampers away.] I see your taste in friends remains consistent. How odd that it should end this way for us, after so many... stimulating encounters. I almost regret it. Where shall I find a new adversary so close to my own level?

Jones:
Try the local sewer.

Belloq:
You and I are very much alike. Archaeology is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the pure faith. Our methods have not differed as much as you pretend. I am a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me. To push you out of the light.

Jones:
Now you're gettin' nasty.

Belloq:
You know it's true. How nice. Look at this. [holds out a pocket watch.] It's worthless. Ten dollars from a vendor in the street. But I take it, I bury it in the sand for a thousand years, it becomes priceless! Like the Ark! Men will kill for it. Men like you and me.

Jones:
What about your boss, der Führer? I thought he was waiting to take possession.

Belloq:
All in good time. When I am finished with it. Jones, do you realize what the Ark is? It's a transmitter! It's a radio for speaking to God, and it's within my reach!

Jones:
You wanna talk to God? Let's go see Him together. I've got nothing better to do.

[Indy prepares to shoot Belloq, but the Arabs pull guns on him and a crowd of children hurry in to escort him away]

Belloq:
Next time, Dr. Jones, it will take more than children to save you!

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