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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay by), George Lucas (story by) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
399 ( 15)
Top Rated Movies #48 | Won 4 Oscars. Another 31 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Harrison Ford ... Indy
Karen Allen ... Marion
Paul Freeman ... Belloq
Ronald Lacey ... Toht
John Rhys-Davies ... Sallah
Denholm Elliott ... Brody
Alfred Molina ... Satipo
Wolf Kahler ... Dietrich
Anthony Higgins ... Gobler
Vic Tablian ... Barranca / Monkey Man
Don Fellows ... Col. Musgrove
William Hootkins ... Major Eaton
Bill Reimbold Bill Reimbold ... Bureaucrat
Fred Sorenson ... Jock
Patrick Durkin ... Australian Climber
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Storyline

The year is 1936. An archeology professor named Indiana Jones is venturing in the jungles of South America searching for a golden statue. Unfortunately, he sets off a deadly trap but miraculously escapes. Then, Jones hears from a museum curator named Marcus Brody about a biblical artifact called The Ark of the Covenant, which can hold the key to humanly existence. Jones has to venture to vast places such as Nepal and Egypt to find this artifact. However, he will have to fight his enemy Rene Belloq and a band of Nazis in order to reach it. Written by John Wiggins

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Indiana Jones - the new hero from the creators of JAWS and STAR WARS. See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Hebrew | Spanish | Arabic | Nepali

Release Date:

12 June 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark See more »

Filming Locations:

Yuma, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,305,823, 14 June 1981, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$248,159,971

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$389,925,971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| Dolby Digital (IMAX version)| IMAX 6-Track (IMAX version)| Dolby Atmos (IMAX version)| Datasat (IMAX version)| SDDS (IMAX version)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ben Burtt selected a .30-30 Winchester rifle for the sound of Jones' pistol. See more »

Goofs

When Indy and the monkey are getting drunk after the truck carrying Marion has been blown up, a young man in a T-shirt and jeans walks past in the background on the left side of the screen (all the other people are wearing robes). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Satipo: [picking up poison dart] The Hovitos are near.
[tastes the end of the dart, spits it out quickly]
Satipo: The poison is still fresh, three days. They're following us.
Barranca: If they knew we were here, they would have killed us already.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The mountain in the Paramount logo dissolves into the mountain in the Peruvian jungle. See more »

Alternate Versions

ABC edited 24 seconds from this film for its 1986 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Community: Critical Film Studies (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

A British Tar
(1878) (uncredited)
From "H.M.S. Pinafore"
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
Sung a cappella by John Rhys-Davies
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

First and still the best (spoilers)
2 June 2008 | by Ricky_Roma__See all my reviews

Raiders of the Lost Ark is an action masterpiece. There's not one bit of fat on its bones. There's not one wasted moment. It flows exactly like an adventure movie should – it continually moves forward, breathlessly driving you towards the conclusion; it's incredible fun.

The reason why the film works so well is because the script is so tight. The exposition is clear and well delivered, meaning that you know precisely what's at stake, small character details are set up early on and paid off later and the dialogue is incredibly pithy. It's a masterclass in film writing.

However, this would mean nothing if all the other elements didn't come together. Thankfully they do. Spielberg's direction is superb, Harrison Ford is perfect as the hero, Karen Allen is wonderful as the heroine and the music is out of this world. Plus the action is kick ass.

My favourite action scene is the fight with Pat Roach by the plane. Quite unusually for a film hero, Indy doesn't mind fighting dirty. He kicks Roach in the balls, he throws sand in his face and he even bites him. Indy doesn't have to win a fight fairly. And it's also unusual for a film hero to be so vulnerable. We rarely see anyone get a scratch or put in any real jeopardy. But here Indy gets his arse handed to him. The only reason he survives is because he's so wily – after getting beaten and bruised for a while he leads Roach into getting chopped up by the plane's rotor blades.

My second favourite action sequence is when Indy chases after the Ark and recovers it by hijacking a Nazi truck. After the CGI mess of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it's great to see old-fashioned stunts. It's a much better way of letting you get absorbed by the action – even though you know it's a film, you know someone actually had to do this, making everything much more impressive to watch. The best stunt is when Indy is thrown through the front window and has to pull himself along the bottom of the truck. He manages to do this and then hooks his whip under the bottom so that he's dragged along the ground. He then manages to get back on the truck and back in the cabin. It's a joy to behold and allows you to immerse yourself in the action.

Another great thing about the sequence is that once again we're shown Indy's vulnerability. As he's driving he gets shot in the arm. And then later a guy punches him in his injured arm and throws him out of the truck. Therefore when Indy comes back and beats the crap out of this guy, it's doubly satisfying, because not only is the guy a damn Nazi, but he also had the audacity to try and injure our hero. And the blood and guts reminds me of how gritty the film is. Not only do we have Indy getting shot in the arm and then having the wound beaten, but earlier on a guy gets shot in the face – lots of blood pours down from the hole in his skull. Oh, and he's also on fire. Excellent.

But as well as this there's also stuff that is just plain over the top. The melting faces for instance and Belloq's head exploding. This scared the hell out of me as a kid and I'm still amazed that stuff like this was included in a 'kids' film.

However, the scene that terrified me the most as a kid was the scene where Marion gets mugged by skeletons and we then see a large snake oozing from a skull's mouth. I was so traumatised I refused to watch the film for years. But now the vague horror element is another reason I adore the movie. It sets it apart from almost every action/adventure film that came before it and nothing else has managed to better it, even subsequent Indiana Jones films.

But watching the film now it's quite unusual to note that Indy doesn't kill any of the three main villains. They're all killed by the Ark. Indy instead just closes his eyes and lets 'god' do the rest. It's a strange ending but one that works perfectly. Indy isn't a killing machine. He's someone trying to do the right thing. And at the end he's rewarded by, well, not having his face melted off.

Another reason why Raiders stands out is because of its heroine. She's one of the best in modern cinema – a tough woman who constantly shows her toughness without having to resort to ridiculous feats of physicality. We don't see her pummel men who are twice her size, but we do see her out smart them and drink them under the table. As well as this she has great chemistry with Indy. For instance, there's the marvellous scene where she tries to look after our injured hero and he cries like a girl every time she touches him. He then points out a few places where it doesn't hurt, which she kisses. It's a lovely scene. And I also like the bit of slapstick humour earlier where Indy gets a mirror smashed in his face when Marion turns it over.

This leads me to another reason why Raiders is brilliant. It's very funny. You have a monkey giving a Nazi salute, Indy nonchalantly shooting a swordsman, Sallah's cowardly reactions at the Well of Souls and the Gestapo man plunging his hand in the snow after he gets it burnt while trying to grab an extremely hot bronze medallion. The humour is great.

And on top of all of this cinematic goodness – the humour, the action, the adventure – you have one of the best opening sequences in film. It's a bravura piece of film-making – everything clicks perfectly.


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