A Summary Of The Plot Of The Raiders Of The Lost Ark

The story idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark came from George Lucas. He had postponed the film to concentrate on the Star Wars series, and eventually suggested to Steven Spielberg that he direct the movie. Spielberg liked the idea, and the two of them hammered out the details. Neither expected the 1981 film to be the blockbuster that it turned out to be. It won a total of five Oscars and spawned three more Indiana Jones movies. To maintain consistency with the other films, the movie was renamed

Tom Selleck was the first actor chosen to star, but he was committed to Magnum P. I. And had to turn the role down. Lucas had resisted offering the lead to Harrison Ford because Ford had previously been in not only Star Wars but another Lucas film, American Graffiti. Lucas did not want Ford to be handicapped by appearing to be a constant actor in his films. Ultimately, however, the role was given to Ford not long before filming was to begin. The movie is credited by many with turning Ford into a true star and establishing him as a fan favorite.

Debra Winger had first refusal for the part of Marion Ravenwood. Karen Allen was then signed to play the part of Marion, the daughter of Indy’s mentor, Abner. John Rhys-Davies was cast as Sallah, Indiana’s Egyptian friend. The museum curator Marcus Brody was portrayed by Denholm Elliott. Paul Freeman was cast as Belloq, the French archaeologist who is Indy’s nemesis.

Total budget for the movie was about twenty million dollars. By comparison, the first Star Wars movie, released in 1977, had an eighteen million dollar budget. Blade Runner, filmed a year later, carried a twenty eight million dollar price tag. Raiders grossed in excess of $380 million at the box office, the most of any film that year. Paramount, who had finally agreed to finance the film after every other studio turned it down, was no doubt pleasantly surprised.

The movie takes place in 1936. Indiana Jones is an archaeologist who routinely embarks on harrowing journeys in search of rare artifacts. He is also a university professor. In the first few minutes of action, he penetrates the jungle, navigates his way through numerous booby traps and retrieves a golden idol. Almost instantly, Belloq, along with a tribe of natives working for him, forces Indy to give up the prize. After managing his escape from the natives, Indiana returns to the classroom. Two intelligence agents call on him and tell him that the Nazis have recruited Belloq to find the Staff of Ra. Indiana’s old friend, Abner Ravenwood, is supposed to have this artifact, which can be used to recover the Ark of the Covenant. Jones tries to locate Abner in Nepal, but finds Abner’s daughter instead. She bears Indy some hard feelings, but tells him her father is dead and that she may have what he seeks. All the while, she is wearing the staff’s headpiece around her neck. Before the two can work out their differences, the Nazis launch an attack. Indiana and Marion escape, the headpiece in their possession. The action is fast and furious, with more close calls and harrowing adventures. Eventually, the Nazis and Belloq end up with the Ark. Bellow insists on opening it so it can be tested before it is delivered to Hitler. When he opens it, everyone in the vicinity of it is killed except Indiana and Marion, who avert their eyes. Finally, the Ark is brought back to America, where it ends up stored in an unspecified warehouse.

The film received Oscars for Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects, Art Direction, Film Editing, and Sound. It received a nomination in the Best Picture category but did not win. Ben Burtt was in charge of sound effects while Industrial Light and Magic handled the visual effects. John Williams was nominated for his score but lost to Vangelis, who had scored the immensely popular movie, Chariots of Fire.

Cast and crew faced several challenges while filming on location in Tunisia. One was the heat, but many also fell ill from dysentery. One trademark scene, where Indiana shoots a swordsman bent of displaying his skill with the blades, was not scripted initially. Ford was feeling too ill to perform the scene as written and suggested shooting the guy instead. In addition, he was injured during the filming of a fight scene when an airplane tire ran over his leg.

Since its premier, Raiders of the Lost Ark has been a perennial fan favorite. In 2008, a DVD version which included extras as well as correcting some errors was released. The film is also available in a boxed set.

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