Some films will outlast their makers, their generations, and all of us reading this. Raiders of the Lost Ark is, without a doubt, well on its way to doing just that. The film is still incredibly popular today, the 35th anniversary of it’s release in the United States, and to celebrate this day here are thirty-five incredible pieces of trivia about it!
1. This Scene Was Supposed To Be A Little Different!
On set in Tunisia, the entire cast of the film got food poisoning, including Harrison Ford. While sick, he had to do the above scene, where he was meant to use the famous whip to get the sword off this guy. After several attempts, everyone realised Ford was too ill and they came up with the idea of shooting the sucker.
2. Spielberg Was The Only One To Escape Food Poisoning!
Steven Spielberg was one of the only people not to get sick in Tunisia. It is rumoured that this is because he only ate the huge number of cans of Spaghetti-O’s that he brought himself for the entirety of filming.
3. The Stunt Men Were Under Huge Pressure!
Several of the big budget scenes had to be filmed quickly because of time constraints, and scenes like the pillar fall in the well of souls had to be done in one take because they destroyed large sections of sets which they didn’t have time to rebuild!
4. Harrison Ford Had To Run From That Boulder A Lot!
The stunt actors weren’t the only ones under pressure! In fact, between reshoots and different camera angles, Harrison Ford had to do the complete run in the boulder scene ten times!
5. The Snakes Were Just As Dangerous As They Looked!
Harrison Ford certainly had his work cut out for him with the stunts in this film! When he falls into the well of souls, the cobra facing off against him actually spat venom towards him. Fortunately Ford was separated from the snake by a pane of glass.
6. Spielberg and Lucas Came Up With The Film On Holiday!
George Lucas used to go on holiday every time one of his films opened to get away from the masses. When Star Wars opened in 1977, he went with Spielberg on holiday to Hawaii and eventually came up with the idea for Raiders. However, when they first mentioned it, Indiana was a little different!
7. Raiders Started Out As Spielberg’s Answer To Bond!
When Lucas and Spielberg first threw around ideas in Hawaii, Spielberg mentioned that he wanted to do a James Bond-esque film, and Lucas was the one who brought the idea of Indy to him instead.
8. There Was A Reason Indy Was Wearing A Robe Here!
There was originally more to this scene in which Indy and Brody talk about the ark. Indy was wearing the robe because he had a lady friend he was entertaining in his bedroom, and she did appear, but that part of the scene was cut because Lucas and Spielberg thought it made Indy seem like too much of a playboy.
9. Indy Was Almost A Recovering Alcoholic!
An early draft of the script had Indiana as a recovering alcoholic, but they figured he was interesting enough as a professor/adventurer. Despite this, certain aspects of the drinking came into the plot, especially when he thought Marion was dead in this scene. And speaking of early drafts of the script…
10. The first edition of the script was handwritten!
Lucas and Spielberg’s first draft of the script for the film was done freehand. In fact, the entire film was meant to be a B-movie done as a homage to the 1940’s TV serials which it was based on!
11. C-3PO and R2-D2 Are In The Film!
As a cheeky reference, George Lucas had engravings of C-3PO and R2-D2 put on a pillar in the well of souls. I mean, would you be able to resist if you were him?
12. During Filming Spielberg Wrote Another Film!
While visiting her husband Harrison Ford on set, Melissa Mathison talked about an idea for another film with Steven Spielberg, which eventually evolved into E.T.
13. British Wrestler Pat Roach Gets Killed Twice!
Talk about double tap! Pat Roach appeared in the bar scene in Nepal, where he is killed off quickly, and then comes back in a different costume to fight Indy for a longer period of time in the scene above! The poor guy can’t catch a break!
14. Harrison Ford Was Injured On Set!
Vehicles on sets just hate Harrison. He was recently injured by the Millenium Falcon on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but way before that he was injured on the set of Raiders by the plane moving after Indy escapes the well of souls. However, that time he put ice on it and continued filming, not wishing to accept Tunisian health care.
15. Lucas Didn’t Want Harrison Ford To Play Indy!
After working with him in American Graffiti and Star Wars, Lucas was worried he would become too tightly associated with Ford, and wanted to go to their second choice. Speaking of which…
16. Tom Selleck Was The Second Choice For Indy!
That’s right. When Lucas tried to steer Spielberg away from Harrison Ford, they almost went for their second choice Tom Selleck. Selleck turned them down because he was set to film Magnum P.I, however Raiders ended up finishing filming before Magnum started!
17. The Ark Spirit Effects Were Done In A Weird Way!
In fact, the effects people filmed manequins underwater to achieve the floating effect of these apparitions.
18. Ben Burtt Used Some Strange Items For Sound Effects!
Ben Burtt, the lead sound effects man on the film, was critically acclaimed for the sounds in Raiders. He used things like fingers dipped in cheese, the wheels off a Honda Civic and the sound of a toilet seat being lifted to create the illusions of rolling boulders, snakes and the ark being opened!
19. Raiders Was Alfred Molina’s First Film!
Alfred Molina appeared in the film as Satipo, the guide who betrayed Indy and was shortly killed, before going on to star in films like Spider-Man 2 (as Doc Ock) and The DaVinci Code. On his first day of filming, he had to be covered in tarantulas… talk about a baptism by fire!
20. Studios Were Not Up For This Film!
Apparently Lucas and Spielberg, despite being a dream team for any film, went through a lot of major studios before finally being able to convince Paramount to make Raiders.
21. The Well of Souls Set Was Used For The Shining!
The infamous set used for the well of souls scene was also once upon a time used for the Overlook hotel in The Shining. That place has got to be haunted in real life after all that, right?
22. Indiana Jones Was Almost Indiana Smith!
In fact it wasn’t until the first day of production on the film that Spielberg and Lucas changed their minds and renamed the character Jones.
23. Danny DeVito Almost Played Sallah!
In fact, he was the first choice for the role over John Rhys-Davies, and only dropped out in the end because of a conflicting schedule with another film.
24. John Rhys-Davies Had An Embarassing Accident On Set!
Speaking of the man who went on to play Sallah, when the cast got food poisoning Rhys-Davies was filming a scene and while bending over he soiled himself! The worst part is it was all for nothing, as the scene he was filming was cut from the final film!
25. The Snakes Were Hard To Find!
Getting the thousands of snakes required for the well of souls wasn’t easy! After scouring every pet shop and animal sanctuary in London, Spielberg realised there still weren’t enough snakes, so they started adding in legless lizards and even cut-up pieces of hose piping!
26. A Deleted Scene Reveals Why Indy Didn’t Look!
Remember when the old man in Egypt translated the staff for Indy and Sallah? Well there was originally more to that scene, as the old man also translated a part which said any who looked at the ark were destined to die. Guess it was more than just a feeling that Indy had.
27. Abner Ravenwood’s Death Isn’t Such A Mystery!
While one would assume that Abner was killed by Nazis, given the suspicious timing of his death, the script for the film actually revealed that he was killed during an avalanche, which makes a lot of sense given he was living in Nepal.
28. The Peruvian Jungle Was The Set Of Jurassic Park!
After filming the scenes at the beginning of the film on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, Spielberg decided to return there for Jurassic Park and used it as the main setting for that film!
29. The Desert Truck Had To Be Modified A Lot!
For the scene where Indy is dragged underneath a truck, a truck had to be modified specially so a person would fit beneath it, which would have been impossible with the original truck.
30. Indy’s Whip Changes Length Through The Film!
In fact, the whips used throughout vary between six and sixteen feet in length!
31. Raiders Is Actually A Sequel To Temple Of Doom!
Despite being released after Raiders, the next film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is set a year earlier, in 1935. This isn’t often explained, but could be because it didn’t make sense for Indy to leave the work against the Nazis during their rise to power.
32. Kathleen Kennedy Was An Assistant On Raiders!
That’s right, Spielberg’s assistant on Raiders went on to become head of Lucasfilm today! She’s now one of the people in charge of the new Star Wars trilogy development!
33. Deleted Scenes Were Used For Temple Of Doom!
Part of the script originally included Indy travelling to Shanghai to find a piece of the staff of Ra, and some of the concepts for the action in these scenes was used in Temple of Doom, as was the minecart chase, which was almost used for Indy and Marion to escape from the ark opening island!
34. And Some Parts Were Even Used In The Last Crusade!
That’s right, Indy’s companion in Raiders was pondered over, and was almost a Nazi spy, before being changed to Marion. The concept of a Nazi spy was later used in The Last Crusade!
35. The Film Was Almost R-Rated!
R-rated action films aren’t rare these days, but back then that rating may have seriously hampered the success of Raiders. It was due to the graphic nature of the villain deaths at the end of the film, and as such layers of fire were added to make it seem less graphic, saving the film from the R.
And there you have it! A massive 35 pieces of trivia to celebrate the 35 years we’ve enjoyed this film for! Here’s to 35 more!
What was your favourite piece of trivia about Raiders? Let me know in the comments! And if you’ve got any insane trivia about your favourite films, why not use Creators.co to write about it?
It’s hard to tell who’s more crazy… me, or everyone else. Aspiring Screen Writer and Speculator of Everything. Feel free to shoot me an email: [email protected]