Raiders Of The Lost Ark: 20 Facts You Might Not Know

Raiders Of The Lost Ark is still one of my favourite movies of all time, besides the fact that it was released in 1981. It’s my favourite Indiana Jones movie, one of those films that I’ve watched at least 10 times and it’s definitely one of those 1980s movies that have aged pretty damn well. There’s probably a lot that you don’t know about Raiders Of The Lost Ark, but I’m aiming to change that today…


Here are 20 Raiders Of The Lost Ark facts that you might not have known:

1. During filming in Tunisia, nearly everyone in the cast and crew got sick except director Steven Spielberg. It is thought that he avoided illness by eating only the food he’d brought with him: a lot of cans of Spaghetti-O’s.

2. Harrison Ford actually outran the boulder in the opening sequence. Because the scene was shot twice from five different angles, he had to outrun it ten times. His stumble in the scene was deemed to look authentic and was left in.

3. Indiana Jones‘ hat came from the famous Herbert Johnson hat shop in Saville Row, London. Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman said that in order to properly age the hat, she grabbed and twisted the hat, then she and Harrison Ford both sat on it, and it eventually looked like “a very lived-in, and well-loved” hat. Nadoolman also designed Michel Jackson’s iconic red and black jacket from his “Thriller” music video.

4. The Well of Souls sequence was filmed on the set previously used as the Overlook Hotel for 1980 film The Shining.

5. To create the sound of the heavy lid of the Ark being slid open, sound designer Ben Burtt simply recorded him moving the lid of his toilet cistern at home.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark -1981 Film

6. Actors considered for the role of Indiana Jones included Sam Elliott, Mark Harmon, Michael Biehn, Sam Shepard, David Hasselhoff and Tom Selleck. Harrison Ford got the part 3 weeks before principal photography started.

7. The Well of Souls scene required 7,000 snakes. The only venomous snakes were the cobras, but one crew member was bitten on-set by a python.

8. The opening scene in the Peruvian jungle was filmed on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Steven Spielberg returned to the island for the 1993 film Jurassic Park.

9. The famous scene in which Indiana Jones shoots the show-off swordsman was improvised. Harrison Ford was sick with food poisoning at the time and was too ill to perform the stunt as planned, so he suggested just “shooting the sucker.”

10. Indiana Jones’ name comes from Marcia Lucas’ dog, Indiana, who also served as the inspiration behind Chewbacca.

11. Toht’s melting face, the source of nightmares for many, was created using a combo of gelatin, colored yarn for muscles and sinews, and alginate (the stuff dentists use your impressions). It was melted using propane space heaters over the course of 10 minutes, and sped up afterwards.

12. The sound effects for the ghosts escaping the Ark were created by filtering the sounds of sea lions and dolphins through a vocoder.

13. Steven Spielberg managed to shoot Raiders Of The Lost Ark for $18 million in just 73 days, even though he had to shoot it in 4 different countries.

14. Much of the truck-chase sequence involves Harrison Ford himself being dragged behind the vehicle. He didn’t use a stunt double for the sequence.

15. In the temple in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, little hieroglyphs of R2-D2 and C-3PO can be seen engraved on the wall. They can also be seen engraved on a golden pillar in the Well of Souls. This suggests that the film is set in the same universe as Star Wars.

16. The script for Raiders of the Lost Ark went through various different drafts, in which a number of scenes and concepts came and went. A lot of those ideas would later be reused in the second movie (which was technically a prequel), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

17. The film was Alfred Molina’s big screen debut. He was unforgettably covered in tarantulas on his first day of shooting. Initially the spiders didn’t move because they were all male. A female tarantula had to be added to make them crawl towards her.

18. The gold idol was actually built with a mechanism inside that moved its eyes to creepily follow Indy. This effect does not end up visible in the film.

19. The film was originally given an R-rating because of the exploding head at the end. The film makers didn’t want the picture to be rated R, so they added layers of fire in front of his face to make it appear less graphic.

20. It’s the only Indiana Jones film in the franchise to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Well, there you have it, 20 facts you might not have known about Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I hope that you learned something today that you didn’t know before.

Watch this space for updates in the Movies category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

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