Raiders of the Lost Ark

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Indiana Jones

The first film in the Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place a few years before World War II, when Nazi Germany was searching for supernatural artifacts. In this case, they were searching for the Ark of the Covenant, which held the remains of the tablets of the Ten Commandments. After getting word of this, Dr. Indiana Jones is sent to recover it, due to him knowing some people that had clues to where the Ark is held.

This leads him on a wild chase involving fighting bad guys in a burning bar, fighting bad guys on moving trucks, and killer sand ghosts.

And that's not even taking into account what he has to go through in the prologue, which involves the iconic boulder escape scene.

The film itself was a massive hit, but due to the Troubled Productions of Star Wars, and Jaws, studios were reluctant to fund a film by both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, despite those respective films also being massive hits. Paramount eventually agreed to fund the film, although the series largely belongs to Lucasfilm. The production, while having some problems (mainly the majority of the crew being ill in Tunisia), it wrapped ahead of time and on-budget (something Spielberg felt was important). Lawrence Kasdan was brought in to write a screenplay based on ideas born during story meetings between Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan. The screenplay was so good that Lucas asked Kasdan to write the final draft of the first Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.

Tropes used in Raiders of the Lost Ark include:

"Well, dammit, Indy, where doesn't it hurt?!"

  • All There in the Script: Toht's name is only revealed in the credits and in an old TV ad, and much, much later in LEGO Indiana Jones.
  • Appropriated Title: The first movie was released as just Raiders of the Lost Ark, while all other media include Jones' name in the title. Later re-releases did change the title to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Firmly averted; the Nazis all speak excellent German.
  • Bang Bang BANG: used intentionally to provide "heroic" and "villainous" gunshot motifs. Note that every pistol Indy uses (from the 45 automatic in the bar fight to his trademark revolver) produces the exact same sound, a huge "kaboom" that was actually a recording of a 30/30 rifle.
  • Bait and Switch Gunshot: During the fight in Marion's bar.
  • Bar Brawl: Marion's bar in Raiders is destroyed as the result of one of these.
  • Big Bad: Belloq
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just when Toht is about to torture Marion with a red hot poker, it is ripped from his hand by a bullwhip with Indiana Jones at the other end, ready for battle.
  • Binocular Shot
  • The Brute: The shirtless Nazi who fights Indy by the plane.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: A passing mention from one of his students mentions "all that travel" Indy does. Save the world from Nazis on Sunday, midterm on Monday, sure, why not?
  • Chain Lightning: The Ark is apparently capable of generating an electrical effect that jumps from person to person.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Subverted/played with. Marion's Establishing Character Moment shows her drinking a large, burly brute under the table. She tries to use her hard-drinking ability to get the cultured and effete Belloq drunk in an attempt to escape from him, but fails; part of his "cultured" background is that his family owns a vineyard, and he has been drinking since he was a preteen.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:

Marion: I'll tell you anything!
Toht: *advances with red hot poker* I know you will.

Belloq: Jones!

Indy: Where did you get this? From him?
Marion: I was trying to escape.
Indy: How hard were you trying?

  • Giant Mook: The really big sherpa in Marion's bar, and the mechanic who gets diced, both played by Pat "Bomber" Roach.
  • Giggling Villain: Toht. Added with his sexually impotent rapist personality who uses torture to vent his frustrations...
  • Good Is Not Nice: the Ark or more specifically what's powering it.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away as the Giant Mook gets turned into red paste, only showing the splash of blood on a swastika. This is occasionally edited out of broadcast versions, but it's anyone's guess if they're editing out the blood or the swastika itself. Averted at the very end of the film, however.
  • Groin Attack: Indy tries it on the Giant Mook during the flying wing fight.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Indy to the Giant Mook during the flying wing fight.
  • Hand Signals: Indy to Satipo.
  • Hollywood Density: The gold idol at the start of the film, which should weigh far too much to be toted around as easily as it is, let alone weigh about the same as a small bag of sand. When Indy looks at it, he actually removes sand from his bag to approximate its weight. A solid gold object of that size would weigh at least fifty pounds. However, it's never explicitly stated that the idol is indeed solid gold.
  • Karma Houdini: The evil eyepatch-wearing owner of the monkey vanishes from the film unscathed. The monkey isn't as lucky.
  • Look a Distraction: Indy does it to the Giant Mook mechanic he fights near the plane.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Happens twice in the movie to Indy.

Belloq: Again, Dr. Jones, what was briefly yours is now mine.

  • Mayincatec: The trap-infested Hovitos underground temple is one of the best-remembered trapped lairs of all time.
  • Meaningful Name: Major Toht's name is an anglicized spelling of the German word for death.
  • Memetic Sex God: In-universe. One of the girls in Indy's class goes so far as to write "Love You" on her eyelids to flirt with him, when he's in his nerdy tweed ensemble. One can only imagine what they'd think if they saw him in the fedora and whip outfit.
  • Mobstacle Course: Indy does this to chase Marion-in-a-basket.
  • The Mole: A monkey is the Mole.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles:
    • Indy sees Marion getting carried off in a straw basket, and chases her into the square -- which is crammed with people carrying identical baskets.
    • At the end of the movie, the Ark is put in a nondescript wooden crate and hidden in a warehouse full of other identical, nondescript wooden crates.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Especially when the actor with the gun is sick and wants to get the scene over with.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: A Nazi agent played by Dennis Muren, one of the men behind Industrial Light and Magic. This unnamed character is sometimes mistaken for Major Toht.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Marion's captivity with Belloq.
  • Not So Different: Belloq tries to make Indy think this.

Belloq: Where else shall I find a new adversary so close to my own level?
Indy: Try the local sewer.