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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Raiders of the Lost Ark can be found here.
There are (currently) four movies in the series. In order, they are (1) Raiders of the Lost Ark] (1981), (2) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), (3) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and (4) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
It is the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, a sacred object that the Hovitos protect.
The idol appears to be about 5,000 c.c. (300 cubic inches) in volume. If it were solid gold, it would weigh around 100 kg (3,200 troy oz.). The film, however, never specifies its make-up; it might well have been gold-plated stone or ceramic, seeing as Indy lifts it quite easily and Belloq lifts it easily over his head. The gold nature of the idol may not have been as important as its symbolic importance to the Hovitos.
The most likely explanation for the initially extraordinarily tense relationship with the emotionally turbulent Marion Ravenhood is that Marion had romantic or even sexual relations with Indy when she was a young adolescent. Their age difference is approximately ten years; Henry "Indiana" Jones would have been in his mid-20s and she around 15 or 16 when they first met and fell in love. The implication is that she felt taken advantage of by the older, more experienced man, an inappropriate relationship which also caused Indy's falling out with her father Abner, Indy's friend and mentor.
Yes. Tanis was at one point the northern capitol of Egypt, and in 1939, after extensive excavations, a great deal of treasure and artifacts were found there (however, the Ark was not among them). See here for more details.
There is a deleted scene in which you see Indy holding on to the periscope, which is sticking out of the water. Early submarines generally traveled the oceans on the surface of the water under diesel power, which requires access to the air for inlets to the engines. They could only travel short distances under water, as this required electric propulsion and the battery power of the submarine did not last very long. German U-boats would only submerge when they'd attack surface ships. However, there would generally be four or five crewman on the conning tower as lookouts. U-boats generally would submerge to a depth of roughly 12 meters, deep enough to see out the periscope. In the novelization, Indy lashed himself to the periscope with his bullwhip and rode/dozed through 20 frigid hours in oceanic water. In the movie, we never see the sub fully submerge, so are left with the conclusion that Indy rode on the top, a more believable scenario than riding it underwater without freezing or drowning.
A deleted scene was shot where Imam, the wise man translating the markings on the headpiece of the Staff of Ra also translates another set of markings, which gives a warning about not looking into the Ark. Since this scene is not in the movie, it is a little confusing as to how Indy knew that he could only survive the opening of the Ark by closing his eyes. Perhaps he simply remembered the picture of the Ark he showed to the army officers; in it, an entire army is decimated, but the people carrying the Ark remain unaffected. So he may have concluded that opening the Ark is not necessarily deadly to anyone in close proximity, and that it is the visual contact that was deadly. Another option is that he remembered a relevant passage from the Bible (1 Samuel 6:19), where God "smote" the men of Beth Shemesh for looking into the Ark. Plus, there's a brief moment when Marcus Brody says the light from the Ark could lay waste to everything it touched, further warning of the Ark's power.
The Ark is put into storage, the government's apparent answer to any problem of this sort. It seems an enormous warehouse has been allocated for the use of placing objects that cannot be used and/or destroyed. The Ark becomes one of many artifacts that are just left with the hope that nobody ever finds them. This premise is currently used in the show Warehouse 13, where the government stores all objects of supernatural origin. The final scene was also meant as an homage to the final scene of Citizen Kane (where Kane's property ended up being stacked into boxes throughout his house). It is later revealed in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that the warehouse is located in Area 51 near Roswell, New Mexico, and the Ark can even be seen during the chase sequence inside the warehouse.
Yes. Footage from "Great Movie Stunts: Raiders of the Lost Ark" shows Harrison Ford and stuntman Terry Richards rehearsing some slashing and ducking moves. But Harrison Ford suffered from dysentery in the Tunisia location (as did many of the Raiders crew), and reportedly asked director Spielberg, "Can't I just shoot him?" Spielberg thought about it, said, "Yeah, why not? Let's shoot it." And a classic movie moment was born.
Toht picked up the original during the fight in Marion's bar. Because it was extremely hot from being in the fire, the image of one side of the headpiece was burned into his hand, which Belloq was able to copy. It proved to be worthless, however, because the markings on the other side of the original gave further instructions.
Marcus provides the answer in the scene where he and Indy talk to the Feds: "An army which carries the Ark before it is invincible." Also, one of the Feds tells them both that Hitler had become obsessed with the occult, which is historically false, however. It was actually Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler (leader of the Schutzstaffel/SS), an alleged Thule Society member and who had a fond interest in the occult. Himmler also promoted and founded the Ahnenerbe, a research department focused on cultural and anthropological history of the Aryan Race, as well as dwelling into Aryan Mysticism and occult artifacts. Hitler, although fond of Mysticism, would ridicule and poke fun of Himmler's staunch obsession of the subject according to multiple eyewitnesses at the time.
Indy stated that you had to "put the staff in a certain place at a certain time of day" for the headpiece to reveal the location of the ark. It would appear that the numerous holes in the floor were based on some kind of ancient calendar, with Indy checking his notes to ensure that he had the right hole. Since, Belloq was in the Map Room a few days prior, it would make sense that the hole he used would be slightly different from the one Indy used, i.e. just a few holes away. If you watch as indy traces his finger from the symbol, he traces up a few holes, briefly inserts his finger into a hole that had its sand removed, and then traces down 2 more holes to the one he clears and uses. We might surmise that the first hole was the one Belloq used, and Indy got the the room perhaps two days after... accounting for the second hole offset from Belloq's hole. Therefore, in addition to Belloq's staff being too long, he also used the wrong hole and got erroneous coordinates.
No. There were far too many variables in play for the procedure to actually work. First of all, the staff and crystal medallion would have had to been at the correct height. Ancient peoples did not have precise measuring equipment, which is why a foot is the length of a foot and a cubit the length of a forearm. The length of Indy's staff would therefore not be the exact length needed. Secondly, the relationship between the sun and the horizon changes from day to day. Every day the sun rises further north or south from the previous day depending on the time of the year. If by chance he did have the staff at the correct height he would still have to hope it was the right time of the year. But there is one further problem: in the thousands of years since the map room was created the Earth has shifted on its axis (it's one of the reasons the Earth periodically has Ice Ages). Sailing ships in the past could often navigate at night because the Earth's axis pointed toward the North Star. At the time the map room was built the Earth's axis did NOT point at the North Star. Thus, there is no reason to think it would have worked. It's purely movie magic and myth and does make for one of the more memorable and exciting moments in the movie.
It's a clear plastic shield, like safety glasses, for his eyes. In the desert there's a lot of wind & blowing sand so Belloq was using this device as eye protection.
Both Marion and Belloq were trying to fool each other into thinking the other was drunk. Both are hardy drinkers, as we see with Marion winning the shot contest in her bar early in the movie against a man much larger than herself. Belloq was also a hardy drinker, having grown up drinking the wine he provided, which was, in his cheerful words, "my family label." Wine is much less potent than the whiskey Marion was drinking earlier, and she was able to stay sober. Assuming that Belloq was going to be inebriated faster than she was, she could escape easier. However, her assumption was wrong, and Belloq was just as sober as she was -- and Toht arrived just at the moment she tried to walk out.
Because he knew where the Ark was BUT hadn't found it yet. The location of the Ark he'd gotten from the previous scene showed that it was still pretty close to the main excavation. They could dig for it there, fairly well hidden from the Nazis and Belloq, but it was still close enough that they could be discovered. If Marion disappeared suddenly, Belloq and the Nazi officers would do just what Indy said; they'd comb the place until she was found. An extensive search of the entire site would lead them to Jones, Sallah, and their dig, so Indy leaves her bound and gagged, much to Marion's fury, and promises to return for her when they'd find the Ark and have it safely away from the Nazis.
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