Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Poster


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Steven Spielberg: [stars]
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The famous scene in which Indy shoots a marauding and flamboyant swordsman was not in the original script. Harrison Ford was supposed to use his whip to get the sword out of his attacker's hands, but the food poisoning he and the rest of the crew had gotten made him too sick to perform the stunt. After several unsuccessful tries, Ford suggested "shooting the sucker." Steven Spielberg immediately took up the idea and the scene was successfully filmed.
Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene, you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark.
Traditionally when one of his films is about to open, George Lucas goes on vacation to get away from all the hoopla. As Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) was just about to open, Lucas went to Hawaii where he was joined by Steven Spielberg. When the grosses for Lucas's film came in, and it was clear that his movie was going to be a hit, Lucas relaxed and was able to discuss other topics with his friend. It was at this point that Spielberg confessed he always wanted to direct a James Bond film, to which Lucas told him he had a much better idea - an adventure movie called "Raiders of the Lost Ark". The conversation came up while the two were making a sand castle. After their trip, they got together and developed the script with Lawrence Kasdan.
While filming the snakes scenes inside the Well of the Souls, First Assistant Director David Tomblin at one point had a python bite his hand and latch on without letting go. Tomblin then calmly asked someone to grab the python (still attached to Tomblin's hand) by the tail and whip it, so that the snap would send a wave up the snake's body and force it to let go. A stage hand did just that and the python released its bite from Tomblin's hand. Tomblin then got medical attention on his hand and the python itself was not injured.
Indiana Jones never loses his hat in the film, as an homage to the classic serials of the 1940s. In those serials, the heroes' hats stayed on heads through virtually any assault. This was done for continuity reasons, but also because it was considered poor taste for a gentleman to be without his hat in certain situations - even on the silver screen. It eventually becomes a running joke through the series. Indy does, however, lose his hat once each in both Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison wrote a script during shooting breaks on the location of this film. Mathison was there to visit her husband, Harrison Ford and Spielberg dictated to her a story idea he had; that script was eventually called E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
Most of the body blows you hear were created by hitting a pile of leather jackets with a baseball bat.
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.
The film was originally given an R-rating because of the exploding head at the end. They 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.
Indiana Jones' kangaroo-hide bull whip was sold in December, 1999 at Christie's auction house in London for $43,000. His jacket and hat are on display at the Smithsonian.
During the scene where Indiana threatens the Nazis with a Panzerfaust, you can clearly see a fly creeping into the mouth of Paul Freeman. Contrary to popular belief, he did not swallow it. Freeman explained in an interview years later that the fly flew off at about the instant he uttered the word "bad," but Steven Spielberg noticed it and decided it would be funny to cut out a few frames so the fly would not be seen flying away. This made it look as though Freeman ate it, and he found the edit highly amusing. Empire Magazine chose this scene as one of the most common scenes for which people press the "Pause" button on their VCRs.
When Brody first goes to Indy's house to discuss the mission, Jones is dressed the way he is because he was entertaining a young woman in his bedroom. The script originally planned to show her before moving to the next scene to give Indy a more worldly persona (like James Bond). However, her appearance was cut out as Steven Spielberg thought that being a playboy did not fit Indy's character.
Renowned British wrestler Pat Roach gets killed twice in this film - once as a giant Sherpa left in the burning Nepalese bar and once as the German mechanic chewed up by the plane's propeller.
Indy's line to Marion when they are on the ship - "It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage" - was ad-libbed by Harrison Ford.
The spirit effects at the climax were achieved by shooting mannequins underwater in slow motion through a fuzzy lens to achieve an ethereal quality.
The out-of-control airplane actually ran over Harrison Ford's knee, tearing his ligaments. Rather than submit to Tunisian health care, Ford had his knee wrapped in ice and carried on.
To create the sound of the heavy lid of the Ark being slid open, sound designer Benjamin A. Burtt simply recorded him moving the lid of his toilet cistern at home.
The last line to be added to the script was Dietrich's "I am uncomfortable with this Jewish ritual" because after reading through the script, the screenwriters realized that there was no mention of Jews or the Nazis' hatred of them.
Indiana Jones's hat came from the famous Herbert Johnson hat shop in Saville Row, London. The hat was the shop's Australian model. On the Bonus Features DVD, 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.
George Lucas made what was at the time an unusual deal for this film. The studio financed the film's entire 18 million dollar budget. In exchange, Lucas would own over 40% of the film and collect almost half of the profits after the studio grossed a certain amount. It turned out to be a very lucrative deal for Lucas. Paramount executive Michael Eisner said that he felt the script for this film was the best he had ever read.
Despite having the dream team of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg behind the film, it was initially turned down by every studio in Hollywood. Only after much persuasion did Paramount agree to do it.
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. Ford's stumble in the scene was deemed to look authentic and was left in.
The monkey raising his paw and saying (in his own language) "Heil Hitler" was thought up by George Lucas and is one of Steven Spielberg's two favorite scenes (in the video box set, he says his other favorite is the "where doesn't it hurt" love scene on the ship). In Empire magazine, Frank Marshall said that they got the monkey to do the Nazi salute by putting a grape on a fishing pole and getting the monkey to reach for the grape, which was dangling just out of camera range. This took about 50 takes before it actually looked like a Nazi salute. Voice-artist Frank Welker provided the chattering sounds for the monkey, including the "Sieg Heil"-like chirp that the monkey gives when it raises its paw in salute. (Welker later provided similar monkey chatter for Abu, the spider monkey in Disney's Aladdin (1992).)
George Lucas first dreamed up the idea of an adventurous archaeologist about the same time he came up with the idea for the Flash Gordon-type space story which became Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
The giant boulder that chases after Indiana Jones at the start of the film was made of fiberglass. On the Bonus Features DVD, sound designer Benjamin A. Burtt said that in order to get the proper sound effects for the giant boulder, he and the sound crew tried pushing boulders down a hill, but the sounds they were getting weren't up to par with what they were looking for, and later that day, as they were leaving in a Honda Civic that they coasted down a gravel embankment, Burtt noticed that the sound was just what they were looking for, so he grabbed a microphone and held it near one of the Civic's rear tires to record the effect.
When Indy is dragged under and then out behind a moving truck, it's a tribute to Yakima Canutt's similar famous stunt in John Ford's Stagecoach (1939). In fact, it was a stunt that stuntman Terry Leonard had tried to pull off the year before, and failed to do so, on The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981). He was thrilled at the chance of having another shot at it, but only agreed to do it if his friend & colleague Glenn Randall Jr. was driving. The truck was specially constructed to be higher above the ground than normal so as to allow clearance for Indiana Jones to pass underneath safely. The center of the road was also dug out to allow more clearance. In Great Movie Stunts: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) we see, on the camera slate, that the camera was set at 20 frames per second instead of the traditional 24 fps; in other words, the shots were done in "fast motion," so the truck was not really moving as fast as depicted on screen. Harrison Ford was actually dragged behind the truck for some of the shots, badly bruising his ribs. When asked if he was worried, Ford quipped: "No. If it really was dangerous, they would have filmed more of the movie first." During the chase, Harrison Ford dispatches all three of his stunt doubles, all of which are playing German soldiers. Terry Leonard plays the driver of the truck, who gets punched out of the cab by Harrison. Vic Armstrong and Martin Grace play soldiers hanging onto the side of the truck before being knocked off. The truck chase took approximately eight weeks to film.
Jeff Bridges turned down the role of Indiana Jones.
Alfred Molina's first credited screen role. His first scene on his first day of filming involved being covered with tarantulas.
The opening scene in the lost South American temple is partly based on a classic Disney Ducks adventure written by the legendary artist Carl Barks, many of whose comic books have inspired George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Exploring a lost temple, Donald Duck, his nephews, and Scrooge McDuck must evade a succession of booby traps, like flying darts, a decapitating blade, a huge boulder, a tunnel flooded with a torrent of gushing water, etc., in the story "The Prize of Pizarro" ("Uncle $crooge" no. 26, June-August 1959), which hit the newsstands when Lucas and Spielberg, both avowed fans of that comic book, were respectively 15 and 12 years old. Another Barks story, "The Seven Cities of Cibola" ("Uncle $crooge" no. 7, September 1954), has a native American lost city and a valuable idol that triggers a giant round rock to smash everything in its way.
The instructions for the construction of the Ark are found in Exodus 25:10. The clothing that Belloq wears while acting as a high priest during the ceremony at the end is found beginning in Exodus chapter 28.
1981's biggest grossing film by a wide margin.
The models used for the German U-boat were rented from the production company that was making Das Boot (1981) in the same area at the time. The company, however, had forgotten to tell this to the crew of Das Boot, who were surprised to find the model suddenly missing.
John Williams had actually written two themes for the film. He played them both for Steven Spielberg on the piano and Spielberg loved them so much, he suggested that Williams use both of them. He did and the result was the famous "Raiders March," performed by Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)'s London Symphony Orchestra (who did not perform in any more Indiana Jones films). The March has become one of the most popular movie themes of all time.
The original name of the lead character in the script was Indiana Smith. His name was changed to Jones on the first day of production.
The Well of Souls sequence was filmed on the set of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining (1980).
The name of the sadistic Nazi interrogator is never mentioned in the film, but it is Toht, pronounced like Tod, the German word for Death. The role was offered to Klaus Kinski, who writes in his book "Kinski Uncut" that Steven Spielberg offered him a part in this movie, but he turned it down. "[...] as much as I'd like to do a movie with Spielberg, the script is as moronically shitty as so many other flicks of this ilk." Kinski chose to appear in Venom (1981) because the salary was better. Michael Sheard also auditioned for the role. Ronald Lacey, who had given up acting to become an agent, was chosen because he reminded Steven Spielberg of Peter Lorre. Toht only speaks a total of fourteen lines in English. The rest of his dialogue is in German.
In filming the Well of Souls sequence, the producers scoured every pet shop in London and the South of England for every snake they could lay their hands on. Hence there are snakes that are identifiable from many different geographical areas. However, once all the snakes were on set, it became clear that there were not nearly enough of them, so Steven Spielberg had several hoses cut into lengths, and these were used as well. Looking closely, you can tell which are the real snakes and which are not. Some of the weeds in the scene were lifted by Lawrence Kasdan from the Dagobah set of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). A sheet of glass separates Harrison Ford and the arched (and highly dangerous) cobra when he falls in. The snake actually did spray venom onto the glass.
During filming of the Well of Souls sequence, one of the pythons died after being bitten by one of the cobras.
The opening sequence featured live tarantulas on Alfred Molina, but they did not move until a female tarantula was introduced.
In order to make it match the follow-up movies in the DVD collections, 2008 DVD cover artwork changes the film's logo to read "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" instead of just "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
Director Steven Spielberg was quoted as saying: "I made it as a B-movie... I didn't see the film as anything more than a better made version of the Republic serials."
Actors considered for the role of Indiana Jones included Nick Nolte, Steve Martin (who chose to do Pennies from Heaven (1981) instead), Bill Murray (who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with Saturday Night Live (1975)), Chevy Chase, Tim Matheson, Nick Mancuso, Peter Coyote, Jack Nicholson, and Tom Selleck. Harrison Ford was cast less than three weeks before principal photography began.
Although the Nazis speak German in many scenes, most of the lines were dubbed for the German versions of the film because the actors spoke very bad German with a very strong American accent. Some lines were simply wrong. On the recent DVD release, no German lines are wrong. The majority of the German lines seems to be spoken by native German speakers with a slight south German accent.
When Indy's hat was made, the brim was shaped to cover his eyes for protection and to help hide faces when stunt doubles were being used.
Steven Spielberg originally wanted Danny DeVito to play Sallah and DeVito was set for the role, but he had to drop out due to conflicts with Taxi (1978). DeVito later appeared as a second banana to Michael Douglas in the Raiders tribute/derivative, Romancing the Stone (1984).
The sacred idol of the Hovitos that Dr. Jones takes possession of at the beginning of the film is apparently a fertility goddess. It is a molten image of a woman squatting down and giving birth.
Begins with a shot of a peak in the jungle which is reminiscent of the Paramount Pictures logo. See also Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Sam Neill was considered for the role of Indiana Jones. He would eventually play a character with an iconic hat in a Spielberg-directed movie: Alan Grant in Jurassic Park (1993).
In the submarine pen, the German who comes upon Indiana says, in German, "Good day" "Tired? Why do you sleep? Wash yourself! And straighten your shirt, so that you don't look like a pig at your court martial..." "Stand up... [straight]" He is cut off by Indiana's punch.
Philip Kaufman shares story credit with George Lucas because they originally dreamed up the film together in the 1970's. Reportedly, it was Kaufman's idea to pursue the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Originally, Kaufman was going to direct.
To achieve the sound of thousands of snakes slithering, sound designer Benjamin A. Burtt stuck his fingers into a cheese casserole. This was augmented by applying wet sponges to the grip tape on a skateboard.
Shooting in Tunisia was unbearable for the cast and crew. The only thing that got Steven Spielberg and George Lucas through the shoot was knowing that at the age of 54, David Lean endured 14 months of blistering heat while shooting Lawrence of Arabia (1962) on location.
Many of the snakes in the Well of Souls are not snakes but legless lizards (look for the earholes, which snakes lack).
George Lucas initially created Indy with the name of Indiana Smith. Steven Spielberg didn't like using the name Smith, and convinced Lucas to make the surname Jones instead.
Only Indiana Jones film in the series to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
In 2014, Steven Soderbergh published an experimental black-and-white version of the film, with the original soundtrack and dialogue replaced by an electronic soundtrack. Soderbergh said his intention was to encourage viewers to focus on Steven Spielberg's extraordinary staging and editing: "This filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day."
Around 1:06:51, when Belloq and Marian are drinking, Marian asks what the alcohol is. Belloq responds that it is his family label, and holds up the bottle. The label appears to be a handwritten Hebrew script, making Belloq a Jew, and opening up a whole new theory: Belloq is seeking to gain the ark, not for the archeological significance, but to gain access to its power, in order to destroy the Nazis. That would explain the priestly garments and prayers he offers when opening the ark at the end of the movie.
Production designer Norman Reynolds had found a rusty looking ship that was perfect for the Bantu Wind. However, when the time came for this sequence to be filmed he was horrified to discover that the ship had been repainted and now looked pristine. It had to be swiftly repainted to achieve its distressed look.
The words that Belloq slowly recites before opening the ark are (badly pronounced) Aramaic, and are part of a paragraph recited in many Synagogues today when the Ark that holds the Sefer Torahs (the Old Testament handwritten on Parchment) is opened as part of the Sabbath service.
The scene where Jones fires at the truck was a botched stunt. The truck was supposed to flip over by means of a telegraph pole being fired by explosives through the floor. The explosive wasn't powerful enough and it simply forced the truck to tip over at an angle as can be seen in the finished movie. Time did not permit any further attempts at getting it right.
Early concept art for the character who ultimately became Toht depicted him as a uniformed Nazi officer with a mechanical arm that doubled as a machine gun and a radio antenna built into his head. George Lucas dismissed this as being too far-fetched.
The musical theme for the Ark of the Covenant is heard several times throughout the film. Each time, it either trails off, segues into a different theme, or modulates into a different key. Only at the climax of the film is the entire theme heard and resolved in its original key.
Tom Selleck was Steven Spielberg's second choice for the role of Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford was his first, but George Lucas objected, since Ford had been in both American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Selleck was not able to take the role because he was committed to Magnum, P.I. (1980). However, that series did not go into production until Raiders' filming had already wrapped. Selleck was in fact in Hawaii waiting for the series to start as the final scenes to be filmed (the opening sequence) were being shot in Hawaii. "Magnum" did an episode called "Legend of the Lost Art" that parodied "Raiders", complete with hat, whip, booby traps, etc.
Over 30 bullwhips were supplied for the Indy series ranging from 6ft to 16 ft in length.
Shooting in Tunisia proved to be so stressful and so hot that Steven Spielberg managed to compress a six-week shoot into four-and-a-half weeks. This helped the production complete principal photography 12 days ahead of schedule.
Steven Spielberg first suggested Harrison Ford for the part of Indy. George Lucas was initially against the idea as he had already worked with Ford in American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Lucas had noted his film colleague and close friend Martin Scorsese earned a reputation for casting Robert De Niro in most of his movies, and didn't want Ford to become know as what he called "My [Lucas's] Bobby".
Each Indiana Jones film is set primarily in one continent: Africa (this film), Asia (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)), Europe (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)), and South America (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)).
Indiana Jones' name comes from the name of Marcia Lucas' dog and is a play on Steve McQueen's eponymous character name in Nevada Smith (1966). Indiana the dog, who was a Malamute, also served as the inspiration for Chewbacca in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
The floatplane in the opening sequence has the registration prefix "OB-", which indicates that the action takes place in Peru.
Indy's battered leather jacket was actually brand new and had to be artificially aged by the costume department. There were 10 jackets for general wear and tear and stunt purposes.
In a deleted scene, where the character of Sallah is confronted by a Nazi soldier, John Rhys-Davies who was suffering from cholera at the time was required to bend down. Unfortunately this prompted the very sick Rhys-Davies to soil himself.
Though the film was originally intended as a small low-budget adventure, production costs tripled to 18 million dollars.
With four illustrators, this was Steven Spielberg's most storyboarded film of his career to date.
The tune that Sallah keeps singing, "A British tar (is a soaring soul)," is from Gilbert & Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore." He also sings the words "I am the Monarch of the Sea, The Ruler of the Queen's Navee" from the song "Give Three Cheers" which is from the same musical.
On the Bonus Features DVD, John Rhys-Davies talks about how when he auditioned for the role of Sallah, he was concerned since the script originally described Sallah as a "5-foot-2, skinny, Egyptian digger". Steven Spielberg mentioned that when he first heard Rhys-Davies speak, he reminded him of the Shakespearean character Falstaff. Spielberg then told Rhys-Davies that for his performance as Sallah, to combine his earlier role as "Vasco Rodrigues" from the miniseries Shogun (1980) with the character of Falstaff.
A visit by Stanley Kubrick's daughter, Vivian Kubrick, to the Elstree set led to an investigation by the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). She had complained that the snakes in the tomb scenes were being unfairly treated and this led to filming being delayed by one day.
Voted #2 on Empire magazine's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time (September 2008).
The original "Raiders" script was handwritten.
Steven Spielberg originally envisioned the Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini for the role of French archaeologist Dr. Rene Belloq. He also considered the French actor/singer Jacques Dutronc, who turned out to be unable to speak a word of English. Spielberg instead chose an English actor, Paul Freeman, because he thought Freeman had "striking eyes", having seen him act in Death of a Princess (1980). Also, at one point, Spielberg became concerned as to whether Freeman could act with a French accent. Spielberg then contacted Freeman (who was on vacation at the time) and asked if he could come back to London to meet with him and act out some lines in a French accent for him.
The island where the Ark is opened, based on the map used during the sub's transit, appears to be the island of Christiana in the Aegean Sea.
Director Steven Spielberg admitted in the "Making of" DVD that watching the stage hands preparing the Well of Souls set by laying out the thousands of snakes for the scene really made him nauseous--even to the point where he nearly wanted to puke a few times.
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.
An early draft of the script had Indy traveling to Shanghai to recover a piece of the Staff of Ra. During his escape from the museum, where it was housed, he was to be sheltered from machine gun fire, behind a giant rolling gong. Also in the same script, Indy and Marion flee the chaos caused by the opening of the Ark in a wild mine-cart chase sequence. Both of these scenes were cut from the script, but ended up in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
Kathleen Kennedy is listed "Associate to Mr. Spielberg" in the credits. She has since co-founded Amblin Entertainment and is the President of Lucasfilm.
Harrison Ford did most of the stunt work himself, including the scene in which he is getting dragged behind the truck. He sustained several bruised ribs from the stunt and later said "if the stunt was dangerous, we wouldn't have done it."
The Pan American seaplane that Indiana Jones flies to Nepal in is a Short Solent Mark III flying boat modified by matte effects to resemble a Martin M-130 with the name "China Clipper". The producers contacted the owner of the craft about using the flying boat for the movie and though he responded that he was happy to help out, he informed them that only one of the flying boat's engines had been restored to working order, therefore, for the shot used in the movie, we see only that single engine running. Additionally, in order to convey the fact that it was a passenger aircraft, the director had several production assistants dressed in period clothing and filmed them simply walking through the doorway of the plane.
Indiana's primary weapon is a Smith & Wesson model 1917 .45 ACP revolver with the barrel cut down from six inches to four inches. He also carries as a backup weapon a Browning Hi Power 9mm automatic, used during the shootout in Marion's tavern in Nepal.
Instead of the standard Paramount logo used between 1975-87, the opening logo was a version of the studio logo used in the 1940s or 1950s which read: "A Paramount Picture". The only difference is that it also read "A Gulf+Western Company". This logo was also used in the sequels instead of then-current logos to parallel the series' set time period.
Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman based Indy's outfit - flying jacket and fedora - on Charlton Heston's in Secret of the Incas (1954). In that film Heston plays a treasure-hunting adventurer who, after studying an ancient model 'map room', uses a beam of sunlight reflected off a crystal to pinpoint the location of the treasure. In that film Heston also flies a hijacked airplane and goes down a river in an inflatable yellow raft, reminiscent of events in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
The opening scene in the Peruvian jungle was filmed on the island of Kauai, one of the islands of Hawaii, to where Steven Spielberg would return for Jurassic Park (1993).
The building, used for one of the exterior shots of the university, is the large music conservatory on the campus of The University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
The German plane that the Ark was going to be transported on is an experimental flying wing design by Blohm and Voss, a shipbuilding company that designed some rather unorthodox aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s. This particular model only exists in the film, but borrows various design elements from authentic period aircraft.
Steven Spielberg asked producer Frank Marshall to find a mountain that looked like the paramount logo. Marshall had to drive around the whole island until he found one and with a suitable location to shoot.
Amy Irving and Debra Winger were considered for the role of Marion. Sean Young was used as Marion in the screen test for all who auditioned for the lead role of Indy. Tim Matheson and John Shea were used for Karen Allen's screen test. Young would later star opposite Ford in Blade Runner (1982).
WILHELM SCREAM: as one of the German soldiers falls out the back of the truck Indiana Jones is driving.
Scenes cut from the film:

. In the uncut conversation between Indy and Marion at the Raven Bar, Marion explains the cause of Abner's death and tells Indy about the difficult last two years of her life. After having arranged the following day's appointment for the delivery of the medallion, Indy turns to leave, only to return under Marion's urge; she grabs his jacket and pulls him close for a kiss. The whole Raven Bar scene was cut because it was considered too long. The kissing part can be seen in The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark documentary. The scene appears in a script draft, the novelization and the Marvel Comics movie adaptation.

. A plot element involving the Ark of the Covenant was cut from the film and is only hinted at during the finale when the Ark is opened. Basically, there were 2 rules about the Ark not mentioned in the final cut of the film:

1. If you touch the Ark, you die. 2. If you look at the Ark when it is opened, you die. This is first explained in additional dialogue for the scene when Indy and Sallah visit Imam. Before translating the writings on the headpiece that give the height of the Staff of Ra, Imam warns Indy not to touch the Ark or look at it when it is opened. The next scene involving this Ark subplot is when Sallah and Indy remove the Ark from the Well of the Souls. When Sallah first sees it he reaches out to touch it. Indy stops him before he does and reminds him of Imam's warning. Then they insert long poles through each side of the Ark to lift it out of its crypt. Notice that nobody ever touches the Ark throughout the rest of the film until the finale.

. While Indiana Jones is in the Map Room trying to find the exact location of the Well of the Souls, two German soldiers approach Sallah and order him to help them remove their truck that had been stuck in the sand. In the process Sallah looses the rope with which he was supposed to help Indy get out of the Map Room. In a continuing scene we see Sallah entering a German tent looking for something to substitute his missing rope and awhile later he comes up with a "rope" made of bed sheets and a German flag. What we don't see is Sallah in a state of panic wandering in the Nazi camp at breakfast time. A group of German soldiers ask him to serve them water from a marmite. Sallah spills the content of the marmite on the German officers' uniforms and leaves promising to return with fresh water. The scene called for smoke in the background but unfortunately the tires used to produce the smoke were too many, thus making the scene too dark. Steven Spielberg opted to cut this scene instead of spending half a day shooting it again.

. With Indy and Marion left to suffocate in the Well of the Souls the Germans decide that Sallah should be executed. A young German soldier was supposed to carry out the dirty job but things changed when the later started having second thoughts. A German youth vacationing in Tunisia had been hired for the part of the young soldier. The funny thing is that this inexperienced young man managed to express brilliantly the moral dilemma of a young soldier forced to decide whether or not to kill a harmless stranger; this is the business of foreign wars, and this unknown German boy was able to convey it as well as any actor. The result was beyond description, with this German student playing an intensely moving and emotional scene, making David Wisnievitz and Karen Allen call it the greatest moment since the film began. Spielberg said the bitter truth was that brilliant and memorable though the scene was, it would probably end up on the cutting-room floor because it was just too long. So it did.

. There was a small cut during the scene where Indy and Marion escape from the Well of Souls. When Indy pushes the large stone brick out of the room filled with mummy's, there is an Arab guard standing outside. When the Arab and Indy come face to face, Indy simply knocks him unconscious. Evidence of this scene still remains in the film. As Indy steps out of the chamber, he pauses and looks off to the left side of the screen. In the following shot, when Indy and Marion run from the building to the German plane, that Arab is visible lying on the ground by the building.

. Indy surviving the submarine journey by lashing himself to the periscope with his whip. In the final film, the plot hole goes largely unnoticed. Most people seem to assume either that Indy snuck inside the sub or that it stayed on the ocean surface for the duration of the trip. This cut scene did appear in the Marvel Comics adaptation. The few pictures that we have found prove that they indeed film part of this scene.
Steven Spielberg had originally offered the role off Major Arnold Toht to Roman Polanski, who was intrigued at the opportunity to work with Spielberg but decided to turn down the role because he wouldn't be able to make the trip to Tunisia.
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During the Well of Souls scene, Snake Handler Steven Edge served as the double for Marion's legs. According to Edge, Karen Allen's stunt double refused to stand in among the snakes. Steven Spielberg offered him the chance by asking if he was willing to shave his legs and put on a dress. For the scene in which Indy is face to face with a hooded Cobra, Edge says Snake Handlers induced the Cobra to hood with a toy rabbit held just outside the camera framing. Edge noted that unlike Indy, Harrison Ford had not fear or hatred of snakes.
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Famous anime voice actor Bob Papenbrook voiced some of the screaming natives chasing Indy.
George Lucas came up with Marion punching Jones in Nepal.
Three different stunt men were used to double for Harrison Ford: Vic Armstrong when riding the horse; Martin Grace at the falling statue and Terry Leonard when pulled behind the truck.
The Flying Wing in the fighting scene in Egypt is not a real plane. It was designed for the movie by production designer Norman Reynolds and built by Vickers. It was inspired by the Horten Ho 229, a prototype German fighter/bomber that too late in the war to entered production during World War II, though three of them had been built and tested.
The name Marion Ravenwood was a combination of two names: Marion was the grandmother of Lawrence Kasdan's wife, and Ravenwood was from Ravenwood Court, a small street off Beverly Glen.
An episode of The Big Bang Theory (2007) includes mention of a theory stated by the character Amy that Indiana Jones supposedly had no effect on the outcome since the Nazis actually did get the ark. This is false, however, because Belloq states in the beginning of the movie that following Indy around is his usual way of finding things, which is the basis of their rivalry. This along with scenes where Belloq is advising the Nazis indicate that Belloq has told the Nazis to follow Indy around until he leads them to the ark, as he has led Belloq to previous discoveries.
Though not mentioned in the film, the final location and destination of the German submarine ports as shown by map, indicates the final segment of film where the Ark is opened by the Nazis is located on a Greek island north of Crete. However, since the map used for the film is geographically inaccurate as it does not include several of the other actual islands found in this location, it is believed that the island location used was fictitious and that it does not actually exist. However, due to its small and uninhabitable size and shape as shown in wide and overhead shots in the film (A better overhead image of the islands shape is shown as the lid of the Ark flies into the heavens) this would indicate that the island is possibly, or if not modeled after the small Greek rock Island of 'Pachia'.
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The first time Steven Spielberg ever directed in the UK.
All of the German vehicles in the desert chase sequence are replicas of actual pre-WWII German vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz 320 staff car is actually a Jaguar MK9 with a modified MK5 body; two were built for the movie by Classic Cars of Coventry. The cargo truck is a Mercedes-Benz LG3000 replica built on a GMC CCKW. Gobler's troop car is a replica of a Mercedes-Benz G5 'Geländewagen.'
In the map room, one of the buildings has red graffiti written on it that says, "Nicht stören", which is German for "Do not disturb".
For the DVD release, over 970,000 frames were cleaned up by Lowry Digital Images, the same company that cleaned up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), North by Northwest (1959) and Sunset Blvd. (1950) for DVD.
George Lucas directed a few second unit shots, in particular the monkey giving the Nazi salute.
According to Empire Magazine, at the UK casting auditions, one quite famous UK actor astonished the production team during his interview by badmouthing Steven Spielberg's film 1941 (1979). The actor in question was not hired.
The scene where Marion puts on her dress and attempts to leave Belloq's tent was improvised as was the entire plane fight. The script called for Marion to shed her conservative Egyptian garb and don a revealing dress to heighten the tension when she and Indy are fending off snakes as they're sealed in the Well of Souls-but the script didn't include why she ended up in the dress. In order to get her into the dress, Karen Allen and Paul Freeman improvised the scene where she hides a knife with the older clothes she takes off to try to seduce Belloq and escape, and thus giving her character a plausible reason to be in the dress. Allen thought it would also be a good idea to callback to the drinking game scene that introduces her character in the beginning of the movie as well.
The advance trailer for this film played up Steven Spielberg's earlier films with the exception of his previous film, 1941 (1979), which was considered a failure at that time.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #66 Greatest Movie of All Time.
Unlike Indiana, neither Harrison Ford nor Steven Spielberg have a fear of snakes.
One of the USPs of the Indiana Jones movies was its sound quality. Benjamin A. Burtt, the sound designer, said that the sounds used after the Ark was opened were synthesized using human vocalizations and recorded animal cries of dolphins and sea lions to make it sound otherworldly. The sounds for the subsequent sparkle and beams were recorded with the old gear used for the early Frankenstein movies.
The name Indiana Jones is believed to be inspired by that of Nevada Smith, a literary character created by Harold Robbins in 1961, and played in Nevada Smith (1966) by Steve McQueen.
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According to the script, Abner Ravenwood was killed in an avalanche.
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The well-known line "Indy, they're digging in the wrong place!" is in fact a misquote. The true line is simply "They're digging in the wrong place," and is spoken by both Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and Indiana (Harrison Ford).
Maureen McCormick auditioned for the role of Marion Ravenwood. She later admitted in her memoir, "Here's the Story", that she was addicted to cocaine during the audition.
According to Graham Hancock's book "The Sign and the Seal," the Lost Ark of the Covenant actually resides in the city of Axum (Ethiopia), at the Saint Mary of Zion church.
For the conceptual process/drawings, Ralph McQuarrie was not brought in but, instead, George Lucas brought in Marvel artist Jim Steranko.
Benjamin A. Burtt selected a .30-30 Winchester rifle for the sound of Jones' pistol.
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The Bible that Indiana hands to Major Eaton and Colonel Musgrove in the beginning of the movie is a old Dutch version and shows 2 Chronicles 5, which describes how "the ark of the Lord's covenant is brought to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim."
A fiberglass boulder 22 feet (7 m) in diameter was made for the scene where Indiana escapes from the temple. Steven Spielberg was so impressed by production designer Norman Reynolds' realization of his idea that he gave the boulder a more prominent role in the film and told Reynolds to let the boulder roll another 50 feet (15 m)
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Kevork Malikyan was offered the role of Sallah, but arrived an hour late for his interview with Steven Spielberg because of a traffic jam. He would later play Kazim in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
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Indy's whip is 10 feet long, although some shorter versions were used, depending on the shot required.
The silver pontoon equipped biplane that Indiana Jones uses to escape from Belloq and the enraged South American natives is a 1930s era Waco UBF-2 Tourist.
The Air East Asia airliner that Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood take to Cairo is an example of the iconic Douglas DC-3. One of the most significant aircraft of all time, the DC-3 and its military variant (the C-47) were produced from 1936 to 1950.
The only Indiana Jones movie where his name doesn't appear in the title. Though rereleases of the movie on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray are titled Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Ark on the front covers.
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At 115 minutes, this is the shortest Indiana Jones movie.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Steven Spielberg cast Karen Allen after seeing her in Animal House (1978).
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Originally mechanical snakes were going to be used in the Well Of Souls sequence, but it was decided that they looked too fake so they opted for real snakes instead.
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Jonathan Pryce was considered for Belloq.
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In 1980, Photoplay Film Magazine reported that Robert Duvall was having meetings with Steven Spielberg in London for a role as a Nazi in his new untitled project.
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The boots Ford wears throughout the film are model 405 Work Boots made by the Alden Shoe Company of Middleborough, Massachusetts. They are advertised and sold to this day, as "Indy" boots.
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Just before the fight around the flying wing, Gobler (Anthony Higgins) says to Dietrich (Wolf Kahler) in German: "The plane is ready. It can be loaded."
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The truck used in the chase scene from the excavation is actually a WWII 2 1/2 ton GMC CCKW-353, with the hood and cab converted to approximate a pre-war Mercedes truck.
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Michael Sheard was the runner-up to play Toht before ultimately being cast as the U-boat captain. He would play Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
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Brody states that the Pharoah Shishak (Shoshenq) invaded Jerusalem in 980 B.C. Historians actually date his reign from 943 to 922 B.C., and Solomon's as 970 to 931. According to the Bible's chronology, this would mean Shishak invaded around 926 B.C., five years after the death of Solomon.
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The sound of the boulder in the opening is a car rolling down a gravel driveway in neutral.
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The flying wing is modelled after a Horten VII, by the German brothers Reimar and Walter Horten. It was a test bed for a bigger jet propulsed Horten IX. The Horten VII was built in 1944.
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The film was shown at the Rialto cinema in 1981; when Steven Spielberg produced Gremlins (1984), a billboard with a DJ on it called Rockin' Ricky Rialto is done up in the likeness of Indiana Jones.
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The Disney Springs lifestyle center at Walt Disney World has a tie-in cocktail lounge named for Fred Sorenson's character Jock, giving him the last name of Lindsey and stating that he settled in central Florida in 1938.
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Ishaq Bux is crediting in the end titles as playing Omar but it is impossible to spot him in the film.
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In Quantum Leap: Another Mother - September 30, 1981 (1990), Kevin Bruckner mentions that he is going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) with his friends, which is interesting because they use archive footage of the TV show Magnum, P.I. (1980), and Tom Selleck was originally going to portray Indiana Jones in that film.
Voted number 20 in Channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films".
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Filming of Jones boarding a Boeing Clipper flying-boat was complicated by the lack of a surviving aircraft. Eventually, a post-war British Short Solent flying-boat formerly owned by Howard Hughes was located in California and substituted.
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The film takes place in 1936.
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The insert scene where the small capuchin monkey gives the Nazi salute to the German spies was part of the film's post-production pickup schedule-an allotted time to reshoot or tweak scenes from the principal production shoot-supervised by George Lucas at Elstree Studios in London. Despite the animal trainers training the monkey to perform the move prior to the shoot, they couldn't get the monkey to do it during a take. At first, the animal trainers were tapping the monkey on the head to get a reaction, but days dragged on and the monkey didn't do the proper salute. Finally, they resorted to dangling grapes with fishing line just off camera to provoke the monkey, and that was what got the little actor to do a good take. The final shot in the film is the monkey reaching for the grapes just above the frame.
The Life magazine read by Toht on the plane to Nepal is dated November 30, 1936, which is also the day the social activist Abbie Hoffman was born. Steven Spielberg would years later be initially slated to direct a project about Hoffman and his fellow defendants in the Chicago Seven.
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There is a character in Frank Herbert's Dune saga called "Duncan Idaho", which follows a similar logic of naming a hero with a state. However, set in space in a far-away future, this doesn't make quite as much sense.
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Versatile, but not so well-known German actor Wolf Kahler plays the cold, ruthless Nazi military commander Colonel Dietrich who assists in the seizure of the Ark. In Barry Lyndon (1975), he plays a completely opposite role as the dandy German aristocrat Prince of Tubingen with makeup and cheek rouge of the 18th century.
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When the Ark is opened and the angels start flying around the observing Nazis, the look on Beolloq's face resembles that of the Golden Idol of the Hovitos.
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The names of the characters Satipo and Barranca are the same as two small towns located in Peru.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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During Indianas escape from the natives in the beginning of the film. He has his pilot start the plane in the water. When the engin starts it is the same sound used as blaster shots from the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.
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The Well of Souls foreshadows the Egyptian cult in the Spielberg produced Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). Both films also mention the city of the dead and the Egyptian God Ra.
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Karen Allen later returned as Marion Ravenwood for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
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Steven Spielberg would have skeletons and desecrated burial grounds in the subsequent likes of Poltergeist (1982) and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).
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Frank Marshall: Pilot of the flying wing. All the stunt men were sick on the day that Indiana Jones hits the pilot of the Flying Wing over the head, so producer Frank Marshall agreed to do it. Unfortunately for him, the shot took three days and a lot of it involved him sitting in a cockpit that was in excess of 100 degrees.
Terry Leonard: The stuntman, who appears as the German truck driver, also performs numerous stunts as Indy, including jumping from the horse to the truck and sliding under the truck.
Dennis Muren: Appears as a Nazi spy who is tracking Indiana Jones on the airplane. Only his eyes can be seen, though, as most of his face is hidden behind the magazine he's reading, which is Life volume 1 number 2 (30 November 1936), which has pages 42-43 dedicated to the water color paintings of Adolf Hitler.
Frank Welker: prolific voice actor provides the monkey's sounds, uncredited.
Glenn Randall Jr.: the stunt coordinator appears as the mechanic with the monkey wrench at the flying wing.
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Terry Leonard: Stuntman who appears as the German truck driver, also performs numerous stunts as Indy, including crashing through the windshield and sliding under the truck.

Director Trademark 


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas argued over who Indy's companion should be. One idea was that she was to be a Nazi spy. After discarding that idea, they couldn't decide if they wanted the character to be Indy's former mentor, or an old lover. It was Lawrence Kasdan's idea to combine the two ideas, by making her the daughter of Indy's teacher. The idea of Indy traveling together with a Nazi spy was re-used for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
The submarine pen on the island where the Ark is taken, and finally opened, is not a set, but in fact an actual German U-Boat pen left over from World War II in La Rochelle, France. Producer Robert Watts was amazed at how preserved the submarine pen was (even down to the graffiti on the walls) that he described it as "an actual set in existence".
Although there is a fan theory that Indiana Jones has no impact on the plot (the Nazis found the Ark and opened it despite his attempted intervention) this fails to account for Marion. Had Indy not shown up, the Nazis would have killed her. He also saved her life again when the Ark was opened and he told her to close her eyes, something she wouldn't have done had he not been there.
Body Count: 64 (including the monkey), 11 by Indiana Jones.
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas disagreed on the character of Indiana Jones: although Lucas saw him as a Bondian playboy, Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan felt the character's academic and adventurer elements made him complex enough. Spielberg had a darker vision of Jones, interpreting him as an alcoholic similar to Humphrey Bogart's character Fred C. Dobbs in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). This characterization fell away during the later drafts, though elements survive in Jones's reaction when he believes Marion to be dead.
In a 2001 "making of" special, it was revealed that the effects used in the three antagonists' rather gruesome deaths (Dietrich, Toht, and Belloq) were a vacuum machine, heat gun with time-lapse photography, and shotgun, respectively. When the movie was submitted for an MPAA rating, it was given a rating of "R" because of the exploding head. In order to lower the rating, flames were superimposed over this image. The result was the appearance of a head exploding behind a dense curtain of flames. The rating was lowered to "PG" (at the time, the PG-13 rating did not exist).
According to the novelization, the writing on the headpiece of the Staff of Ra included a specific warning not to look into the Ark. This is why Indy and Marion survive the conflagration at the end simply by closing their eyes. It may be an allusion to 1 Samuel 6:19, where God "smote" the men of Beth Shemesh for looking into the Ark.
As scripted, the scene where Indy and Marcus meet with the Army Intelligence officials in Washington was to be followed immediately by the Ark being stored in the warehouse. The filmmakers realized there was no resolution for Indy's relationship with Marion, and the new scene was written. It was filmed on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall.
The melting of Toht's head was done by exposing a gelatine and plaster model of Ronald Lacey's head to a heat lamp with an under cranked camera, while Dietrich's crushed head was a hollow model from which air was withdrawn.
Numerous characters die as a direct result of Indiana Jones actions (or omission of action), but he only deliberate kills eight people (1. He shoots the Mongolian in the bar, 2. He shoots the Egyptian swordsman, 3. & 4. He shoots two Arabs on the truck carrying explosives, 5. 6. & 7. He runs the Nazis in the utility vehicle off a cliff, 8. He runs over the Nazi with the truck.) By those guidelines, it's possible that Marion intentionally kills more people than Indy. She shoots the Sherpa in the bar and a bunch of Nazis from the tail gun of the plane. It's unclear exactly how many Nazis she kills, but there are at least 7 in the back of the transport and she appears to kill them all which would at least tie her body count with Indy's.
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Indiana and Marion have sex off-screen. In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Marion's son Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf) is revealed as Indiana's son Henry Jones III. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) takes place 21 years after Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
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In the early drafts of the script, the character of Toht was killed when the truck goes over the cliff in the truck chase sequence, rather than at the end.
During the scene where Indiana Jones tempts the Nazis with a bazooka into giving Marian back to him, when Dr. René Belloq says, "You are going to give mercenaries a bad name," a fly can be seen crawling near his mouth, and then flying away, once the sentence is over.
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The crate in which the Ark is placed at the end of the movie has the number 9906753.

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