Continuing my Raiders at 40 celebrations this month, and I’m going to look at a (so called) major plot hole that the film has. This plot hole actually gained some traction a few years back thanks to the not very amusing The Big Bang Theory TV show. However, I actually heard of this goof long before The Big Bang Theory existed. For those not in the know, here’s the plot hole in question:
So basically, people like to claim that Indy had no impact on the resolve of the film at all and that the character was completely pointless in his own movie. Even without Indy, the Nazis would found the Ark, took it to the island and opened it. Ergo, all the Nazis would’ve died even if Indy had just stayed at home and put his feet up. Honestly, loads of sites have brought this plot hole up for a few years now, ever since it was mentioned in The Big Bang Theory. So, Dr Jones was completely irrelevant in his own flick right?
Well no, just as with most of the writing on The Big Bang Theory, it’s utter arse gravy with no thought applied to it. Before I do destroy this so called plot hole, like a Nazi having his face melted and head exploded, I just want to bring up a little incidental of the whole film, Marion Ravenwood.
So, let’s just say that, when Indy was asked to go find the Ark of the Covenant, he turned the offer down and went home instead. The Nazis turn up at Marion’s place in Nepal to obtain Abner’s headpiece for the staff, she gets a bit headstrong (as shown in the film) and the Nazis get rough. No Indy there to save her, Marion dies. Is that not a worthy reason to be in the film? The fact Indy saves Marion’s life?
Other sites and blogs have also brought up the fact Indy saves Marion’s life. But even that’s not 100% accurate. I mean, how did the Nazis know about Marion, how did they know about her very remote bar in Nepal in South Asia… The biggest continent on the planet, how did they know she had the headpiece that would tell them where to Ark was buried? The answer to that actually renders the entire plot hole redundant and proves how things wouldn’t have been the same if Indy wasn’t in the film. It all has to do with a very brief, but important scene. When Indy gets on the plane to Nepal and he travels by (now iconic) map… He’s not alone.
Someone is following him, it’s not actually explained who this mysterious person is. Some assume it is Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht (Ronald Lacey) due to the glasses… But it’s not. The character is an unnamed spy played by Dennis Muren, a special effects artist on the film. As an added bit of trivia, Dennis Muren has won more special effects Oscars than any other person ever. Plus, when put side by side, you can tell that Thot and the spy are not the same actor/character. They are just both wearing a hat and glasses.
So, who is this spy and why are they following Indy? Well, what if he’s a Nazi, a Nazi who reports back to Major Toht when they land in Nepal? Then when in Nepal, Thot and his men follow Indy to Marion’s bar. Indy goes in, talks to Marion while the Nazis wait outside, perhaps even eavesdrop on their conversation. Indy leaves the bar, the Nazis enter, and the film plays out as it does. See, the Nazis only knew about Marion, her bar and that she had the headpiece because of Indy, because he was followed. So without Indy, the Nazis would never have found the headpiece, never found the Ark, never would’ve opened it, never would’ve had their faces melted. My conclusion is that Indy wasn’t irrelevant in his own film and no, the Nazis wouldn’t have opened to Ark without him as they never would’ve found it without him to begin with. Not a plot hole.
Before I move onto more proof that this is not a plot hole. I do know that the Nazis were aware of Abner Ravenwood (Marion’s father), because of a telegram that US intercepted from the Nazis about Abner and the headpiece is mentioned in the film. However, there’s no mention of them knowing who Marion is, or that she possibly had the headpiece they needed. Plus, that telegram states that Abner was in the US… He wasn’t, he was in Nepal. So the info the Nazis had on Abner was vastly out of date. Also as I’ve already mentioned, Marion had a very remote bar in Nepal in the biggest continent on Earth. What are the chances of the Nazis just stumbling on the bar and Marion? So for me, it makes sense that the Nazis had Indy followed.
Still, there is nothing in the flick that says the guy following Indy is actually a Nazi. He could be working for the American government and just on the plane to ensure that Indy is doing what he said he would. I only offered a possible theory there, using what is in the film. You have to admit that it is open to who the spy following Indy is and that it is possible he was working for the Nazis. But even if you want to throw that theory out, I’ve got the main nail to put in the coffin of this ‘plot hole’, *he claims with an knowing and sly Indy-like smirk on his face*…
Removing my explanation, this isn’t even a plot hole anyway. A plot hole is a very specific thing and one can write off any film ever made and create a non-existent plot hole by simply removing the good (or bad) guy from the story. I mean, I could create a ‘plot hole’ in King Kong by saying that, if Carl Denham hadn’t hired Ann Darrow and taken her to Skull Island, then Kong would never have ended up in New York and caused such a ruckus… Plot hole! No, that’s purposely creating an issue, to then find a plot hole within the false narrative that you yourself have just created.
As I said, a plot hole is something very specific. A plot hole is a gap or an inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of the movie’s logic, established by the film’s plot. However, the plot of the film has the American government hire Indy to go after the Ark and bring it to US soil. So then, he is essential to the flick because THAT’S THE PLOT.
Here’s a bit of dialogue between Marcus and Indy about going after the Ark, after Marcus speaks to the American government:
Marcus Brody: “They want you to go for it. They want you to get hold of the Ark before the Naizs do, and they’re prepared to pay handsomely for it.”
Indiana Jones: “And the museum, the museum gets the Ark when were finished?”
Marcus Brody: “Well yes.”
Just to repeat a line of dialogue there… “They want you to get hold of the Ark before the Naizs do”. Aside from the government screwing Indy over at the end and not giving it to the museum, he was being paid to find the Ark, before the Nazis and bring it to the US. If Indy had just said ‘no’ after being asked to find the Ark, went home and put his feet up… Then there never would’ve been a plot hole because there wouldn’t be a plot.
A plot hole (as an example) would be establishing that early in the film, that the Nazis could not be killed by the Ark… For the Ark to then kill them at the end with no explanation as to why. Removing Indy from the film is not a plot hole because Indy is the plot, the driving force of the whole film. As already covered, Indy was hired to find and retrieve the Ark, to then bring it back to the US… Which he did do. The killing of Nazis was not his job, that was not what the American government tasked him to do. So if we say that Indy being in the film or not made no difference because the Nazis would have opened the ark anyway if Indy wasn’t in the film, forget about the Nazis finding and opening it. The main plot point is that the Ark never would’ve been brought to US soil without Indy. The melting of Nazi faces is completely irrelevant, that’s just an added bonus, with or without Indy.
So no, this whole Indy is irrelevant in his own flick is not a plot hole, and nor is he irrelevant. More a case of people not understanding what a plot hole is, or not being able to grasp the fact that Indy was not hired to kill Nazis. He was hired to bring the Ark to the US, which he did do. Without him, that never would’ve happened. So that kind of makes him pretty central to the plot eh? Can we now put an end to all this ‘Indy is irrelevant in his own film’ bollocks now then?
More articles to come in my Raiders at 40 celebrations and next, some Raiders rip offs of varying quality over the years.