My Raiders At 40 Celebration… All Of It

In case you missed it, I spent June of this year celebrating Raiders of the Lost Ark turning 40-years-old. I put together a rather large collection of articles covering various Raiders and Indiana Jones subjects. Four decades of Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. which took a lot of research, writing and editing to get it all done. As there were so many articles, I thought that I could put them all together in one place so they were easier to find.

So here they are, all ten articles all in one place. Just give each link a click and the articles will open up in their own window for your convenience and reading pleasure.

Raiders At 40: An Indiana Jones Games Retrospective

A look at every Indiana Jones video game ever released.

Raiders At 40: Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Plot Hole

Was Indy irrelevant in his own film?

Raiders At 40: Indy Rip-Offs

Several films that jumped on the Raiders bandwagon.

Raiders At 40: Movie Sequels We Never Got: The ‘Other’ Third Indiana Jones Film… And More

An interesting look at several Indiana Jones films that were never made.

Raiders At 40: The Future Of Indiana Jones?

I ponder what the future holds for the Indy franchise after Indy 5.

Raiders At 40: Behind The Boulder

I explore the famed opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark and discover and interesting inspiration.

Raiders At 40: Is Indiana Jones A Paedophile?

There’s a fan theory floating around the internet that Indy and Marion’s relationship may not have been ‘legal’. 

Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part One

The first part looking at the making of Raiders concentrates on the conception and pre-production.

Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part Two

Part two of the making of Raiders explores the shooting of the film.

Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part Three

The final part looking at the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark covers post-production and the film’s release.

Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part Three

At last, after an entire month of Raiders at 40 articles, it is the grand finale of my grand finale.

So, the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark took seventy-three days, post-production took a couple of more months. This is where all the special effects, music, sound and smaller shots that didn’t require the main cast (for the most part) could be done. It was George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) studio that took care of all the special effects. Long before CGI was common use in film. The first effects work done was for the big finale, the opening of the Ark. Just how the opening of the Ark would kill all the Nazis was unknown, even the script rather vaguely described the scene as ‘they open the Ark and all hell breaks loose’, that was it. While George Lucas and Steven Spielberg knew they wanted it to be a spectacular finale, neither of them knew exactly how that finale should look or even what should be in the Ark when it was opened.


For the task of creating that spectacular and very vague finale, Lucas and Spielberg approached several storyboard artists and gave them carte blanche to do whatever they wanted and display ‘the power of God’ their own way. One came up with the idea to have the Ark spit out a mass firestorm, another drew up a series of storyboards featuring terrifying ghosts, the another suggested that lighting should be what kills the Nazis. All three ideas looked great when storyboarded, so Lucas and Spielberg decided to use all three. It was artist, Joe Johnston who was tasked with making all three ideas work as one. Quick aside, Raiders of the Lost Ark won an Oscar (it actually won five) for its effects work in 1982, with Johnston being one of the Oscar-winning team. ILM were actually doing effects work on two films at the same time. Raiders and Dragonslayer, so the team were doing double duty.

The first thing to tackle was how to make a ghost look convincing on screen. The original idea was to have them be animated with hand-drawn art. Early tests proved to be a bit of a disaster and the animation idea was pretty much thrown out… Pretty much. Instead, puppets were used, and they were filmed underwater in a big tank… Well, a cloud tank to be precise. Steven Spielberg had already used cloud tanks in Close Encounters, so he already knew how to use them well. Most of the ghosts in the finale are just man-made clouds, but puppets filmed underwater were also used to create that floating element for the more detailed ghosts. Plus there was some use of an actor in a classic white sheet. Oh, and there are a few frames of hand-drawn animation in there too. All of those elements were brought together to make those ghostly apparitions that you see flying around the Nazis in the flick.


Then there was the infamous face-melting. It was Steven Spielberg who came up with the idea that the Nazis should suffer a truly horrific and gruesome end… Spielberg coming from a very Orthodox Jewish family. Moulds were made of the three actor’s faces that were to be destroyed. Each of the three all had a different demise. Makeup artist, Chris Walas, was the man who had to rebuild the actor’s faces using the moulds. Colonel Dietrich’s (Wolf Kahler) head was hollow, but had inflatable bladders filled with air. When shooting the scene, the air was sucked out of the bladders and this gave the effect that his head was being deflated, as if all life was being drained from his body. Major Toht’s (Ronald Lacey) head was made up of several layers of a specially created gelatin compound. The head was then melted via an off-screen, high powered dryer. Finally, there was René Belloq’s (Paul Freeman) head, which was made of plaster. It then had a large air cannon pointed in front of it, a couple of shotguns placed behind it and even explosive charges. Inside the head itself was a thinly made ‘skull’ which contained things like (fake) blood bags, bits of dried latex and the like. The head was then blown up, the blood and bits flew everywhere… And it had to be filmed three times to get it right too. Only there was a problem, it was way, way too gory to go into the film. So the idea to superimpose a fire effect to cover most of the gore was added. Seriously, go and watch that whole face-melting, head-exploding scene in slow motion, it is truly horrific.


While that iconic finale was being finished with effects work, another unit was busy working on another iconic part of the flick. The way that Lawrence Kasdan had written it in the script, he wanted to use montages of Indy travelling the world in order to reach the numerous locations in the film. This would prove to be too costly, what with filming so many locations. So to save some money, and to pay tribute to the classic films and serials that inspired Raiders, Spielberg suggested that they use a map and a line to show the route taken. A lot of 1930s/40s pictures used the same idea, The Humphrey Bogart flick Casablanca as an example.

The very last thing to be shot was the (almost) very end of the film. Originally, the flick concluded with Indy arguing with the government when they keep the Ark for themselves as ‘top men’ look after it. Cut to the shot of the Ark being put into storage, and the credits rolled. But there was no resolve between Indy and Marion, there was no idea of how Indy felt about being screwed over. It was George Lucas’ wife, Marcia who pointed out that the film needed a bit more of an impact. So Steven Spielberg got Harrison Ford and Karen Allen together for one final shot. The scene filmed on the stairs of the government building was added. It was filmed in San Francisco and it added that final bite the film really did need. It showed how annoyed Indy was with the government and it showed that Marion stood by her man until the end.

It has been said that Steven Spielberg’s first cut of the film came in at slightly over three hours (I’d actually like to see that version). Raiders of the Lost Ark was an epic film sure, but it wasn’t a ‘film epic’ and Spielberg knew it needed to be trimmed, no one would sit through a three hour, glorified and stylised B-movie. Enter editor, Michael Kahn. Spielberg and Kahn worked at getting the film edited down to a slightly more suitable two hour and some change film. With his cut of the film done, Spielberg handed it over to George Lucas and Lucas held a private screening with an audience to gain some feedback. The next morning and Lucas called Spielberg and told him that he thought the film was great, but it just needed a bit more trimming. George Lucas got into the editing room with Michael Kahn and they cut out a further seven minutes from the first half of the film to tighten up the pacing. Editing that Steven Spielberg was actually pretty happy about.

“I would trust George with any movie I ever direct to edit in any way he sees fit. He knows the secret of what an editor can do to a movie, how he can enhance the film.”

– Steven Spielberg


After the final bit of editing (which would go on to win an Oscar), Raiders of the Lost Ark had a runtime of one hour and fifty-five minutes (with credits). And with the film now fully edited and ready, it needed to be scored. There was really only ever one man who could provide the music to this George Lucas and Steven Spielberg collaboration, the mighty John Williams. Of course, Williams also did the scores for Star Wars, Jaws and so many other Lucas and Spielberg flicks. Williams gave each of the main characters in the film their own music with their own themes and ideas. Even the Ark itself had its own music. The Ark was this deeply religious artefact, so Williams gave it an orchestral, foreboding like tune. Marion as the romantic lead was given a softer and more gentle piece of music. The Nazis had a very nefarious and darker piece. Then, of course, there was the theme of Indiana Jones himself, the main Raiders tune that is one of the most iconic and recognisable pieces of cinematic music ever created. A tune you can whistle anywhere in the world and everyone will know exactly what it is. Of course, there were variants of those four main themes in the film too.

Filming done, special effects done, editing done and music done. Raiders of the Lost Ark was finished and ready to be released. It was a Friday, the 12th of June 1981 and Raiders hit cinemas across America. A few weeks later in July, Raiders of the Lost Ark saw its international release and it soon became the highest-grossing film of 1981 and the number one flick around the world. Harrison Ford was catapulted into the limelight and he became a huge Hollywood star. Yeah sure, Ford was known because of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, but it was Raiders that made him a real star. The cast and crew of the film even embarked on a worldwide promotional tour, appearing at as many premieres as they could around the globe.


That opening fifteen or so minutes of the flick where Indy is introduced was always meant to feel like you just walked into a film already playing at the cinema. In the ‘good old days’, that is how cinemas worked, you paid for a ticket and just walked in to watch a film, start, middle or end. It’s where the phrase ‘this is where we came in‘ originates from. Anyway, Spielberg wanted to recreate that feeling of watching a film that had already started and that beginning was supposed to feel like the end to a film that you just missed.

“It’s not part of Raiders at all. It belongs to the film that comes before it, Raiders of the Lost Fertility Idol, if you like.”

– Steven Spielberg

Of course, that opening of Indy on a seemingly unconnected mission is also a call back to those James Bond openings. And the way Steven Spielberg got involved in this whole thing, back on that beach in Hawaii, was because he told George Lucas that he wanted to make a James Bond flick.


Aside from making Harrison Ford a worldwide star, you can’t talk about the making of Raiders and not give Karen Allen a special mention. I mean, while she did play the damsel in distress, she played the character with balls. From the moment we are introduced to the Marion character and her socking Indy in the chops with a right hook, you just know this damsel was fierce. Also, she was the only main female in the whole flick too.

Raiders of the Lost Ark got a second wind of success after the 1982 Oscars where it was nominated for nine Academy Awards. It would go on to win five. Just for the record, Raiders won the Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley and Michael Ford), Best Sound (Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Gregg Landake and Roy Charman), Best Film Editing (Michael Kahn), Best Effects, Visual Effects (Richard Edlund, Kit West, Bruce Nicholson and Joe Johnston) and Special Achievement Award For Sound Effects Editing (Ben Burtt and Richard L. Anderson) Oscars. Not too shabby for a B-movie flick that no studio even wanted to make.


Theatrically, Raiders earned $384 million worldwide. Then in 1983, it was released on VHS, where it became the first-ever film to sell a million tapes. Paramount were very happy as they made $49 million from the video rentals alone, seeing as they put in $22 million for the production, that’s a decent profit. Spielberg ended up pocketing more than $22 million, which was more he earned from all of his previous films combined. Lucasfilm as a company made $21 million, but Lucas himself only got £2.5 million as the film’s producer. The cast and crew all shared $7 million in profit percentages as a bonus after being paid their normal fee.

All in all, Raiders of the Lost Ark was a gargantuan success. It took many old-timey cinematic methods and brought them into the eighties. It modernised action cinema by going back to its roots. It made Harrison Ford a household name. Steven Spielberg became one of the most revered and popular filmmakers on the planet. George Lucas and the Lucasfilm company became one of the most powerful studios working in film (okay, so Star Wars helped too). And a true film hero was born. Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark is the epitome of action films, a 40-year legacy that spans a multitude of mediums. Films, video games, comic books, novels, TV shows, theme park attractions and so much more. Everything Indiana Jones related can all be traced back to this flick, a film that no studio in Hollywood initially wanted to make at the time. One which most probably never would’ve happened the way it did if not for George Lucas’ love of 1930s serials and taking a trip to Hawaii after the release of Star Wars



Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part Two

Okay, so let’s crack on with this next part covering the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was the 23rd of June 1980 when shooting finally began on the film. Even though the production was set in the legendary Elstree Studios in London, that’s not where the first day of shooting was. The crew were around a hundred miles north of Bordeaux, in the French resort of La Rochelle, where they met a German film crew making their own movie. So we have an American production based in England, filming in France, crossing paths with a German film crew. Anyway, that flick the Germans were making was Wolfgang Petersen’s war epic, Das Boot. The production crew of Raiders struck a deal with the crew of Das Boot to use their submarine. Yes, that sub in Raiders was the very same vessel from Das Boot. When not in use, the sub rested in a submarine pen, that pen was also used as the Nazi base sequence in Raiders. Not only that, it was a genuine World War II Nazi submarine pen, complete with German writing on the walls from the war. An actual German sub and a real Nazi WW II structure too, can’t get much more authentic than that.


All of the water/boat scenes of Raiders were the first things shot, all in France too. Before filming began, the production team sought out a 1930s tramp steamer to be used as the ship seen in the flick, the Bantu Wind. You know the one that was supposed to take Indy, Marion and the Ark to London before they were boarded by Nazis. But they could not find a ship that looked right for the era they wanted. So a replica was built instead… Only it wasn’t seaworthy and couldn’t be used. This was just a few weeks before shooting began and they didn’t have a ship they could use. Fortunately, an almost perfect old-timey ship was found in an Irish port. The production crew commissioned the ship for a month and had it retroactively ‘downdated’ to look like a typical 1930s tramp steamer by the art department. It was then sailed to France  to be used for the film.


While everything was in place for filming to commence, the weather was not on the crew’s side. On the first planned day of the shoot, there was a rainstorm and the North Atlantic Ocean was too unstable to be used. The second day wasn’t much better either. Bearing in mind that the pressure was on to get this film made on time, or George Lucas would have to pay Paramount some hefty fines. Day three was far better and they got out on the sea to film what they needed. It took about a week to get everything required before the production moved on to Elstree Studios for interior shots.

It was the 30th of June when the first studio build sets were filmed. It was the home of Imam that was the first to be filmed. Imam was the guy from Cairo who translates the inscription of the head-piece medallion. You know, the whole ‘bad dates’ scene. It all just goes to show how amazing the art department were, because that scene looks very authentic and Cairo based… When it was actually filmed on a stage in London. But that’s nothing compared to what was next. Quite easily the most famous scene in the entire film, the South American temple. Yup, that spectacular booby-trap laden, golden idol stealing, giant boulder escaping scene was filmed on a stage in London too. A truly amazing set that looked like something directly out of one of those classic matinee serials that Lucas was influenced by. I don’t really need to cover this scene, as I already did that in another article.

On the 14th of July, filming began on the Well of Souls scenes where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and yup, all filmed on those Elstree Studios sets. The set build was huge, in fact, it was too big and the two thousand snakes that Steven Spielberg originally arranged for the shoot just were not enough to cover the floor. At the last minute, another four and a half thousand snakes had to be brought in from Denmark to make the scene a lot more snakey. Three thirty-five-foot jackal statues dominated the set as Indy is lowered and then falls onto the snake covered floor. They were real, venomous snakes too. To ensure the actors were safe, Frank Marshall found and secured a ‘serum-man’ (as Marshall called him. However, serum-man couldn’t deliver on the serum, and he was the only serum-man in the country too. It really was a very dangerous set with real venom packed snakes and as the crew didn’t have a serum, the film shoot could not continue. After a few phone calls, the production crew found a hospital that had some serum they could use. Only when at the hospital, it was discovered that the serum was out of date and couldn’t be used. Finally, a useable serum was tracked down in France and flown into London. Even with a serum, the set was safeguarded as much as possible. The main doors of the set were left open with an ambulance just out of shot. Two medical experts in white coats stood on either side of the ambulance, with a syringe in each hand ready to act if someone was bitten. Everyone on set had to wear protective clothing, thigh-high rubber boots, extra-thick trousers and jackets, gloves and more. Everything was fine… Until the king cobra was brought onto the set.


Now, for those not in the know, the king cobra is one of the most dangerous and venomous snakes on the planet. A bite from a cobra can kill a human in fifteen minutes, they’re pretty effective killing machines really. And yes, that was a real king cobra on the set too. And yes, Harrison Ford was that close to it, inches away. Now, if you’ve seen the older print of Raiders of the Lost Ark, then you’ll know there was a sheet of glass placed between Ford and the snake. You can even see reflections in the glass of the older prints, which have since been removed digitally. Still, even with the glass between them, that must’ve been a pretty daunting thing to film. Here’s a little titbit for you. The cobra did actually kill while on set. There was another snake, a python, that was getting a bit rowdy and it bit the first assistant director, David Tomblin (he was fine). The cobra then bit and killed that same python, as if it was protecting the humans.

But there were even more snake shenanigans to follow. Vivian Kubrick (daughter of Stanley Kubrick who was filming The Shining at the studios at the time) visited Elstree Studios while the whole Well of Souls scene was being shot. Anyway, Kubrick complained that the snakes were being mistreated. Steven Spielberg assured her that they were not, and that the crew would take care of the snakes. She was not happy and called the RSPCA to file a complaint. The production was shut down for a day and extra measures were put in place to make the snakes more comfortable.

Both Harrison Ford and Karen Allen had to work with thousands of snakes on the set. While Indiana Jone suffers from ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), Ford himself loved them. In fact, he used to collect them as a teenager. Allen though, well that was a different story. She hated the things. Plus you have to remember what she was wearing for that scene too. Harrison Ford was fine in his Indy gear, leather jacket, trousers, boots, etc. But Karen Allen was wearing a white dress, her legs and arms bare, along with her feet.


Multiple times while filming, Allen walked off the set out of fear of the snakes. Her stunt double, Wendy Leach, had to step in a few times to finish the scene. Even the animal handler, Steve Edge, played Marion for a few shots. He had to shave his legs and put on the dress. So yeah, several times when you think you’re looking at Karen Allen’s amazing legs in the film, may not have been her at all but a male animal handler with shaved legs.

Right next to the Well of Souls set was the Catacombs one. You know where Indy and Marion escape from after crashing one of those huge jackal statues into a wall. That Catacombs set really was as tight and claustrophobic as it appeared on screen too. Only the bare minimal of crew could fit in it to film the scene, what with Harrison Ford, Karen Allen and a load of decayed bodies too. Tom Smith, who created those corpses, actually went to the London College of Surgeons and researched just what a dead body would look like after being buried for so long. He took measurements of real skulls and bones to ensure they were as accurate as possible. Smith then created multiple bodies in various states of decomposition, all in horrifically accurate detail. That escape scene took around eight days to film too, with plenty of dead bodies and dust having to fall on Karen Allen. It was not a pleasant experience at all.

“Huge amounts of dust falling into my eyes and mouth. Before, we had spent two weeks in the snake pit. At times it was challenging to figure out what I was doing, with snakes all over the place. It was difficult and unsatisfying in a way. I’ve done films like that since, such as The Perfect Storm, where sometimes you spent a whole day just drinking a lot of water, fighting for your life and screaming. But at the time (shooting of Raiders), I couldn’t figure out what it had to do with acting.”

– Karen Allen


It has been said that Kaen Allen really disliked Steven Spielberg’s methods of directing at the time. He never let her rehearse too much, or explore her character either. Plus, just going back to the Well of Souls scene for a second. Spielberg would often throw snakes and tarantulas at Allen to get her to scream more… Probably why she would walk off the set. After the whole Well of Souls and Catacombs escape was in the can, it was time for something a bit more ‘civilised’. Still at the Elstree Studios on another great set, it was time to shoot The Raven scenes.

No, not a big blackbird, The Raven was the bar that Marion Ravenwood owned in the film and the character’s introduction. Set in the Himalayas (filmed on a stage set in London), the very remote bar really looked amazing. Highly detailed and accurate for the 1936 setting, right down to the drinks. The furniture, the fireplace, everything was researched and re-created to be period-perfect. Aside from the amazing set design, the Raven scene also filled the viewer in on a lot of backstory and Indy’s history. Just a shame most of it was cut out of the film. Most of the dialogue that explored Indy, Marion and Abner’s relationship from that scene was cut, much to the disappointment of scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan.

“Some of the best writing I’ve ever done was in that scene, but all that’s left is its beginning and end.”

– Lawrence Kasdan

Almost all of the interior scenes for the film were done, there was just one more location that needed to be covered. It was the 14th of August 1980, production moved from Elstree Studios and went on location to the Rickmansworth Masonic School in Hertfordshire. The school served as not only Marshall College (named after producer Frank Marshall), where Indy taught his students. But it also doubled for the Washington D.C. Government office at the end of the flick where Indy is told that the Ark will be looked after by ‘top men‘. With that, all of the set and internal filming for Raiders of the Lost Ark was done. Time for some globe-trotting.


North Africa was the first major location of the shoot. The backdrop for the German excavation site in the lost city of Tanis, the Tunisian desert of Sedala was the location used (yes, the same place that George Lucas shot Star Wars at). It was summer in North Africa… It was hot. Perhaps that is a bit of an understatement, as it got to 130° fairly often. Around six hundred Arab extras were hired and they began to complain when there just wasn’t enough water. Steven Spielberg was working fast too, he had to, to keep Paramount happy. Spielberg would average around thirty-five setups a day. That’s not thirty-five shots, thirty-five setups. A setup, by the way, means changing all the cameras, lighting, etc to suit the shots needed. They require a lot of work as all of the equipment is moved into position each and every time. Films tend to try to use as few setups as necessary (around twenty to twenty-five is average for a big Hollywood picture) to cut down on the workload, so doing thirty-five a day is pretty demanding… in 130° heat.

Through the shoot, Harrison Ford did most of his own stunts. This was a huge risk as he was the star and the production was under massive pressure to get done on time. If anything went wrong and Ford injured himself, that could put delays on the filming, and delays would mean huge fines that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg would have to pay to Paramount Studios. Ford did suffer a few cuts and scrapes, but nothing that would take him out of the picture.

“It’s true, you can do a lot of stuff yourself. And I’m glad to, if the stunt is coordinated so that there is an advantage for the film in my doing it myself. I don’t want to do it for glory. But sometimes, I begin to feel more like a football player, a battered football player than a movie actor.”

– Harrison Ford

One such injury occurred during the fight with the Nazi mechanic (Pat Roach). It’s the part in the flick where Indy and Marion have escaped the Well of Souls and try to get the Ark back by stealing a plane. During the fisticuffs, Indy is knocked down and does a backward roll to move out of the way of the plane’s wheels. This was rehearsed over and over to ensure it was safe, after everyone was happy and well practised, the camera rolled. As practised, Harrison Ford rolled backwards to avoid the plane’s wheels, only his foot slipped in the sand and slid out towards the wheel. Ford’s toe got caught and the tyre rolled up his tibia bone, stopping short of crushing his knee as the brakes were applied fast to stop the plane. Harrison Ford was pinned to the hot sand by the wheel. Thankfully, that 130° heat actually helped out as it made the tyre of the wheel soft, which prevented any serious injury, though he did tear the anterior cruciate ligament of his knee. Ford was checked over, bandaged up and he got right back to it. Just for the record, only thirty-four years later in 2014, Ford fractured his tibia bone on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

After that, it was onto filming one of the greatest chase sequences ever. The awesome truck chase which involved a truck, several cars and jeeps, a motorbike… And a horse. A second unit directed a lot of this scene using doubles while Steven Spielberg was busy filming elsewhere. However, for all the close-up stuff that is very clearly Harrison Ford, Spielberg directed every second of film. And yes, Ford did most of his own stunts again. That is him hanging off the front of the truck. For the bit where Indy goes under the truck, that was a stunt double, but Ford was actually being dragged along the ground behind the truck (very slowly, the footage was sped up in post-production). Also, to keep the blood down to a minimum during this scene (to avoid a stricter age rating), instead of liquid, a red powder was used instead. Only the powder was made using cayenne pepper and when the squibs exploded, they sprayed that cayenne pepper everywhere… Including into people’s eyes.


With the truck chase done, it was time to film Cairo. Only it wasn’t Cairo, filming was done in the city of Kairouan in Tunisia. The first thing that had to be done was the removal of more than three hundred and fifty TV aerials from the roofs of the buildings. I guess 1980s tech doesn’t belong in a film set in 1936. This is also where one of the more well known behind the scenes stories of Raiders happened. During the iconic swordsman scene, where the big Arab guy shows off his sword skills. In the script, a big fight scene between whip and sword was written and it was even rehearsed several times too. However, pretty much everyone on the crew had come down with a nasty bout of dysentery due to the food in Tunisia. Everyone except Steven Spielberg, as he had brought some canned food with him from London and just ate that. Anyway, to put it politely, Ford had to keep running off to the toilet every few minutes and wasn’t really in the mood to shoot a big fight scene. He pulled Spielberg to one side and suggested a quicker resolution to the encounter and just shoot the guy instead. It was filmed, it got a laugh and Harrison Ford (probably) ran off to the toilet shortly after. If you do watch that scene again, pay attention to Ford’s face, you can tell he was ‘uncomfortable’.

On the 29th of September, the production moved on to Kauai, Hawaii to shoot the film’s opening. All the heavy equipment had to be lugged into the jungle and up some pretty steep inclines. Steps had to be built to aid with the getting to and from the location. But what a location it was, an amazing pool of water with a waterfall where Indiana Jones is introduced to the world for the first time. As beautiful as the location was, it was still in the jungles of Hawaii. The pool attracted mosquitoes, thousands and thousands of mosquitoes. Before every shot, a guy armed with a mosquito fogger had to spray the location down. The crew and actors were covered in anti-insect-bite oil. Even so, those little insects still made a meal out of the cast and crew.

The filming of the opening also requires two donkeys. Due to all the walking, the donkeys went lame and were unable to be used anymore. It took two days for two more donkeys to be found, only they were the wrong colour. The original donkeys used for some of the shoot were brown, the new ones that were found were grey. So the production team used a temporary dye to colour them brown. Then, they had to shoot on the Nāpali Coast in the northwest of Kauai. A mountainous and very difficult place to get to. So a helicopter had to be used to transport the actors, crew and equipment… Including the two donkeys. A crate had to be used and the donkeys were blindfolded, put in the crate one at a time and then flown to the location. Then there was the memorable biplane that Indy escapes in after running away from the natives.


Yup, that’s the one. Anyway, it took a while for the crew to find a suitable plane to use. Finally, they found an original 1930s Waco biplane in Oregon. The plane was owned by Henry and Alice Strauch. It was painted and it was production designer Norman Reynolds who added the Star Wars reference. Once the shoot was done, the plane was returned to Henry Strauch in Oregon where he used it to fly to and from work. Oh, and there was a bit of an accident with the plane too. Harrison Ford doing his own stunts (again) had to run away from the natives, swing into the river and swim towards the plane. Then he had to climb on board while the plane was moving. Ford climbed onto the wing as the plane was about twenty foot in the air, his leg got caught in the right flap, which made steering almost impossible. As the plane flew behind some trees, it crash-landed. Thankfully, it was only a twenty-foot drop and the pilot managed to bring the plane down without any injures. Once the plane was recovered and the shot set up again, Ford did another take.

And with that, Raiders of the Lost Ark was ‘in the can’, as they say. Filming took seventy-three-days, within the eighty-five-day timeframe Paramount wanted. Steven Spielberg just made his first major film on time, for the first time. Still, there’s just the post-production and release of Raiders of the Lost Ark to cover… Which I’ll be doing in part three.

Raiders At 40: Is Indiana Jones A Paedophile?

Well, there’s a headline I never thought I’d ever write. The truth is that I never actually planned on writing this one. When I originally came up with the idea to do this multi-article celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark turning 40-years-old, I sat down and thought about the subjects I wanted to cover. I knew I wanted to a retrospective of Indy video games, I’ve always wanted to cover the famed plot hole, I most definitely wanted to look at the making of the film (coming later) and more. I sat down and pencilled in subjects, then began to research those subjects before turning them into full-blown articles. When researching those articles, I kept finding fans questioning whether Indiana Jones was a paedophile.

I need to insert a little edit here as I’ve had people suggest that I’ve made this whole theory up myself just so I could write this ‘clickbait’ article. Well, I’ve not. Here’s a link to a YouTube video looking at this very subject. Here’s a discussion on Reddit about it. There are even more sites covering the same subject too if you look. I honestly have not made this up.

Now, I’ve watched Raiders a great many times over the decades, dozens upon dozens of times. Yes, I have had my own personal questions and theories about the flick as many others have too… But none of them have ever had anything to do with questioning Dr Jones’ sexual activity/attraction to minors. Still, when I did see this very subject pop up several times during my research, I really felt that I had to delve deeper into the subject. Okay, so this is going to require a little explanation before I continue.

Okay, so the whole question of Indy being a paedo or not seems to stem from one particular scene in the first film, and one very specific line of dialogue. It comes when Indy arrives at The Raven, the bar Abner Ravenwood opened in Nepal, and just after Marion clouts Dr Jones with a right hook:

Marion: “I’ve learned to hate you in the last ten years!”

Indiana: “I never meant to hurt you.”

Marion: “I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it!”

Indiana: “You knew what you were doing.”

Marion: “Now I do. This is my place. Get out!”

See, it is Marion’s line of ‘I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it’ where these fan theories of Indy being a paedophile come from. For this, I really need to explore the history of the characters.

According to the official bios, Indiana Jones was born in 1899 and Marion was born in 1909, so there’s a ten year age gap between them. Also according to the bio, Indy and Marion had a thing in the mid 1920s. The relationship lasted less than a year, and it was that very same Indy and Marion coupling that caused Abner and Indy’s relationship fall apart too. It turns out that Abner was not too happy that a student that he thought of as his son was ‘involved’ with his own daughter. For those not in the know, Abner Ravenwood was basically Indy’s adoptive father who taught him everything he knew, as his real father showed very little interest in him. Anyway, Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in 1936 and Marion says how she had learned to hate Indy the last ten years. So we can assume their relationship ended in 1926, ten years before Raiders’ 1936 setting.


If Indy was born in 1899 and Raiders is set in 1936, that would make Indy 37 during the film, minus the decade since the relationship ended. So he was 26-27-years-old when he and Marion ‘got it on’, so to speak. That would also make Marion 27 during Raiders and 16-17 when her and Indy were ‘knocking boots’. So there is a 10-year age gap between them… But that is not exactly paedophilia, is it? I’m sure there are plenty of relationships with a decade or more gap between them. Of course, it really comes down to the age of consent and this is where I’ve really had to dig into the histories of all the characters.

So according to the bios, Abner sent Indy his journal in 1925 asking for help to find the Ark of the Covenant. Indy joined Abner in his search and that was when the relationship with Marion began. So Marion would’ve been 16-years-old at the youngest in 1925 and she was 17 when the relationship ended less than a year later. There was a (fictional) book published in 2008 called The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones, which detailed a lot of Indy’s history… Only some pages had been (stylistically) ripped out and exactly what happened between him and Marion is not detailed. Nor is where the couple were when they first got together. I don’t know if they were in the US or on an expedition with Abner at the time. But, if we assume they were in the US, the age of consent ranges from state to state and in 1920, the age of consent in the US ranged from 14 to 18. Marshall College, where Abner taught Indy (and where Indy would go on to teach at himself) is in Bedford, Connecticut and in Connecticut in the 1920s when they had their relationship, the age of consent was 16 (yes, I’ve really looked into this). So, if Indy and Marion had sex in 1925 in Connecticut, then she would’ve legally been of age as she was 16 in 1925. Still a ‘child’ as Marion claimed? I guess, but still legal and of age. So then, Indy wouldn’t have been a paedophile.


However, as I previously said, I don’t know where they were when Indy and Marion were together. I assume the US, but they could’ve been on an expedition with Abner, quite possibly in Nepal at the time. The age of consent in Nepal now is 18-years-old. What was it in the 1920? I have no idea, I couldn’t find a truly reliable source. I did find a source that claimed it has been as low as 14 in the past. So if we assume they were in Nepal at the time, Marion still would (very possibly) have been legal in 1925.

But I have more. See, I’ve been writing a making of Raiders as my grand finale for this whole celebration (coming up next). I’ve researched a hell of a lot and I found a quote from George Lucas regarding Indy as a character. There were some characteristics of Indy that were originally suggested to be included or written in the first draft of the screenplay, but ultimately left out for a good reason. You’ll find out more when it comes to that making of article I have written (actually three articles as it is so big). Anyway, this is the quote:

“He has to be a person we can look up to. We’re doing a role model for little kids, so we have to be careful. We need someone who’s honest and true and trusting.”

– George Lucas

So then, if Lucas wanted Indiana Jones to be (in his words) ‘honest and true and trusting’, as well as being ‘a role model for little kids’… Why would he then be written as a paedophile? So even from a background and writing perspective, Indy was carefully crafted to not be a paedophile. If you dig around more, you will find that originally, Marion was supposed to have been around 12 or 13-years-old in early drafts of the script. So then, when Marion was originally written as being younger? Yeah, that would be a bit of a difficult one to explain. However, in the early drafts of the script, no mention of a relationship between them ever existed, Marion ws just Abner’s daughter. But the fact remains that Marion was made older and Indy was specifically written to be a role model to kids, etc. Yes, she was young, she was a ‘child’ as she called herself, but Marion was still of legal age.


But I have more. See, it is never explicitly stated what Indy and Marion got up to. Those who question Indy being a paedophile are actually just making up that they had sex themselves. Even Karen Allen herself has weighed in on this very subject:

“So we don’t even know what it is. I mean, they could have kissed a few times, and she was just completely bowled over, and he could have just not wanted to get involved with someone so young. And maybe my father would have been furious at him. I mean, what’s great about it is we don’t know what the circumstances are.

So she obviously cared deeply for him. He may have cared for her, too. But, in the end, decided it was a dangerous situation and he didn’t want to be involved. I mean, I guess, when something is as vague as that, you can color it any way you want to color it. I’ve tended to color it, sort of, that it was quite innocent. When she says, ‘It was wrong and you knew it’. I mean, I think maybe he led her on in some way. But when she says she was a child, I think she meant she was 16. Something like that.”

– Karen Allen


So there actually isn’t anything to suggest that Indy and Marion did anything other than a bit of kissing and cuddling, and it is suggested that Indy put an end to the relationship before it got too serious too. Yes, a 26-year-old man (as Indy was in 1925) getting involved with a 16-year-old girl would most definitely raise more than a few eyebrows today…  But Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn’t set in 2021, it was set in 1936. Even then, the relationship (according to the character bios) began in 1925 and ended less than a year later in 1926. They were very different times, 16-year-old girls were getting married and having kids back then. So there is zero evidence to suggest that Indiana Jones was a paedophile. Questionable that he was involved with a girl 10-years younger than him yes, but she was of age… If they did have sex, of which there is nothing to suggest they did, then nothing illegal was going on. Dr Jones was definitely not a paedo.

Well, with that out of the way, it is onto the grand finale of this whole Raiders at 40 celebration. It’s quite a big one too. I’m going to look at just how and why the legend that is Indiana Jones came about and what went into making the film from its original conception, right up to its release.

Raiders At 40: Behind The Boulder

Aside from nazi face-melting, shooting an overly confident swordsman, an awesome truck chase and a hidden room full of snakes. Raiders had one of the most iconic scenes in any film ever. Of course, I’m talking about the boulder chase scene from the opening. Right here, I’m going to take a look at some of the behind the scenes info on that very classic scene and the whole opening part of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as explore just where the idea came from. Just in case you need a reminder…

I love the entire opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The mysterious (and cool) way that Indy is introduced for the first time, the many traps the hidden Peruvian temple, the spiders and that golden Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, Alfred Molina doing that nervous finger rubbing thing as Indy attempts to swap his bag of sand for the idol. Those opening few minutes are brilliantly crafted and set up the character of Indiana Jones perfectly. Then, of course, it all leads up to that awesome boulder chase. I still remember watching that for the first time as a kid, holding my breath, excited and worried that Indy wouldn’t make it. Yeah I know it’s obvious that the main character of the film wouldn’t die in the opening 10 minutes, but 7-year-old me didn’t understand that back then.


I think that the entire opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark could be one of the finest movie introductions ever made. The way it creates a mystery and introduces Indiana Jones is perfect. You know exactly the kind of character he is and you understand him instantly, all from that mini-movie opening. Re-watching the film (several times) for this whole multi-part celebration, I got to thinking just how the whole scene came about. Digging through interviews and making of documentaries, I unearthed some really interesting titbits that I’d like to share with you guys.


That iconic, and now, Indy franchise staple opening shot where the Paramount logo turns into a mountain was a last-minute idea. Steven Spielberg sent producer, Frank Marshall all over the island of Kauai, Hawaii where they were filming at the time, in search of the perfect mountain peak. Marshall had to not only find the right mountain, but also photo it from every possible angle, so Spielberg could pick his favourite and match it to the Paramount logo. Something that would be done with CGI these days. Also, those opening few moments of Indy and his men walking through the jungle and up to finding the hidden temple were shot in ten different locations around Hawaii. Ten locations just for the opening 2-3 minutes of the film. The temple itself was filmed in Elstree Studios, London… Only 7,280 miles away from Hawaii.

You know Barranca, the guy who pulls a gun on Indy, for Indy to then whip the gun out of his hand, before making his brilliant (out of the shadows) first appearance? Well originally, that was written to be much more violent and graphic. Instead of just whipping the gun away, Barranca was supposed to become entangled in the whip, with his own gun pointing at his head. Indy then jerked the whip, for the gun to go off, making Barranca shoot himself in the head. Pretty brutal stuff and it kind of made Indy look like a bit of a ruthless murderer. The scene was changed for the better I feel. But, what is it with Harrison Ford being made to look like a cold-blooded killer in George Lucas flicks, for the scene to be changed later? 


The part when Indy and Satipo (Alfred Molina) are in the temple and Satipo gets covered in spiders was originally a bit dull. The spider wrangler used all male spiders and they just sat on Molina, motionless. Spielberg became increasingly annoyed as the real spiders looked very fake on film. So, Spielberg spoke to the wrangler and asked if there was anything that could be done to entice the spiders to move. There was, the wrangler added a female spider to the mix and well…

“Suddenly all hell breaks loose. They’re running onto my face and Steven is going, ‘Shoot! Shoot! … Alfred, look scared!’ and I’m all, ‘I’m scared! I’m scared!’”

– Alfred Molina

On his way to the famed golden Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, Indy was supposed to take other treasures from the temple. I don’t know if the scene was shot and then cut or not, but it’s not in the film, yet it was in the script. Also, when Indy gets back to America and Marshall College, Indy does give those other treasures he stole to Marcus Brody, as shown in the film. So he did take them then.

Speaking of the golden idol, it features a very hard to see effect in the film. The idol has eyes that actually watch and follow Indy as he approaches the plinth and takes it. The eyes worked via an internal mechanism which were moved using a radio control. The following images show the internal workings of the idol and Spielberg himself operating the radio control to move the eyes. If you go back and re-watch that scene, you can just about see the eyes move…. very, very slightly. Easier to spot in the 4K remaster.



The famed boulder itself was originally much bigger. Envisioned to being sixty-five feet wide, it was downscaled to twenty-two feet and made of fibreglass. Steven Spielberg liked the idea so much that he extend the scene too. Originally, it was just going to roll down the ramp, Indy ran away and the boulder gets stuck immediately after. Spielberg not only extend the scene so Indy had to run further, but also made the ramp that the boulder rolls down about fifty feet longer, just to give it more screen time. Plus, that really is Harrison Ford outrunning the boulder too, he did most of his own stunts in the flick… And he had to do that particular running away from the boulder scene ten times. The scene was not only shot twice, but it was shot twice from five different camera angles. With each camera angle shot done separately, equalling ten different times Ford had to run away. 

“He won ten times and beat the odds. He was lucky and I was an idiot for letting him try.”

– Steven Spielberg

Also, the boulder was originally going to crush Indy’s iconic hat. In the original script, the hat comes off as Indy is running away for the boulder, with no time to get it back, Indy keeps running and the boulder rolls over his hat, then Indy was going to be in the rest of the film hatless. Spielberg disliked Indy losing his hat, especially in the opening few minutes, so he suggested that they let Indy keep his now trademark fedora. Just think, if it had not been for Spielberg, then Indy would never have been known as ‘the man with the hat’ and he would’ve lost one of his most famous pieces of apparel before it became so iconic.


And finally, for perhaps, the most surprising things about the opening scene of Raiders and even Indy himself. It/he was inspired by a cartoon duck. Now, Indy was born from many different inspirations when George Lucas came up with the idea for the character. 1930s matinée serials and and pulp magazines. Real archaeologists such as Hiram Bingham, Roy Chapman Andrews, and Sir Leonard Woolley… And a little bit of James Bond too. However, one of the biggest inspirations was Scrooge McDuck, uncle of Donald Duck. See, when Carl Barks created Scrooge in 1947, he was seen as a bit of an adventurer himself. One such adventure, from The Seven Cities of Cibola story, published in 1954, shows just where George Lucas got the idea from.


There’s the idol itself. Not gold, but made of emerald in the Scrooge McDuck story. Oh, and it is also noted that it is booby-trapped and that moving the idol will trigger the trap… Which would unleash a giant boulder. Thankfully, Scrooge releases the danger and the idol is left in place, so the giant boulder trap isn’t triggered. Saving everyone involved. Then…


The Beagle Boys (Scrooge McDuck’s nemesis) turn up and take the idol for themselves. Of course, the booby trap is triggered and the giant boulder is unleashed, rolling through the temple as The Beagle Boys make a run for it. So there you go, one of the greatest scenes in a film was inspired by a Disney character… Kind of strange now that Disney owns the Indiana Jones IP and is now (technically) a Disney character himself. There are other Scrooge McDuck adventures that also inspired George Lucas. The 1959 comic, The Prize of Pizarro, for instance. In this one, Scrooge, Donald and those annoying kids have to get through a booby-trapped hall that shoots arrows/spears at them, before they are chased away by natives…


In fact, if you go and look at some of those old Scrooge McDuck adventure comics, there are loads of scenes that have clearly been ‘borrowed’ for Indy. I don’t just mean Raiders of the Lost Ark either. All of the Indy films have clearly been using Scrooge McDuck and his adventures as an inspiration for decades now.

Phew, this has been a pretty big celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark reaching its 40th anniversary, but there’s still more to come. Next, I tackle a rather ‘risqué’ question that seems to crop up about Indy as a character every now and then… Is Indiana Jones a paedophile?