Same as the “Star Wars” ones, here’s my thoughts on my favorite scenes from the movies.
The Idol/The Boulder
Up to this point in the movie, Indiana Jones has pretty much been portrayed as highly component and badass; sort of supporting the feeling that some Indiana Jones fans have that the last two films were too ‘soft’ with the character of Indy. However, this scene pretty much proves the opposite-while Indy is of course a professional, he does occasionally make clumsy mistakes. Misjudging the weight of his sandbag to replace the golden idol, he triggers a series of events that sets off pretty much every trap in the place, puts his trust in the wrong place with Satipo, mistimes a jump and the support of a weed; and to add further insult, a massive boulder then starts to hurtle toward him as well!
Although he’s further humiliated by Bellog who steals the idol and then sets the Havitos on him, Indy is able to make it to the plane, but is extremely agitated when he learns there’s a Snake in his seat. Jock tells him to ‘grow a little backbone’. It’s an interesting take-down of the character, and sort of defines the series’s approach between action and comedy, as well as despite Indy being kind of cool and all, he’s also prone to embarrassing mistakes-and of course his iconic phobia.
Explaining the Ark
This scene is pretty much a great deal of exposition, setting the main plot in motion, but it also reveals Indy being somewhat giddy at the thought of the discovery of the Ark, and gives the Army intel men a sort of enthusiastic school lecture on the Ark and the Staff of Ra
but what also find striking about this scene is that Indy’s friend, Marcus, actually comes across as somewhat ominous and creepy as he describes Tanis’s sandstorm and later, the powers of the Ark, even unsettling the Army guys.
And then of course it also introduces’ the film’s haunting ark theme as well, when Indy opens the huge illustrated bible.
Two interesting “Star Wars” connections here as well (apart from Harrison, of course). William Hootkins, who plays one of the G-men, is also known as ill-fated pilot Porkins in the original Star Wars (Hootkins played a variety of roles in the 70’s and 80s in genre films such as “Flash Gordon” and the first “Batman”.)
And the bible illustration? By Ralph Mcquarrie, one of the most prominent concept designers of Star Wars.
Map Room at Dawn
With the proper instructions of the Medallion, Indy lowers himself into the map room at Tanis (somewhat vandalized by the Germans who have written on the ‘false’ Well of the souls) and quickly assembles the staff of Ra and using the proper slot. The music of the ark keeps building up, and there’s a nice choral moment when Indy realizes it’s almost to the right time of day.
The way Indy is framed and shot in here is pretty cool, sort of looking a bit Lawrence of Arabia or some figure out of a Cecille D Mille Biblical epic in robes here. The “map room” music is particularity incredible as the sunlight runs across the miniature city.
There’s some slight goofiness with Sallah drawn away from the site and having to quickly improvise an alternate escape for Indy, but that’s no big deal really.
The music swells and Indy’s look of wonder is great as the Ark’s beam reveals the Well of the Soul’s true location.
“I’m Making this up as I go!”
The truck chase is really the film’s last major action sequence, and it’s actually about thirty minutes or so before the film’s actual ending. The line above kind of goes with my point above about Indy not being quite as sure of himself as he appears to be in the film’s opening few minutes…he’s mainly just improvising a lot of this.
The scene of Indy boarding the truck by jumping from the horse is so iconic (and owes a bit to some older films like Zorro) that it was replicated 8 years down the line in “Last Crusade” with a younger Indy and a circus train.
What follows is an interesting chain of events, as Indy commandeers the truck, uses it to bump some other bad guys off the road (and some unfortunate workers too) gets shot a bit, and then faces off against one last German who throws him through the hood….
with Indy holding on to a very unstable hood ornament and grille for dear life….
and then after that begins to fall apart, uses his whip to anchor himself to the truck, in a scene that was probably really rough for the stunt guy….
…finally managing to kick the other guy out, who also attempts to hold on to the grille, but Indy mangled the thing so badly he quickly loses his grip. After shoving Belloq/Tot/Dietrich’s car off the road, Indy makes a clean getaway thanks to Sallah’s friends.
“I’ve found him.”
Although it’s a short scene, of Indy boarding the U-boat to salutes and cheers from the Bantu Wind crew, I’ve always like the triumphant and patriotic sounding version of the Raiders march that plays here. How he manages to stay afloat when the sub descends unfortunately is left out of the film. Here’s a bit of trivia on that…
(He doesn’t board it, although one of the boat crew does have a resemblance to Ford, but more of a 90’s era, clean shaven Ford)
We clearly see Indy wet and looking for dry, incognito clothes when they reach the base, so it’s pretty obvious he was above. Here’s how though.
Both production photos and the comics adaptations reveal that Indy tied his whip to the periscope.