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12 Stories That Prove The Making Of 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' Was An Adventure Behind The Scenes Too

Updated April 25, 2019 43.9k views12 items

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas once teamed up to tell one of cinema's most beloved and fun stories: Raiders of the Lost Ark. The hero Indiana Jones is still well-known, and John Williams's music remains synonymous with the professor's epic tale. Putting together an adventure film is now safer and easier, thanks to digital technology. In 1980, however, Spielberg and the rest of the crew had to create everything by hand, leading to some wild and spontaneous filmmaking. Scenes were delayed, added, and reworked as the RotLA crew tackled new challenges every day. 

The story behind the scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark is almost as fun and exciting as the film itself. It was born from the brilliantly chaotic world of cinematography that was present in the '80s and became one of the best movies of all time

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  • They Needed A Female Touch To Make The Tarantula Scene Even Creepier

    When Indy and Satipo (Alfred Molina's first role) explore the temple at the start of RotLA, they find themselves covered in tarantulas. At first, the gentle spiders were creepy but not crawly - they refused to move and frustrated Spielberg who thought they appeared fake. The tarantula wrangler explained the spiders were all males and had no reason to be active. A female spider was introduced, exciting the others and sending them skittering.

    Molina later recalled, "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!'"

  • Water Puppets And A Receptionist Portrayed The Ghosts Of The Ark

    The movie's script was not specific about what happened after the Ark opened, so it was up to the Industrial Light and Magic special effects crew (ILM) to figure it out. The ghosts that ended up as part of the supernatural effects had to be created with puppets.  

    The ILM crew ran the puppets through water to give them an ethereal look, but in the end, they decided one "lead" ghost named Gretel, played by a real woman, would need to approach the camera. They recruited a receptionist for the part.

  • The Same Dog Inspired Both Indiana Jones And Chewbacca

    The Same Dog Inspired Both Ind is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 12 Stories That Prove The Making Of 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' Was An Adventure Behind The Scenes Too
    Photo: Fox

    George Lucas and his then-wife Marcia owned an Alaskan malamute during the 1970s and '80s. The dog was more than simply cute - it was named "Indiana" and inspired the action hero's nickname. This fact was even referenced at the end of The Last Crusade with the line, "We named the dog Indiana."  

    Indiana also inspired Harrison Ford's beloved counterpart in Star Wars, Chewbacca. Thanks to Indiana's habit of sitting in Lucas's passenger seat, the filmmaker decided Han Solo should have a furry creature for a co-pilot, too. 

  • Karen Allen Had To Improvise An Entire Scene For The Movie

    Spielberg and Lucas wanted Marion to change into a dress before the "Well of Souls" scene so she would appear more vulnerable and heighten the tension of the swarming snakes. But the script offered no reason why Marion would change clothes. Actress Karen Allen, who plays Marion, decided to invent a scene to explain the move, as well as better tie in both Marion's bravery and drinking prowess introduced earlier in the film. 

    With the help of Spielberg and Paul Freeman, the scene made it into the movie and enhanced Marion's character and cleared up a potential plot hole.

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