10 Cool Things About Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Indiana Jones in Raider of the Lost Ark in the post 17 Cool Things About The 80's
Raiders of the Lost Ark, created by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, is undeniably one of the defining movies of the 80’s. As a tribute to this thrilling cinematic moment, here are 10 cool things about Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Indiana Jones C3PO easter egg

1. R2-D2 and C-3PO Easter Eggs

If you look carefully, in a scene in the Well of Souls, you’ll find a small pillar with an engraving of R2-D2 and C-3PO. This easter egg is amusing but not surprising at all since we all know that George Lucas is practically synonymous to Star Wars. And while Spielberg directed the film, Indiana Jones was also dear to its producer Lucas, hence the signature that he left in it.

2. The goal was to make a good budget film, not a masterpiece

Spielberg really just wanted to make a good B+ film. Since the goal was to stay on a rather cheap budget, Spielberg finished the movie as quickly as possible, affording each scene only a limited number of takes. This aim was brought about by Spielberg’s commercial flop – the movie 1941. He wanted to prove his brilliance despite being under budget and he obviously succeeded.

3. Harrison Ford had actually been run over by an airplane

The scene where Indy fights the Nazi mechanic around the plane was dangerous, not only for the character but also for Ford himself. In one instance while filming the scene, the plane’s landing gear ran over Ford’s knee, which injured a major ligament. However, true to his daredevil on-screen character, Ford just opted for an ice wrap around his leg, instead of accepting actual treatment.

4. How the movie came to be

When George Lucas released Star Wars, he doubted that it would be a box office hit. So, he immediately invited Spielberg to go on a trip with him to Hawaii, where they could plan for a new project. Spielberg wanted to direct a James Bond movie, but had been rejected. So when Lucas introduced the idea of an adventure story inspired by classic serials, Spielberg saw this as an opportunity to make a character that would be as awesome as James Bond, but with his own unique take.

George Lucas in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones outrunning the boulder in the blog 10 Cool Things About Raiders of the Lost Ark

5. Ford had to really outrun the boulder

In the scene where Indy steals the Golden Idol and sets off the temple’s booby-traps, we see him just barely escaping a giant boulder. As part of the audience, we would logically think that a stunt-double probably did the running part, but really, it was Ford who had to outrun that boulder. What made it crazier was that he had to do the stunt ten times.

6. More than just a hat

It’s hard to imagine Indy without his hat. He always wore it and it never fell off despite all the action that went on. But this hat is more than just a part of an outfit. In reality, it was an important aspect in the production of the movie itself because it helped obscure the character’s face, which would then make it difficult to tell whether or not Ford’s stunt double was doing the riskier scenes. 

Indiana Jones and his hat in the blog 10 Cool Things About Raiders of the Lost Ark
The name Indiana came from an Alaskan Malamute

7. It could’ve been Indiana Smith

In the initial stages, the lead character was named Indiana Smith. There were other name suggestions, but Lucas really wanted to call the character Indiana because it was the name of his Alaskan Malamute. While Spielberg agreed to using Indiana, he didn’t want to use Smith because he was worried that their protagonist would be compared to Nevada Smith, a 1966 movie character. However, both directors decided that a common name would work well, so they chose Jones instead.

8. How the monkey learned the Nazi salute

When you cast an animal in a movie, you’re pretty much always setting yourself up for difficult takes down the line. This proved more than true when the movie’s villainous but adorable capuchin monkey took 50 takes to master a scene. But how did the team teach this monkey how to do a Nazi salute? It was actually pretty simple. They just hung a grape from a fishing pole and dangled it in front of the monkey off-camera until he reached for it, which appeared as if he was saluting.

Models were used instead of CGI in Raiders of the Lost Ark

9. The filming was sped up using miniature models

Since CGI was not yet fully developed in the 80s, the use of miniature models in filming was pretty common. Lucas used this technique in the Star Wars trilogy and it was also done in the Raiders of the Lost Ark. The miniature models helped the crew film the scenes as efficiently as possible.

10. Indy wasn’t supposed to just shoot the swordsman

In one scene, as the swordsman boasted his skills, Indy casually pulls his gun out and shoots him dead. However, in the original script, Indy was supposed to use his whip to fight the swordsman. Unfortunately, Ford was struggling with dysentary and a long drawn out fight would’be been a major strain on his body. They were shooting in Tunisia at that time and were also struggling with the heat. Spielberg wanted to finish the scene as soon as possible and Ford suggested that it would make sense to simply shoot the swordsman. And in so doing, an iconic Indy moment was born.

What are your thoughts on Raiders? Let me know in the comments section below.

For more cool things from the 90’s, read our full post, 10 Things That Make The 90’s Nostalgic.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark Gift Ideas

There is a lot of memorabilia out there, especially on Amazon, Etsy and Ebay. Amazon is usually cheaper with more selection and so I’ve chosen them. And if you’re not super satisfied with what you’ve bought, their returns policy is really good.

With so much to choose from, where do you start? My focus has been on cool, fun and quirky items, all garnering decent ratings from well-priced sellers.

Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small compensation if you use my links, but it will not increase your purchase price. If you use my links, I truly appreciate it 😉

Raven Saloon Tee

Image of Ravel Saloon hoodie from Raiders of the Lost Ark

Cool, understated Indy tee. If people know where it’s from, they’re good people.

Check it out on Amazon.

Indy T-Shirt

Image of Indiana Jones T-Shirt in the blog 10 cool things about Raiders of the Lost Ark

Obtainer of Rare Antiquities Tee. The best Indy Tee on Amazon.

Check it out on Amazon.

Young Indy Outfit

Image of young Raiders of the Lost Ark kids outfit

Fun and creative Halloween costume for a young Indy fan.

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Raiders Idol

Image of the idol in Raiders of the Lost Ark

This Raiders idol puts the finishing touch on any home bar setup.

Check it out on Amazon.

8 thoughts on “10 Cool Things About Raiders Of The Lost Ark”

  1. Holy crap! These are some crazy and interesting facts that I had no idea about, and I have literally watched this movie a million times. I had no idea! The only one I already did know about what the swordsman that he wasn’t supposed to  shoot haha this is great. Thank you so much for this article. I love what you post

  2. Hey Murray. What a great article! I’m big fan of the whole series (well, lest not talk about last part) and its always great to learn something more. I had no idea about star wars Easter egg and definitely I need to watch Ark one more time to check it. I would love to see similar article about other parts.

  3. Oh! I loved those films!! You just made me feel 10 years old again 🙂 I didn’t know any of the facts you wrote about. I loved the one about the name ‘Indiana’ being chosen because of his dog. It’s funny realizing how, although the film has become such a legend, some of the backstage decisions are so simple and human. Thank you. This was fun.

    1. Yeah, these little facts make Raiders of the Lost Ark that much more charming and memorable. Glad you got to feel young again. 

  4. Hi Murray, I really enjoyed reading your post”10 Cool Things About Raiders of the Lost Ark”. I think this movie was a favorite of everyone who saw it. Back in the 1990s, I visited Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. One of the daily shows they presented was about how they filmed some of the scenes from the film. In particular, they showed how they filmed the boulder scene and the aircraft scene. I was fascinated to read your comments about these scenes in particular and your whole article. Thank you so much for these insights.

    1. Hi Jenni, I’m glad you’re such a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I saw the exact same action/stunt sequence when I visited Universal in ’91! What a great spectacle that was. 

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