Remembering Raiders Of The Lost Ark: The Making Of Indiana Jones

On its 35th anniversary, look back at a blockbuster classic.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

If all goes according to plan, July 19, 2019, will see the release of the fifth Indiana Jones movie. And until that date, an awful lot of film fans will be hoping those plans change.

The dust has long since settled on 2008’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, but the whiff of a franchise that already nuked the fridge remains thick in the air. ‘Nuke the fridge’, of course, actually refers to the Crystal Skull scene in which Indy survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator, and has since become the movie equivalent of ‘jump the shark’; shorthand for that moment when a film series reaches an absurd tipping point.

It’s an unfortunate and even unfair legacy for a movie that has its fans; plenty of them, in fact. Crystal Skull holds a 77% score on Rotten Tomatoes – a seal of approval most films would kill for – and Harrison Ford recently proved he’s still got it where it counts in The Force Awakens. Even so, Disney and the returning Steven Spielberg have a job on their hands to convince the movie-going public at large that the franchise can revisit its former lofty heights.

It all began with Raiders Of The Lost Ark in 1981; a movie that enjoyed its 35th anniversary this past weekend. While The Last Crusade is sometimes hailed as the best of the bunch – Temple Of Doom rarely – the first Indiana Jones film remains a masterclass in rollicking action, indelible set pieces and overriding fun and thrills.

So stick around for an in-depth look at the definitive action-adventure flick.

10. Sand Castles In The Sun

Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Paramount Pictures

Having sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, George Lucas is unlikely to play any part in Indy 5. But without him we wouldn’t have Indiana Jones or Star Wars; something his many detractors would do well to bear in mind.

Lucas first conceived of the idea for Indiana Jones in 1973 while writing break-out hit American Graffiti. He’d also been working on a more satirical version of what would eventually become Apocalypse Now, and Francis Ford Coppola suggested Lucas should instead try his hand at something “funny, warm and fuzzy” .

Inspired by the Saturday matinee serials he had grown up on, Lucas started brainstorming ‘The Adventures Of Indiana Smith’, named for the Alaskan malamute pet dog who would later also serve as the inspiration for Chewbacca. Lucas tried farming the idea out to his fellow creatives with little success, though fellow director/screenwriter Philip Kaufman’s efforts introduced the Ark of the Covenant as a plot device.

A few years later, Lucas, in what would become a tradition, escaped to Hawaii as Star Wars opened and invited his good friend Steven Spielberg to join him. While building sandcastles on the beach, Lucas asked Spielberg, himself taking a break from shooting Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, what he was going to do next. Spielberg told him he wanted to approach Cubby Broccoli for a second time to offer his services as the director of the next James Bond movie.

Lucas told Spielberg he had something better.


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