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Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark, also known as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, is a film released by Paramount Pictures in 1981. more...

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Directed by Steven Spielberg, it is a fantasy adventure and the first released, though the twenty-fourth, chronologically, in a series of film and TV productions about the adventures of the heroic fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones.

Plot summary

The story introduces us to archeologist, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). Jones is a professor of archeology and also acquires artifacts for Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), who works for a museum. On his adventure in the film, he is accompanied by Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies). His adversary is Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman).

Set in 1936, the story begins with Jones's journey into the South American jungle with a few local guides to find a hidden temple that houses a golden idol head. Jones avoids various traps, his betrayal by both his guides (one that is played by a young Alfred Molina), and, in one memorable and much-parodied scene, a giant rolling boulder that chases him out of the temple. Waiting for him outside is his old enemy, French archaeologist Rene Belloq, and a small army of natives. Belloq steals the idol from Jones, who barely escapes in his nearby float plane.

Back at the American university where he teaches, two US Army intelligence men summon Jones into the auditorium along with Marcus, head of the department and a good friend of Jones. The men explain that the US has intercepted a cryptic Nazi message that mentions a Prof. Ravenwood being under the scrutiny of German intelligence. Jones, a former student of Ravenwood, helps interpret the message as an indication that the Nazis are close to finding the Ark of the Covenant — a golden and jeweled chest constructed under the guidance of God and Moses that housed the remnants of the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Legends imply that Hitler could use the Ark to render his rising army invincible.

The Germans believe that Ravenwood has the headpiece of the Staff of Ra needed to pinpoint the Ark's resting place. The headpiece is a golden disk that, when affixed to the top of a staff of a specific height, focuses a beam of sunlight on to a model of Tanis (an ancient Egyptian city) and thus reveals the Ark's location. According to Ravenwood, the Pharaoh Shishaq stole the Ark from Jerusalem but then buried it in the desert sands of his capital city, Tanis, in the Well of Souls.

Jones flies to snowy, mountainous Nepal to speak with Marion Ravenwood, the professor's tough-minded and independent daughter, only to find that her father died and that she's reluctant to part with the headpiece. A Nazi agent named Toht who has followed Jones to Marion tries to take the piece from her by threatening her with a hot iron. Marion teams up with Jones, following a shootout between him and Toht's hired thugs in Marion's tavern. During the gunfight Toht seizes the medallion which had been lying in a nearby nest of flame. The object burns its image into his hand.

Jones and Marion fly to Cairo and meet Jones's friend Sallah, a skilled Egyptian digger and archaeologist, to find help in decoding the markings in the headpiece that specify the height of the staff needed to hold the headpiece. While touring Cairo's markets, Marion and Jones are chased by hired swordsmen. Nazi operatives grab Marion and throw her in a truck, but the vehicle crashes and explodes when Jones shoots the driver with his pistol. Fearing that Marion was most likely killed in the blast, Jones in a rage encounters Belloq once more in a Cairo tavern and wishes to kill him despite Belloq's sermon about the Ark's wonders. Sallah and his children rescue Jones from Belloq's henchmen.

That evening, Sallah takes Jones to an old wiseman who decodes the markings. He notes that one side of the headpiece says that the staff must be shortened out of respect for the Hebrew God. It appears that the Nazis have misread the headpiece (since they only have a copy of one side's markings from the image on Toht's hand). Their staff is too long, and they are thus digging for the Ark in the wrong location.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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