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Raiders Of The Lost Ark: An Oral History
The making of the original Indy film, from the mouths of the people who made it.

It's Not The Years, It's The Mileage...

"The idea that our intrepid archaeologist could actually do himself bodily injury made him accessible."
Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg: Indiana Jones redefined the classic American hero as someone who did not have a backbone made of steel and skin made of Teflon. The idea that our intrepid archaeologist could actually do himself bodily injury made him accessible. He always comes out on top, but he has to swallow his pride without losing his nerve.

George Lucas: People have tried to do what we did, but they don't understand the humour of it. They don't understand the action and they don't understand the MacGuffin.

Frank Marshall (Producer): I think a lot of people have grown up with Indiana Jones, sort of like they have with Star Wars.

Kate Capshaw (Willy Scott, Temple of Doom): It's like an experience that's 3-D without the glasses. It's story-driven, it's romantic, it's exciting. And I was not a Star Wars girl.

Lawrence Kasdan (Screenwriter): I last saw Raiders when the new DVDs came out. It's an amazing movie, it's held up pretty great. People come up to me all over the world and say, "That movie had a huge impact on me." Raiders was intended to be as pulpy as anything.

Kathleen Kennedy (Producer): People always love action-adventure stories where there's a fantastic character that they can become invested in, like Indiana Jones. I feel the influences in Pirates [of the Caribbean], but it's not easy - this is not something that's been bottled and you then can just replicate it. There's no question that there's a uniqueness to Raiders.

Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood): You get to a point where this is so much part of your life, it can be hard to see it anew. But I saw it recently, at the Paris Theatre in New York and the laughter and the experience of the film just seemed very fresh.

Harrison Ford: There is still something liberating in the idea of Indiana Jones.

I'm Making This Up As I Go...

"There's that line where Indiana Jones says, "I don't know. I'm making this up as I go." That's kind of how we wrote the script."
Steven Spielberg
Kasdan: When I went out to meet Steven, he said, "I'm gonna do a movie with George Lucas and I want you to write it. You gotta meet George." This was one month after I had gotten in the business after years of trying. A few weeks later I was in an office with George and Steven. George said, "I want to do this thing, the hero's named after my dog, he has a whip, it's like the old serials." He then stood up and said, "Let's shake hands, maybe this will be a historic moment." Which was very un-George-like.

Spielberg: We sat around for three days plotting the movie together. There's that line where Indiana Jones says, "I don't know. I'm making this up as I go." That's kind of how we wrote the script.

Kasdan: When I started I was intimidated, but I realised the reason they hired me was they wanted someone to do all the hard work, put it all together, and come up with all the connective material. They had great set-pieces in mind but that's different from a screenplay. I actually wrote it in Steven's office while he was making 1941.

Spielberg: There were a lot of things that fell out of the script. Some of the things that I wanted to shoot wound up in Temple Of Doom, like the mine-car chase.

Kasdan: With Raiders, you're making huge leaps of logic and faith. How do we get him from here to here? How did he survive that? How do we get him into this problem? How do we get him out of it? That was the challenge, getting him into all this jeopardy.

Spielberg: Our biggest dispute was that I had this heavy-metal view of the character of Toht (Ronald Lacey). I saw him with a prosthetic hand that was in fact a machine gun and a flamethrower. He was like The Terminator before The Terminator. We've got the artwork to prove it. That's where George put his foot down and said, "Steven, you're crossing out of one genre and into another." I agreed. All that hard work just became refuse in the art department.

Kasdan: There was supposed to be a real attraction between Marion and Belloq, a real romantic triangle even though she knew he was evil. A lot of that stuff got cast aside in the interests of getting the thing to move like a rocket.

Lucas: There were a few jokes in there that weren't in keeping the tone of the movie. When they climb out of the Well Of Souls, there is a digger guy working on the thing - he sees two people come out of the tomb and faints. It was kind of corny.

Kasdan: Adventure films were absolutely at the heart of my love of movies. Everything from Seven Samurai to Red River to The Magnificent Seven to The Great Escape. Everything in the movie resonates from other movies. That's the feeling we were after. It doesn't take itself too seriously.

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