Raiders of the Lost Ark
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A film directed by the Spielberg Brothers, Stephen and Steven, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first in the Indiana Jones trilogy (there is no fourth movie). Set in World War II, it features exciting, edge-of-the-seat action as our hero Indiana Jones struggles to coach the "Lost Ark Raiders" from a no-hoper little league basketball team into a lean, mean, slam-dunkin' machine that can take on the rival German team, Hitler's "Shoe Stuffels". The team are helped by their lucky Ark of the Covenant, handed down to them by now retired basketball legend, Dr. Marcus Brody. But will the legendary good luck and fabled ability to melt mortal men like ice-cubes be enough to beat a team composed of pure evil?
Yes. Yes it will.
The film begins with a hilarious scene where the Lost Ark Raiders are roundly trounced at a basketball game by a team of Girl Scouts. The scene consists of a series of shots establishing the personalities of the Lost Ark Raiders:
- Jules, the comic relief black guy
- Short Round, the psychopathic Asian midget
- Dwayne, the happy-go-lucky
- Legolas, the Elf
- Dead Bob, the corpse
- Sophia, the love interest
Down at having lost their fifth game in a row and in danger of dropping out of the league altogether, the team decide that they need a new coach. But with the Lost Ark Raiders performing so badly, none of the snooty coaches are willing to take them on. Despondent, they mistake Indy (who's just come into the gym to shelter from the cold) for a coach. As the result of a hilarious piece of crosstalk, he signs up as their coach thinking that he's signing up for an Atlantic cruise!
At first, Indy has no hope for the team's successes, fails to score with Sophia, and is utterly despondent. As he's walking home after having stormed out of the gym, he bumps into a crazy old bum who tells him the true secret of success: taking advice from crazy old bums. This turns out to be Dr. Marcus Brody, the retired basketball legend-turned-alcoholic. Brody has been watching the Raiders' game, and thinks that they might stand a chance with his old lucky Ark of the Covenant.
Returning the next day, Indy quickly changes his tune, giving the team a rousing pep talk and firing a shotgun into the air until they agree to play just one last match. The match is set against a team from Italy, the Stereotypes.
At first, of course, things start to go badly for the Raiders, but at half-time Indy decides to try opening the Ark. To his surprise and to that of everyone watching, the Stereotypes are blasted with power and melted where they stand. In the confusion, the referee declares a draw - the closest that the Raiders have ever before come to winning a match!
Heartened by the success and by their newfound ability to burn their opponents alive, the Raiders start to shoot up through the league but are continually mocked by the current world champions, the German Shoe Stuffels coached by Indy's boyhood rival and Sophia's ex, Adolf Hitler. Furious with liquor and unbeknownst to the rest of the team, Indy makes a bet with Hitler that the Raiders will win the League. Unbeknownst to Indy, Hitler's team are set to play the Raiders in the final. Unbeknownst to the writer of this article, there is no such word as 'unbeknownst'.
But when it comes to the night before the final game, Indy is attacked by a huge harem guard wielding a scimitar on the way home. He desperately tries to defeat the guard with only his trusty whip, but is defeated by his own dysentery. The guard clonks him on the head with the pommel of his sword and takes the Ark of the Covenant back to Hitler.
There follows a desperate rooftop chase as Indy attempts to recover the lost Ark. This is followed by a desperate biplane chase, a desperate car chase, a desperate camel chase and a desperate shark chase. Finally, Indy's bleeping watch informs him that he's already late for the game. Dejected, he returns to the team as Hitler flees with the Ark of the Covenant, going 'robble robble robble'.
The Raiders are getting a pounding from the Stuffels when Indy arrives, but because the film is PG-rated this remains off-camera. Once on the court, however, the Stuffels start kicking the Raiders' asses. They are stopped by the security guards and the game starts. Soon, the Raiders are being creamed, but the fans are removed from the court and the cream cleaned up. With that out of the way, the Raiders get down to losing the game.
By half-time, the Raiders are down considerably; they are also several baskets behind. Without the Ark of the Covenant to help them, they're convinced that they're going to lose and Indy admits to them that he bet on the result. When all seems lost, Marcus Brody appears from nowhere and tells the team that the true power to melt people comes from inside, and that the Ark of the Covenant he gave them was fake all along. Heartened by this, the team go back out onto the court for one last time and burn the Shoe Stuffels into goo with the power of their minds.
Raiders of the Lost Trivia
- In the scene where Indy fights the guy with the sword, the original script called for Indy to just shoot him. Unfortunately, Harrison Ford had dysentery that day, and the idea of making Ford do a fight scene despite this was too hilarious for Stephen and Steven to pass up.
- There is a German version of the film shot from the Nazi perspective.
- In the original script, Indy wore a bowler hat.
- Not only is Harrison Ford afraid of snakes, they are also afraid of him.
- The film was banned in Egypt.
- A minor continuity goof: in scene 2, Indy slips on a banana skin and impales himself on a fence railing, dying. However, fence railings of the type seen were not present in America until the 1970s.
- There was originally going to be a wise-cracking jive-talking robot sidekick, but the scriptwriters were able to chase George Lucas out of the room with a broom.
- In 1999, Lucas, unable to control his Special Edition revisionism, retitled the movie from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not only is this new title clunkier, but it falsely implies that Indy himself is not one of the Raiders of the Lost Ark; perhaps a more accurate retitling would've been Indiana Jones and the Other Raiders of the Lost Ark Who Are Raiding Said Lost Ark.