Raiders of the Lost Ark – BLUE’S BEATS #15


Blue’s Beats is a blog series where we break down various feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.


With the end of the 2015 summer movie season upon us, we will take a look at a classic summer movie, and one of my personal favorites, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Released in the summer of 1981, the first installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on the original story by George Lucas.

To read the screenplay, click here.




Harrison Ford portrays the iconic professor and archaeologist, Indiana Jones, who finds himself battling Nazis in a globetrotting adventure to find the historic and mystical Ark of the Covenant.



The first act introduces the audience to two defining aspects of Indiana Jones’ character. The first is Indy as an adventurer, an archeologist in the field, seeking hidden treasure from lost civilizations. Here we see the iconic boulder scene as Indy rushes to escape a booby-trapped temple after stealing a priceless golden idol (page 9). The second is Indy as a professor, bespectacled and straight laced, imparting knowledge upon impressionable youth.



It is within this academic setting that we come to the inciting incident. Indy is introduced to two government officials who recount the details of a Nazi plot to locate a lost relic, the Ark of the Covenant (page 14). Later at Indy’s home, he is recruited to seek out his past mentor and ultimately foil Hitler’s plan for the Ark (page 19).



Indy travels to Nepal and meets an old flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), from whom he learns of his mentor’s death (page 28). However, not all is lost, as Indy learns that Marion is in possession of a medallion essential to locating the Ark. But, the two have a tumultuous relationship, and Marion is reluctant to help. That is, until she is confronted by four Nazi agents, a confrontation that ends in her bar burning down. With nothing left to lose, Marion agrees to accompany Indy to Cairo, Egypt to find the Ark, hopefully ahead of Hitler’s nefarious henchmen (page 41).



In Cairo, Indy and Marion meet up with a friend, Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), and, after a chase through the streets by assassins, Marion is taken captive, though Indy believes her to be dead (page 48). Indy and Sallah go off to find the Ark’s location on their own (page 56).





Using two ancient relics, Indy ascertains the true location of the Ark of the Covenant and, more importantly, learns that the Nazis are searching in the wrong place (page 59). Indy, as well as the audience, learns that Marion is alive, but he must leave her so that he can get to the Ark (page 60). Indy and Sallah find the Ark, but they are discovered in the process. The Nazis now have the Ark of the Covenant, and all hope seems lost (page 67). Indy and Marion are left for dead, but escape and manage to reacquire the Ark, only for it to be taken again, along with Marion, by the Nazis.



Indy pursues the Nazis and the Ark to a holy site called the Tabernacle, but is himself captured. Here, the Nazis intend to open the Ark, and, upon doing so, are killed in the most gruesome fashions. Indy and Marion are spared the Lord’s Judgment by holding their eyes closed, refusing to look upon the Ark’s contents (page 94).




With the Nazis dead, Indy and Marion return to the States, where government officials assure them that the Ark is safe. The last shot is of the Ark being placed in a large, mysterious warehouse, sure to house more secret and mystical objects.


Founded in 1998, the BlueCat Screenplay Competition seeks to develop and discover unknown screenwriters. For 2016 BlueCat Screenplay Competition submission information, click here.