The Problem With Raiders Of The Lost Ark (That Isn't Actually A Problem)

Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark. A timeless classic that still holds up to this day. A movie so beloved, it spawned three sequels with another one scheduled for release later this year. Some have even gone so far as to call it a perfect movie. So perhaps it’s not an unpopular opinion that it’s my favorite of the Indiana Jones movies.

However, like any movie, ROTLA has its detractors. As much as I like the movie, I do kind of see where they’re coming from-especially where the ending is concerned. The plot revolves around Indiana Jones tracking down the fabled Ark Of The Covenant and trying to prevent the Nazis from getting it. However, his efforts prove to be in vain: the Ark does end up in the Nazis’ possession, and they host a ritual to open the Ark and grant themselves God’s power. The ritual ends up backfiring, and the Nazis are killed by spirits and bolts of energy released from the Ark.

And what’s Indy doing during all this? He’s just keeping his eyes shut so he doesn’t see the insides of the Ark. Which…yeah, I guess that is kind of anticlimactic. Especially when you think that if he hadn’t gone looking for it at all, the Nazis would still have gotten it, opened it, and then been killed by it.

Well how pointless is that?

Actually…not entirely. When we consider Indiana Jones’ character, we know that he is an explorer/archaeologist who specializes in locating ancient relics and donating them to museums. Even if the Nazis weren’t after the Ark Of The Covenant, I doubt he’d pass up the chance to go looking for it. And in the movie, we see that this is what he does-he finds the Ark, then gives it to the government for safekeeping.

And as for the Nazis, the whole plot of the movie revolved around the Nazis hunting for the Ark and causing lots of problems in the process. They started a brawl in a pub, set said pub on fire, attacked Indy and Marion when they came to Cairo, kidnapped Marion, left her and Indy for dead in the Well Of Souls, engaged in reckless driving and vehicular assault, and attacked a ship that was carrying the Ark. Sure, most of these actions were in response to Indiana Jones coming in to try to get the Ark, but attempted murder seems pretty extreme, don’t you think?

Whichever side you take, it’s clear that the Ark Of The Covenant caused a lot of trouble with rival archaeologists looking for it. And even if Indy had just stood by and let the Nazis take the Ark and die-who’s to say that more Nazis wouldn’t have come for the Ark, and then gotten in an even bigger war with the Christians over it? That would be worse than anything we see in ROTLA. But thanks to Indy, nothing of the sort happened. He got ahold of the Ark and had it locked away in a warehouse. Now that the government has a claim over it, there won’t be any more fights over who it belongs to. It’s just another ancient artifact that’s been found and documented.

So, in short, Indiana Jones DID have a purpose in hunting down the Ark Of The Covenant-not just to keep it out of the wrong hands, but also to prevent any more fights from breaking out over it. Plus, it still makes for a happy ending-Indy’s mission was a success, he’s more or less mended fences with Marion, and he lives to see another day. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed James Mangold is telling the truth about Indy not dying…


So uh.

Is this a topic to win an argument that wasn’t ever had here? Because I’m confused.

Or with like yknow

everyone ever

Once news gets out about it being real, everyone’s gonna want it and the Nazis might end up a smaller player in the race to get it, what with the entire middle east having a vested interest in it (and also the historical knowledge to not fool around and get killed by it)


Yeah, maybe that could be a sequel… Terrorists try to capture the Ark, causing mayhem and destruction. Indiana Jones has to protect it, and is also a target of the terrorists, as he “found” the Ark. Meanwhile, other governments, and several cults (and maybe even other beings??) join in, turning it into a two-part movie. Chaos ensues, with another item needed to prevent The Apocalypse from beginning.

How does that sound for a new plot?

1 Like

Highly disagree. Seeing the bad guys explode, melt, and implode is awesome. A climax does not nessecarily need a good guy in a fight scene. It is merely the final part of the story’s conflict. One could say the same thing about the book version of Return of the King where Gollum slips to his death with the ring in hand instead of some fight breaking out. However, both show a different, and my opinion more potent, plot point: that evil in the end always will destroy itself.

Except he didn’t want it locked away in a warehouse, he was very clearly trying to collect it for archeological study. He gets mad at the end of the film when the government confiscates it.

I agree with you though, I never bought the argument that Indy was pointless in the story due to the Nazis “winning”. Because 1) it wouldn’t be a very entertaining movie if there wasn’t Indiana Jones trying to be heroic.

But my second point is very different: Indy did actually overall affect the archeological dig. When Indy dealt with Toht and took the medallion, Beloq’s team was digging in the wrong place as mentioned by Sallah. If Indy had not tried to do the dig himself, perhaps the Nazis would have never found the Well of Souls. Maybe would have picked up their team and left when they realized it was pointless? But again, that wouldn’t make for a very fun movie, would it?