Raiders of the Lost Ark: 10 interesting facts you didn't know

Mike P Williams
20 September 2012

This week sees 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' burst onto Blu-ray and IMAX cinemas over 3 decades after Harrison Ford's first outing as the adventurer and is still regarded as one of the greatest action/adventure films of all time.

To celebrate the digital remastering of Spielberg's classic, here are 10 things you probably didn't know about the film:

1. Indiana's original surname was intended to be Smith, but was altered to Jones during the first day of production when Spielberg realised it "didn't sound right". Hard to imagine, but it almost happened.

2. Some of the actors considered for the role of Indy included Jack Nicholson, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Nick Nolte and Bill Murray, with Tom Selleck being Spielberg's official second choice. Harrison Ford was only cast as the lead a matter of weeks prior to principle photography beginning. Jeff Bridges also turned down the role.

3. 'Raiders' was Alfred Molina's big screen debut, where he was unforgettably covered in tarantulas on his first day of shooting. Initially the spiders didn't move because they were all male. A female tarantula had to be added to make them crawl towards her.

4. The famous giant boulder was actually made from fibreglass. After spending ages pushing boulders down a hill trying to get the right sound, designer Ben Burtt noticed the noise of his Honda Civic driving down a gravel embankment was perfect. He placed his equipment near the wheels and began recording.

5. Most of the body blows we hear during the film's fight sequences were recreated by smacking a baseball bat into a pile of leather jackets.

6. Whilst filming in Tunisia pretty much the entire cast and crew got dysentery after sampling the local cuisine. Director Spielberg escaped the illness by only eating tins upon tins of Spaghetti-O's.

7. In December 1999, Indy's famous bull whip was sold for £27,600 at Christie's Auction House in London. His hat and jacket remain on display at the Smithsonian.

8. The scene where Jones fires upon a truck was in fact a botched stunt. The truck was meant to be flipped by a telegraph pole via explosives that lined the floor, but it wasn't powerful enough and made the vehicle tip on an angle, which can be seen in the final cut of the movie. It was not amended as there was no time to reshoot.

9. During a scene where Indy threatens a group of Nazis with a bazooka, actor Paul Freeman is unfortunate enough to have a fly walk across his face and into his mouth. Refusing to break character, he promptly swallows the fly and continues the take. What a pro.

10. Most of the snakes in the Well of Souls weren't actually snakes at all, but legless lizards. They are identified by their visible ear holes which snakes don't have. The scene was a nightmare to film as the creatures not only weren't afraid of fire, they tried to get closer to the flames to warm themselves rather than flee!

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