Monday, January 31, 2011

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK - Act II: 1 breakdown

More Raiders - the Act I breakdown is here.

ACT TWO: part 1

(33:42) The transition visual of the plane flying over the map again, this time to Cairo.


Opens with beautiful bright sun over the white rooftops of Cairo. Again, Egypt is another mystical power spot, and the desert brings in another element and a huge contrast to the snowy peaks of Nepal.

Indy and Marion are now at the house of Indy’s friend Sallah, who Indy calls “the best digger in Cairo.” The first thing we see is Sallah’s enormous tribe of children, who are giggling over a stray monkey dressed in a little red coat. (another OPPONENT). Marion is taken by the monkey and she and Indy flirt over it. (LOVE PLOT)

Sallah reports to Indy that he has been working at the Tanis site, digging for the Nazis, who, he says, pay pennies – “It is as if the Pharoahs have returned.” There is only one with brains – Belloq. Sallah says the Nazis are already ahead of them, they have found the map room already (TICKING CLOCK) but Indy says they won’t be able to find the Well Of Souls without the medallion, and asks Sallah to find someone to translate it. The scene ends with Sallah giving another warning: “the Ark was not meant to be disturbed. Death has always surrounded it. It is not of this earth.” (SET UP, CLUE and THEME) The casting of Sallah indicates that like Marcus, Sallah is a purely good person, which gives the warning deep import. This time Indy doesn’t argue the point.

36:30 Indy and Marion walk on the bustling streets with the monkey, through street vendors. Great use of location for the coming action sequence, and I also want to note that it’s a great choice of the filmmakers to put this sequence in the city of Cairo first, before moving out into the desert to the dig. Cairo is an exotic and gorgeous location, but it’s still civilization, so the action is moving gradually further out into no-man’s land. It makes the subsequent move out into the desert more dramatic, I think.

The monkey runs off and Indy tells Marion to let it go, offering her a date (PLANT). A man carries a basket on his head behind Marion in this shot (FORESHADOWING). The monkey joins a one-eyed beggar who takes the monkey and reports to the Nazis. The monkey mimics his Nazi salute. (REVEAL – the monkey is a spy.). The Nazis send the beggar to follow Indy and Marion, and we see that dozens of Egyptians are working for the Nazis as well – Indy and Marion have no idea they’re surrounded. (SUSPENSE)

Out on the streets, Marion and Indy banter (LOVE PLOT). Marion asks Indy why he doesn’t have a houseful of kids like Sallah, and says her father had him figured for “the most talented bum he’d ever worked with.” Then the two are set upon by a huge group of Egyptians. A prolonged street fight and chase ensues (SETPIECE). Marion is separated from Indy and dodges pursuers, knocking one out with a frying pan and then hiding in one of the huge straw baskets. The monkey gives her away, alerting her Nazi pursuers, who seize the basket. Meanwhile a huge Egyptian menaces Indy with a scimitar. Instead of fighting, Indy simply shoots him and goes after Marion, but the entire street is filled with men carrying baskets. Indy hears Marion calling to him from one of the baskets and pursues as the Nazis load the basket into a truck. Indy fires on them and kills the driver; the truck overturns and explodes in front of his eyes. (HUGE TWIST)

42:15 A devastated Indy drinks himself into a stupor in a bar, with the monkey comforting him. A Nazi summons Indy inside, where Belloq is waiting to talk to him. Indy wants to kill him but Belloq clearly likes Indy. He says “We have fallen from the purer faith… I am a shadowy reflection of you.” (HERO/ANTAGONIST MIRROR). Belloq confides that he intends to open the Ark and learn its secrets before he turns it over to Hitler. “It’s a transmitter: a radio for talking to God.” (SET UP – ANTAGONIST’S PLAN). Indy says if Belloq wants to talk to God, they can go talk to him together – and draws his gun on Belloq – then the entire bar draws on Indy – but Sallah’s children rescue him by running in and surrounding him, shouting “Uncle Indy!” and leading him out.


46:43 Cut to a shadowy residence – through a carved screen we see a boy preparing a meal. The beggar slips in and poisons a bowl of dates.

Inside the house, an old man pores over the medallion while Sallah talks to Indy. He says the Nazis have a medallion like Indy’s, and they have used it to make calculations in the Map Room – they are digging for the Well Of Souls right now. The old man calls the two over to translate the writing on the medallion: It gives the height of the staff in Khadams (sp?) – but on the other side of the medallion the markings warn that one Khadam must be taken away to honor the Hebrew God. (MORE THEME – and the Nazis are not honoring the Hebrew God). A strange wind blows through the house, moving the wind chimes, as he speaks.

Sallah confirms that the Nazis’ medallion has writing on only one side, which means they’re digging in the wrong place.

Triumphant Indy grabs a date to eat it but Sallah prevents him (SUSPENSE SHOT of the date spinning in the air). He shows Indy the monkey is dead on the carpet, surrounded by poisoned dates. (ANOTHER VILLAIN DISPATCHED, with just desserts.)

49:40 Cut to the dig in the desert – hundreds of men digging in different places.

Belloq is in a heated argument with Nazi Colonel Dietrich (another OPPONENT), who is angry that the calculations seem to be wrong – they have not found the Well yet.

Indy and Sallah walk through the dig in robes (HERO AND VILLAIN IN PROXIMITY). Sallah lowers Indy into the map room and stands guard outside as Indy fits the medallion to the staff and locates the position of the Well Of Souls. Outside the Nazis discover Sallah and order him away; Sallah must surreptitiously abandon the rope, dropping it into the Map Room. (SUSPENSE). Inside, the sun moves across the map room and strikes the crystal, bathing the room in preternatural light. (60 min).

This scene is quiet, and involves only one person, but it’s mystically powerful – note the use of light and the religious quality of the music… and Indy is decked out in robes almost like, well, Moses - staff and all. Indy stands like God over the miniature of the temple city, and the beam of light comes through the crystal like light from heaven. (And just like Indy drew it in the Call To Adventure scene). It’s all a foreshadowing of the final climax, in which God intervenes much in the same way. Very effective, with lots of subliminal manipulation going on. And of course, at the end of the scene, Indy has the information he needs to retrieve the Ark. I would also point out that the midpoint is often some kind of mirror image of the final climax – it’s an interesting device to use, and you may find yourself using it without even being aware of it.


Some people would dispute me on this one (and people argue about the exact Midpoint of movies all the time!).

I will concede that the twist that comes just after it that Marion is still alive is a big emotional beat, and I’m not going to argue anyone who says that that’s the real midpoint, but the Map Room scene is played so much more dramatically and given so much more time, besides everything else I’ve said about it above. The scene capper of Sallah dropping an improvised rope (complete with Nazi flag) in to get Indy out feels like the end of the sequence, and a whole new sequence begins as the men walk out into camp again – a sequence which alternates scenes with Marion trying to escape from captivity while Indy and Sallah and their team dig for the Well of Souls.

But as always, the point is to use sequence breakdowns and analysis however is most useful for your own writing!

- Alex

Monday, January 24, 2011

Raiders Of The Lost Ark - Act I breakdown

All right, so I’m a little late getting started this New Year. Actually, I think I deserved that break after driving cross-country with two angry cats, dodging the worst winter weather in maybe centuries. Although it did take me less time to drive than it took some people to fly….

I also started off the year teaching an online class, which is always fun but which I should know by now is not possible to do and blog at the same time.

But I think I’m back. Hope everyone’s been having a good new year so far. I have to say my work load is terrifying, but in general things are already much better than last year. Two weeks of temps in the 80s in LA isn’t hurting a bit.

Anyway, I know when we left off I was doing a breakdown of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, but in the interim I got caught up in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. (It’s a long story…) Sooner or later I’ll do all of both films, but this week, you get RAIDERS. Another film that I never, ever get tired of watching – I see new things in it every single time, and it’s helping me to isolate some story elements I haven’t spent much time talking about. So here’s Act I.


Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan
Story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman
Directed by Stephen Spielberg

115 min.



Typically stories begin with the hero/ine in the ORDINARY WORLD, but here we are thrown right into an action scene, a common technique with high-adrenaline genres like action, adventure, thrillers, and horror. And often with these opening action scenes we see the villain in action, and then we cut to the unsuspecting hero/ine in the ordinary world. But in RAIDERS, the opening action scene depicts half of Indy’s ordinary world, and sets up a huge number of story elements; it’s always astonishing to me how much gets packed into this 11 minute sequence.

OPENING IMAGE: the visual joke of the Paramount logo dissolving in to the South American mountain starts the whole story off with a laugh – one of the enduring charms of this film is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The PROMISE OF THE GENRE is right up front (actually multiple genres). The first few minutes promise adventure, exotic settings, comedy, pulse-pounding suspense, and big danger.

INTRO TO HERO: Indy is shot from behind at first, a mysterious figure. The shot is also a stylistic nod to the movie serials that inspired this film: “action movies set in exotic locales with cliffhangers every second.”

A title lets us know this is SOUTH AMERICA, 1936

Indy and his party of three guides trek through the jungle – nice eerie lighting. There is a RULE OF THREE going on here: the three guides will be eliminated one by one as the dangers unfold.

The very first encounter and shock moment, less than 2 minutes in, is an introduction of THEME: one of the guides chops through undergrowth to reveal a huge, demonic statue. The terrified guide runs away, screaming. It’s a reference to the awesome power of the gods. (And a reference to Indy’s CHARACTER ARC – he begins the movie without fear of the supernatural; by the end he understands that there are things he will never understand.)

Several other, more human dangers are set up immediately (these are also PLANTS). First, the poison dart in the tree indicates that natives are after the party. Dialogue underscores the danger: a second guide says: “If they were here, they would have killed us already.” Indy also says that his colleague Forrester died trying to get the idol – and Forrester was “very, very good.”

(I have to say here I’m not very comfortable with the portrayal of the cowardly guide, although he’s meant as a comic character.).

We see the HERO’S SPECIAL SKILLS, right up front.

- He’s the man, completely in charge, obviously used to these rough settings. (I also like that you can feel the dirt and sweat and humidity. So many “action” and “adventure” stories are unrealistically clean.)

- He reads the birds flying as an indicator of the cave. He’s following an old map, which sets up this half of his profession: he’s a treasure hunter.”

- He also has uncanny perception – he senses immediately when one of his trail guides pulls a gun on him. Indy whips the gun right out of the traitorous guide’s hand (shows Indy’s skill with the whip as well, and this is a SET UP for the betrayal that will come in a few minutes.)

No matter what genre you’re writing, it’s good to get specific about your hero/ine’s SPECIAL SKILLS – not only will this help to define the character, but it also gives the audience or reader a reason to love and root for the character.

The sneaky guide runs away – two guides down. Now Indy and his one remaining guide enter the booby-trapped cave, one of the most famous SETPIECES in film history.

It’s a sequence of the HERO PASSING A SERIES OF TESTS, and full of DANGER AND FEAR – all of these traps are potentially deadly.

The entrance to the cave is temple-like, part of the visual THEME of world religions and mysticism.

Inside the cave, Indy pushes through a veil of cobwebs. At first this just looks cool and spooky (and maybe is subconsciously symbolic of piercing the veil between reality and the supernatural or divine). But then there’s the payoff of the tarantulas: a few on Indy – and dozens on his guide. (Creepy creatures also figure prominently in this film).

There’s a strange light which Indy figures is a booby trap – and the shock discovery of the mummified body of Forrester, who apparently did not see the trap (PAYOFF). The film uses a lot of images more typical of the horror genre than action-adventure – mummies, creepy creatures, grotesque corpses, disfigured faces – the filmmakers throw in anything that will keep that adrenaline spiking.

Then there’s the chasm to jump over. That whip comes in handy. Indy saves the life of the guide (SET UP), which makes the guide even more of a villain in a few seconds when he betrays Indy.

Beyond the chasm Indy and the guide pass by a gold Aztec calendar (or something like one!) at the entrance of the cave. This is THEMATIC IMAGERY: there are many visual representations of world religions throughout the film. The calendar is also part of the ongoing theme of mysticism and the supernatural; note the eerie music.

And finally, the inner chamber and the altar with the gold idol – another religious image. Indy susses out another booby trap: the stepping stones – if you step in the wrong place, poisoned darts fly.

Indy nimbly navigates the stepping stones (while the primitive stone carvings on the wall watch, more mystical imagery…) and stops in front of the altar with the gold idol. He somehow knows that he has to replace the gold idol with its exact weight (if you ask me, the idol looks heavier.) Nice comic payoff when he turns out to be wrong and the whole place starts to collapse. Now one nailbiting danger after another as Indy and the guide run back through the chaotic traps. The guide double-crosses Indy at the chasm… Spielberg really milks the scene as Indy scrambles to keep from falling into the pit – and then the PAYOFF and poetic justice of the guide impaled like Forrester. (This is black and white good vs. evil, here and throughout. Evil gets its due, time and time again.)

And then of course, just when Indy thinks he’s in the clear - the enormous stone rolls out of the passageway - again, one of the most famous shots in film history. (And don’t for a minute think that filmmakers aren’t INTENDING to make film history when they design shots like that!)

Just as Indy makes it out of the cave – there’s the reversal and defeat that the natives are right there with bows and arrows (PAYOFF) and Belloq steps up to take the idol away from him. INTRODUCTION OF SECONDARY OPPONENT. Belloq is French (so must be a bad guy!) and more educated than Indy (even more of a bad guy). Hollywood’s eternal ethnocentricsm in all its glory.

When Belloq holds the idol up, all the natives bow down to it – THEME of the power of the gods and the necessity for reverence.

Indy takes that moment to run, and there’s a chase – Indy pursued by an entire tribe of warriors with poisoned darts, and Belloq’s maniacal laugher echoing through the trees. Nice comic moment with the pilot not really wanting to give up the fish he’s just landed, and finally letting it go to start the plane.

And as Indy barely scrambles onto the moving plane, a big PLANT – he’s terrified of the snake in the back seat. We laugh and immediately forget it as just a comic moment, but it will come back later for a big comic and suspense payoff. Also of course this is a phallic joke, just in case we didn’t notice Harrison Ford’s hotness.

The plane flies off into a gorgeous sunset, climaxing SEQUENCE ONE.
(12 min. 48 seconds)

Big location change to SEQUENCE 2. Or SEQUENCE 1, if you want to call all of the above a PROLOGUE. Or you could say the following is all part of an extra long SEQUENCE 1, which sets up these two sides of this complex and iconic hero, Indiana Jones. Any or all of the above – whatever works for you!


ESTABLISHING SHOT of the university campus, and then a fun comic scene of Indy in tweed jacket with elbow patches and horn-rimmed glasses, lecturing to a class of swooning coeds. There is some really nice layering in this scene – Indy is talking about excavating royal tombs, all a SET UP – at the same time as the comic bit goes on with the girl batting her eyes so Indy can see the LOVE YOU painted on her eyelids (SET UP that this is a romantic story as well), and Marcus is also introduced.

I swear, this is one of the best films to use to study COMPRESSION: it’s amazing just how much you can make one scene do, without ever making it look crowded.

Denholm Elliot wanders onto the scene, one of my favorite actors ever, the total professor, as Marcus. With this man as a MENTOR you just know Indy is a good guy. Marcus serves as a HERALD here, too, summoning Indy to the meeting with the government guys, who will deliver the actual CALL TO ADVENTURE. It’s worth noting as a technique that having this double layer to the CALL – first a Herald appearing to say to the hero/ine, “There’s someone here with a job for you”, and then escorting the hero/ine to a different location where another set of messengers delivers the call, builds up the importance of the moment and the mission.

And the location of this next scene, where the government guys (US Army Intelligence) explain the mission, is very significant here. This scene could have been set just in an office. Instead, the filmmakers make it a SETPIECE all on its own by putting it in a huge, elegant, high-ceilinged auditorium with stained glass windows, creating a cathedral-like ambiance. The setting gives us a feeling of the import of this mission. And since the CALL TO ADVENTURE is one of the most exciting and crucial moments of any story, why not give it a setting to create an extra layer of excitement and significance?

We learn from the government guys that a Nazi telegraph has been intercepted and Hitler’s men are looking for Indy’s old mentor, Abner Ravenwood. Indy and Marcus interpret the telegraph: The Nazis have discovered an archeological site where supposedly the Lost Ark of the Covenant has been buried for millennia, and they think Ravenwood can help them pinpoint the exact location of the Ark.

Hitler has been sending teams of Nazis out all over the globe collecting occult artifacts (this is historically true). Ominously, the legend of this particular artifact, the Ark, is that it will make any army who bears it invincible.

These are the really huge STAKES of this story, and our FEAR: If Hitler gets the Ark, it will make the German army invincible. World domination = not good.

So now we get a glimpse of what Indy is up against: his real OPPONENT is the ultimate bad guy: Hitler and the whole German army.

And our HOPE is that Indy finds the Ark before Hitler does.

The Ark is the MACGUFFIN, Hitchcock’s word for “the object that everyone wants.” A Macguffin story is a specific kind of story that has its own structural form; if you’re writing one it’s good to take a look at how other storytellers have handled MacGuffins. ROMANCING THE STONE, THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS, LORD OF THE RINGS, and HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE are just a very few examples. In RAIDERS, as in a lot of MacGuffin stories, one MacGuffin leads to another: the medallion leads to the Ark. But also, in the very first scene, the idol is a MacGuffin that Indy is racing Belloq for.

In this case the MacGuffin is also a CURSED OBJECT, a staple of horror, fantasy, and action-adventure.

This is also a good example of an EXPLAINING THE MYTHOLOGY scene – you often see these when the mission is convoluted, or fantastical – such as in horror movies, sci-fi, fantasy – and the scene often includes the hero explaining the rules to an outsider, as here and in INCEPTION, where the hero and his team explain the technology of dream invasion to the new team member, Ariadne. But you also see this scene in THE GODFATHER – when at the opening wedding sequence Michael Corleone explains the rules of his family, his father, and the major players to outsider Kay. Often the mythology is explained to the hero/ine by the mentor: as in THE MATRIX, and sometimes by the allies – as Hermione and Ron do constantly in the first Harry Potter (of course Harry’s mentors do a lot of explaining in that story, as well.) And sometimes the hero will explain the mythology directly to the audience, as Hiccup does so with such wry charm, winning our hearts in the opening narration over the first action sequence of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.

Here, it’s Indy and Marcus explaining the history of the Ark to the government guys. And they also explain that the Nazis want to find Ravenwood because he has a medallion that can be used to pinpoint the exact location of the Ark (Indy draws all this on a blackboard, a SET UP for when we see him do for real it at the Midpoint.)

There is also a big SET UP with the illustrations of the Ark bringing down the wrath of God on a blasphemous army – it’s a sketch of EXACTLY what happens in the final scene.

However, although Indy knows the mythology of the Ark, he quickly adds, “If you believe all that stuff.” – indicating that he himself does not believe it. This is an action-adventure film, there isn’t a huge CHARACTER ARC here, but this is what it is: Indy starts out scoffing at the supernatural and mystical and ends up barely saving his life and Marion’s precisely by believing in the power of the Ark and showing reverence. (The secondary character arc has to do with reconciling romantically with Marion, although in the trilogy that doesn’t last long. There is a reference to this GHOST when Indy says, with some shame – that he and Ravenwood had “a sort of falling-out.”)

Also, adding to the theme of world religions, there are several Judeo-Christian references in the University scene – the auditorium that looks like a church, with the stained glass windows, the leather-bound text that looks like a Bible, the references to the story of Moses and the Israelites and the Lost Ark of the Covenant and the wrath of God. Marcus’s voice echoes in the auditorium like the voice of a priest.

The tag line of the scene is Marcus saying: “An army carrying the Ark before it was said to be invincible”, leaving us a moment to think about that most important point as the scene changes.

(20:26) In the next scene, Marcus visits Indy at home. Marcus has convinced the government agents to send Indy after the Ark. His first line of dialogue states the PLAN in no uncertain terms: “The government wants you to get the Ark before Hitler does.”

This is the PLAN, CENTRAL QUESTION, and CENTRAL ACTION of the film: “Will Indy get the Ark before Hitler does?”

Again, beautiful set design and dressing in this scene: Indy’s cluttered but elegant office has bookshelves full of books, idols displayed and lit on the top, a globe on the desk, and a very interesting Picasso-like painting of nude women – a reference to Marion and romance.

The two men drink to the biggest mission of Indy’s career, “the culmination of everything we went into archeology for”. Indy says he knows where to start looking for Ravenwood, but worries about Marion – (HERO’S GHOST and SET UP) – how she’ll react to him. Marcus says Marion is the least of Indy’s worries. This is a mission unlike anything Indy’s ever undertaken before, not to be taken lightly (As he said in the last scene “the Ark is a source of unspeakable power.”) WARNING BY MENTOR. Indy scoffs at Marcus’s superstitious fears: “You’re talking about the boogeyman.” Indy clearly does not believe in the supernatural or the mystic power of the Ark. (CHARACTER ARC).

(22: 16) We see Indy board a wonderful antique seaplane, and one of the passengers is a weird little guy in a Fedora watching him from behind his Life magazine – with a Nazi officer on the cover. (I thought this character was Toht, but Imbd says it's not.).

The device of the plane flying superimposed over a map detailing the journey is a fun period effect that also serves as a SEQUENCE CHANGE or CURTAIN.

Film, and drama in general – love CONTRAST, and we descend now into the icy mountains of Nepal. Huge change from the steamy jungle and the quaint Midwestern college town.

This contrast contributes to the globe-hopping excitement of the film: from jungle to mountains to desert.

(23: 27) The Nepalese Bar. This fantastic SETPIECE scene really is a miracle of set and staging. Starting the journey off in a tavern is a staple of the Mythic Structure - think of the original Star Wars, the first Harry Potter, LOTR - and even Romancing the Stone!

Inside the primitive bar, a terrific CHARACTER INTRODUCTION to Marion Ravenwood, so much more colorful than a typical LOVE INTEREST, here, as she drinks an enormous Nepalese under the table in a drinking contest, and collects bet money from the roughnecks cheering them on. Clearly this woman is a match for Indy. Marion’s drinking skills are also a SET UP for a later scene with Belloq.

When she closes down the bar, more than a little drunk, she sees Indy’s shadow on the wall in a nice hallucinatoric moment. The glass shattering as it drops from her hand is a nice symbolic sound effect for her broken heart. There’s a beautiful reversal as she pretends to be happy to see him, “I always knew one day you’d come walking back through my door” to get close enough to punch him. Great delivery of backstory as a heated fight between the two of them. Indy gets down to business and asks for the medallion; he’ll pay her 3000 now and 2000 when they get it – enough to get her home and “in style”. While Marion barters for the money it’s clear her real desire is for Indy, but she keeps the whip hand, and tells him to come back tomorrow – “Because I said so.”

After Indy leaves Marion pulls the medallion out from her blouse, where she wears it on a chain. There’s a mystical moment with the music and the light on the medallion – a wind blows eerily through the candle flame as she looks at the piece.

(28: 50) Now the door blows open and enter Nazi Major Toht (INTRODUCTION TO SECONDARY OPPONENT) with three flunkies, a raging snowstorm behind them. Toht also wants the medallion. Marion is unimpressed, blowing cigarette smoke in Toht’s face, but Toht will be delighted to torture her with a hot poker to get it. Fortunately Indy has hung around and comes to her rescue, whipping the poker out of Toht’s hand.

I’m not what anyone would call an aficionado of fight scenes but if you ask me this is one of the best-staged film fight sequences ever, with action, suspense, comedy, character quirks, and wonderful use of fire and lighting juxtaposed against a snowstorm. Note the MacGuffin-based suspense of the medallion being exposed in the middle of all the fighting: who will get it first? There’s the fantastic SET UP of Toht burning his hand on the medallion – it’s also poetic justice that he gets burned right after he was about to burn Marion with the poker. At the climax of the fight, Marion shoots the flunky who was about to shoot Indy, and they run out of the collapsing fiery bar with the medallion.

As the bar burns down behind them, they shout at each other in an admiring exchange which advances the love plot.

Marion: Well, Jones, at least you haven’t forgotten how to show a lady a good time!
Indy: Boy, you are really something!
Marion: (holding up the medallion) Until I get my five thousand dollars back you’re gonna get more than you bargained for. I’m your god-damn partner!

Now THAT’S an ACT ONE CLIMAX! Total exhilaration. And note how deftly this climaxes both the adventure plot and the love plot.

(33 min. 40 seconds).

And I just wanted to recap the thematic image systems that have been set up so far:

1. The visual themes of world religions –

- The demonic statue that terrifies the first guide
- the Aztec (sort of!) calendar in the jungle.
- The opening scene is pretty obviously set in Peru, a mystical power spot.
- The gold idol, guarded with all kinds of booby traps.
- The god-figures in the inner chamber of the cave “watch” Indy cross the floor
- When Belloq holds the idol up, all the natives bow down to it – the reverence for the gods.
- Indy’s lecture in class is about royal burials
- You get the references to Judeo-Christian religions in the University scene – the auditorium that looks like a church, with the stained glass windows, the leather-bound text that looks like a Bible, the references to the story of Moses and the Israelites and the Lost Ark of the Covenant. The wrath of God.
- Nepal is another mystical power spot– just a bit of a subliminal reference there (or I’m making that up!)
- The medallion itself is introduced as a mystical object.
- And up next, Cairo – the mysticism of Egypt, another world power spot.

2. Exotic locations, vast distances.

3. Creatures: the tarantulas in the cave, the monkeys, the huge snake in the plane seat, the snakes to come.