Study Guide

Raiders of the Lost Ark Summary

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Raiders of the Lost Ark Summary

We're not even sure why you're here, honestly. The first ten minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark are possibly the best ten minutes in all of movie history.

So yeah. Just go watch it.

Nazi Germany is close to finding the mystical Ark of the Covenant, and only one man can stop them. Armed with his trusty whip and fetching perma-stubble, Indiana Jones, archaeology prof and heartthrob extraordinaire (Harrison Ford), ventures forth from the halls of academia to find the Ark before the Nazis get their greasy little paws on it. His path leads him to the Himalayas, where he reunites with his old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and indulges in a bit of karmic schadenfreude when the local Gestapo agent (Ron Lacey) has his palm melted off.

From there, we head to British-controlled Cairo, where the German army has apparently been given free rein to machine-gun anyone they wish. Cue the action:

  • Thugs throw Marion into a basket and lead Indy on a merry chase through the streets of Cairo.
  • Indy and Marion find the Ark, only to get buried alive in its ancient holding place along with a few thousand poisonous snakes.
  • Indy tries to hijack a German plane, only to blow it to kingdom come (and turn a hostile mechanic into strawberry rhubarb thanks to an unfortunate propeller incident).
  • Indy chases a German convoy carrying the Ark and single-handedly nabs it from under their noses (though admittedly, he has to crawl under a speeding truck to do it).

All that mayhem pays off when they find themselves in possession of the Ark with a boat out of Egypt waiting at the dock. The Germans, however, catch them on the high seas (it couldn't be that easy), taking the Ark (and Marion) to a super-secret sub base in the Mediterranean. Indy follows (though how he does requires a little editorial hand-waving), only to end up tied to a post while the bad guys open the Ark up in front of them.

Turns out, that's a big mistake. God comes down, tells the Nazis to go sit in a corner (you know, if sitting in a corner involves holy fire melting their innards to goo), and even keeps Indy and Marion safe thanks to a magic "close your eyes" trick that Dr. Jones remembers in the nick of time. The American government takes the Ark and promptly makes it disappear into a seriously gigantic warehouse, but Indy and Marion have reconciled… which might have been the whole purpose of the exercise after all.

Roll credits.

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