“All right: Indiana Jones plays no function in the result of the story. If he weren’t in the film, the would revolve out exactly the same…the Nazi’s would have actually still uncovered the ark, bring away it to the island, opened up it up and also all died. Just like they did.”

‘The huge Bang Theory’ fans amongst you will certainly remember this exchange in between Sheldon Cooper and also his long-suffering girlfriend Amy Farrah-Fowler, and also how, in a issue of seconds, she unpicks among his favourite films and destroys it because that both him and also the show’s other regulars.

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There have actually been plenty of impassioned rebuttals that Amy’s critique the ‘Raiders the the lost Ark’: people suggest out the if it wasn’t for Indy the Nazi’s would never ever have found Marion; if that wasn’t because that Indy the ark would have actually been invited onto a aircraft and flown right to Berlin; if the wasn’t because that Indy informing Marion come close her eyes they would certainly both have been killed at the end. Yet as Sheldon, Leonard, Rajesh and Wolowitz discover as they shot to find holes in Amy’s logic, she is, in fact, right: as soon as Indian Jones beginning the story, the Nazi’s have currently found Tanis, the lost city wherein the ark is hidden, and also they are currently in find of Abner Ravenwood that possesses the head-piece to the employee of Ra.

Perhaps the best we have the right to say the Indiana Jones’ duty in the plot the ‘Raiders the the lost Ark’ is that he delays the inevitable. No a ringing endorsement for the key character that a plot-driven activity film – the exact same cannot be claimed of various other 80s action heroes: john McClane in ‘Die Hard’, Schwarzenegger’s netherlands in ‘Predator’ or Ripley in ‘Aliens’.


What, then, the Indy’s nemesis René Belloq? Is he more integral to the plot? The answer would seem to be no, he isn’t. In the whole film, Belloq performs two actions: that takes the fertility idol turn off Indy in ~ the beginning and he opens the ark at the end. Even Steven Spielberg, in a recorded discussion with George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, in i m sorry Lucas outlines the story the ‘Raiders the the lost Ark’ the he had been functioning on with Philip Kaufman some years before, clues out: ‘There’s no confrontation now with the arch-rival.’ and there no – the the next we gain is Belloq convincing Indy not to blow up the ark. In Kasdan’s beforehand scripts Indy and Marion salvage the ark and also then escape native the Nazi’s in a mining cart with an elaborate collection of tunnels (a sequence the was resurrected because that ‘Temple the Doom’). However none of that is in ‘Raiders the the lost Ark’ and Belloq had currently opened the ark and been eliminated by the moment they rescue it. Difficult to imagine the ‘Die Hard’ would not finish with a last confrontation between John McClane and Hans Grubber, or that the orgasm of ‘Predator’ was no Schwarzenegger walk toe-to-toe with the Predator, or that Ripley would certainly not confront the extraterrestrial queen with the immortal line: ‘Get far from her, friend bitch.’ It is just one of the most fundamental laws of storytelling that if there is a clearly defined hero and also an equally plainly defined rogue they will accomplish at the finish and, ripe times the end of ten, the hero will emerge victorious. Yet, this isn’t how ‘Raiders that the lost Ark’ ends.

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Or is it?

Another debate that has raged, and also one the is closely linked come Indy’s role in the plot, is whether god showing up at the finish of the film and killing everyone whilst Indy is tied to a pole, constitutes a deus ex machina. The deus ex machina is considered the bane of any great storyteller and also story: it implies an ill-thought-out plot that deserve to only be addressed by the sudden arrival of an unsure contrivance. What sets ‘Raiders the the shed Ark’s potential deus ex machina apart from all various other examples because the old Greeks is that it is literally the sudden arrival of god – that metes the end vengeance and then leaves. Part argue that god’s cameo is no a deus ex machina due to the fact that it is accordingly foreshadowed: both Marcus Brody and Sallah warning Indy the ark no something to it is in meddled with and that it contains ancient, secret powers. Indy goes from being someone who doesn’t believe in the bogyman come someone that accepts there space powers that cannot know which is why he tells Marion come close she eyes: he has actually grown as a character. The trouble with this argument is the Indiana Jones is going trying to find the shed ark that the covenant, the adorned crate containing the stone tablets upon which the 10 commandments were composed that Moses carried down from mountain Sinai after speaking to God. Because that Indiana to walk on together a pursuit he need to believe, in ~ the an extremely start that the story, that everything that happened in the Old testimony of the holy bible is the literal truth – which means he might equally have gone top top a quest to discover Noah’s Ark or the burning shrub or the shaft of salt i m sorry was every that continued to be of Lot’s wife after she walk look. Not a man, then, that is fully immune come the fantastical.​A much more accurate reason why god’s suddenly arrival in ~ the end of ‘Raiders the the lost Ark’ isn’t a deus ex machina is the god is the antagonist of the story. God hid the ark by causing a sandstorm that lasted because that a entirety year and plainly wants to keep it hidden. The Nazi’s are the protagonists of the story: they room the persons who space driving the activity in their search to find religious artefacts. The story ends, as all such story do, through a confrontation in between the antagonist and the protagonist, in this case between good and evil. And great wins.


So, if Indiana Jones and René Belloq are neither the antagonist nor protagonist in a story about finding the lost ark what story space they the protagonist and also antagonist in?

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Ray is a writer, manuscript consultant and also blogger at www.scriptplay.co.uk. You can additionally follow ray on twitter (