Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The boulder scene from Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my all time favorite scenes from any of the movies I’ve watched. Dressing up as Indiana Jones twice for Halloween, this scene hits close to my heart. I was very intrigued to analyze the scene’s editing and discover new subtle nuances within the film.

The establishing shot of the scene begins with Indy trying to carefully remove the artifact from an ancient temple’s stand. He takes his time and rightfully presumes that the tomb is booby-trapped. In terms of editing, the shots in this part of the scene are extended in order to prolong the suspense of what will happen next. The scene also cuts to Indy’s partner to add even more suspense as he vicariously awaits the artifact with seemingly no concern for Indy’s well being. What makes this scene really suspenseful, however, is its music. The music perfectly syncs with the actions of the scene and once Indy finally retrieves the artifact, the music comes to a climatic halt that leaves the viewer with relief and despair all at once.

By removing the artifact, Indy now finds himself in one of the most terrifying obstacle courses ever. As the temple’s traps come alive with anger, the editing comes alive as well. For the rest of this exhilarating scene, the editing moves into fast cuts. It seems as if each shot is never more than a couple of seconds. By doing so, the editor not only succeeds in heightening suspense but also succeeds in construct editing by showing the special relations of the temple.

From beginning to end, the scene is a cinematic roller coaster of exhilaration. In my opinion, this real life version of temple run is one of the best openings I’ve ever seen to a film. After further examination, I’ve come to also value and admire its masterful editing as well.

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2 thoughts on “Raiders of the Lost Ark

  1. A really iconic scene as well. And the editing is quite crisp.

    Quite a bit of graphical editing to really play off that anxious, yet shifty look of his partner that contrasts with Indy’s much more calm, collected, and prepared features.

    But the editing here really focuses on the very situation Indy is in and accentuates the feeling of impending doom. For instance, the cut to the front of the stone face that begins to fall off is used to show spatial relations of the area in relation to Indy; the vast nature of the temple and the crumbling features are greatly shown to further impose that effect. Even more so when Indy is making his escape from the initial room and from the boulder, it cuts to behind Indy to (rudely) interrupt what he thought was a safe place. And from here, the cutting is of course more rapid, as you said, and focuses on Indy’s running from the boulder.

  2. The is definitely exhilarating as you are watching the fast cuts of Indiana Jones. Every time there is an action scene (which often occurs), there is definitely faster cut scenes to speed up the tension that occurs. The rolling ball comes in and editing just takes over, from each angle you can see the ball coming forward leaving no way out for him except to keep running forwards. Then there is the contrast when he is first trying to steal the idol, the scene is completely silent and you can feel the foreshadow of oncoming doom that is always present in action films. I noticed that there is a lot of close ups and then quick exchanges to wider shots to show the situation and the reaction of Indiana Jones. I have never watched an Indiana Jones film. I will have to get to watching them!

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