Raiders of the Lost Ark: An Analysis
Screenplay by: Lawrence Kasdan
Story by: George Lucas and Philip Kaufman
By Glenn Bossik
Lawrence Kasdan's screenplay of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (http://www.indianajones.com
) uses a hybrid form of storytelling that combines the cliffhanger style of serial adventure films with the primary storytelling component of Greek mythology, the curse.
Serial films are composed of several parts,
each part shown on a separate day and ending in a cliffhanger, a dangerous situation that could kill the hero if he can't escape. In the beginning of the next part of the serial, he escapes.
In Greek mythology, the hero is
doomed to repeat a dangerous pattern of behavior as a result of a curse invoked by the gods.
In "Raiders," the hero, Archaeologist Indiana Jones, gets into numerous cliffhanger-style escape and rescue situations
while fighting with Nazi soldiers for possession of the Ark of the Covenant, an ancient chest that contains the Ten Commandments and is said to be cursed with deadly, God-like powers.
The cliffhangers Indy must endure result
from a curse that fills men with greed, making them fight with each other to possess the power of the Ark. For example, in Act I, Indy and his colleague, Marcus, meet with two Army Intelligence officers and tell them that in
ancient times, the Egyptians invaded Jerusalem and took the Ark from the Hebrews. Indy re-enacts this same dangerous, greedy pattern of behavior by fighting Hitler's Nazi soldiers for the Ark.
Each time Indy fights with the
Nazis during his quest for the Ark, he is forced to escape from death at their hands and rescue his lover, Marion, daughter of his mentor, Archaeologist Abner Ravenwood.
The fights resemble serial adventure films and help develop the character of Indy and Marion.
Every time Indy endangers himself to save Marion, we get to re-experience those adventure films and learn more about Indy's
turbulent relationship with her.
When he travels to Marion's saloon in Nepal, she is angry that he ended their relationship because of her father, Abner, the man who taught Indy about archaeology. Initially, she refuses to
give him her father's artifact, the headpiece of the Staff of Ra, a medallion needed to find the location of the Lost Ark. But, when several Nazi soldiers grab her and threaten to kill her for it, Indy rescues her, putting himself
in peril. He must then escape from the soldiers, who hold him at gunpoint.
When he succeeds, Marion agrees to give him the headpiece and become his partner in the search for the Ark.