Raiders Of The Lost Ark: 10 Funniest Goofs & Mistakes That Made It Into The Film

Raiders of the Lost Ark helped solidify Steven Spielberg as a legendary Hollywood film director, and the film’s legacy can be felt to this day. Harrison Ford is currently in the middle of shooting the fifth film in the franchise and aside from a few setbacks, all seems to be going according to plan.

In the interim, audiences can reintroduce themselves (and their children) to the awesome spectacle of the first film. Even 40 years later, it’s one of the best adventure films ever made, but it also contains a ton of hilarious goofs and mistakes that managed to make their way into the final product. Some are blatantly obvious, while others need to be pointed out, but all of them are worth attention.

10 The Wrong Tarantulas

Arachnophobes scared of films featuring spiders and insects must have freaked out watching the opening of Raiders, when both Indy and Satipo discover tarantulas crawling all over them. It’s a nerve-wracking scene, especially considering that the spiders are, in fact, real. However, they aren’t native to South America, where the opening scene takes place.

Instead, the filmmakers used Mexican Redknees tarantulas for two possible reasons. First, they’re native to Mexico, which is closer in geography. Second, Mexican Redknees are very docile spiders that rarely bite or kick up a fuss, making them much easier to handle.

9 The Wrong Cobra

One of the most iconic scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark is when Indy falls into the Well of Souls and encounters a massive cobra that flares its hood. It’s a deeply tense scene that helps convey Indy’s paralyzing snake phobia. Unfortunately, like the aforementioned tarantulas, the cobra in question is geographically incorrect.

That particular snake is a Monocled Cobra and is not native to Africa, where a large part of Raiders takes place. The Monocled tends to hang out in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Bangladesh, and Cambodia. It would have been more fitting if the film had featured an Egyptian Cobra, which not only is more geographically correct but also features a more distinctive hood pattern.


8 The Forest Pop-In

Many Raiders fans like to point out an obvious mistake that appears in the very first act of the film when Indiana Jones is running away from a band of natives out for his blood. He manages to attract the attention of his pilot Jock Lindsey, who is busy fishing as he waits for Indy to return.

Jock fires up his biplane, while Indy makes his way through a dense nest of trees, before emerging on the other side. This would have made it impossible for Jock to have any sort of visual contact with Indy as he was running towards the plane in the previous shot. In comparison with the film’s other goofs, it’s an easily spotted mistake.

7 To Cist, Or Not To Cist

After Indy barely escapes death in the ancient temple, he returns to his job teaching college students about archaeology. He’s in the middle of a lesson when he references an ancient chest-shaped burial known as a “cist.” Depending on the source, his pronunciation might be wrong.

Traditionally, the word “cist” is meant to be pronounced with a hard “k,” as opposed to a soft “c.” However, this varies based on who is actually saying the word. Archaeologists tend to stick with the former, as it is believed to be the proper pronunciation. A movie archaeologist of Indy’s stature would have known this.

6 The Exaggerated Ark

The entire premise of Raiders and the Ark of the Covenant is just one facet of the Indiana Jones franchise that makes no sense. Many Bible scholars and average Christians were left scratching their heads in the first act when Marcus Brody talks about the powers contained in the Ark. According to Marcus, the Ark is capable of making its wielders invincible, leveling mountains, and decimating entire regions.

In truth, there’s nothing at all to suggest this in the Bible. Ancillary materials have appeared now and again that suggests that the Ark was a source of power, but that’s a far cry from what Brody is talking about. The Ark was a cultural symbol, not a weapon of mass destruction from the Bronze Age.

5 Referencing The Wrong Tablets

Another factual error related to the Ark occurs when Indiana Jones speaks about the Ten Commandments tablets that were brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. He references the Biblical story where Moses throws the tablets down and shatters them before putting them in the Ark.

According to the Bible, the shattered tablets were not placed in the Ark of the Covenant. A second set of tablets were forged and placed within the Ark. The writers might have gotten confused by the events of Deuteronomy 10, where God supposedly instructed Moses to create a different Ark made out of wood to place the broken tablets.

4 The Disappearing Buildings

There are some cinematic goofs and mistakes that people never notice until they’re pointed out. One of the most hilarious of these occurs during the scene when a group of thugs force Marion onto the back of a truck and inside a large wicker basket. In an attempt to stop them from driving away, Indy shoots the driver, which causes the truck to overturn and explode.

Comparing the before and after shots reveals the well-hidden mistake. In the before shot, the dead driver accelerates the truck towards an obvious dead-end full of buildings on a cramped street. In the next shot, it has somehow turned a corner and emptied into a large open area, where the explosion is triggered. It’s a bizarre mistake that somehow got left in, with no pickup shot between takes that would explain the discrepancy.

3 The Incorrect Staff

There’s a major problem with the staff that Indy uses to find the hidden location of the Ark in the middle of the film. He ends up gaining access to the Staff of Ra early on, which a translator approximates to be around 5 feet. This doesn’t fit with the Tanis scene when Indy puts it to use.

After inserting the staff into the correct hole, it still ends up being taller than he is. As Harrison Ford is over 6 feet tall and looks it, this is a rather obvious but largely forgivable goof. Few people would bother working out these measurements in their heads and would rather just enjoy the movie.


2 Sleeping On The Job

There’s a bizarre goof near the end of the second act when Indy and Marion manage to escape the Well of Souls and make their way over to the Nazi airplane. After they emerge from the tomb, a seemingly unconscious man can be seen in one of the wide shots slumped against the rocks to the left.

It’s possible this fellow was sleeping on the job, but the deleted scenes tell a different story. As Indy exits the small hole in the temple, he encounters and subsequently intimidates a guard waiting outside. The man backs down in fear and collapses to the ground. While this scene was cut from the film, the slumping man was not, resulting in another innocuous goof.

1 The Wrong Way Punch

The fight against the strong bald Nazi underneath the airplane is one of the highlights of the entire Indiana Jones franchise. However, many viewers probably didn’t notice that one of the punches delivered by the Nazi sends Indy spinning in the wrong direction.

It occurs after Indy avoids getting shot by the pilot. He’s forced to turn back into his opponent, who decks him so hard that he spins out from underneath the plane. The next punch is a backhanded fist that should send Indy spinning to his left, but he instead spins to his right. The force and direction of the punch make this an obvious goof.

NextHarry Potter: 10 Movie Quotes That Make Every Fan Cringe, According To Reddit

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Derek Draven (728 Articles Published)

Derek started writing about video games at age 14 and went on to write for GamePro Magazine and several other prominent outlets. He now brings his veteran pop culture XP to ScreenRant.

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