indiana jones raiders of the lost ark

Last year LucasFilm released this incredible book called The Complete Making of Indiana Jones (if you don’t have it and love the original trilogy, you must pick it up — its available on Amazon for around $23). It has all sorts of concept art, early script pages, notes, never seen production photos, its incredible.

One of my favorite parts of the book is a page which contains excerpts from the original story conference between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan in January 1978. It’s like being in the delivery room while Indiana Jones is born. For example, there is a conversation about if Indiana Jones should be afraid of anything, and if so what he should be afraid of. Spielberg suggests that the character should be afraid of snakes but it should be a surprise later on in the film, and Lucas suggests that you reveal that he’s afraid of snakes in the beginning of the movie and later play it for comedy when he opens the tomb “I can’t go down there. Why did it have to be snakes? Anything but snakes.” And later Lucas suggests the character’s name should be Indiana Smith, but thankfully later changes his mind to Indiana Jones because he likes that people can call him “Indy” or “Jones”. I’m not sure if it’s just the screenwriter hidden inside of me, but I find it extremely cool to read these conversations.

Unfortunately, the book I mentioned only contains a page or two of excerpts. I’ve always been really interested to read the full transcript. Well guess what? /Film reader Jackie R has pointed me to a site called mysterymanonfilm which links to a PDF document that contains all 126 pages of the Raiders of the Lost Ark story conference. It must have been made publicly available at some point, although I’ve never seen it myself. And for those of you who don’t want to read the whole thing, mysterymanonfilm has written a longish post (but very shortish compared to the 126-page document) compiling 10 screenwriting lessons he took away from the transcript. It’s a very interesting read, especially if you’re interested in the creative process.

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