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Raiders of the Lost Ark
 
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Raiders of the Lost Ark

7. TUNISIA


7.1 TOZEUR: THE TANIS DIGS


 
 
 

Frank Marshall (Producer): One of the things about shooting in a studio is that it's controlled- it doesn't rain, you can shoot all day. And you have everything you need. When you're in the middle of the desert and a light burns out, you can't go get a bulb from the electrical department; if the camera breaks, you don't have a camera department to fix it.

Howard Kazanjian (Executive Producer): It wasn't easy shooting in Tunisia, but Steven's attitude was, "We're going to get the work done fast and well" He didn't complain about the heat, or the dust, or the sickness. And his attitude permeated the entire crew.

Pamela Mann (Continuity): When one's working with amateur extras, that brings great problems with continuity. If someone wants to put on a sun hat because the sun's burning his head, and he didn't have it on in the last shot, he sees no reason why he shouldn't put on the sun hat. One tries to keep an eagle eye out for that sort of thing, and hopes that one doesn't see something horrible in rushes that one's missed.

Steven Spielberg (Director): Essentially George had a "hands off" policy. Once the movie was launched he pretty much left us alone to make the movie. He spent a week on each location-so out of the 14 weeks scheduled, George was down for about three-and-a-half weeks. And he was nothing but encouraging and supportive.

George Lucas (Executive Producer): I try to be very sensitive to the director and what his problems are, because I've been a director. And Steve is open to suggestions; I mean, I offer lots of suggestions, and he takes some of them and doesn't take some of them. And we've never really had completely different points of view on the way something should be done.

Lawrence Kasdan (Screenwriter): I'm a great admirer of these old movies that are just entertaining to beat hell. You are taken to a special kind of world where things happen in a very vivid and big way. It relates not just to serials, but to old-time movies, and big adventures. I think Raiders has as much to do with Casablanca as it does with serials.


7.2 THE FLYING WING


 
 
 

 
 

The futuristic Flying Wing was chosen by director Steven Spielberg to represent the ominous and advanced state of aeronautics in Hitler's Germany Production designer Norman Reynolds used a Northrop Corporation prototype of the Flying Wing and drawings by Ron Cobb to design for Raiders of the Lost Ark this strangeplane that has no tail and no fuselage. Deplane was built in England by Vickers Aircraft Company and painted at EMI Elstree Studios in London. In order to ship the elaborate prop to Tunisia for filming, it had to be disassembled and sent in parts, then rebuilt on location. In the film the Flying Wing is in Egypt (the Tunisian location) for the top secret mission of transporting the sacred Ark of the Covenant. But before the Ark is even aboard the plane, a series of dramatic events results in the fiery destruction of the Flying Wing.

Kathy Kennedy (Associate to Steven Spielberg): I walked out to the air strip and there was nobody but Steven out there. He was walking around the Flying Wing, really pondering. I asked him what he was thinking about. He said, "I'm trying to think of how I'm going to edit together 120 shots for this flight sequence. I'm about half way through it in my mind" we hadn't even started shooting it yet. That was a whole choreographed scene that he was editing in his head before he had even begun to shoot it.

Frank Marshall (Producer): The stunt coordinator came up to me one day and said, "Look, I've run out of faces, do you want to play the German pilot?" So I said, "Sure" Now I see why I was asked-first, the guy gets whacked over the head; then, it's 130 degrees and he sits in the cockpit with the top closed, wearing a jumpsuit and a little hat. So the temperature ended up around 180.

The Tunisian fire department's hoses not only pulled apart at the joints, the hose caught on fire and the fire department had to put out their own hose. It was like a slapstick comedy, with the fire department falling down, and the hoses breaking and running out of water. They'd say, "Fire it up!" and this little dribbled come out of the hose.


7.3 THE TRUCK CHASE


 
 
 

Steven Spielberg (Director): I did a battery of sketches for the truck chase, and we stuck close to them. Since Mickey Moore (Second Unit Director) did the sets and the direction on that, he was 70 per cent true to the sketches and 30 per cent true to his own instincts and his own creativity, which really helped make the sequence better than it would have been sticking to the straight homework.

Larry Kasdan (Screenwriter): Once we were up at Industrial Light and Magic (Lucasfilm special effects facility) and I was helping George [Lucas] hang these giant enlargements of photos. One of them is a guy jumping from a horse onto a truck, and George said that that image had been the heart of Raiders.


7.4 THE PROCESSION


Kathy Kennedy (Associate to Steven Spielberg): The whole reason for filming the procession in Star Wars canyon was for the beautiful orange light that comes in the afternoon. And it rained on us-in the Sahara desert in the middle of the afternoon. It only rains there in February, and this was August. The second unit had to come in a couple of days later to do some pick-up shots.


7.5 KAIROUAN - SALLAH'S HOUSE AND THE ARAB BAR


Frank Marshall (Producer): Sallah's house is in Kairouan. It's a real house, but we built a terrace out on the roof so we could see over the city. Then we had to take down about 300 television aerials -something not around in 1936-so we could actually see the city. I ended up no liking the monkey because he was impossible to work with. Didn't listen to me at all.


7.6 FOOT CHASE AND STREET SCENE


 
 

Frank Marshall (Producer): This sounds like a real easy shot. Left to right, cart goes past the monkey man and the monkey, and the monkey man sends the monkey after the cart. Simple, right? Wrong. One of the main problems was that the monkey didn't like the monkey man. So he started biting him. I said, "Now, Vic [Tablian, Monkey Man], you stand right there and hold the monkey; and after the cart goes by, then you put the monkey down and let him go after the cart" The minute Vic started bending down the monkey went back over his shoulder and started to go off the other way. He would never-I mean never- do it right. Vic would try to throw him off, and the monkey would grab onto his clothes. We ended up having to tie wires onto the monkey. At one time we had the monkey on five different wires to keep him from going a certain way. And that's just one example. So that's why I had a little aversion to the monkey.


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