Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

image for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

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Not suitable under 10. not recommended 10-12, PG 12-14 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • a review of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 August 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 10-12 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 12-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: M (Note that earlier versions were rated PG. The content of the new DVD is virtually unchanged but the rating has changed due to enhanced effects)
Length: 121 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Raiders of the Lost Ark is set in the year 1936 where we find Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), archaeologist and “obtainer of rare antiquities” deep in the South American jungle searching for lost treasure. Jones finds his treasure, a gold statue, in an ancient temple infested with booby traps. After surviving the dangers of the temple and fleeing with the gold statue, Jones is confronted by an old adversary Rene Bellog (Paul Freeman), who promptly steals the statue while Jones narrowly escapes with his life.

Back in the USA, Jones is approached by two US army intelligence agents who inform him that the Nazis have discovered the ancient city of Tanis near Cairo. Jones realises that the Nazis must be close to locating the resting place of the lost Ark of the Covenant. Fearing that the power contained within the Ark may fall into the hands of the Nazis, the US Government hires Indiana Jones to recover the lost Ark before the Nazis.

Jones heads to Nepal in search of Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), a girlfriend from his past, who possesses a medallion critical to locating the tomb that contains the Ark. He then heads to Cairo where he enlists the help of an old friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) in his quest.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Archaeology; the supernatural; biblical myths and legends; Nazism

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film Raiders of the Lost Ark contains intense action violence and peril throughout. Most of the violence is not graphic and is deliberately overdone for comic effect. The heroes of the film remain relatively injury free. However, the film does at times depict more brutal violence, has a high body count and depicts some blood and gore and gruesome images. Examples include:

  • On several occasions Indiana Jones uses his whip to strike out at his attackers.
    Indiana Jones runs through a hail of poisoned arrows while attempting to escape a cave-in. He narrowly escaping falling to his death and is then confronted by a group of indigenous South Americans with their bows drawn.
  • A Nazi soldier forcefully restrains Marion by holding her arm behind her back. A second Nazi takes a red hot poker out of a fire holds it close to her face while questioning her.
    During a fight in a Nepalese bar between some Nazis, Nepalese thugs and Indiana Jones, we see a thug with his back engulfed in flames before the man is shot in the forehead; we see a quick glimpse of the bullet wound and see blood running down man’s face as he falls to the ground. Marion hits a man over the head with a flaming piece of wood; Indiana smashes a bottle and a barstool over a men’s heads. A man is shot in the back, apparently by Marion and blood runs down the side of his mouth. At the end of the fight both Indiana and Marion appear uninjured.
  • In a mainly slapstick fight between Indiana Jones, Marion and a dozen Cairo thugs in a crowded market place, we see a thug accidentally knocking down one of his own men with a club while another accidentally stabs a co-worker through the chest with a sword. Indiana punches thugs in the face, knees them in the chest, elbows them in the face, and shoots several men.
  • In a more brutal fight between Indian Jones and a Nazi, the two men punch each other in the face and stomach and we see some blood on the Nazi’s face and shoulder. The fight is ended when the Nazi accidentally turns into a plane’s spinning propeller. We do not see the actual event, but see a shower of blood spraying on to the plane’s window. During the fight Marion shoots two men with the plane’s machineguns.
  • One of the film’s more brutal scenes depicts Indiana with a bullet wound to his shoulder and a Nazi repeatedly punching Indiana in his wounded shoulder (we see blood covering the Nazi’s fist). The Nazi then throws Indiana through a wind screen.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, Raiders of the Lost Ark contains images capable of scaring and/or disturbing children under the age of five. Parents are strongly cautioned that one scene in particular towards the end of the film contains horror images together with blood and gore which younger children may find very disturbing and frightening. Examples include:

  • A partially decomposed man’s body impaled on a series of wooden stakes. One side of the man’s face is decomposed to reveal the bone beneath, a protruding eye and gaping mouth. The head partially turns around, giving the corpse a somewhat lifelike quality.
  • In one scene we see Indian Jones and a second man with their backs and shoulders crawling with giant tarantula spiders.   
  • One scene depicts Indian Jones being lowered into a room the floor of which is covered in writhing snakes of all descriptions. Indiana sprays the snakes with liquid from a bucket and then sets the snakes on fire.
  • While trapped in an ancient tomb, Marion mistakenly hugs a mummified corpse. The corpse has an open mouth screaming expression on its skeletal face and appears to be stuck fast to Marion. Marion screams while trying to throw the corpse off. She then becomes surrounded by what appears to be an army of mummified corpses all crowding in on her before she is rescued by Indiana. A snake crawls out of the mouth of one corpse.
  • When the Ark is opened we see swirling vapours rise up out of the ark and wrap themselves around Nazi solders. Ghosts begin to manifest out of the vapours and one has the face of a beautiful young woman before transforming into a screaming hooded skull and attacking an hysterically screaming Nazi. A ball of fire rises up out of the Ark and engulfs Rene Bellog before threads of fire shoot out and kill Nazi soldiers. The faces of two Nazi soldiers melt from their skulls revealing blood and flesh beneath. Bellog’s head explodes in a shower of flame and flesh. Next we see all of the Nazi’s and their equipment sucked up into the sky by a giant firestorm.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared or disturbed by the scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children in this age group are also likely to be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Johnny Walker
  • Black Label
  • Jack Daniels whisky

Sexual references

Raiders of the Lost Ark contains some sexual references. Examples include:

  • When Indiana Jones is reunited with an old girlfriend, Marion Ravenwood, we hear a conversation suggesting that Jones may have seduced and taken advantage of Marion, when she was a naïve young woman. Indiana tells Marion, “I never meant to hurt you”. To which Marion responds “I was a child, I was in love, it was wrong and you knew it”.
  • A man holds up an evening dress in front of Marion and tells her that he would like to see her in it. Marion scoffs at the man’s suggestions and says, “I bet you would”.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains some sexual activity. Examples include:

  • Indiana Jones gives Marion several passionate kisses on the lips.     
  • Marion, while standing with her back to a man takes her top off and undoes her bra strap; we see her bare back and shoulders. When we next see Marion she is wearing a backless low-cut evening dress that exposes cleavage.
  • Marion wears a long silk nightdress that clings to the curves of her body with a plunging neckline that reveals a degree of cleavage. She sits on a bed with Indiana Jones, who has a bare chest. Marion kisses Indiana on his elbow, then his forehead, then his eyelid, finally kissing him passionately on the lips after which he promptly falls asleep.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Marion and a man engage in a drinking competition in a bar. At first they appear drunk but in control. However, as the man drinks another glass he slowly falls backwards off his stool unconscious.
  • Marion smokes a cigarette and blows smoke into a man’s face.
  • A man smokes a hookah styled pipe in a café with a number of similar styled pipes sitting on other tables.
  • Indiana sits at a table by him self with a bottle of whisky (most of which has been consumed) in front of him. He appears to be quietly intoxicated, slurring his words a little and slightly unstable on his feet. It appears that he is drinking to forget his sorrows.

Coarse language

Raiders of the Lost Ark contains occasional coarse language and name calling. Examples include:

  • God damn
  • bum
  • where the hell
  • Jesus
  • holy shit
  • son of a bitch
  • slimy pig

In a nutshell

Raiders of the Lost Ark targeting an adolescent and adult audience is a blockbuster action adventure film that entertains from start to finish. Harrison Ford’s performance created one of the greatest action adventure heroes of all time. The film has a high fright factor and a high body count. Parents are cautioned that the film contains horror images together with the depiction of blood and gore which younger children may find very disturbing and frightening.

The main messages from the film include:

  • some things should not be tampered with
  • good triumphs over evil

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Courage and bravery: Throughout the film Indiana repeatedly faces dangerous situations and people
  • Perseverance: regardless of the obstacles placed in Indiana Jones path refused to give in

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The violence inflicted against Indiana Jones is depicted in an unrealistic manner with few, if any, real-life consequences. Parents may wish to discuss the real consequences of the type of violence depicted in this film.