There is a chase scene (at roughly 4:00 into the YouTube clip) as Indiana Jones seeks to retrieve the ark from a truck departing from the Egyptian dig site. Indiana gains control of the truck and during the chase scene a car in pursuit loses control and drives off of a cliff.

This increases the suspense a notch and brings these particular bad guys to a satisfying and justified end, but is inconsistent with much of the rest of the footage during the chase scene. The cliff looks like the Grand Canyon (perhaps there are such cliffs in Egypt but I doubt it and suspect the creators were having fun by really giving it to the Nazis).

Question: What kind of discussion or planning went into the inclusion of this scene (cliff drop)? Was this for instance in the script?

(Bonus would be information about where the cliff scene was shot.)

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    I've covered the submarine here: movies.stackexchange.com/a/4125/1064
    – Kyralessa
    Dec 30, 2023 at 16:33
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    It was in the revised script. The aim seems to be to show how dangerous the road is, to ratchet up the tension - In the rear car, Golber and Belzig are trying to see through the thick clouds of dust. Suddenly is clears completely. Unfortunately for them, this happens because their car has shot out into space at the hairpin turn. They are flying to their final reward. Belzig, eyes wide behind his evil spectacles, screams as he goes. In the cab of the truck, the Truck Driver is distracted by the sight of the flying staff car. Indy plasters him and he tumbles out.
    – Valorum
    Dec 30, 2023 at 17:13
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    The paragraph marked 'question' is a series of statements. I realise the question has been through several edits, but we still have not seemingly settled on an actual question. Please define a specific single question you wish answered.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 30, 2023 at 19:11
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    The question as currently phrased is quite long and confusing to read. I would suggest simplifying what you are asking, removing the references to other "inconsistencies" which seem entirely unrelated to the one you are interested in. Are you asking about the specifics of the cliff scene or about a general impression of inconsistency in the movie as a whole?
    – iandotkelly
    Dec 30, 2023 at 20:36
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    "L&S were inspired by the cliffhangers and serials that were hugely popular in their day, yet had become forgotten by film audiences of the ‘70s." Did Spielberg and Lucas steal ideas to make Raiders of the Lost Ark? Was this movie a rip off of different serials and movies? - One of them probably said, "Yeah, and let's have a car go off a cliff just like in...." every other movie and TV show ever made.
    – Mazura
    Jan 11 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


Its nothing other than fantastical movie geography.

For starters, Marion is told something akin to the 'desert stretching for weeks in every direction' should she wish to escape Tannis on foot.

However, as we quickly see in the chase you describe the landscape changes from barren sand to vegetated very quickly, despite Indy being on horseback. Once in possession of the truck and Ark he then seems to make it to Omar's, purportedly in the middle of Cairo, in next to no time. There is no logic to any of this but it’s good fun.

As for the cliff, its nothing more than another geographical cheat for the purposes of the gag you describe, consisting of nothing more than one of ILM's amazing matte paintings.

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    Great, thanks! Yeah, there is plenty of absurdity but so well paced and fun. Digging around a little starting from your answer I came across this detail in theraider.net: "The cliff was a matte painting by Alan Maley, photographed by Neil Krepela. The animation of the Nazis and the car was handled by stop-motion artist Tom St. Amand with Jim Veilleux as cameraman."
    – Buck Thorn
    Jan 6 at 18:10
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    Happy to help my friend and Happy New Year! If you like ILM's mattes they are all over the OG Star Wars trilogy and loads more Speilberg and fantasy stuff from the late 70's / early 80's Jan 6 at 18:13
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    Well the 'desert stretching for weeks' comment is made by Beloq to Marion, when he is trying to get information from her / trying to seduce her. There's no reason to think he might not be just lying to her to discourage her escape.
    – iandotkelly
    Jan 6 at 22:28
  • Thats a fair point Ian, but considering the other inconsistencies that seems a little too logical for me. I am not saying you are wrong, just that there is no way to know in either case Jan 7 at 4:46

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