At the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Ark is opened and Belloq and the Nazis are destroyed. Is there any explanation about how Jones and Marion Ravenwood get the Ark off the island?

The logistics are problematic, it's an island with a Nazi base, there doesn't appear to be enough escorting soldiers to account for the whole population of the base (or even a submarine) and as the Ark kills by sight, anyone not in attendance was unlikely to be harmed.

In addition, the Ark was also carried (by hand) to the location of the ceremony, presenting another practical issue.

  • I was wondering that while watching it last night. Feb 11, 2012 at 21:15
  • 2
    Not canon, but I'd guess Indy had radio frequencies he could use to contact the agency who set him on this course. I'd also guess that the Nazi base was secret and lightly manned and most, if not all, of the Nazis were killed or frightened off by the depicted events.
    – jfrankcarr
    Feb 12, 2012 at 0:10
  • 20
    On his magical red line, of course.
    – Jeff
    Feb 22, 2012 at 2:18
  • 3
    Traveling by map!
    – Kyralessa
    Feb 22, 2012 at 2:40
  • I believe there was a conveniently forgotten submarine docked at the island that they could have used.
    – Xantec
    Jan 10, 2013 at 20:12

4 Answers 4


By boat. Too early for helicopters, and the island wouldn't have had a runway.

With all his opponents dead, he'd have to break free of his restraints. Find some equipment, radio the allies, they'd send a ship by. A landing boat is sent off, finds him, the sailors carry the ark back to it, it's stowed, and someone high up gives the order for it to set a new course to where ever the warehouse is.

What's so difficult about all this?

  • 14
    One thing we are all forgetting- the US obviously sent their top men. Jul 8, 2012 at 15:17
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    And even if some remaining German soldiers remained on the island, it’s doubtful many officers remained as the majority would have been in attendance to the Ark ceremony. So that would have left just a few footsoldiers around at best. Easy for US top men to clean up. Dec 23, 2019 at 22:12

I do not think the ark necessarily kills people who look at it. It will kill evil powers that try to control it (hence it burns the Nazi flag strapped across it on the boat). When Indy and Marion shut their eyes it was a gesture of respect (like averting one's eyes) which is why they were saved.

Bearing this in mind transport would have been less problematic as it would be a case of arranging a ship etc. any force which tried to stop then would have been defeated as 'any army that carries the ark before it is invincible'.

  • 4
    The OT makes it pretty clear that you don't look at the content of the Ark. It doesn't do judgement, it smites more or less indiscriminately. Only the priests of the Temple could potentially look upon it (and I can't remember if they can either).
    – John O
    Jul 8, 2012 at 18:22
  • Must have been a right pain in the neck to put that indescriminate killing machine in there!
    – Stefan
    Jul 8, 2012 at 18:57
  • They probably had an UFO to beam the parts in there. Haven't you seen all movies? ;) IMO the more interesting question would be: Why didn't they use the ark on their own and instead stashed it? It clearly didn't harm anyone as long as it stood sealed (and IIRC it's not said it has to be open to defeat its opponents).
    – Mario
    Jul 8, 2012 at 20:16
  • Possession of the Ark may itself have been enough to guarantee victory. I always got the impression that they were suggesting this is why the Allies won the war.
    – John O
    Jul 9, 2012 at 13:43
  • Then why does Indy close his eyes?
    – triclon
    Jan 5, 2021 at 4:57

First of all, most people assume that the ark made it off the island immediately and then Marion and Indy were suddenly in Washington DC, Not so.

The film jumps from the island to DC but no reference was made to the passage of time. Clearly, the government claims to have it and Indy knows that which means he told them where to find it then lost track once he was in the US. Marcus was also with Indy, so Indy went home first then had Marcus in tow when he got to DC. The film is set in 1936 with Nazis all over the Mediterranean until 1945. Indy did not want to lose the ark again, so do the math.

Indy assumes that the Nazis at the sub base heard (or at least saw the light show in the sky) when the ark killed all of the soldiers. He assumes that they won't send out a patrol until first light, so he has a few hours to hide the ark. Where do you hide a chest made of gold? In plain site, or in this case, right under their feet. Indy didn't have to get the ark off the island, he just needed to drag it off the alter and bury it in the sand. Remember, the ark stayed hidden for 5000 years because someone buried it then died without leaving a flaming neon sign pointing the way.

When the patrol shows up the next morning, a bunch of burned out equipment, all of the lights are damaged and nobody left to explain why. The Nazis would have chalked it up to an explosion or something else explainable and went back to the base.

Indy and Marion would have to hide out and wait for an opportunity. They could have stolen the fishing boat or used some other resource. Clearly, days, weeks or even years could have gone by before the DC scene. Obviously, Indy told someone where the ark was and after the war, they dug it up, put it in a crate, then told Indy to get lost.

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This reads like a lot of personal speculation. Do you have any references to back this up? Answers should be based on things we explicitly know from the movies, novelizations or other sanctioned related works. Please read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Dec 23, 2019 at 18:53

I believe that somewhere on the island there was a radio for Indy to use to contact for help, more than likely Katanga. That U-boat may not have stayed, having more than likely been called out to the sea for another patrol or assignment. They were not at war yet, so the U-boat just left until they were needed back. Indy seeing (more than likely) the place was deserted, found the radio and just called out looking for Katanga's boat, he probably heard it, they gave him the coordinates to get there and they waited until they arrived. Once there, Katanga helped Indy to bring the Ark back to his ship then took off to England. Of course Indy got out of England more than likely through a contact in the US Government, they send a military cargo plane for them and back to America.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This seems like complete speculation. Do you have any evidence that there was a radio there? Or that the U-boat left? Or any of the rest of it?
    – DavidW
    Jan 5, 2021 at 2:57
  • No kidding it's speculation. Why do you think that I wrote “I always believed” in my post. Why wouldn't there be a communication radio? It was supposed to be a hidden Nazi base suitable for a U-boat to dock, how do you think the Nazis want to get off the island or need more supplies? They would use a radio to contact for outside assistance Jan 6, 2021 at 15:27

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