See the swordfight that never made it into Raiders of the Lost Ark

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

Quick, what's the first scene you think of when we say Raiders of the Lost Ark? Unless you said "giant boulder" or "melting faces," you're probably thinking of Indiana Jones gunning down a swordsman in the middle of an Egyptian market. It's an iconic Indy moment, but it was almost something much more elaborate.

The scene was originally going to be an epic whip-vs.-sword duel, pitting Indy against a gifted swordsman with a wicked scimitar. The swordsman trained for months, and the pair rehearsed the sequence on set, but on the day they were set to actually shoot it, Harrison Ford wasn't feeling well.

See, Ford had a bad reaction to some of the local cuisine (they were filming in Tunisia, and Spielberg said he ate nothing but canned food during the shoot), and when he came to work that day he had very little energy to make the scene happen. So, in a moment of improvisational brilliance, Ford decided it would be easier and funnier if he just shot the guy.

Of course, this didn't go over very well with the swordsman, who'd worked for months to show his skills to a blockbuster audience. So, on the first take, he made up for the time he would lose by dragging out his death scene, stumbling left and right and writhing on the ground to make his moment in the spotlight as long as possible. On the second take, Ford fired before Spielberg ever said "action," and the swordsman was so shocked that he just fell back. That's the take in the film.

But now, thanks to the new Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray set hitting stores on Sept. 18, we can get a closer look at what the duel would have looked like through previously unseen rehearsal footage from the set. The full video (which we can't embed) is up over at EW, but one YouTube user also has a facsimile of the events for you to watch right here:

What do you think? Does the film suffer without this duel, or does the gun moment remain one of the best in Indy history?

(EW via

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