In one of the most famous closing shots in film history, Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones has safely rescued the Ark of the Covenant from Hitler’s grasp and has returned to Washington, D.C. to hand the incredible artifact over to the US government. Though he wants to study it further, Dr. Jones is stonewalled by the men who hired him. They say nothing more than that they have “top men” working on the situation. We then see the crate that houses the Ark nailed shut and pushed down a corridor of hundreds of thousands of similar boxes, leaving the imagination to wonder what treasures they contain and what adventures brought them together.
That particular Raiders of the Lost Ark scene was the result of combination shot between a grand matte painting and footage from a soundstage at London’s Elstree Studios. The real final resting place of the Ark, however, is not that far removed from the fiction.
Last month, ComingSoon.net had the opportunity to visit the Lucasfilm Archives at Skywalker Ranch in Northern California. An unassuming barn-like blue building in the middle of the property, the Archives is very much the real-world equivalent of that incredible warehouse, housing not just the Ark itself but also the Sankara Stones, the Holy Grail, the Crystal Skull, the Cross of Coronado and countless other actual movie props, pieces of original artwork, scale models and all the films’ actual costumes, right down to cinema’s most iconic fedora. (Of course, just out of reach, one could make out the six-foot tall original model of the second Death Star and the beginning of treasures from Lucasfilm’s other famous franchise, but that’s a story for another time.)
Of course, this was all in honor of the Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures, which, today, hits Blu-ray for the first time ever in a five-disc collection (the full details of which you can read about by clicking here).
While at the Ranch, we also had the opportunity to take part in a special Q &A with two of the legendary artists responsible for the four films, Ben Burtt, the Sound Director for Skywalker Sound and Dennis Muren, the Creative Director of Industrial Light & Magic. You can read the full conservation by clicking here.
You can also click here or on the image below to check out our full photo gallery from the Lucasfilm Archives and click here to learn how you can see the props for yourself as part of a traveling museum exhibition.