That legendary Ark-opening sequence was originally a little bit more graphic.
The scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark in which three of Indiana Jones' enemies are reduced to pools of gore after looking directly into the Ark of the Covenant is one of the most iconic moments in Steven Spielberg's entire filmography, and that's really saying something. The final sequence, as we know it, is already pretty shocking the first time you see it, but we almost saw something even more gruesome.
The sequence ends with the head of Indy's archnemesis, Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman), exploding in dramatic fashion while the flames of the Ark swirl around him. Originally, though, those flames weren't there. Belloq's head blew in plain view, just like those of his comrades. The head explosion was considered so gory by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that they were ready to give the film an R rating unless Spielberg did something about it. So Spielberg went back in and superimposed those flames over the top of the shot, so the explosion was a bit more obscured. That was good enough for the MPAA, and the film got the PG rating (this was pre-PG-13) that Spielberg was hoping for.
So what did the moment originally look like? Thanks to Will McCrabb, we now have a somewhat low-def but still worthwhile look.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: Belloq's exploding head, minus the superimposed flames the MPAA made Spielberg add. pic.twitter.com/h4p7DWeyCp— will mccrabb (@mccrabb_will) November 14, 2013
Ouch. For comparison, check out the YouTube clip of the full Ark opening sequence below. Belloq's head blows at about 3:40.
(Via Huffington Post)