Raiders of the Lost Ark (also known as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, and starring Harrison Ford.thumb|300px|right
In the Peruvian jungle, in 1936, archeologist Indiana Jones braves an ancient temple filled with booby traps to retrieve a golden idol. Upon fleeing the temple, Indiana is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq and the indigenous Hovitos. Surrounded and outnumbered, Indiana is forced to surrender the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting Waco Seaplane.
Shortly after returning to the college in the United States where he teaches archeology, Indiana is interviewed by two Army Intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, in their quest for occult power, are searching for his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood, who is in possession of the headpiece of an artifact called the Staff of Ra and is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis. Indiana deduces that the Nazis are searching for Tanis, because it is the location of the Ark of Covenent, the biblical chest built by the Israelites to contain the fragments of the Ten Commandments: if the Nazis acquire it, their armies will be invincible. The Staff of Ra, meanwhile, is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried. The agents subsequently authorize Indiana to recover the Ark with the promise of displaying it in a museum. Indiana travels to Nepal, only to find that Ravenwood has died and that the headpiece is in the possession of his daughter, Marion, Indiana's embittered former lover. Indiana offers to buy the headpiece for five thousand dollars, which she says she will use to return to the United States. Marion's tavern is suddenly raided by a group of thugs commanded by Nazi agent Major Toht. The tavern is burned down in the ensuing fight, during which Toht burns his hand on the searing hot headpiece as he tries to grab it. Indiana and Marion escape with the headpiece, with Marion declaring she will accompany Indiana in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt.
They travel to Cairo where they learn from Indiana's friend Sahlla, a skilled excavator, that Belloq and the Nazis are currently digging for the Well of Souls with a replica of the headpiece modeled after the scar on Toht's hand. In a bazaar, Nazi operatives attempt to kidnap Marion and as Indiana chases after them it appears that she dies in an explosion. While deciphering the markings on the headpiece, Indiana and Sallah realize that the Nazis have miscalculated the location of the Well of Souls. Using this to their advantage, they infiltrate the Nazi dig and use the Staff of Ra to determine the location correctly and uncover the Well of Souls, which is filled with snakes. Indiana, while disguised, finds Marion tied to a pole and gagged with a knotted handkerchief. He starts untying her, but realizes ther Nazis will search for them, so despite her objections he ties her up again and regags her. After Indiana fends off the snakes (by soaking them with gasoline and setting them on fire) and acquires the Ark, Belloq and the Nazis arrive to take it for themselves. They toss Marion down into the well with Indiana and seal them both in, but Indiana and Marion manage to escape. After a grueling fist fight with a large German mechanic, blowing up a flying wing on the airstrip, and chasing down a convoy of trucks, Indiana takes back the Ark before it can be shipped to Berlin, despite being shot in the arm in the process.
Indiana and Marion leave Cairo to escort the Ark to England on board a tramp steamer. The next morning, their boat is boarded by the Nazis, who once again steal the Ark and kidnap Marion. Indiana stows away on their U-boat and follows them to an isolated island in the Aegean Sea where Belloq plans to test the power of the Ark before presenting it to Hitler. Indiana reveals himself and threatens to destroy the Ark with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, but Belloq calls his bluff.
Indiana surrenders and is tied to a post with Marion as Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark, which appears to contain nothing but sand. Suddenly, spirits, which resemble the Old Testament description of seraphim, emerge from the Ark. Aware of the supernatural danger of looking at the opened Ark, Indiana warns Marion to close her eyes. The apparitions suddenly morph into demonic creatures, and lightning bolts begin flying out of the ark, gruesomely killing Belloq and the Nazis. The fires rise into the sky, then fall back down to Earth and the Ark closes with a crack of thunder.
Back in Washington, D.C., the Army intelligence agents tell a suspicious Indiana and Brody that the Ark "is someplace safe" to be studied by "top men". In reality, the Ark is sealed in a wooden crate labeled "top secret" and stored in a giant government warhouse filled with countless similar crates, where it is glimpsed again at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.