This whole post is really just about one little bit of trivia, but it’s such a satisfying bit of trivia, I felt like all of you deserved to be aware of it. It has to do with that 1981 Steven Spielberg cinematic milestone Raiders of the Lost Ark, particularly the opening scene with that remarkably spherical boulder, and a Honda Civic.
In the unlikely case you were grown in a vat just last week and have been super busy and haven’t had a chance to watch Raiders, here’s the scene in question:
Did you catch the Honda Civic in that scene? It was there! Just not visually. There was a Civic, but just the sound of the Civic, which was used as the sound the boulder makes as it rolls through that incredibly well-engineered death-tomb.
Yes, sound effects designer Ben Burtt recorded the sounds of his own Honda Civic rolling down a gravel hill and, I suppose, amplified them to emulate the sounds of a colossal, hand-shaped spherical boulder rolling and crashing through a centuries-old tomb filled with booby traps.
Burtt tried rolling actual rocks down hills and recorded those sounds, but nothing was working, and it wasn’t until he was rolling down a gravel driveway in his Civic that he realized that the grinding and crunching coming from the tires of his little car over the rocks was exactly what he needed.
Ben Burtt, pictured above with who I presume is his life partner, went on to do sound for Star Wars and Wall-E.
I guess those two things do sound kind of alike, now that I think about it?
While researching this, I also realized something else about this famous scene I never realized, specifically about that golden idol itself: it’s giving birth.
I know, right? It’s giving birth? That’s a mom? Here, look:
It’s a fertility idol, it seems, and according to the fictional history I never knew existed, it’s from the Peruvian Chachapoyan tribe. It’s based on a real pre-Colombian artwork, the Dumbarton Oaks birthing figure.
I always thought it was supposed to just be terrifying, but that face is one of the pain of childbirth, not abject god-rage!
I think I owe you an apology, little golden mom-idol. And her new baby idol.