Geekery on display!

In his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column yesterday, Gregg Easterbrook digresses about halfway through to briefly discuss the plot holes in the movie Double Jeopardy, a film whose plot hinges on a gross misreading of the concept of double jeopardy. His objection to that film is spot-on, but what caught my eye here was his illustration of a “triple plot hole” in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Esterbrook writes:

Perhaps the greatest came in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nazis steal the ark from Indiana Jones, and escape in a U-boat. As the submarine dives, Jones leaps off a ship and clings to the U-boat’s side. Now, what is he supposed to do — hang on while the sub is underwater? We see a chart of the U-boat crossing the Mediterranean, then a shot of the submarine easing into its dock at a super-secret base. As the submarine arrives, Indiana Jones is already standing on the dock, disguised as a Nazi. Double plot hole! Not only could he not have survived by clinging to a diving submarine, how did he then get to the base first? Triple plot hole! How did he even know where the sub was going?

Well, taking the objections in order: first of all, the film does not establish that the sub dives, so Indy could have simply hung out on top of the thing. According to a bit of online research I did, U-boats did not routinely cruise underwater; they submerged when actually on the attack; given that the film takes place in 1936 — three years before the outbreak of WWII — the U-boat wouldn’t really have had reason to dive. (However, there still appears to be a partial error here, since I also read elsewhere that U-boats would dive at least once in the course of even a routine voyage, for some reason to do with pressure and ballast. I assume this is just a historical error — Steven Spielberg and company probably knew U-boats generally didn’t submerge for just going from point-A to point-B, as in The Hunt for Red October, but didn’t know that they would submerge for “routine maintenance”.)

Second, Indy isn’t already standing on the dock when the sub arrives – he is there after the sub has already arrived (the “arrival” shot isn’t the sub arriving, but the crate containing the Ark being offloaded). He doesn’t arrive before the U-boat does, he arrives at the same time. Easterbrook is forgetting that Indy has to procure a uniform, and he first does so by clubbing a Nazi guard who isn’t his size. So, the U-boat approaches its base, Indy hops off and sneaks inside the base, and then while the U-boat is offloading, Indy grabs a uniform. The whole sequence is highly implausible, but it’s not a “triple plot hole”.

UPDATE: A commenter informs me that the Sub Captain can be heard saying, in German, “Dive the boat!”. Well, I’m just going to ignore that. Doo dee doo dee doo….

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.