Soundtrack Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


Composed and Conducted by: John Williams

Nearly two decades after Indiana Jones literally rode into the sunset with Last Crusade, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided to revisit the franchise, a move with its fair share of controversy since Harrison Ford was noticeably much, much older. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has gotten mixed reviews, and is often cited as the worst movie in series. I have to agree that it’s the worst, but despite some serious flaws, especially its underwhelming last act, I think it’s an okay movie with some genuinely great scenes.

One of the most exciting aspects of Indiana Jones coming back was the return of John Williams, who at this point had just started to take it easier with his movie scoring schedule. As with his return to Star Wars, much time had elapsed since he scored Indiana Jones. Would his changed style of scoring affect how fun the score would be?

The main artifact theme, for the Crystal Skull, is virtually a reverse of the Ark of the Covenant theme. Instead of a series of descending three-note increments, it’s a repetition of ascending three notes, with a haunting melody to back it up. It’s not as powerful as the Ark theme, but it does manage to be very eerie, sometimes downright scary (check out “Oxley’s Dilemma”). There’s a great new theme for Irina Spalko and the Russian villains. “Irina’s Theme” is actually two themes in one. It’s not as militaristic as Williams’ themes for the Nazis in previous entries, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Irina’s theme is old school, while a secondary motif for the Russians in general is utilized in the action scenes.

Supposedly Shia Labeouf’s Mutt character has his own theme. There’s even a concert arrangement track called “The Adventures of Mutt”. I say this is “supposedly” a theme because in the film itself it only appears in “Jungle Chase” and the end credits suite. A lot of the music does fit the same style, a lot of light-hearted whirling and racing strings and woodwinds. The concert arrangement itself contains part of the Indiana Jones theme, suggesting a further link between him and the film’s main protagonist.

Several themes from the previous movies make their return, though these references are underrepresented on album. The most obvious is Marion’s theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is surprisingly underutilized despite her considerable presence in the film. One of the Grail themes from Last Crusade pops up a couple times, and the Ark theme makes two notable appearances in the opening sequence. As for the Indiana Jones theme itself, it is thankfully used frequently, but not to excess.

The album kicks off with “The Raiders March”, basically the end credits music from Raiders. Its presence is unfortunate. It seems to have been placed there for a nostalgia pop and just takes away space that could have been used for actual new music. Tracks 2 through 4 are concert arrangements of the new themes and motifs. “The Snake Pit” is the first of several light-hearted action cues. “The Spell of the Skull” starts off with the Ark of the Covenant theme and makes the first in-score reference to Irina’s theme. The rest of the track is tense suspense which isn’t terribly complex or thematic, but for some reason I really love it. “Journey to Akator” lifts part of Raiders’ “Escape from Peru” before delving into ethnic Latin American fare. “A Whirl Through Academe” is a scherzo from one of the film’s best scenes. “Return” is one of many tracks to focus heavily on the Crystal Skull theme.

“Jungle Chase” is the action highlight, reminiscent of “Desert Chase” and with plenty of references to the Irina and Mutt’s themes. “Grave Robbers” is an unusual foray into bone-rattling percussion, while tracks 13 through 15 feature dark exploration music. “Ants!” is a very interesting action cue, with a string march for a rather deadly swarm of ants backed by several of the themes. The beginning is notable for featuring string-plucking fragments of the Skull theme. “Temple Ruins and the Secret Revealed”, like the scene it accompanies, is rather underwhelming despite its simulation of an alien choir and a loud final reference to Irina’s theme. “The Departure” is much better, building up to a grand fanfare at its conclusion. “Finale” starts off with Marion’s theme before the Indiana Jones theme plays in full followed by an end credits suite.

The fourth Indiana Jones score is a good entry, though the weakest. It’s just as not as fun a ride as the other scores, perhaps because of the abundance of dark suspense and exploration. To be fair, this can be chalked up to the album’s presentation, which leaves out large chunks of the more energetic action music. The worst omission is the rest of “Jungle Chase”, which had more of Marion’s theme and an interesting use of the Russians motif. I say this album is worth looking up and even buying, but be warned, the magic of the other scores doesn’t come in that much.

Final Rating: (score) 8/10 (album) 7/10


  1. Raiders March (5:05)
  2. Call of the Crystal (3:49)
  3. The Adventures of Mutt (3:12)
  4. Irina’s Theme (2:26)
  5. The Snake Pit (3:15)
  6. The Spell of the Skull (4:24)
  7. The Journey to Akator (3:07)
  8. A Whirl Through Academe (3:33)
  9. Return (3:11)
  10. The Jungle Chase (4:21)
  11. Orellana’s Cradle (4:22)
  12. Grave Robbers (2:28)
  13. Hidden Treasure and the City of Gold (5:13)
  14. Secret Doors and Scorpions (2:17)
  15. Oxley’s Dilemma (4:46)
  16. Ants! (4:14)
  17. Temple Ruins and the Secret Revealed (5:49)
  18. The Departure (2:26)

Soundtrack Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Composed and Conducted by: John Williams

Although Temple of Doom was another box office hit, critical reactions were heavily mixed and it obviously affected director Steven Spielberg enough that he spent a couple extra years on completing the Indiana Jones trilogy. He wanted to recapture more of the feeling of Raiders of the Lost Ark, resulting in the return of a couple supporting characters and the Nazis as the villains. Originally the third film was going to focus on Indiana Jones looking for fruit of immortality and the legendary Chinese character the Monkey King in the heart of Africa, but this was wisely replaced by a search for the Holy Grail with Indy’s own father, wonderfully played by Sean Connery, thrown into the mix.

John Williams of course returns with a lot of new themes. There are a couple of artifact themes this time around, both evoking a strong religious feeling, without any of the ominous feeling of the other movies. The first is the primary Grail theme, which first appears in the travel cue portion of “X Marks the Spot”. Most of its appearances were absent on the original album, but restored on the 2008 release. There’s a secondary Grail theme which is also used for Henry Jones Sr, Indy’s father (as evidenced by its use in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). This warm theme makes its first appearance in “Ah, Rats!” after a statement of the primary theme and is heavily present in the film’s last cues. There’s also a small family motif which appears towards the beginning of “Canyon of the Crescent Moon” and in more loud fare in “Keeping Up with the Joneses”.

This time around there’s no love theme, but there is what I think is the strongest villain theme of the entire franchise. The Nazis get a bombastic little piece which like the primary Grail theme had most of its uses absent on the original album release. It’s strongest single performance is in “Brother of the Cruciform Sword”, but its most memorably used in “Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra”.

There’s also a couple of motifs for the opening sequence of the film, which shows Indy as a boy scout trying to take the Cross of Coronado from some gravediggers. The Cross of Coronado is represented by a little ditty with Hispanic flair. The opening villain has an appropriately generic, sinister motif, something Snidely Whiplash would use. There’s an adventurous chase motif weaved in there as well.

Original 1989 Album

The original 1989 release was nearly an hour long. It opens with “Indy’s Very First Adventure”, which covers over half of the opening sequence’s material. “X Marks the Spot” introduces the Grail theme before some low-key exploration music comes on. “Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra” is the track that gets put on John Williams compilation albums, an exciting, racing piece that conveys both peril and light-heartedness at the same time, in the same vein as “Basket Chase” from Raiders. “Ah, Rats!” starts off as more exploration music before presenting the two Grail themes. It breaks out into a perilous action cue, leading to the wonderful “Escape from Venice”, another mix of peril and light-hearted adventure.

“No Ticket” is a humorous cue that seems to go on longer than it does in the film. “The Keeper of the Grail” starts off with some goofy material and ends a little slowly, but does have a pretty good presentation of the secondary Grail theme. “Keeping Up with the Joneses” is a great, fun track, but doesn’t appear in the movie. I suspect it originally played during the airplane sequence, which ended up being mostly unscored.

My favorite action cue is “Belly of the Steel Beast”, a concert arrangement which extends the opening music from the tank battle before seguing into its climax.  “Canyon of the Crescent Moon” is a decent piece, but the Grail theme used in the film must have been temp tracked in, because it’s nowhere to be found here. “The Penitent Man Will Pass” weaves the primary Grail theme with some suspenseful music before breaking into a fanfare. “Finale & End Credits” runs over ten minutes long, with the end credits scene of course having the Raiders March, in addition to a reprise of “Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra” and a concert arrangement of the secondary Grail theme.

The original album is okay. It does have the main highlights, but as usual there is plenty of great music missing.

Rating: 8/10

Track Listing

  1. Indy’s Very First Adventure (8:11) 9/10
  2. X Marks the Spot (3:07) 7/10
  3. Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra (3:49) 10/10
  4. Ah, Rats!!! (3:36) 9/10
  5. Escape from Venice (4:21) 10/10
  6. No Ticket (2:42) 8/10
  7. The Keeper of the Grail (3:21) 7/10
  8. Keeping Up with the Joneses (3:35) 10/10
  9. Brother of the Cruciform Sword (1:53) 9/10
  10. Belly of the Steel Beast (5:26) 10/10
  11. The Canyon of the Crescent Moon (4:16) 7/10
  12. The Penitent Man Will Pass (3:23) 10/10
  13. End Credits (Raiders March) (10:36) 10/10

2008 Concord Set Album

A little less than twenty minutes was added on to the original album, which itself was arranged in chronological order. “Indy’s Very First Adventure” is now in its entirety, though unfortunately the producers decided to cut the last three minutes off and place it in its separate track (“The Boat Scene”). This really hurts the flow, as Indy’s theme is supposed to build right into “The Boat Scene”. “Journey to Austria” and “Father and Son Reunited” are just okay. “The Austrian Way” is much more interesting, the only piece of romantic music in the entire score, but played in a more seductive, femme fatale style.

“Alarm!” is frustratingly put right after “Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra” which it’s supposed to precede. It also was for some reason split from “The Austrian Way” as “The Boat Scene” was from “Indy’s Very First Adventure”. Still, it’s a good track  with same chase motif from “Scherzo” and more of the Nazi theme. “On the Tank” is the last addition to the main album, the middle portion of the tank scene. It’s great, but I wish it was inserted back into the middle of “Belly of the Steel Beast” to give the full effect of the cue’s many twists and turns.

The fourth disc includes a further quarter hour of material, most of it centered around the Grail and Nazi themes. The highlight of these is “To the Blimp”, a sinister piece that builds into the Nazi theme. “Wrong Choice, Right Choice” has the rest of the film’s final music.

The expanded release is better, but riddled with some questionable editing (or lack thereof). Perhaps there were technical difficulties or contractual problems. I’ll still give it a higher rating though for giving us another half hour of the score.

Rating: 9/10

Track Listing

  1. Indy’s Very First Adventure (12:00) 9/10
  2. The Boat Scene (2:23) 9/10
  3. X Marks the Spot (3:12) 7/10
  4. Ah, Rats!!! (3:40) 9/10
  5. Escape from Venice (4:22) 10/10
  6. Journey to Austria (0:38) 6/10
  7. Father and Son Reunited (1:49) 5/10
  8. The Austrian Way (2:40) 7/10
  9. Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra (3:49) 10/10
  10. Alarm! (3:06) 10/10
  11. No Ticket (2:45) 8/10
  12. Keeping Up with the Joneses (3:37) 10/10
  13. Brother of the Cruciform Sword (1:57) 9/10
  14. On the Tank (3:38) 9/10
  15. Belly of the Steel Beast (5:29) 10/10
  16. The Canyon of the Crescent Moon (4:16) 7/10
  17. The Penitent Man Will Pass (3:23) 10/10
  18. The Keeper of the Grail (3:24) 7/10
  19. Finale & End Credits (10:40) 10/10

From the Fifth Disc

6. Father’s Study (2:27) 10/10

7. Marcus is Captured/To Berlin (1:55) 9/10

8. To the Blimp (2:04) 10/10

9. The Blimp Turns Around (1:30) 8/10

10. Death of Kazim (2:27) 6/10

11. Wrong Choice, Right Choice (4:36) 8/10


Last Crusade is my favorite Indiana Jones movie, but it doesn’t have the best score. There is a good amount of material that’s not really that engaging. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom are consistently exciting to listen to. The themes themselves are still of the same high quality and there’s a lot more emotion to appreciate because of the presence of Indy’s father. I heavily recommend this album and hope that a proper two-disc complete score is released someday.

Final Rating: 9/10

Soundtrack Review: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Until Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Temple of Doom was regarded by most as the weakest Indiana Jones flick. The love interest is annoying, juvenile humor abounds in some scenes, and there was perhaps a little too much dark elements, creating the PG-13 rating. Still, Spielberg’s worst movies are still a cut above most other films and aside from the whipping scene I don’t think it’s too much darker than the other ones, which had their fair share of skeletons and grisly deaths. This time Indiana Jones adventures around South Asia, seeking the Sankara stones an fighting an evil Kali cult along the way. John Williams crafts a fine follow-up to his Raiders score, though the music feels much lighter this time around. The Temple of Doom is the most enthusiastic musical entry in the series, with several themes continuously popping up in racing action cues.

The only returning theme is that for Indiana Jones himself, as no characters or ideas return from Raiders, but this theme is used quite liberally across the score. There are four new major themes. The first to make its appearance, and the most frequently used, is that for Asian kid sidekick Short Round. It’s playful, but does reach sweeping heights several times. By the way, the track “Short Round’s Theme” isn’t really a suite, but a direct cue which also references the slave children theme. This theme also appears for the village where the children are abducted from. It’s considered the highlight of the soundtrack, with “Slave Children’s Crusade” featuring on John Williams compilation albums.

The female lead for the movie is Willie, an intentional 180 from Marion in that while Marion was a tomboy, Willie screams at pretty much everything in the film. Her theme (or the love theme), isn’t as good as Marion’s theme, but it does what it’s supposed to. It’s showcased at the beginning of “Nocturnal Activities”. The artifact theme this time is a sinister tune for the Temple of Doom, though the actual artifacts in the film are the Sankara Stones. It doesn’t have as large a presence as that for the Ark of the Covenant and doesn’t make an appearance until “To Pankot Palace”. It does factor heavily into the final action scenes in “Mine Car Chase” and “Broken Bridge”.

Original 1984 Album

Things start off with “Anything Goes”, a Broadway number “sung” by the female lead in Chinese. To start the film, it’s a pretty different way from Raiders and Last Crusade, though Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would use Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” in its opening. Notes from the song are inserted into the following action cues, though none of those are present on the original album.

“Fast Streets of Shanghai” introduces Short Round’s theme and features the triumphant return of the Raiders March. “Nocturnal Activities” features a playful version of Willie’s theme, but turns into a light-hearted action cue. “Children in Chains” focuses on the slave children’s theme in its most tragic form, with some clanging metal strikes as well to represent their enslavement as miners. Both the theme and metal percussion return in a much more rousing and heroic rendition a few tracks later in “Slave Children’s Crusade”. “Slalom on Mt. Humol” is a decent action cue representing the seemingly endless descent of Indy and friends down a mountainside before settling into some Indian music.

“The Temple of Doom” is an original piece of source music, from the infamous scene where someone’s heart gets ripped out. It’s quite eerie, starting with sinister gongs and Sanskrit chants. As the track moves along the percussion gets more frequent and the chanting faster, ending with a creepy wail. “Bug Tunnel and Death Trap” somehow effectively conveys both humor and peril, with a simple little motif that builds in intensity before the Indiana Jones theme takes over. “Mine Car Chase” is a wild racing cue which features the Temple of Doom theme. “Finale and End Credits” is a solid suite with all of the non-villainous themes arranged between two statements of the Raiders March.

There is a ton of good music missing from the original album, but, as with Raiders of the Lost Ark, it does a pretty good job given the restraints if a single LP. Actually, I’d say it’s the better of the two in terms of music that was chosen. If I had to choose what cues to put on a roughly forty minute album, I’d choose most of the same music.

Rating: 9/10

Track Listing

  1. Anything Goes (2:54) 8/10
  2. Fast Streets of Shanghai (3:43) 8/10
  3. Nocturnal Activities (5:57) 7/10
  4. Short Round’s Theme (2:32) 10/10
  5. Children in Chains (2:45) 10/10
  6. Slalom on Mt. Humol (2:26) 6/10
  7. The Temple of Doom (3:01) 10/10
  8. Bug Tunnel and Death Trap (3:32) 9/10
  9. Slave Children’s Crusade (3:25) 10/10
  10. The Mine Car Chase (3:42) 10/10
  11. Finale and End Credits (6:19) 10/10

2008 Concord Set Album

It’s really strange how long it took for the second and third Indiana Jones scores to receive expanded releases. The Temple of Doom benefits the most from the expanded 2008 Concord release. Not only was it originally the hardest to find of the three CDs, it now has over twice as much music available. With a chronological track ordering, the tonal shifts of the movie is perfectly captured. The first half is mostly light-hearted adventure fare while the second features more percussion and dark or epic cues.

The nightclub sequence is expanded upon with “Indy Negotiates” and “Nightclub Brawl”, the latter of which features an instrumental version of “Anything Goes” at the end. “The Scroll/To Pankot Palace” introduces the Temple of Doom theme, which was originally only present in “Mine Car Chase”. Here it is played alongside percussion until bursting out as a sinister fanfare. And speaking of outbursts, Williams unleashes an otherworldly choir in “Approaching the Stones” as Indy finds his treasure.

A great deal of the new tracks cover the seemingly endless series of action sequences in the movie’s last third. Most feature Short Round, Willy, and Indy’s themes playing among an action backdrop. “Water!” is a track which literally sparkles, while in “The Sword Trick”, Williams makes a humorous reference to “The Basket Chase” when Indiana Jones fails to repeat his act of simply shooting down a swordsman. The best addition among these cues is “Broken Bridge/British Relief”, the climatic cue. It features various action statements of the Temple of Doom theme, with the Sanskrit chant breaking out at one point as Indy almost has his heart ripped out. The slave children’s theme breaks out chorally as the main villain meets his demise and a little heroic fanfare concludes things.

Three tracks can be found on the fifth disc. The best of these is “Indy and the Villagers”, which is the film’s first appearance of the slave children theme. “The Secret Passage” is an ominous cue with typical creepy crawler music, and “Return to the Village/Raiders March” serves as a good finale for the fifth bonus disc, though it does cut off abruptly where “Finale and End Credits” starts. This release really shows how great the Temple of Doom score is.

Rating: 9/10

Track Listing

  1. Anything Goes (2:51) 8/10
  2. Indy Negotiates (3:59) 6/10
  3. The Nightclub Brawl (2:32) 7/10
  4. Fast Streets of Shanghai (3:39) 8/10
  5. Map/Out of Fuel (3:22) 8/10
  6. Slalom on Mt. Humol (2:24) 6/10
  7. Short Round’s Theme (2:29) 10/10
  8. The Scroll/To Pankot Palace (4:26) 10/10
  9. Nocturnal Activities (5:54) 7/10
  10. Bug Tunnel/Death Trap (3:31) 9/10
  11. Approaching the Stones (2:39) 9/10
  12. Children in Chains (2:42) 10/10
  13. The Temple of Doom (2:58) 10/10
  14. Short Round Escapes (2:22) 9/10
  15. Saving Willie (3:35) 9/10
  16. Slave Children’s Crusade (3:23) 10/10
  17. Short Round Helps (4:49) 8/10
  18. The Mine Car Chase (3:41) 10/10
  19. Water! (1:55) 9/10
  20. The Sword Trick (1:05) 9/10
  21. Broken Bridge/British Relief (4:47) 10/10
  22. Finale and End Credits (6:19) 10/10

From the Fifth Disc

4. Indy and the Villagers (3:54) 9/10

5. The Secret Passage (3:31) 7/10

12. Return to the Village/Raiders March (3:27) 10/10


The Temple of Doom is at the tail end of Williams’ more in-your-face period. Some people might think it’s a little too frenetic at times, but there wasn’t much in the way of serious moments in the movie and the action did go incredibly over the top. It’s a loud, bombastic score for a loud, goofy film.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Soundtrack Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark

With Star Wars hearkening back to old-fashioned sci-fi pulps and serials, the Indiana Jones franchise is likewise based off of adventure serials and film from the 1930s-50s and in fact take place in that era. Created by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones film, was a smash hit that cemented Harrison Ford as a movie star, furthered the popular use of Nazis as villains, and as with almost every Spielberg movie, produced an amazing John Williams score. The Indiana Jones theme itself is one of the most recognizable pieces of movie music, and is often referred to as the Raiders March, after the first film it appeared in.

The Indiana Jones theme is actually two heroic themes that, at the insistence of Spielberg, were mashed together. More recognizable and hummed much more is the first part of the theme, which plays at the outset of “Raiders March”. It’s instantly catchy and is used much more than the second part. I’ve even heard some makeshift lyrics for it (“Indiana, Dr. Jones, Indiana, Dr. Jones, Jones, Jones”). The second part itself always begins the final statement of the theme in the end credits suites. What’s interesting about the use of this theme is that it doesn’t even make an appearance until the end of the opening sequence in “Escape from Peru”. Williams usually brings it out during action scenes or for otherwise particularly heroic moments.

Also considered to be part of the Raiders march is the love theme for Marion.  It first appears in the beginning of “Journey to Nepal” in a low-key manner, but shows its sweeping nature in “To Cairo”. I’d say it’s in my top ten love themes. It’s fullest performance outside of the end credits are at the end of “The Basket Chase” and “Marion’s Theme”.

The third and final major theme is for the film’s artifact. Each of the Indiana Jones films has a major theme for the artifact in question and, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, this theme is of course for the Ark of the Covenant, an ominous tune often accompanied by uneasy whirring strings, emphasizing the divine terror that can arise from this object. It’s first major appearance is “The Map Room: Dawn”, which brings in a heavenly (but not in the lovely way) choir towards its climax. My personal favorite use of the theme is in “Miracle of the Ark”, where it builds into full on horror territory as its power is unleashed, before climaxing in a choral rendition and ending peacefully with Marion’s theme. The Ark theme is probably the best of the artifact themes. None of the others match its power and sense of the supernatural.

There are several other themes. There’s a basic artifact motif that appears as Indy approaches the Incan idol near the beginning and later on segues into the Ark theme in “The Map Room: Dawn”. The Nazis have an aggressive, militaristic theme that doesn’t appear until well into the second half of the movie, mainly in the action set pieces.

Raiders of the Lost Ark has had several album releases, so let’s go through them.

Original 1981 Album

File:Raiders soundtrack.jpg

With the time constraints of a record album, Raiders received only a forty-minute release, with no double LP release like the first two Star Wars movies. It’s not as big as a problem here, since Star Wars scores are much larger in scope anyways.

The first track is “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the end credits suite, while a streamlined presentation of Indy’s theme closes the album as “The Raiders March”. Personally, I think “The Raiders March” could have been replaced by another cue since it’s already inside the end credits suite, but I can see how in the pre-internet days someone might want a single track with just the theme. The second track is “Escape from Peru”, which is actually a pretty lighthearted piece with little sense of danger. “The Map Room: Dawn” showcases the Ark theme. “The Basket Game” is another light-hearted action cue, with its own little recurring motif. The highlight is the moment that accompanies the Cairo Swordsman. Not feeling well while filming, Harrison Ford suggested to Spielberg that instead of dueling the swordsman, maybe he should simply just pull out his gun and shoot him, thus creating one of the funniest moments in cinematic history. For this scene, Williams gives the swordsman a bombastic trumpet motif before a few goofy notes lead to one pluck, coinciding, with Indy gunning him down. “Basket Chase” does get serious towards the end, culminating in a tragic rendition of Marion’s theme.

“Desert Chase” is the action highlight of the score, an unrelenting action cue with many brassy statements of the Indiana Jones and Nazi themes. Towards the end the music gets deadly serious with a repeating seven-note motif that builds and builds until Indy finally gets the upper hand again with the Raiders March. The biggest flaw of this album is that, for some unexplained reason, Williams decided to excise about thirty seconds where the pounding seven-note motif starts. Perhaps he thought that taking out the bridge between the two parts of the cue would make for a more dramatic transition. “Marion’s Theme” combines the main love scene with “To Cairo”. I’ve already gone into “The Miracle of the Ark”.

Considering time limitations at the time, this is a great album. The only flaw is the edit of “Desert Chase”.

Rating: 9/10

Track Listing

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (6:05) 10/10
  2. Escape from Peru (2:26) 7/10
  3. The Map Room: Dawn (3:58) 10/10
  4. The Basket Game (4:50) 10/10
  5. The Well of the Souls (5:00) 8/10
  6. Desert Chase (7:44) 9/10
  7. Marion’s Theme (3:13) 10/10
  8. The Miracle of the Ark (6:14) 10/10
  9. The Raiders March (2:29) 10/10

1995 Album

Raiders of the Lost Ark received an expanded release in 1995, being released on both CD and a double LP in a chronologically correct order. This time listeners are treated to the entire South American sequence, which is full of ominous cues punctuated by loud blasts every time some horror or incident befalls Indy’s expedition.  The first great track missing from the original album release is “The Medallion”, which opens with an eerie rendition of the Ark theme before going into what I have to say is pure evil music for Gestapo agent Toht’s entrance into the film. The entire sequence for Indy’s excavation for the Well of the Souls is present as well, though about five minutes was only available on the double LP release.

Another great track is “Airplane Fight”, for when Indy has a slugfest with a large German mechanic. Just as Indy’s momentum in the fight is always cut short, his theme is constantly being interrupted. This is the first track to feature the Nazi theme. Also to my delight, “Desert Chase” has its missing thirty seconds restored. Most of the final music not present on the original release is for the boat and sub scenes. The first half of “To the Nazi Hideout” is the highlight, opening with a grand rendition of Indy’s theme and turning to a travel cue with statements of the Nazi theme.

Overall, I would say this is the strongest of the three albums if only for the complete version of “Desert Chase”, which is one of my favorite action cues of all time.

Rating: 10/10

Track Listing

  1. The Raiders March (2:50) 10/10
  2. Main Title: South America (4:10) 8/10
  3. In the Idol’s Temple (5:26) 8/10
  4. Flight from Peru (2:20) 7/10
  5. Journey to Nepal (2:11) 10/10
  6. The Medallion (2:55) 10/10
  7. To Cairo (1:29) 10/10
  8. The Basket Game (5:04) 10/10
  9. The Map Room: Dawn (3:52) 10/10
  10. Reunion and the Dig Begins (4:10) 10/10
  11. The Well of the Souls (5:28) 7/10 (11:27 on LP)
  12. Airplane Fight (4:37) 10/10
  13. Desert Chase (8:15) 10/10
  14. Marion’s Theme (2:08) 9/10
  15. The German Sub/To the Nazi Hideout (4:32) 8/10
  16. Ark Trek (1:33) 9/10
  17. The Miracle of the Ark (6:05) 10/10
  18. The Warehouse (0:56) 10/10
  19. End Credits (5:20) 10/10

2008 Release

With Indy’s return to the big screen for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Concord released a five-disc set, giving us the closest thing we have so far to complete scores for the Indiana Jones franchise. Already heavily expanded in 1995, Raiders of the Lost Ark doesn’t have much new to offer. There are three one-minute cues presented for the first time. “Washington Men/Indy’s Home” features the first actual appearance of the Ark theme. “Bad Dates” is a basic suspense track while “Indy Rides the Statue” features a small part of the music from the Well of the Souls escape scene. Most of the music that remains unreleased is from this scene. Most frustrating is that they use the original album edit of “Desert Chase”.

Rating: 9/10

Track Listing

  1. In the Jungle (4:13) 8/10
  2. The Idol Temple (3:56) 8/10
  3. Escape from the Temple (1:34) 8/10
  4. Flight from Peru (2:24) 7/10
  5. Washington Men/Indy’s Home (1:06) 9/10
  6. Journey to Nepal (2:12) 10/10
  7. The Medallion (2:55) 10/10
  8. Flight to Cairo (1:29) 10/10
  9. The Basket Game (5:02) 10/10
  10. Bad Dates (1:14) 4/10
  11. The Map Room: Dawn (3:52) 10/10
  12. Reunion in the Tent/Searching for the Well (4:02) 10/10
  13. The Well of the Souls (5:28) 7/10
  14. Indy Rides the Statue (1:07) 7/10
  15. The Fist Fight:Flying Wing (4:37) 10/10
  16. Desert Chase (7:33) 9/10
  17. Marion’s Theme/The Crate (2:10) 9/10
  18. The German Sub (1:23) 8/10
  19. To the Nazi Hideout (3:20) 8/10
  20. Indy Follows the Ark (1:40) 9/10
  21. The Miracle of the Ark (6:05) 10/10
  22. Washington Ending and Raiders March (6:52) 10/10

From the Fifth Disc

Track 1: Raiders March (2:30) 10/10

Track 3: Uncovering the Ark (5:32) 8/10


I’d rank Raiders of the Lost Ark as the number one Indiana Jones soundtrack. It’s consistently engaging, even its moments of low underscore. It’s got the best love and artifact themes of the series and action cues like “Desert Chase” are pure thrills.

Overall Rating: 10/10