Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Indiana Jones’ Crew Looks Back on Filming Risky Rope Bridge Battle in ‘Temple of Doom’

‘Indiana Jones’ Crew Looks Back on Filming Risky Rope Bridge Battle in ‘Temple of Doom’

Action movies tend to put people on the edge of their seats and there’s no doubt Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom did just that. While there were many action scenes in there, one in particular took a lot of time and effort to set up.

As the movie ends, there’s a rope bridge battle to really cause a lot of headaches. Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, gingerly goes across it but there are obstacles. Jones holds the Sankara Stones in his hand yet faces a challenge from Thuggee cult members. They drew closer with their machetes. But Indiana manages to cut the rope holding up the bridge and makes it across.

Well, this all sounds pretty dangerous and it does give some people the sweats when thinking about it. The book Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Official Collectors Edition more fully takes us through the situation. But precautions did need to be taken. It was left up to executive producer Frank Marshall and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe to make it all work.

‘Indiana Jones’ Bridge Was Built Over Ravine

The bridge was built over a ravine in Sri Lanka, SlashFilm reports. Slocombe said he had to set cameras on ledges near the bridge. This was done so they could get as many solid shots as they needed to do on this day. This bridge was wobbly, but those concerns were alleviated once director Steven Spielberg himself took off across it. Slocombe admits there were logistical problems while filming in Sri Lanka. “We had to shoot from both sides and below the bridge, perched on slippery ledges and rock faces,” Slocombe said in an interview.

Cameras and lighting could not go across that bridge. If something was needed on the other side, then it was driven by land to the spot. “The right equipment had to be in the right place at the right time,” Slocombe adds.

Marshall admits that he was nervous about the bridge and its placement. “It was a precarious location and while we had every safety precaution, special harnesses, lines, and ropes, still people will be people,” he said. “For the first couple of days, they’re cautious. But once they get used to being there and their minds are on the making of the movie, they tend to get a little careless.”

There was a big risk around the collapsing bridge. See, they really had to get that shot right the first time. Ford, as Jones, had to maneuver across the bridge in a timely manner. In the shot, when you see bodies falling off of it, those are actually dummies.