The Destruction of Toht
When Belloq opens the Ark, with Toht and
Dietrich looking on, the vengeful spirits within get mighty pissed off and
wreak all manner of havoc, including zapping the Nazi soldiers and blowing
Belloq's head apart like so much ripe watermelon. But the effect we all
remember most is when Toht's glasses begin sliding down his face... because his
nose no longer exists...
Yep, that's right, Toht melted. If
there were a perfect way for this character to go, this had to be it. We learn
earlier in the film (at Marion's bar) that he has poor judgment when it comes
to exposing himself to heat. That tendency catches him in the ass here.
The ingenious effect was accomplished by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)
through the use of a carefully-constructed wax dummy. Three thin layers of a
multi-layered gelatin compound served as "skin," holding a packet of fake blood
and animal flesh inside, along with a ceramic skull. When super-heated air was
applied to the head, the wax and plastic melted away, and the gore dripped out,
leaving only the blood-stained ceramic head behind... oh, and the hat and
glasses. The effect was filmed at under a frame per second, to heighten the
effect through time-lapse.
It is my hope to someday replicate this
effect myself, in my kitchen. Until then, I have the film to enjoy.