Here's a little bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark trivia for you! In order to get a PG rating for the film, the MPAA asked Steven Spielberg to add more flames to hide the exploding head of the Nazi character Belloq at the end of the movie after he opens the ark. The photo above gives us a little glimpse of what the exploding head looked like before the flames were added.
Originally, Spielberg wanted Belloq’s head to explode on its own, but that was just too graphic for the MPAA. You have to remember this was before there was a PG-13 rating. The PG-13 rating wasn't created until Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
I'm not sure what makes a fiery exploding head more tame than just a regular exploding head, especially when there are already disturbing melting faces, but that's the MPAA for you! I've also included a fun video from Slate that explains the fiery censorship.
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