Dr. René Emile Belloq was a French archaeologist, and a longtime rival of Indiana Jones. Like Jones, Belloq scoured the globe for antiquities, but would rather sell them for his own profit instead of giving them to a museum as Indy did. On several occasions, he would simply let Jones do the dirty work and then steal the prize for himself.
René Emile Belloq was born in Marseilles, France to a wealthy wine making family at Forteresse Malevil, and claimed to be a relative of Jean Lafitte. He had at least one sibling, a brother named Claude. Belloq grew up admiring France's most acclaimed archaeologists and made it his mission to become one himself by enrolling at the Sorbonne where a fellow student named Indiana Jones was studying linguistics.
In August 1922, the two met at an archaeological dig at Ur in Iraq where Belloq absconded with several artifacts and sold them off, damaging the reputation of Doctor Andrés Uribe in the process. However, the act made Belloq a contact with dealers on the black market. Returning to the university, Belloq came across a paper on stratigraphy by Jones and plagiarized the work. As a result, he was awarded the Archaeological Society Prize with Jones unable to prove the theft.
His accolade and inherited wealth bought him a job at the Louvre in Paris as an assistant curator. He held the position for under a year as he became suspect in the funding of a grave robbing expedition in Persia which led to the deaths of several of the museum's employees and a British archaeologist. Fired, Belloq became a mercenary to whomever could afford him.
At some point in his career, Belloq journeyed to Estray in the Orkney Islands where the ruins were believed to hold the lost treasure of tenth century Viking pirate Magnus Redhand. Belloq's methods only resulted in angering the locals, and he left them distrustful of all archaeologists. Belloq also traveled to Peru where he made contact with the indigenous Hovitostribe while searching for the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors. However, he was unable to convince the Hovitos to take him to the sacred valley of their Chachapoyan ancestors where the temple was located.
His career also saw the Louvre officially hire Belloq to search for the Star Map of Baghdad in French-controlled Syria. While Belloq was in the country with French government's permission, Jones was suspicious, and asked people to keep an eye on his rival.
In 1930, Belloq was on the trail of the Uppsala Scroll and traveled to Sweden to acquire it for the Nazis. Unfortunately, he reached the site too late, only finding Theresa Lawrence, who did not have the scroll, but instead possessed Baldur's Ring. He went to London, and with the help of some thugs, he stole the scroll from Marcus Brody. He traveled to Marrakesh where he met with his buyer, Krause. While showing the potency of the scroll's information, Belloq was unaware of Jones disguised nearby. When Jones stole the scroll and escaped, Belloq and Krause made the Nazi soldiers follow him. In a dead-end alley, Belloq found Jones fighting with a Nazi, and recovered the scroll. Giving the scroll to Krause, he offered to enlist Jones in future operations for the Nazis. Krause revealed that the scroll was a Torah, and Belloq was enraged at his deal gone sour - Jones had given the real scroll to Lawrence during the chase. With no deal, Belloq tried to maintain face with Krause and left Jones beat-up in the alley.
In 1931, Belloq sought the Invincible Ruby of Ali Bey, and his research team recognized the need to obtain the five mammalian Wohat Statues. Belloq hired Ali Bey-Faisal to steal them from various museums around the world. After realizing that Jones was on the trail of the stolen statues, Belloq and Bey-Faisal planned to trick Jones into reclaiming the carvings, and then use them to find and enter Ali Bey's Palace. The night after the Lion statue was stolen from the Barcelona History Museum, Bey-Faisal hinted to Jones that Belloq had hired him, and made sure that Jones followed him back to a hotel, where he met with Belloq in the lobby. The two talked downstairs, allowing Jones to sneak into Belloq's room and take the statues. Belloq and Bey-Faisal then followed Jones to Kenya, where the palace was. While Bey-Faisal was to overcome Jones and claim the ruby, Belloq stayed out of the jungle. As Jones returned from the jungle empty-handed, Belloq asked if Bey-Faisal had gotten the ruby. Jones' response indicated that if Bey-Faisal had found it, he'd still need to be dug out.
The following year, Belloq approached Wolfgang S. Staubig with an interest in The Book of the Spells of Merlin manuscript believed to contain a runic incantation for summoning the image of the Holy Grail. Staubig was impressed by Belloq's erudition but perturbed by his association with the Nazis.
In 1933, Belloq came across a powerful artifact, the Crystal Skull of Cozan, on the black market and took it into his possession. He found a buyer in the Nazis who had recently began scouring the globe for occult relics. Jones turned up at his home looking for the Skull which he had uncovered. With help from the Daguerre brothers Jean and Claude, Jones was taken captive when the Nazis led by Franz Kroeger arrived in a U-boat to finish the deal. Belloq completed the transaction but fearing Nazi reprisal, attempted to have Jones shot even though Kroeger had already left. However, while the Frenchman was distracted with the Daguerres, Jones escaped cursing Belloq's name and the Nazis turned the U-boat's guns on Forteresse Malevil regardless, destroying it with two torpedoes. Belloq survived and later gave Jones coordinates to find the Skull.
Belloq resurfaced during Mardi Gras in New Orleans in March 1934 after he found Jones was seeking his help in locating the Skull which had once again slipped his grasp. For a price, Belloq supplied Jones with a means to locate the Skull but Jones' antagonistic remarks prompted the Frenchman to challenge the archaeologist to a duel. Jones chose the match to be decided by single shot revolver and took a bullet to the arm.
In the June of that year, Indy found that Belloq had already swooped in and excavated a spot in the Rub al Khali Desert of Saudi Arabia, a place which Indy had spent months planning to dig.
The rivals also had an eye on the Scales of Osiris, a relic believed to be a portal to the Egyptian Underworld. However, Belloq was unwilling to stand in judgement of Osiris, god of the underworld, and manipulated the newest member of the Adventure Society to take his place.
When Jones was making plans to search for the Savarati Idol in Ceylon in 1935, Belloq made him aware of Albrecht Von Beck's intention to do the same. Jones noted in his journal that Von Beck and Belloq's rivalry appeared greater than theirs.Later in the year, Belloq was in Shanghai, China looking for the remains of Nurhachi. When Jones recovered them first, Belloq had to assure gangster Lao Che — who had hired Jones to recover the urn — that his interest in the find was purely archaeological. Instead, he set his eyes on a large diamond which Jones was trying to acquire in exchange for Nurhachi.
Upon hearing that Jones's plane had crashed in India, Belloq flew to the site to confirm that his rival was dead. He then made his way to Mayapore village where the local Shaman and villagers told a story of how Jones had rescued their children from the Thuggee and returned the stolen Sankara stone.
Belloq made a phone call to an associate of Jones in the state of Indiana who—mistaking Belloq for an old friend of Jones—told him Jones was in India's Lost Delta, where the Temple of the Forbidden Eye had been discovered.
Search for the Ark
- “René Belloq: "How odd that it should end this way for us after so many stimulating encounters. I almost regret it. Where shall I find a new adversary so close to my own level?"
Indiana Jones: "Try the local sewer."”
- ―Belloq threatening Indiana Jones in Cairo, 1936.[src]
Upon learning that Jones had taken up the search for the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors as he had done years prior, Belloq informed the Hovitos that outsiders were looking to violate the sacred ground of their ancestors. With a group of Hovitos warriors, Belloq finally achieved his goal of accessing the valley in 1936. The sound of a gunshot led them to Barranca, one of Jones's treacherous guides who had been chased away after being disarmed by the archaeologist's whip. The guide informed the group of Jones's location before the Hovitos killed him for his presence in the valley.
Belloq and the Hovitos warriors ambushed Jones after he recovered a fertility idol in the shape of Pachamama from the temple. Despite friendly relations with the Hovitos, Belloq simply took the relic for himself after setting the Hovitos onto Jones. He returned home, where he was contacted by Colonel Dietrich and taken to see Adolf Hitler himself, who wished to hire Belloq to find him and the Nazis the Ark of the Covenant.
Belloq agreed, siding with the Nazis during their search and fashioned a crude but working replica of Marion Ravenwood's medallion using the imprint burned onto Major Toht's right hand. However, crucial information was contained on the other side of the medallion and, as a result, his people ended up digging in the wrong place to find the Well of the Souls.
Noting their lack of progress, Dietrich's aide Major Gobler suggested that Marion Ravenwood might hold the answers, but Belloq insisted that she knew nothing. René attempted to extract information from her to placate Dietrich and Gobler. He seems to be more friendly with Marion than the Nazis; he gave her a new dress and joined her in a drinking contest.
The next morning, he saw a group of diggers in the far distance and it was soon discovered that Indy had found the Ark. Gloating, Belloq stole the Ark from him, but he was more than a little disappointed when Marion was thrown into the snake-infested Well of the Souls along with Indiana Jones. However, he quickly accepted her fate and left with Nazis.
After Indy and Marion escaped and destroyed the Flying Wing that was going to be used to fly the Ark out of Tanis, it was put on a truck and Belloq traveled with Dietrich and Toht to guard the Ark on the trip to Cairo so it could be taken to Germany. However, Indiana intervened and stole the Ark back.
Indy and Marion escaped with the Ark on a liner, the Bantu Wind, but the Nazis recaptured the Ark and took Marion with the German U-boat Wurrfler. Indiana Jones managed to hitch a ride on the Wurrfler in an attempt to save Marion. From there they went to the Nazis' secret island base near Crete, where Belloq planned to open the Ark to see whether or not it was genuine. To this end, he made a deal with Captain Mohler to set up the Tabernacle on the island, against Dietrich's wishes. Belloq was quite shocked to encounter Indiana once again while he and the Nazis were on their way to the Tabernacle. Indy threatened to destroy the Ark unless they turned Marion over, but Belloq called his bluff and Jones was captured.
With Indy and Marion bound to a stake at the Tabernacle later that night, Belloq eventually began the ritual while dressed in the trappings of the high priest of the Israelites, believing that doing so would make the ritual legitimate. However to his dismay, there appeared to be nothing more than dust and sand inside the Ark; all that was left of the Ten Commandments. However, spirits flew down on them and Belloq, believing this was going to be a wonderful experience shouted that it was beautiful. However, one spirit transformed into the hideous Angel of Death and howled menacingly at Belloq. As Toht and Dietrich were screaming in fear, Belloq's jubilant face turned into horror as his body absorbed the holy fires of the Ark like a conduit. The fires then shot outward and struck all of the soldiers dead. As the Tabernacle became surrounded by a fiery inferno, Belloq let out a final scream of agony before his head exploded while his body was swept up and disintegrated by the fiery whirlwind.
Upon Belloq's disappearance, his son decided to track Jones using entries from his father's diary to find out what happened.
Personality and traits
René Belloq spoke several languages in addition to his native French: English, German, Spanish, and those of various tribes indigenous to South America including the language spoken by the Hovitos. He had a weakness for beautiful women, providing they were intelligent as well, but wouldn't let them get in the way of his goals. He was also willing to sacrifice his years long friendship with the Hovitos in order to claim the fertility idol.
Belloq saw Jones as a worthy rival and spoke of being his "shadowy reflection". Up until his death — once he had abandoned the money of museums in exchange for the more lucrative amounts payed by private collectors — Belloq was never unemployed.
Behind the scenes
René Emile Belloq was portrayed by Paul Freeman in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lawrence Kasdan's script for the film originally had his first name as Emile, but this had to be changed when the legal research department of Lucasfilm Ltd. discovered there already was an Emile Belloq. IndianaJones.com later honored the previous name by establishing Emile as Belloq's middle name.
The character of Belloq has several similarities with the real-life Jacques de Mahieu. Mahieu was a French anthropologist, esotericist and Nazi collaborator who conducted field studies in Latin America on behalf of the Ahnenerbe, including studies of the Chachapoya culture.
The breastplate worn by Belloq in the climactic final scene is actually quite true to the Hoshen, the breastplate worn by the High Priests who were the only ones to have contact with the Ark of the Covenant, according to the description of the Hoshen as found in the Torah.
Belloq appears in the Indiana Jones segment of George Lucas' Super Live Adventure which combined elements from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He attempts to acquire the magic wand of the show's protagonist, Hiromi (a girl traveling through several worlds based on Lucasfilm productions), but she's rescued by the timely arrival of Indiana Jones. Hiromi and Jones are attacked on a rope bridge by individuals dressed as Thuggee described in the script as "Belloq's natives" and the man later fills the role of Lao Che in Temple of Doom by introducing Willie Scott to Jones at Club Obi Wan. He ultimately meets his end at the Ark of the Covenant's resting place when he opens the artifact and flames reduce him to a flailing skeleton.
According to Paul Freeman, Belloq would have returned in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but the idea was dropped for unknown reasons.
During the 'canyon standoff" scene, a fly can be seen crawling across Belloq's lower lip and seemingly into his mouth. Though Paul Freeman later revealed that it eventually flew away, many fans agree that this brief scene contributes to the character's cold-blooded nature.
Belloq was going to be a character in the unproduced third season of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He was to be introduced in "Honduras, December 1920", and reappear in "Brazil, December 1921". The character was also set to make an appearance in the opening of Dark Horse Comics' Indiana Jones and the Lost Horizon set on a New York City skyscraper in 1926 involved with a fake Shroud of Turin. However, the project came to a halt when the entire Indiana Jones comic line was ended.
There is some inconsistency for when Belloq and Indiana Jones first met. The 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark novelisationclaims that the two learned of each other as archaeology students, from which most sources base the event and is supported by the unproduced episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Though the dates differ with the synopsis for the television series placing it in Honduras, December 1920 and Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide has it at Iraq in 1922. However, Max McCoy's novel Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs later depicted their first meeting in 1933.