The leather bullwhip
is one of the oldest weapons in human history.
In one form or another has this brutal device
existed since the dawn of civilization. Normally
used to motivate cattle or slaves and torture
enemies, the bullwhip has come down through the
millennia virtually unchanged by technology. The
unique weapon takes great skill to use efficiently
and without self-inflicted pain. Since the early
days of filmmaking has it been a prominent prop
for cinema heroes.
A 10 foot David
whip, circa 2001.
As early as the adventure serials,
most notably the Zorro films, has the idea of
a hero lashing a bullwhip been a common occurrence.
In conceiving Indiana Jones, this was taken into
account and Indy carries a bullwhip throughout
the film series. The original bullwhips were the
personal property of stunt coordinator Glenn Randall
and allegedly they were around 8 feet in length.
These whips were made by David Morgan, arguably
one of the greatest whip makers in the United
States. According to some sources, the whips in
Raiders were not
made with the traditional kangaroo hide due to
U.S. import restrictions at the time.
For the sequels, the production
company hired David Morgan to provide bullwhips
for the films. These new bullwhips were dyed a
much darker brown than the original whips in Raiders
and made from kangaroo hide. While the standard
length of the whip carried on Harrison Ford’s
belt has been said to be either 8 or 10 feet in
length, multiple lengths were used for various
stunts. In some cases, bullwhips weren’t
used at all. When Indy swings across a chasm,
that’s not a bullwhip. Ford’s stuntman
is swinging on a steel cable wrapped in braided
leather. See, a bullwhip cannot hold a man’s
weight in reality and such force exerted on it
would ruin it.
his whip in Raiders
of the Lost Ark.
Considering that one of David Morgan’s
bullwhips costs literally hundreds of dollars,
ruining it on a wild stunt would be wasteful and
foolhardy. Morgan’s whips are still available
today at www.davidmorgan.com,
but their handles are an inch to two inches shorter
than the whips carried by Harrison Ford due to
design improvements. Understand that this makes
for a better and more durable whip and all of
the braiding is still accurate to the whips in
the Indiana Jones series.