At the end of my column on the new Indiana Jones movie, I jokingly invited readers to buy me an Indiana Jones hat. I didn't think about it again. Well, I wake up last night and there is a box sitting on the dining room table. I was completely mystified, and a little scared. However, I eventually cracked open the box to find this:
Movie Matters the 4th
"Indiana Jones" Edition
Movie Matters the 4th
"Indiana Jones" Edition
HOW FREAKING COOL IS THAT?!?!?!?!?1
Since then I've been going around like I'm Indiana Hypey (with an extension cord for a make-shift) bullwhip, cracking wise and punching people squarely in the face. (Not really, but I wanted to.)
Combine my awesome new hat with all the emails I have gotten on Indy, and I decided to write an entire Movie Matters column related to all things Jones. [Movie Matters is a recurring feature I started last year where I answer any question you might have on movies. You can catch up on the Movie Matters section of Movie Hype.]
Without further ado, let's get to those Indiana Jones Questions!
So now that you have had time to think about it, where does CRYSTAL SKULL rank in the Indiana Jones series?
I have seen CRYSTAL SKULL twice now, but I am still hesitant to give it an official placement, mostly because I have seen the other films so many more times, and (more importantly), I have had those movies with me for so long. However, gun to my head, I would say that my order is probably similar to most people's:
2. Last Crusade
3. Crystal Skull
4. Temple of Doom
…with the caveat that ten years from now I might actually like CRYSTAL SKULL more than LAST CRUSADE. It is that good, and I enjoyed the second time more than the first.
The real question is, why this order? What makes RAIDERS the best and TEMPLE OF DOOM the worst? RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK comes first. Almost all of us saw it first, and we can never have quite the same magical feeling with any other Indy movie. That is the way it goes for all series.
Secondly, it is very difficult to make a sequel that is better than a great original. Why? The audience has expectations now, and that means everything has to be ramped up; the action, the volume, the violence; everything.
As for TEMPLE OF DOOM placing last, it comes down to: the silliness of Willie (especially when compared to Marion or that super hot German chick), the slightly gimmicky feel of Short Round (as if he were there to ensure little kids had someone to watch), and the startling overt violence. I don't have a problem with violence, but this movie was much closer to R than PG, and it is unconscionable to let kids younger than Jr. High see it. (It is because of this film that Spielberg and others helped get a PG-13 rating established.)
More importantly, the violence in the middle is not only graphic but pulls us out of the flow of the story for too long. That said, the action in TEMPLE OF DOOM is arguably the best of the series. There is some serious awesomeness to the plane/raft sequence, and of course the mine shaft.
Were those snakes real in RAIDERS? Also, how could that ball have continued to roll?
Not all the snakes were real (if you look closely, you can tell some of them are segmented pieces of hose), but many of them were. In fact, they had to put up a glass screen between Harrison Ford and that cobra, which actually spit venom on the glass. Scary stuff.
As for the ball, it has to be the most iconic image of the series. I have long pondered the physics and logistics of such a trap. If you watch the sequence (available on You Tube if you don't wan to rent the movie), you see that when the giant ball springs into action it comes from a high place to a low place. After that, the path is just slightly down hill, but by then it is not really important. A rock like that would have to weigh eight tons easy. Once you got something that heavy moving, the hard part would not be keeping it moving, but ever making it stop.
This leads us to the real question: what happens to the rock? Indiana outraces it (actually, Harrison Ford literally outraced it too; ten different times), and crashes out of the maze to be surrounded by Belloq and the natives. Virtual silence. What happened to the quickly moving sixteen thousand pound object? Why didn't it roll right on out into the forest, and if it did not, where was the Richter scale crash?
Two more points to ponder on this rock: it appears relatively smooth, which means the natives carved it that way. How on earth did they manage that? Even more fascinating, was this trap meant to be reset? If so, how many people did it take to do so? Was maze reconstruction involved, or was this a one shot deal? (I mean, think about it: if the ball and the other falling rocks crush everything in its path, no one would ever see that statue again. I get protecting it, but wouldn't you want your own people to see it again?)
Actually, now that I think about it, when Belloq holds up the statue the natives bow down, which implies they had heard of but not seen the statue themselves, so maybe it truly was a one-time maze.
I was reading where originally George Lucas wanted to call it "Indiana Smith." I think Jones is so much better, but it got me to thinking, what if they had picked a different last name, or a different state for the first name?
This is an excellent question, although impossible to answer. We have heard "Indiana Jones" for so long, it is difficult to imagine anything else. However, with how well they made this picture, I think Indiana Smith probably would have worked, as would any number of other last names. The trick would be coming up with a last name that was A) fairly common and B) short, so the name could flow off the tongue. In other words, Indiana McGonnagal would not fly.
Off the top of my head, these names might have worked:
Indiana Black (that's actually pretty cool)
Indiana Jack (Jack as a last name would have worked awesomely. Admit it.)
As for the state, that's a trickier concept. You may recall I wrote a piece several years ago looking at girls' names when it came to states. Not sure about guys'. (In case you were wondering, the name "Indiana" literally came from George Lucas's dog, just like in the movie.)
Again, off the top of my head, these might have worked:
Puerto Rico Jones
I was watching RAIDERS the other night, that scene where Indiana is trying to teach archeology and all the coeds are swooning. (Especially the girl with the words written on her eyelashes. How creepy was that? Do girls really do that?) Anyway, here's my real question: do you think Indiana was nailing any of those infatuated girls? That would make him even more of The Man!
This has to be my favorite Movie Matters question of all time, at least so far. (Except for the part about the eyelids. I too am always creeped out. You girls cannot possibly think a guy would be attracted by this, right? Well, maybe a Goth.)
Anyway, since we're all about integrity here, let's let us logically look at the “Indy the Pimp” theory.
On the one hand, male kickassery aside, we think of Indiana as a hero, on the side of Right and Justice. For him to take advantage of some dopey girls would sully his image a bit. Secondly, all three women Indiana hooks up with in the series are older, all of them are fiercely independent, and two of them or voraciously intelligent. If we take it that Indiana likes him a real woman, can he be satisfied with a fawning coed who would never challenge him intellectually or in spirit?
On the other hand….. Indiana is nothing if not a profligate rule-breaker. Right and Wrong aside, Indiana proves time and time again to be remarkably….morally flexible when it comes to society's laws and mores. He "appropriates" indigenous treasure, manhandles consecrated human remains, and generally treats the world as if it is there for his (morally justified) leisure.
Secondly, in Crystal Skull we learn that Indy and Marion ended badly after RAIDERS. He left; they didn't speak for 20 years. I don't know the whole story, but it's a sure bet that after he left Marion Indy was feeling upset at the world, with something to prove. And how do men prove to the world they are still worth loving? (You know.)
But here’s the clincher: In RAIDERS, Indy tracks down Marion in Nepal. She is upset at his return. Here is the exchange:
We are never told the details (and looking over the exchange again, one wonders what on earth happened?), but the operant word here is “child”. If we read between the lines, Marion is saying that she had a torrid love affair with Indiana when she was a VERY young woman, all while Indy was working with her father. You can’t get much more out of bounds than that.
I'll tell you something Indy. I've
learned to hate you in the last ten
years. But somehow, no matter how
much I hated you, I always knew that
someday you'd come through that door.
I never doubted that. Something made
Why are you here...now...tonight?
Indy takes a long time to answer.
I need one of the pieces your father
Marion's eyes go icy. She swings at him again with her
right, but this time he catches her at the wrist. Then
he stops her left, which she has brought up to slap him.
You son-of-a-bitch! You know what
you did to me, to my life? This
is your handiwork.
I never meant to hurt you.
I was a child!
You knew what you were doing.
I was in love.
I guess that depends on your
It was wrong. You knew it.
Indy releases her arms.
Look, I did what I did. I don't
expect you to be happy about it.
But maybe we can do each other
I’m not judging (who hasn’t deflowered their mentor’s virginal daughter?), but clearly a threshold of behavior has been set. We cannot say for sure, but it seems very likely that “professor” Jones might have helped some young ladies get out in the field and, ahem, “collect a few bones.”
This segues beautifully to out last question...
Don’t you think Indiana Jones just cries out for the Porn treatment?
Indubitably. If fact, I’m sure it has already happened. The Indiana Jones saga is just perfect for a porn version. You have the swashbuckling adventurer, ruggedly handsome, dark stubble and shadowed eyes under that fedora. He “searches” for buried treasure. He doesn’t mind digging down below, and like any good archeologist, he can take his time.
And let’s not forget that whip....
In fact, the only real question is what we would call Porno Indy? I’m sure you can do better (and feel free to leave a comment if you can), but here are my suggestions:
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Poon
Indiana Jones and the Search for the “Hole in Gail” (holy grail)
In Diana Jones
and if they ever make a Gay Cockney version....
Raiders of the Lost Arse
June 13, 2008