Monday, May 19, 2008

Indiana Jones

(all photos on this post stolen...we'll see what happens to me).

I'm glad to hear the new Indiana Jones film is being described as "solid" after its debut in Cannes.

But I don't know if I'll go see it or not. For most kids of my generation Star Wars was the ultimate film trilogy.
For me there was no other film than the original "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Just the one. No sequels, though "Last Crusade" was the best of them.

I was nine years old, and I remember vividly sitting in the front row at Palo Alto Square (I was with a friend, and no parents, but I can't remember who. Sidart? Brian? Lee?). The theme music is obviously one of the greatest of all time, and you could feel something big was coming right from the start.

It was at the moment that Indiana began letting some of the sand slip through his fingers, eying the idol, trying to guesstimate how much a solid gold statue of that size would weigh; and me realizing he must have thought of this ahead of time; at that moment, I knew I was in for a good film.

With my Mike & Ikes, coke and popcorn with extra butter.

It was also the first "Indy moment" when things go wrong one second after he makes the switch ... the characteristic that makes him such a classic hero. Ups and downs, and a sense of humor about it.

I knew it was going to be a great film when the pilot told him to "show a little backbone" and all the adults in the audience started laughing, and it took me a minute to realize why.

And although by the time they got to Marion's bar (in Nepal?) I was lost completely in the story, in retrospect I could have known it was going to be the best film I had seen after the whole drunken brawl and fire.
Great lines from just that one scene:
"Indiana Jones, I always knew you'd come walking through my door."
"Jones, at least you haven't forgotten how to show a lady a good time."
"I'm your goddamn partner!"

I wonder how the feminists feel about it, but for me Marion was one of the great heroines.

In fact, Karen Allen's being left out of the second film was one of my first moments of realizing that there's a back-end to the film-making business that has shitty elements to it, just like the rest of the real world.

So I'm glad she's finally returning for the new one, but she and Harrison Ford have gotten on (regardless of any plastic surgery) so much that they may not be credible heroes anymore. But more importantly, no movie could ever stand up to the power of one of my absolute greatest childhood memories, I'm afraid.

Kids get cynical quick and for me the critical apparatus that turned on certainly by age 18 can't be shut off anymore.
These days I have a bad habit of un-suspending my disbelief while the action is happening and entering a fugue where I picture the screenwriters/lawyers/producers debating a particular love-interest or scene.

Especially in big-budget films (and commercials).

(the hat and the bullwhip; whoever thought up the bullwhip?!)

My all-time favorite line "It's not the years honey, it's the mileage."

How awesome is it after they figure out that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place that Sallah sings "I am the monarch of the seas" _ anybody get the reference?

By the way, one more thing about Indiana Jones: I've been looking my entire life for a copy of a world map that looks like the simple brown one they use to chart his progress (with red lines) as the action moves to a different part of the globe.

I have a 3 meter long, 2 meter high National Geographic map with subdued colors on one wall right now, the best substitute I've found, but I'm still looking for the real thing.

If anybody out there knows where to find one, please tip me off.

And though it added to the allure of Indiana Jones as a hero that he was knowledgeable about ancient history, he was certainly NOT the reason I studied classical languages and archeology at school, by the way.
That's a story for another time.

For trivia collectors and faux Nigerian princes: I have actual Jones (Welsch) blood from a near relative.

One more thing about the original film. Unlike so many good movies and books, the ending was deeply satisfying.

-We have top men working on it right now.
-Top. Men."

And the Ark is seen in a brown box being loaded onto a shelf, and the camera pulls back to show hundreds, thousands, millions of boxes in a warehouse, somewhere...

Even more appropriate now that it's lost in the smoke-rings of my mind.

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