Keeping up with Indiana Jones
With a new 'Indy' upon us, one remembers the begining (for him, anyway)
For Christmas in 1985 we went over the river and through the wood to Grandmother's house (actually we went over the turnpike and through the Allegany Tunnel). It went down in history as â€œThe Year the Tree Threw Upâ€. With all our nearest and dearest relatives there, there were presents, presents every where. By Christmas Eve, the wrapped and bowed material cornucopia before the tree in my grandparents' ranch house began to take a certain shape and someone was heard to say, â€œIt looks like the tree threw up!â€
That year we all got home-sewn oversized Pound Puppies, I got the other three lions I needed to form Voltron, and our family got it's first ever VCR. It was a no-name brand VHS front loader back in the days of VHS vs. Beta. My uncle Bill gave us our first movie, â€œSwiss Family Robinsonâ€. Mind you this was back when â€˜previously recorded videos' weren't priced for sale, averaging $80-$100 per tape. So like nearly every one back then, we recorded a lot of TV. For some reason, as though to welcome us to the club, our bishop's family decided we needed a taste of cable TV. We received two tapes form them, one was Disney/Nick at Nite and the other was Disney/HBO. The latter tape was the one that introduced us to Indiana Jones.
The movie was â€œRaiders of the Lost Arkâ€. At seven, I had heard of Indiana Jones and had seen the imagery of Harrison Ford in the fedora. But I had never seen the movie before. It was the coolest thing I had seen in my life to that point. From Alfred Molina making his film debut getting impaled to the guy that looked like Gung-Ho from â€œG.I. Joeâ€ getting chopped up by the propeller to all the snakes to the melting heads and the wrath of God himself, I loved this move. Off and on for a year we (read: I) watched this movie a lot. It would be almost three years before I saw the sequel, â€œIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doomâ€.
By then I was ten. My mom got the tape from the library. She was a little nervous about letting us(my 7year old brother and I mostly) watch it. Apparently when it had come out four years earlier there was a big bru-ha-ha in the media regarding the films violent content and depiction of children being held as slaves coupled with the fact that the film was rated PG by the MPAA. Bearing this in mind my 14 year old brother was charged with staying up and â€œpreviewingâ€ it for us. The next morning, after she left the house for the day my older brother called me and younger brother into the living room where we were sternly lectured about how we were to close and cover our eyes when he told us to at certain points in the movie. If we didn't he would turn it off! So we obeyed (sort of). As the movie began I could tell this was going to be a lot better then â€œRaidersâ€. And it was! With an opening song and dance with a much flashier title graphic than â€œRaidersâ€, â€œIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doomâ€ exceeded my ten-year-old expectations. Then came the â€œscaryâ€ parts, the first being the dinner scene.
â€œClose and cover your eyes!â€ my brother ordered. My little brother complied. Mine were covered but not closedâ€¦.as I peered through the cracks of my fingers I saw itâ€¦ the snake was carved and the baby snakes came out.
I let out an audible â€œEw!â€
â€œWhere you watching?!â€
â€œNo, I swear!â€
â€œHow did you know it was gross?â€
â€œThe sound effects, when the guy was carving up the snake.â€
â€œHow did you know they were carving up a snake?â€
â€œI'm not, I swear! Please don't turn it off!â€
We went through the same exercise during the lava scenes. After the movie was over my brother declared that we would probably never watch the movie ever again. I was sad for that but did not protest. A few months later however we were watching TV when lo and behold I saw a promo for â€œTempleâ€ on ABC. YES!
â€œIwannatapeit!â€ I announced at dinner. My desire was met with no objection whatsoever. I figured it was due to the movie's being edited for over the air broadcast. As per the usual arrangement, I was allowed to watch the first half hour of the movie before bed and would watch the rest after homework was done the next day. I actually watched some of it the next morning before school. Overall I did not think they paired out too much of the films â€œgrossâ€ factor. One time I watched the infamous dinner scene over Crispex cereal thinking â€œI don't see what the big deal is!â€ Like â€œRaidersâ€ I watched this movie over and over again.
Sometime after that we rented a movie called â€œTucker: The Man and His Dreamâ€. On the tape before the movie started was a trailer. The was the familiar â€œRaiders Marchâ€ music and shots of Spielberg, Lucas, Harrison Ford and some guy named Connery (My exposure to 007 was limited to Roger Moore). The title card at the end of the trailer said it allâ€¦ â€œNOW IN PRODUCTION FOR SUMMER 1989â€
They're making another one! I was ecstatic!
â€œIndiana Jones and the Last Crusadeâ€, however was rated PG-13. In our house we had an on again, off again moratorium on PG-13 movies. Anyway my older brother and sister talked my mom into seeing it anyway and they came back from it seeing its praises while my younger brother and I were stuck with his copy of the movie's adaptation story book. I never bothered to read it; I just glanced at the screen shots wanting to see the movie itself.
The next school year I started Middle School. I made friends with a kid from another part of our school district who had come from another elementary school. He had cable, including HBO. So when spring rolled around and HBO started running the last summer's blockbusters he was more than happy to supply me with a recording of â€œLast Crusadeâ€. I could not stop watching this movie. I thought it was better then the other two combined. But why was this movie PG-13? There was virtually no swearing and the violence seemed kind of cartoonish to me. But I suppose Walter Donavan's extremely rapid death and decomposition scene does justify the rating. Oh yeah, and the guys getting decapitated at the mouth of a cave too.
So there I was. I had my ramshackle version of the Indiana Jones trilogy. I had several debates with people with regards to which movie was best. One year at Boy Scout Camp, a guy I worked with, told me about the movie theater near Wright State University in Dayton where he attended that hosted an all night Indy Marathon. â€œIt was sold out,â€ he told me, â€œbut had I gotten in I would've skipped â€˜Temple of Doom' and gotten something to eat, because I never liked that movie.â€ He went on to explain that â€œTempleâ€ was too stylized. According to him religion was the key to success to â€œRaidersâ€ and â€œCrusadeâ€. The first and last movies had western religion as their central plot points with fire and brimstone climaxes. The middle movie was all about eastern religion. Made sense to me as I realized I had grown to share his opinion. â€œRaidersâ€ and â€œCrusadeâ€ not only feature western religion but treat it with respect, showing the dramatic consequences of trying to harness God's power for one's own agenda. â€œTempleâ€ on the other hand seems over stylized and explored religion not totally familiar to western audiences.
The year after I graduated high school I was still living at home when a movie theater in neighboring Elyria, OH started showing old movies at midnight on the weekends. The first one they showed was â€œRaiders of the Lost Arkâ€. I talked my family into seeing this with me. So off we went; me, my little sister, little brother and our parents. Toward the end of the movie I looked over at my parents. As Belloq's head was exploding and Toht and Dietrich's faces were melting it occurred to me that for as long as we had this movie in our house and had watched it times to numerous to count, my parents had never seen it for themselves. My suspicion was confirmed when we walked out. I got the third degree from my mother who suspected me of tricking her and my dad into going to an R rated movie. I showed them the poster and assured them that the movie was in fact PG. But my mother was disturbed nonetheless.
Since then these three movies have been re-released on home video three times. My only complaint is that â€œRaidersâ€ has been re-dubbed â€œIndiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arkâ€ on the DVD boxes. But I guess that's minor compared to what George Lucas has done with some of his other movies. (Yes, I'm one of those people!)
As of today (28 May 2008), â€œIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skullâ€ has been unleashed upon the world for nearly a week. I've had to tell 10 people at work not to reveal major plot points so I can see the movie for myself. I will probably see it this weekend. I don't believe I will be disappointed since everything I've heard indicates that it will be very good, unlike a certain sci-fi prequel trilogy.