Indiana Jones: a hero for the ’50s or ’60s?

A number of people, including my CT Movies editor Mark Moring, have asked whether a new Indiana Jones movie can work, given Harrison Ford’s age. But I think an even bigger question than the age of Indy is the question of when the movie will take place.

The two questions are related, of course. And how we answer them is further complicated by the fact that, in addition to the three earlier movies, Ford also played Jones in the framing narrative of an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-1994) — and in that episode, Ford and Jones were the same age, i.e. about 50.

I have never seen that show myself, but if this timeline is correct, it would seem that Indy was born on July 1, 1899. That would make him 13 in 1912, which is when the prologue to Last Crusade takes place (there, he is played by the 18-year-old River Phoenix, but hey, if 13-year-old Edward Furlong can play 10-year-old John Connor…). It would also mean Indy was 36 when Temple of Doom took place (Ford turned 41 during filming), 37 when Raiders of the Lost Ark took place (Ford turned 38 during filming), and 39 when Last Crusade took place (Ford turned 46 during filming).

It would also mean that Ford’s appearance on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles took place in 1949, though the timeline linked above dates it to 1951. Either way, if Ford is 14 years older now, it would seem the new movie ought to take place in the 1960s.

Needless to say, the world was a very different place in the 1960s than it was in the 1930s; the Nazis were gone, and so was the British Empire (seen in Temple of Doom). So in what context could this new film take place? The original movies were nostalgia trips to the days of Saturday-matinee serials — but could that template work for a movie set two or three decades later? How could this new movie possibly be “of a piece” with the other films?

That, to me, is the crucial issue here, much more than Ford’s age.

Incidentally, in all the other episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, the framing narratives basically take place “today”, i.e. 1992-1994, and concern a much older version of Indiana Jones; he was played by the late George Hall, a Toronto native who was born in 1916. And for what it’s worth, this older Indy had an eye-patch and apparently lived with his daughter and her family.

So who knows, maybe this new Indiana Jones movie will show us how Indy got that eye-patch — or how he got that daughter!

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08741378159534413277 Magnus

    Say Hello again to the Cold War.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07395937367596387523 Peter T Chattaway

    I don’t think so. The Indiana Jones series has always been mystical — or mythical, or archetypal, or religious — rather than political, and I don’t see the Soviet Union or any of its satellites fulfilling that function. Nazis and Thuggees, yes. Communists, no.

    Unless Khrushchev had a Hitler-like interest in the occult!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08741378159534413277 Magnus

    Perhaps the Soviets, etc are trying to obliterate some object of Faith or spiritual esoterica?
    What would the object be? We have had Ark of the Covenant, whatever it was from ToD and the Holy Graal… Noah’s Ark? The Spear of Longinus? The True Cross? The Crown of Thorns?
    For the record, Excalibur would utterly lame.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07395937367596387523 Peter T Chattaway

    Whatever it is, I just hope they don’t borrow from the same religious system twice. They’ve already done Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity, and I’d be quite happy if they picked a subject from some other religious tradition — y’know, for variety’s sake.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08741378159534413277 Magnus

    Like what? The hammer of Thor? The forge of Hephaestus? The shroud of Buddha?
    They could borrow some ideas from Charles Williams.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11340006144797496514 RC

    a feel like a cold war indy 4 would be very 007ish.

    This is a very interesting perspective you’re bringing in this post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17492591447246532970 jasdye

    indiana jones and the bong of truth?

  • Anonymous

    Apparently nobody here has read Declare, an occult thriller which does a perfectly solid job of plugging the Soviets (or at least one faction within them) into the occult.

    -derringdo

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08741378159534413277 Magnus

    No, but thanks for the tip, though.


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