What Does Indiana Jones Mean to You?

One week from today, I’ll be seeing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Time for me to put aside the heavier viewing fare and relive the joys of being a wide-eyed teenager.

In my opinion, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the finest adventure film ever made. Anne and I watched it again last night, and it’s amazing how well that movie holds up. There are so many things Spielberg did right in that movie, things he seemed to forget in later cliffhanger-movie attempts. John Williams never composed a more effective film score. Indiana Jones never had a better sidekick, or a better girlfriend, or a more interesting nemesis. I don’t expect Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to come anywhere close to such genius, but I’m hopeful that it will be better than Lost Ark‘s two flawed sequels, one of which was too grim and gruesome, the other a little too goofy.

Here, and here, Jeffrey Wells has been pondering an interesting story — Indiana Jones and the Generation Gap. I have a hard time imagining watching Raiders and writing it off as just another 80s popcorn flick. But apparently, those of us who grew up with Indiana Jones have a different appreciation for him than young moviegoers discovering him today.

Are you looking forward to the movie? Let me know. Answer any or all of these questions.

  • When did you first encounter Indiana Jones?
  • Which film of the trilogy is your favorite (and why)?
  • Is Indiana just another big-screen action hero? Or is there something that sets him apart?
  • What lessons would you like to see Jones learn in the fourth film?
  • If this was to be the final Indiana Jones film, how would you like to see it end?

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  • How could I have missed that vital information…?!

    I’m broken-hearted.

  • I hate to tell you this, tonifromtexas, but Sean Connery isn’t in this movie….

  • I‚Äôm looking forward to this movie, but mostly because I‚Äôm weak in the knees for Sean Connery. I remember first clapping eyes on him while watching Last Crusade as a kid, serial-style, during repeated escapes to the TV department while Mom shopped in my tiny hometown‚Äôs Wal-Mart (we were good fundies and had no TV at home). I thought he was amazing when I was 12, I still think he‚Äôs amazing. Who cares about Indy, I love his DAD!

  • lindarg

    I first encountered Indy as a young adult. My husband and I saw it in the theater and I remember it was more exciting than any movie I had ever seen (and this was just a few years after I was blown away by Star Wars). I seem to recall hiding my eyes a lot — especially when Indy is fighting the guy around the airplane with the whirling propeller, and of course, at the end because guys with melting faces creep me out. But, still, I loved the movie the best of the three, probably because it was something new and it made the biggest impression. And I think it was better made. There were such cool bits, like the line on the map when Indy flies to Nepal.
    Is Indy special? He is because Harrison Ford made him so — just like Han Solo or Decker are. I can’t imagine anyone by Harrison Ford playing any of those characters.

  • I’m with you on Raiders being the best of the bunch, Jeffrey. But part of its appeal for me at that time, was its biblical elements. Granted, they were Scripturally off-kilter and pulpish. Yet, as a young believer, finding any benevolent references to Christianity in cinema was refreshing. I’ve often wondered how many religious folks were drawn into the Indiana Jones series because it dealt with one of Christianity’s most sacred symbols and, in the end, God won. Any chance the Crystal Skull will revisit that holy ground?

  • kramerswall

    You’re right…deride was too strong a word. My mistake. It’s one of those words that doesn’t sound as strong as it actually is meant to be. Funny how that can happen.

    And I can completely understand why someone would prefer Raiders to Last Crusade. After all, Raiders has the best pacing, the most memorable action scenes and the most even tone. By all accounts (even mine), it’s the best-made of all the Indy films. My love for Last Crusade is mysterious and strange, I guess. It just hits home a little bit more.

    Oddly enough, Temple of Doom is probably the one I’ve seen the most times. I like it, admittedly not in spite of its gruesomeness but because of it. I’ve heard a lot of people dismiss it as simply being a bad movie, but I don’t buy it. It’s got nothing on the other two, mind you, but it still has a cruddy little charm all its own.

  • sarazarr

    1. At the Regency theater in San Francisco in 1981. I was ten years old.

    2. Raiders of the Lost Ark – It was just so new. I liked Last Crusade a lot. Temple of Doom was a letdown. But even if the second two had been superb, nothing could be like meeting Indy for the first time.

    3. Again – It’s hard to separate Indy and that first movie itself from the experience of seeing it. First of all, people in the theater were standing up and cheering whenever Indy got away from some precarious situation. You could just feel the energy of the whole audience 100% invested in a way I haven’t felt in a theater again. And, that character is the prototype for virtually every blockbuster action hero since. I mean, aspects of it were done before (by Ford himself, as Han Solo…Han was basically Indy in space), but never so well, never so thoroughly or satisfyingly. And now you see that character everywhere.

    For me, Raiders is the gold standard. And Indiana Jones…well…let’s just say around age 12 and a half the posters of unicorns and rainbows in my room came down, and up went a poster of Harrison Ford in his Indy getup, his shirt open and a bullwhip over his shoulder. I still vividly remember a VERY good dream that I had about him when I was in junior high. :)

    I have no idea how to answer 4 & 5, other than I hope Crystal Skull is better than the last two. I know it can’t beat Raiders!

  • deride: to laugh at in scorn or contempt; scoff or jeer at; mock.

    Sorry if I sounded too harsh on your favorite. But I certainly don’t mean to *deride* it. I don’t scorn it, and I wouldn’t jeer at it. I *love* that movie, and have very fond memories of it.

    I’m just of the opinion that Raiders is superior, that’s all. The humor in Crusade just seems a little forced at times, and gives it a very different tone, almost cartoonish at times. You’re welcome to your own preference! (I’ve met folks who like Temple of Doom best. I have a harder time understanding that choice, but I don’t deride that film either.)

  • kramerswall

    I couldn’t tell you when I first saw an Indy flick. Somehow I feel that they’ve always been ingrained in my psyche. Whenever it was, I was very young and VERY impressed.

    My favorite is probably Last Crusade (yes, the one you derided as goofy), followed closely by Raiders. I just love the relationship between Indy and his father. Oh, and the knight at the end rocks hard.

    Indy isn’t just another action hero. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but he has this extra shade of humanity. Maybe it’s because he messes up so much.

    It’s hard to say what Indy should learn this time around. Perhaps I could say better if I knew more about the plot. If Shia LaBeouf’s character does turn out to be Indy’s son, I suppose it would be nice to see Indy learn about being a father the way he learned about being a son in Last Crusade.

    I would like it to end in a simple way (even though it probably won’t). I can imagine a scene where Indy arrives back at his home in Princeton, hangs his hat up, rolls up his whip and puts it in a drawer along with his gun, then finally sits on the edge of his bed to catch his breath, all underscored by a calm, mournful rendition of John Williams’ iconic theme. That’s the scene I would film, anyway.