Realistic Indiana Jones Movies

I apologize for the language in this, but it still seemed worth sharing, especially as it came my way so close to the first day of classes of the new academic year:

The Indiana Jones and Lara Croft movies, in which the archaeologist swoops in and takes things even when chased by locals, should disturb us, even as part of a story that is just for fun and not aiming to depict anything remotely realistic.

On the other hand, I suppose that ultimately those academics whose work is glamorized by Hollywood should be happy. It doesn’t happen to every field. Archaeologists and symbologists like Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon may be the closest thing to a biblical scholar that one is likely to see on the big screen.

But if there were a movie – not one of the more realistic ones like those in the tweet above, but sensational adventures of the sort Hollywood actually makes – featuring a biblical scholar as the central character, what might the title and plot be? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

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  • Darrell Pursiful

    Not a biblical scholar per se, but a colleague once misheard a bit of Greek grammatical terminology and I turned it into the first chapter of a mystery-thriller featuring a professor of Classical Languages called “The Heiress Indicative.”

  • There was an old Irving Wallace novel, The Word, about a publicist asked to promote a new edition of the bible which included a newly-discovered extra gospel. Spoiler: The publicist stumbled on evidence the new gospel was a forgery—part of a conspiracy by prominent Christian leaders who wanted to give people more faith.

    Yeah, it was riddled with problems. More faith by spreading a fake gospel? Seems Wallace had no clue how religion works. But I digress.

    The premise is still an interesting one: A “lost gospel” gets “rediscovered,” followed by a huge push from Christians to add it to the bible. A daring biblical scholar discovers it clearly dates from the fourth century—and now she’s marked for death. Good thing she used to be in Special Ops before she went to seminary. Call it Deadly Revelation. But don’t expect ’em to post it on PureFlix.

  • arcseconds

    Archaeologists in my experience love love love Indiana Jones, and I think they all have an indy hat somewhere in their closets.

    As it’s largely escapist fantasy, do we really care that much that it’s not realistic? Are you also disturbed by the fact that science is never portrayed as a painstaking thing requiring delicate, bespoke, often rather jury-rigged equipment that makes tiny incremental advances and goes down a lot of blind alleys in Star Trek, but rather as something that can jump ahead at leaps and bounds by invariably correct intuitive guesses performed by our Science Heroes within a 45-minute episode? Or action films that portray our chiseled-jaw hero as causing wanton destruction without ever having to fill out yards of paper work? Surely part of the escapist fantasy is that there are no blind alleys or paperwork or painstaking excavations or faulty or wrong convictions: you charge in, do some awesome stuff, save the day, get the girl, and charge out again in time for the end credits!

  • histrogeek

    I’m thinking the next real Indiana Jones/ Lara Croft movie is some kids find ancient scrolls in a cave and Indy/Lara steal the scrolls, perform unspeakable acts of bad preservation, and then keep the contents secret for a few decades.

    Just spitballing ideas here.

    • histrogeek

      Well at least one person got the reference.

  • arcseconds

    After seeing Skyfall, which is not a very good movie, I thought to myself that the computer hacking stuff one often sees on such movies has very little resemblance to actual hacking and computer security. There tend to be a lot more log files of text scrolling up the screen and less giant 3D visualisations, and so forth.

    And I did wonder whether maybe there wasn’t much other option. Hacking is an exciting activity, at least once you gloss over the boring details, and it adds a different dimension to well-established plots. But we can’t, I thought, expect the audience to look at log files or be engaged in hackers talking to one another in jargon. 3D visualizations might capture something about the activity in a way that would be engaging, and so give the audience a flavour for it, even though the actual visualizations don’t exist.

    But a bit after that, I saw Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy (the miniseries with Alec Guinness, not the more recent movie). It’s largely a bunch of old men talking to each other about stuff that happened 20 years ago, but it’s gripping.

    And while writing this, it occurs to me I also saw a play based on the activities of Enron. While that did take a few expressionistic license (like displaying the Special Purpose Entities as actual dinosaur raptors), and there was a bit of a sex side-plot, it was a lot of talking about dodgy company and accounts management.

    So I’ve concluded that basically anything can be made exciting with sufficiently good writing and directing.