Tag Archives: Indiana Jones

Indiana who?


All of you aspiring screenwriters better slap on your fedoras, limber up your bullwhips and head for Mystery Man on Film, who has somehow managed to score a complete transcript of the story conferences conducted by producer George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg and scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan as they prepared to work up the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As Mystery Man points out, one of the most interesting things about the conferences is that Lucas and Spielberg were mainly concerned with establishing the hero’s character before anything else:

Lucas: I think basically he’s very cynical about the whole thing. Maybe he thinks that most archeologists are just full of shit, and that somebody’s going to rip this stuff off anyway. Better that he rips it off and gets it to a museum where people can study it and rip it off right. That’s the key also. He knows how to enter a tomb without destroying it. He knows what’s important. He knows not to go in there like a bull in a china shop and destroy half the stuff that’s valuable . . . It’s such an odd juxtaposition, especially going around. The first sequence is in the jungle and you see him in action. You see him going through the whole thing. And the next sequence after that you see him back in Washington or New York, back in the museum. Where he’s in a totally academic thing, turning over this thing that he’s got. Then in the rest of the movie you see him back in his bullwhip mode. You understand that there’s more to him. Plus, it justifies later things that he… the fact that he’s sort of an intelligent guy. Peter Falk is one way of looking at him, a Humphrey Bogart character. The fact that he’s sort of scruffy and, not the right image, but…
Spielberg: Peter’s too scruffy.
Lucas: Yes. We’ll figure a way of laying that out in his personality so it’s easily identifiable.

Columbo as Indiana Jones? The mind reels.

You may not particularly like Kasdan’s work — or, for that matter, Lucas and Spielberg’s — but the level of detail and insider juice makes this a must-read for anyone with an interest in screenwriting. I mean, Syd Field ain’t even coming close to this.

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News Flash: Real-life archaeologists aren’t like Indiana Jones

Not knowing a good thing when it lands in his lap, some archaeologist has gotten up on his hind legs in the WaPo to complain that the Indiana Jones movies give people the wrong idea about his field, and that he and his colleagues really aren’t swashbuckling babe magnets who can duke it out with platoons of Nazis and Commies while hunting for tchotchkes with supernatural powers. To which Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford can only blush, look abashed and say, “Gee, sorry about that.”

Reminds me of my bright college days, when I took a class in paleontology expecting . . . well, Christ in a sidecar, I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I got was a stocky, Amish-looking guy who droned about cladograms for three hours a week while my brains gently dribbled from whichever ear was lowest at any given time. In evolutionary terms, his personality was perfectly adapted to the role of spending three sweltering months in the Wyoming hills gently scraping crumbs of rock from a fossil without losing his mind. The fun stuff was all in the Ray Harryhausen movies. And now you tell me archaeologists don’t use their bullwhips to swing across piranha-filled moats? Well, paint me yellow and call me a cab!

Personally, I was thrilled when The Pelican Brief came out, and I spent every week of its release hoping that people were getting the idea that being a newspaper reporter involved gun battles, car chases and making time with Julia Roberts. But that’s just me.

Meanwhile, everything I’ve heard about the current entry in the series, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Grecian Formula, only makes me gladder that I kept my butt out of the theater and my ten bucks in my pocket. Though I was ready to stand by the screen and cast rose petals into the air whenever the divine Karen Allen appeared, she apparently has virtually nothing of interest to do — she doesn’t even clock Indy on the jaw for old time’s sake.

But what really killed my interest, and killed it double dead, was the news that the film is loaded with computer effects — really crummy looking computer effects, from what I hear. Nope, uh uh, no way no how. The Indiana Jones flicks are about stunts and practical effects. Sure, there’s always a big Industrial Light and Magic blowout at the end, but up to that point it’s been armies of stunt men and women getting scuffed up. CGI ants? What is this, the Lost in Space remake? I ask you!

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