Tag Archives: Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Making of an Indiana Jones…

Beginning sometime near the end of the last century I worked mainly between three major identity crises. I had (still have) a common tendency to find common ground with a character in a movie or book and slip into some sort of anachronistic version of that person in the real world. The funny thing is pieces of each of them have stayed and wedged firmly into the makings of a psyche that is truly unique. After swillowing between the likes of Don Johnson’s Marlboro Man, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and Elvis high school finally ended and I was able to make a clean slate and move into the more lucrative field of college.

Actually the first go round gave little change to the situation at hand and I had to wait six years to find some kind of direction.  In 2006, however, I began again.  This time I soaked up all that the world of higher education had to offer. In a few years, quite without trying I developed a lasting image on campus, all it took was a fedora. I have always worn some kind of hat, and began a daily wearing of a fedora not long after beginning college for the second time.  Soon after I was invited to begin paleontological field work in the Uinta Basin in Utah.  Working in the desert of America’s southwest, sifting through Eocene dirt for microfossils became the highlight of the year.  I was still into Archaeology though, and took off for a Maya field school in the Orange Walk District of Belize. Hosted by the University of Texas, I learned many things about what it took to be a lifetime academic archaeologist. I also made some of the best friends I have ever had.  This reinforced the nomenclature that had taken hold back home. I was Indiana Jones.

I pondered on this a bit, and with the study of the history of field explorations in the American west for fossils, and further research into Archaeology led me to the conclusion that for as many people that take on the persona of the world famous archaeologist, there are nearly as many people behind the character.  Over the next few chapters here, I will look at some of the more famous, and perhaps infamous versions of the man that has came to be the most famous Archaeologist of all time.  Some of the names will be familiar, some may be new, each have some claim to the “inspiration of the character Indiana Jones.” But the truth resides somewhere out there in the abyss of popular culture, popular perception of exploration, and popular accounts of those same explorations, usually by the explorers running the show.

Let’s look at what we know about Dr. Jones historically, not counting the novels, or the prequel series. Every child born in the 80s should have grown up with the Dr. Jones stories. The Raiders of the Lost Ark is film classic that has gained a cult following without actually being a <shudder> cult film. This happens when movies are just good. Everything is great about this movie, except many professional archaeologist disagree with the methods and adventure going on in the film. And they should, there lives are filled with countless hours of dedicated research, painstakingly publishing findings, and the delicate dance of back-stabbing while avoiding being stabbed in the back. The closer the profession deals with humanities origins, outcomes, arts, evolution, the more cutthroat the game. Either way, great fun, great movie, great hero of the ages.

Number 2. Well, that is what it is. This movie had such promise, great location, great mythology, dark storyline, pretty awesome movie poster, even a comical little asian kid. What could possibly go wrong? Kate Capshaw, that’s what. I have watched countless hours of television and film (years if you do the math) and there are rarely few times I dislike someone in a movie more than her in this film.  I remember thinking as a child that this was an ill placement.  I remember wishing as an adolescence that someone would just kill the bitch in he first few scenes and let Ford and Shortround carry out the adventure on their own. Alas, that did not happen and this poor, poor, length of heat exposed tape remained the least favorite of the trilogy for decades. It was a sure way to decide on friendships: if person in question ever said that the Temple of Doom was their favorite film, you immediately (even subconsciously) removed them from your list of people you ever knew and with little help tried to find an open construction site in which to drop them into a cement mixer.

What could save such an awesome work of cinema from its horrid sequel? Sean Connery, of course. Probably the best all around film to come out of the decade (Ghostbusters are up there in the running, you’ll understand why I vote for Aykroyd later) It had everything the original had, and nothing that the sequel had, and that was a great combination. The only complaint I have about this great ending to a trilogy is how they treated the beloved Sallah. In the original he was a trusted, capable, and noble friend. In this he ends up more like a bumbling sidekick for comic relief. Knights, The Holy Grail, and melting Nazis, what is not to love.

Many, *MANY*, fans will tell you that there were ever only three and they steadfastly refuse to even discuss the fact that there might have been rumours of a fourth installment. The power of this thought process is legendary, look at how the whole world has forgotten the first Hulk movie and the demon-hulk-poodle. But, for the record there was a fourth installment. What was bad about it…aliens, Shia Labeouf, Ox being a mental invalid through most of the film, Connery not coming out of retirement…What was good about it…<chirp, chirp>… There were some good things, it happened in South America, we got another Indiana Jones movie, who Shia Labeouf was, the intricate contraption that housed the ending of the movie, the conquistador mummies, and my personal favorite: “If you untie me I am going to punch you in the face” <untie> *punch.*

The ending of the series has left us again without a hero archeologist. It has also left us with a trilogy boxed set and a loose fourth dvd that we bought to have the whole set even though we never watch 2 and 4. There’s the background on how I see it, and possibly How I came to be. Working backward from me to the movies to the men behind the myth I hope to shed some light for myself and possibly others on what makes an Indiana Jones.

For the record, I still wear Don Johnson’s vests from Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, I still have severely oversized sideburns, I still wear hats, and depending on just how nihilistic I feel upon awakening I may or may not wear my blood-stained smiley face button to work. I was also told I could not dress up as Rick O’Connell from the Mummy movies for halloween because it needed to be “something I did not wear every day.”Regardless of all that has been built upon, it is an undeniable fact that the older I get the more I look like Dan Aykroyd. But, hey, he is helping fund Dr. Phil Currie and team’s dino digs in Canada, so why not. And there was Ghostbusters.  

How do all these equate to an Indiana Jones?