Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Had a whole lot of fun going through the Indiana Jones Trilogy Box Set. Indiana Jones isn’t just the standard-bearer in adventure movies, it also holds a lot of sentimental attachment on my part, as it’s part of a few laserdiscs my family had since I was 9. So I’ve seen the films dozens of times. But since my laserdisc player got busted a few years ago, I haven’t seen them since. So it was terrific being able to watch them on DVDs, and finally going through supplementary material that was heretofore limited to a few paragraphs on the production.

I have to say, watching the 3 films after such a long time, really made me feel like a kid again. Certain scenes I still knew verbatim, but there are a few gags I’d forgotten about, and seeing them again, and being surprised by them again, just reminded me so much of why I love movies. The supplementary material I enjoyed just as much; I finally found out some backstory as to how these films I’ve loved since childhood came to be made. I was going to list the amusing anecdotes down but there are just too many, the best advice I can give all of you is to go through the box set yourselves, you definitely won’t regret it. Some of the highlights, though, were finally seeing what Short Round looks like now (like Stephen Chow, and still with a bit of an accent; I really hope he’s in Indy 4 even if I think Indy 4 itself is a bad idea), and seeing some of the behind-the-scenes footage shot during the production of the films. Witnessing a little bit of the flirtation between Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw (they marry a few years after Temple of Doom), the origin of the project (Indiana named after George Lucas’s dog, Spielberg agreeing to direct it on Lucas’s vacation from Star Wars), seeing Jim Steranko’s original concept paintings that defined the look of Indy (with the jacket, hat, and whip), how the mine chase in Temple of Doom was partly shot by a Nikon SLR shooting at a frame a second, that there are “hieroglyphs” of R2D2 and Threepio in the Well of Souls in Raiders, that the nightclub in Temple of Doom is called Obi Wan, that Dan Aykroyd had a bit part I never noticed before. Man, there’s just so much fun stuff, it’s amazing. And it really was a time when they had to invent a lot of things for the elaborate set and action pieces. There wasn’t much CGI, and I sort of miss that era. I very much prefer actual stunts to CGI, when possible. That’s partly why the fucking Mummy franchise is just bollocks compared to Indiana Jones. And did you know that the much-maligned Temple of Doom was responsible for the creation of the PG13 rating? It’s all there. Another reason why I enjoyed everything immensely is that these are films I know very well, and fell in love with, at a time when I wasn’t yet considering trying to be a filmmaker. So I wasn’t thinking about how they shot this scene, or how they pulled off that stunt or this special effect. Nowadays, if I’m watching a movie part of me is figuring out how they shot this, or how that scene was lit, and how good the dialogue is, and, especially since Keka, continuity errors. Seeing now, at the age of 23, how something I fell in love with at the age of 9 was made… it’s like magic. :)

(And I should say that I love Temple of Doom, even if it is my least favorite. When I was 9 that film frightened me to death. It’s more of a horror than an adventure film, but I think it fits in the canon perfectly and can’t imagine the franchise now without it. It felt like a necessary step between Raiders and the damn-near perfect Last Crusade, which goes down in my book as one of the best films ever made. It still brings a tear to my eye at certain scenes.)

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