9.10.08

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 43

Day 43 Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Four

Interestingly, the film seems to tacitly acknowledge the growing idiocy of the Indiana Jones character, in that he never actually has to figure anything out. He's supposed to be a brilliant archaeologist and beloved professor who uses his mind to first to solve the puzzles and uncover historical mysteries, and his gun second, when when threatened by fascists and communists - although he's very nervous about shooting communists for some reason. What's startling about this film is that it never asks Indiana Jones to figure anything out. He's just a character who gets told where to go and what to do, first by communists, then by Shia Laboeuf, then by a crystal skull.

All of this wouldn't be so bad if the audience got the sense that Indiana Jones was going to solve some major problem at the end using his wits, cleverness, or knowledge of archaeology and history. He doesn't. In fact, all of the problems have already been solved and all the discoveries made by John Hurt by the time the film begins. This raises the question why Indiana Jones is involved at all.

This is the first film to raise this question. The Last Crusade, for example, had Indiana Jones spend a large portion of the film following in his father's footsteps. Even there Indiana Jones manages to accomplish something that that Sean Connery could not. He locates the tomb of Sir Richard where his father had failed to do so by using his innate cleverness, as well as the punchline of a joke set up at the beginning of the film.

Crystal Skull follows much the same plot trajectory - rather than actually discovering anything or figuring anything out, Indiana Jones just follows the ramblings of John Hurt, and then the full-on instructions of the crystal skull. Finally he reaches the end of the trail, and the audience is left wondering what is the mystery of the temple is. What was so difficult that John Hurt was unable to do it and he required Indiana Jones to take over and save the day? What needed to be done that only Indiana Jones could succeed in doing? The answer: He had to hit a rock with another rock.

Let me restate that, for clarity's sake: John Hurt, a frail withered old Englishman, traveled all the way through the jungle, ing natives and escaping giant animals, found the kingdom of the crystal skull, and then climbed to the top of a pyramid. At that point he was stymied by a opening mechanism that requires a person to pick up a rock, and use it to dislodge small rocks from a wall. Finding himself too weak to hit rocks with other rocks he managed to walk somewhere between one and two hundred miles back to civilization in order to return the skull to its resting place. Because he couldn't hit a rock with a rock.

I'm no elitist. I don't need every main character in a movie to be the best at something, or a chosen one, or someone fated by prophecy to triumph. Heck, most of the time those kind of plot devices just frustrate me. What I do need is for my main character is to have to do something extraordinary in order to succeed. Something that requires them to, if not have a special ability, then at least require enough resilience and determination that their actions can be seen as admirable or even, you know, heroic. What this film offers instead is a situation where Indiana Jones went through a huge amount of trouble, flying halfway cross the world, just so he could pick up a rock and hit another rock with it. This means that Indiana Jones' entire role in the film's plot, his contribution to whether the scheme succeeds or fails, could literally been performed by a monkey.

1 comment:

Indiana Jones costume said...

Wow, I lol'ed even harder when I read what you wrote about a old man having to discovered the temple but having to return because he was too weak to hit a rock with another rock lo.