I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 50

Day 50: Indiana Jones and the Freudian Interpretation

Today's problem isn't a very large one, but it is indicative of the kind of tone that the film was going for. My real problem is with that overall tone, and therefore these little details really irk me, since each once contributes in its own awful way to to the disastrous overall picture that is Indiana Jones and the Pyramid of the Plastic Head.

This particular scene occurs when Cate Blanchett arrives inside the Area 51 warehouse. Now, for the entire film up until this point Cate Blanchett has had a sword clipped to her belt. The average viewer might find this decision puzzling. After all, why on earth would someone would wear a sword in the middle of the desert during a secret military operation? It's not like she's in America to fight dragons, pirates, or Zorros. Any of those might have improved the film, but sadly, it wasn't to be. Add to this the fact that she spends a good portion of the scene climbing into and out of vehicles, and the sword becomes a ridiculous choice.

So why was the sword there? For the inclusion of a ribald joke. Seriously. Cate Blanchett is inside the warehouse along with her army of communists, and they've just found the boxes that contain the alien corpse. The prospect of succeeding in her mission excites Cate. A regular film might allow the look on an actress' face to convey this excitement, or if they were a little incompetent, they'd pop it into a line of dialogue. This film, on the other hand, decides to give Cate the chance to have a more... concrete... expression of her feelings.

How is this possible? Well, longtime readers will recall that the alien corpse is super-magnetic whenever the plot requires it to be. And Cate has a sword clipped to her waist. This means that as Cate gets closer to the corpse, that magnetism affects the sword, pulling it up and forward until it's pointing right at the object of Cate's desire. That's right - Cate Blanchett has a sword in this scene so there can be a visual joke about her having a steel erection.

Yeah, it's pretty low-brow. Nothing wrong with low-brow humor in and of itself, but it doesn't have any place in an Indiana Jones movie. The audience should be rapt from the compelling thrill-ride they're on, not sniggering and nudging one another. The only precedent for this in the franchise is the equally embarrassed-wince inducing scene in Temple of Doom where Harrison Ford opens a secret passageway by pressing on a statue's breasts, and then Kate Capshaw is nervous and embarrassed about doing the exact same thing.

This is an Indiana Jones movie. It really ought to be the pinnacle of popcorn filmmaking. To paraphrase James Caan, don't the people who've paid to see it deserve something a little better than dick jokes?

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