Tuesday, May 27, 2014


“Fortune and glory…”

This month marks the 30th anniversary of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.
After the rousing success of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK in 1981, which introduced the world to Lucas and Spielberg’s swashbuckling archeologist, it was decided that a second film in the series would have to go darker. And darker it went; as Indy finds himself in an adventure surrounded by child slavery, black magic, and human sacrifice. If the whimsy of RAIDERS left you feeling drunk, then TEMPLE OF DOOM was the sober-up.
Taking the tone of the series in an opposite direction also meant giving Harrison Ford’s character some new sidekicks to deal with. Where RAIDERS featured a strong heroine (Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood), DOOM went in the other direction and gave Indy a perpetual damsel-in-distress. Where Marion was a whiskey-guzzler with a mean right-hook, DOOM gives us a pampered vocalist who is as out-of-place in a jungle as a fish out of water. The character, Willie Scott, was brought to life by Kate Capshaw, who was in her first major film role.
TEMPLE OF DOOM is indeed a dark film, but the whimsy of RAIDERS is still present due to some thrilling set-pieces including a mine-car chase, a fight in a swanky night club, and a breathtaking, climactic showdown on a suspended bridge. The action sequences kept the dark tones at bay, and just for good measure, Indy was given a young sidekick. Jonathan Ke Quan was cast as the 11-year old Short Round; a wisecracking orphan who followed Indy wherever he went.
The approach paid off for the INDIANA JONES franchise. TEMPLE OF DOOM went on to gross over $300 million worldwide, and was the third-highest grossing film in North America that year. It was the tenth highest grossing film of all time at the time of its release. Dennis Muren and Industrial Light and Magic’s visual effects department won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, and John Williams’ magnificent score was also nominated. Jonathan Ke Quan would go onto a memorable role in THE GOONIES (1985), and Spielberg would marry Kate Capshaw in 1991.
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is a film that often gets a bad reaction. After all, its tone was a shock compared to RAIDERS, and its memorable scene of a heart getting ripped out of a live person’s chest caused problems with the MPAA’s Ratings Board (the film would be one of the major catalysts for the creation of the PG-13 rating). But what is often overlooked is the importance that this adventure plays in the life of Indiana Jones. Although it was the second film in the series, the adventure of DOOM actually takes place a few years before RAIDERS. And it is in this adventure where Dr. Jones makes a dramatic turn from a fortune-and-glory hunting archeologist to a man with a heart; a turn which is summed up in one iconic shot of Indy in the mines where kidnapped children are turned into slaves. 

It was an important turn for Indy the character and INDIANA JONES the franchise, for once the sobering up of DOOM was over, it would be time to get drunk on whimsy again in five years time with the arrival of the third film, THE LAST CRUSADE. TEMPLE OF DOOM set Dr. Jones on a new path, and on its own, is one hell of an adventure. 

“You call him Dr. Jones, doll!”


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