Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reflecting on Indy

Just another Saturday night alone at home, so I got the DVD player running. I'm watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull again. I dunno...I thought it was good, but not great. For me, it hit all the fanboy expectations and presented pretty much everything I wanted in a fourth Indy outing. The only thing it didn't have was someone like Jet Li playing the grown-up Short Round. Maybe if they make that fabled fifth Indy....

But the one thing that really struck me as odd when pouring through the DVD's bonus material is exactly how long George Lucas has wanted to make this film. Apparently, having the crystal skulls be the artifacts that Indy hunts down is an idea that's been in his head for a long, long time. When I first discovered the Internet and movie gossip sites around 10 years ago, I kept reading that George Lucas wanted the fourth one to be about Indy meeting aliens in the fabled Roswell UFO crash, and that Lucas wanted to call it Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars. In one of the featurettes, Lucas talks about coming up with the title, and what's the first thing Lucas says? "Originally, I wanted to call it Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men." And, the Roswell crash does a play a part in the plot of the film.

And then Spielberg also mentions how long Lucas had been pursuing this idea. Spielberg says he was almost convinced to do it...but then Independence Day came out, and Spielberg said, "George, I don't want to do aliens now! This movie, Independence Day, has taken the alien concept as far as it can go!" And then, Spielberg spends a good 5 minutes gushing about how much he loved Independence Day. Now, I'd known for some time that Spielberg delayed his remake of War of the Worlds because he realized it would be far too similar to Independence Day. But dude, ID4 came out 12 years ago! Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has been kicking around since at least 1996!

Hearing all this stuff really makes me want to seek out the Frank Darabont script. We all know the story, right? About 5 years ago, it was announced that Darabont would be scripting Indy 4. Darabont directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile...he also has his Indiana Jones cred, having written and directed a couple episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. So, Darabont wrote his script...and Lucas found it unsatisfactory and rejected it. When Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out back in the summer, Darabont's script was finally leaked online. Many Indy fans deemed it a lot darker...and infinitely better.

But actually, one thing I read about on the message boards that is really confirmed in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is how thematic films scores seem to be on the decline. You know what I mean, right? I'm talking about how individual characters have their own theme, and they get played quite prominently when that character appears.

However, Indy has a great thematic score. Mutt Williams has this theme...since he's Indy's son, it's kind of like the Indiana Jones theme played backwards. The crystal skull also has a nice, eerie theme that's played whenever its power is unleashed. Plus, themes from films past are used quite frequently in the score. When the Russians raid that big government warehouse in the beginning - the warehouse that we know to the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant - we hear the Ark's theme played again. Whenever Indy talks about his recently deceased father, we hear the Holy Grail's theme from Last Crusade. It really is quite a good score...I'm surprised I don't own it yet.

I wonder if they are going to make that fifth film...when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit, many were quick to point out that, back in the day, Lucasfilm signed the deal with Paramount for 5 Indy films. Will we get the fifth one? Will I get to see Jet Li play the grown up Short Round?

As soon as I find out, you'll be the first to know.

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