Saturday, August 22, 2009
The Metamorphasis of Indiana Jones
When it comes time to list my favorite film character of all-time, Indiana Jones usually crops up somewhere near the top. The whip-totting archaeologist is one of the most iconic characters in cinema history, with his hat, whip, leather jacket, and his satchel, Indy is the classic action hero. While Indy is loved by many, none every truly look within the depths of this character to see how complex he truly is.
When examining Indy on a film by film basis, he doesn't seem to be that complicated of a character, he's your average red-blooded adventurer. But when one looks at Indy's overarching journey throughout all the Indy films, they find that he is a genuine character with many layers. Follow on a journey through the metamorphosis of Indiana Jones.
The beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade shows us a young Indiana, probably about thirteen years old. It is within this short prologue that we learn much about Indy's background. Indy's mother died while he was young, leaving Indy alone with his archaeologist father, Henry Jones Sr., who was more interested in ancient artifacts than his son. Indy and his dad had a very strained relationship, which explains why Indy preferred to be called Indiana (the name of his beloved dog) rather than his birthname of Henry Jones Jr.
It is within this prologue where Indy fights a group of graverobbers trying to make off with a valuable treasure. Through this ordeal he develops his iconic get up; the head of the graverobbers is a man in a fedora and leather jacket. After the graverobbers chase Indy down and retrieve their treasure, out of respect the head of the graverobbers gives Indy his hat, thus causing Indy to go on and model himself after the graverobber.
After these events Indiana went off to college, as we learn from Raiders of the Lost Ark, he became close personal friends with his teacher Abner Ravenwood and even fell in love with his daughter Marion. After a series of falling outs Indy parted ways with his mentor and his love, but not until he had learned all that Abner could teach him. Indy then meets an old family friend, Marcus Brody, and begins to work at Brody's university while pursuing artifacts and selling them to the museum for gain.
We then find Indy in 1935 India in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Here Indy has become much like his original mentor, the graverobber, caring only for fortune and glory. When Indy learns of the myth of the Sankara Stones from the locals, Indy begins a search for the stones, leading him into the lair of the evil Thuggee Cult. Here Indy learns that the Thuggee are using children as slaves to try and find the remaining Sankara Stone. When Indy tries to intervene and steal the stones from the Thuggee, he is caught and forced to drink a cocktail that turns him to the dark side.
Indy has fallen into darkness, but his young sidekick, Short Round, refuses to give up on his best friend. Short Round pierces Indy with a flaming torch, bringing him back to the light. After this encounter Indy has a newfound appreciation for life and frees the slave children while returning the Sankara Stone to the locals.
What Indy demonstrates here is that he no longer cares about fortune and glory, but rather keeping potentially harmful artifacts away from evil. We also see the genesis of Indy's understanding of what it is to be a father through his relationship with Shorty, which will later come into play in mending the relationship with his own father.
We next find Indy in 1936 Egypt. He is no longer obsessed with profiting off of ancient artifacts, but rather he pursues priceless artifacts in order to ensure that they don't fall into the wrong hands. This is very evident in his pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant. Indy battles the Nazis, knowing that if they get hold of the Ark it could mean doom for all.
Even though the Nazis end up opening the Ark, Indy uses his knowledge in which the Nazis did not know, and closed his eyes in the presence of God. The Nazi troops are destroyed by the spirits from the Ark, and Indy escapes unscathed, but rather scorned by the U.S. Government who take the Ark and pack it in a warehouse for safe-keeping, angering Indy.
After this Indy becomes more protective of the artifacts in which he seeks, humbled by his search for the Ark, he is now pursuing these artifacts for academic purposes. Indy begins to believe that these things belong in a museum.
We find Indy in 1938 Europe, up against the Nazis again. Indy takes chase after the Nazis when he learns his father was kidnapped by them. Indy rescues his father and assists his father on his search for the Holy Grail, because the Nazis are after it as well. This begins their race to reach the cup, while over the course of their journey Indy and his father manage to mend their strained relationship by realizing that they are not all too different from one another.
When Indy's father is shot, Indy must journey deep within the Knight's Temple to save his father with the water from the Grail. Indy's faith is tested, and he manages to pass and save his father. But after this the Temple begins to collapse. Indy nearly falls down a bottomless chasm chasing after the Grail, but then he forever changes his outlook upon archeology when his father calls him Indiana for the first time in his life. Indy accepts his father's hand and they ride off into the sunset together, finally reaching an understanding with one another and reaching a deep place within their relationship that had never existed.
Indiana Jones is a red-blooded adventurer. He began as a simple treasure hunter and wound up being a stoic academic who cares more for the sanctity of the artifact rather than any fame and fortune it could grant him. There is no denying, Indiana Jones is an amazing character, full of knowledge and faith.