Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom Noah Marcus Review/Deconstruction
Very few films have captured the imaginations of the American movie goer public quite like the Indiana Jones series.
of The Lost Ark premiered in 1981, it was hailed as one of the best adventure films, second only to Star Wars, of all time.
I know for
me, watching the adventures of Dr. Indiana Jones was the foundation of my life long dream to become an archaeologist, explorer and treasure hunter.
For this reason if nothing else, the travesty that
is Dr. Jones' second outing, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, is particularly painful.
Had the Temple of Doom simply been a dumb
action movie, that could have been forgivable.
After all these were
the 80's and at a time when silly and over the top action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stephen Seagal or Jean Claude Van Damme were at their peak, and their films could be made on the cheap it would be hard for big budget adventures to compete.
What isn't forgivable is
the fact that they seemed to deliberately discard the entire message that the writer's were trying to convey in Raiders. To start, let's take a look back at Raiders of The Lost Ark, Indiana Jones first adventure.
The story follows Dr. Indiana Jones,
a professor of archeology at the University of Chicago and well known
treasure hunter in the mid-1930's.
In it, Dr. Jones clashes with a
group of Nazi occultists searching for the powerful Hebrew artifact, the legendary Ark of The Covenant, fabled carrying case of the Ten Commandments.
The film featured a strong cast of characters
including Dr. Jones' love interest and partner Marion, a strong willed and intelligent woman who not only showed that she could hold her alcohol better then any man, but she could also fight and wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty.
There was also Sallah, Indy's friend,
contact and confidant during his time in Egypt searching for the Ark of The Covenant.
Sallah was a positive image of the Muslim
community, an intelligent, hardworking, self made man with a stable family, strong friendships and an iron will.
Indiana Jones would not
have achieved his goals in Egypt were it not for Sallah's intel gathering abilities.
That was Raiders of The Lost Ark, a strong
story, great characters of all shapes and sizes and a good adventure. Let's skip ahead a few years.
Following the success of Raiders,
the eventual release of a second Indiana Jones adventure was not only inevitable, but widely desired by fans.
In an unusual move for the
time, the studio opted to make a prequel film, chronicling Dr. Jones adventures before he began his hunt for the legendary Ark.
hyped, people were excited, and then it came out. Instead of the hard hitting, brilliant writing, direction and acting that the movie going public got from Raiders, they were subjected to a film filled with racist and sexist caricatures, uninspired and poorly researched claims, poor visuals and camera work
and awful sound design. Temple of Doom brings Dr. Jones to India, along with his faithful side kick, a young Chinese boy known as 'Short Round' and a loud, obnoxious bar singer named Willie Scott.
Following a plane
crash orchestrated by the Chinese Triad mob, the trio venture into a remote Indian village and discover that a nearby group of Thuggee cultists, who worship Kali the Goddess of Destruction, have stolen a sacred stone from the village and kidnapped all of the children to be used in a sacrifice. At one point around the late middle of the film, Indiana, Willie and Short Round are captured by the Thuggee and brought to their great palace as 'honored guests'. feast.
Here, they are treated to a grand
This feast includes such fare as monkey brains, snakes and
most damning of all, meat that looks suspiciously like beef.
person who knows anything at all about India would know that not only are cows sacred in India, but so are Monkeys.
Neither of these
creatures are eaten in accordance with Hindu traditions, and considering that the villains of this film are supposed to be cultists worshiping a Hindu goddess, one would think they would follow such traditions. Besides the obvious ignorant or just plain insulting way the feast was handled, Short Round spent the entire film, especially this scene cracking jokes in a stereotypical Chinese accent.
He could not
pronounce the letter L apparently, and half of his lines came out as garbled ramblings.
As for Willie, she screeched at every dish as if
they would jump and bite her (And to be fair, several could, such as the live insects).
These two characters stand in extremely sharp
contrast to their counterparts from Raiders.
Marion would not have
screamed in fear at the sight of chilled monkey brains, she may have been a bit grossed out by it, but she certainly wouldn't have screamed at the top of her lungs like Willie.
Sallah wouldn't have
spent the entire film nipping at Indy's heels and spouting nonsensical, stereotypically racist statements, he would have done something useful. The film seems to try and put a focus on how 'weird' and 'wacky' Indian and Thuggee culture is.
While it is true that there was, in
the 1700's, a Cult of Thuggee, who worshiped Kali and murdered travelers as sacrifices in her name, they also typically followed the traditions and teachings of their own religions.
The camera has a
tendency to zoom, awkwardly like a low budget Stephen Seagal movie on to the gross food, such as the live insects.
All of the characters,
even those in the remote village speak perfect English with a stereotypical Indian accent. This film is not only an insult to the fans of Indiana Jones, but it very nearly killed the franchise.
Thankfully, Indiana Jones
and The Last Crusade, returned to Indy's roots as a Nazi fighting action hero with a cast of lovable and endearing characters and a well reasoned and thoughtful plot.
Had it not, and if films in the
same vein as Temple of Doom had been the future of Indiana Jones, it would have been better for it to have died there.
wasn't the case, and so his adventures continue.
http://books.google.com/books? id=NerxVS1q7fEC&lpg=PA2&ots=J83HGQj8hL&dq=racism%20indiana %20jones&lr&pg=PA2#v=onepage&q&f=false
This is the book to print.