Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Nostalgia: Indiana Jones Movies

Cue the John Williams theme
Brief confession time: I wasn't introduced to Steven Spielberg through E.T. or Jurassic Park, a probably most people were introduced  to the man when they were young. No, my eyes were notified of his existence by the period piece fantasy. I was shown not a world of people running from dinosaurs, but a world where magic, Nazis, action and danger were omnipresent. I was given a world where the only way to stop these forces from destroying the world was one man with a sweet hat. A man with more luck than James Bond and as tough as any 90's action hero. A world that had Dr. Henry Jones Jr.

Took the name of his dog and is still more of a man than you.
Now, I won't go into Indy's character right now. I've got a whole other article series to do that. So this will look at the series as a whole. Well, the first three films, anyway, since this is about my childhood nostalgia, not movies I saw when I was 18.

It's probably no secret that I love the fantastic. And the Indiana Jones movies are nothing if not fantastic. The music is fantastic, the action is exhilarating, and all the characters work for the world they are in. The fact that a good portion of the adventures involve magical artifacts of religious origin (the Ark of the Covenant, The Shankara Stones, The Holy Friggin' Grail) always caught my attention to my mind colored with Catholic education. (Don't worry, they taught evolution, the big bang theory, mathematics, biology and other things at my school, too.) The actors all gave fine performances and while I never taken the chance to watch any of the documentaries on the Indy films, I truly think that everyone believed in the movies they were making.
The only good Nazi is a Nazi with his face melted off.
Now, just to be clear, the films didn't really scare me like it did some kids. It takes a lot more then skeletinization  or heart ripping out to truly scare me. (Actually scary to me? Cops. They frighten the hell out of me.) But things like that and many of the action scenes helped me to appreciate practical effects. Trust me when I say the face meltings in Raiders would not be as effective if they were CGI. The locations also really helped. They helped evoke the feel of globe trotting adventures with the fate of the world in the balance.
Father and Son bondage. Wow, that sounds wrong
 My favorite film in the series is The Last Crusade. The action and effects are all good, but the story and relationship between Indy and his father is what really sold me. With the Grail becoming Dr. Jones Sr.'s white whale, the obsession passed on to Elsa and his son. While it leads to Elsa's ultimate destruction, Henry Jones Sr. is able to save his son and, through the entire adventure, learn to appreciate his family. And Indy, distant from his father for years, saves his beloved father and finally get the familial connection he always wanted. It's a beautiful thing.

Oh, this brings back memories
One last thing before I finish. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! at DisneyWorld was probably my earliest exposure to the franchise. While the show has lost its luster for me, I still love seeing the show when my family(with my aunts, uncles, grandmother, family friends, ect.) decides to head down to Florida for a family vacation every other summer. It planted the seed for my love of the series. And I'll be forever thankful for that.

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