Thursday, August 8, 2013

Indy's Troubles

The year is 1936 and the setting is a remote forest in Peru, South America. The jungle goes on forever and mountains punctuate the blue sky. This is the story of the famous adventurer Indiana Jones whose looking his usual scruffy self as he's wearing his famous outfit: a brown leather hat - just like the one John Wayne wore in Rio Bravo - and his well-worn black leather jacket. Mr. Jones and a team of locals are searching for the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol which is hidden in one of the Hovitos' cave. Indy doesn't know if he should trust this group. Should I trust this group? A few of these guys look suspicious. Will they betray me? It has happened before in the past. There are around five or six of them along with a few donkeys that are carrying their supplies. Schreeek! Someone trips over the root of a tree, and then picks himself up. Was that a gun tucked in his belt? Beep beep. Chir chir. What is that noise? What can be out there hidden in the forest? The Hovitos are a dangerous tribe and everyone is sure that they are nearby. While Indy's group is trekking through the jungle they are regularly looking throughout the forest to make sure that they are safe and not being following. Walking. They keep on walking. Two of the group members find an arrow prodded into a tree. "They would have killed us already if they knew that we were here," says one of them. I've been in situations like this before. Not even close to nervous. Jones, who is leading the way, does not even break a sweat. They arrive to a pond. Indy takes out an old crumpled map from his pocket and is inspecting it. But so what does he see from the corner of his eye? Oh no! One of the guys from his troupe is about to pull out his gun to shoot Mr. Jones to steal the map! There is now way that this is going to happen. There is no way that this is going to happen! Indy then quickly grabs his whip, which is neatly rolled up on his waist, and disarms the treacherous traitor. Who then runs away. Was that ever close. Boy! Was that ever close. They keep things moving. And they finally arrive to the old Mayan cave. There is a frightening statue at it’s opening: a scary face with sharp teeth and its tongue sticking out. There is a hole in its mouth. Thwack thwack. Thwack thwack. What is that? And then one hundred bats fly out of the Mayan statue's mouth - scaring some of the less thick-skinned members of Indy's troupe. After everyone has calmed down, Mr. Jones is speaking to his primary guide Barranca: "This is it, this is where old Foreststone cashed in." "Was he a friend of yours?" "A competitor. He was good, he was very very good." "Seignior, nobody has come out of the cave alive. Please..." That doesn't faze meLet's just hope that there aren't any snakes. Boy do I hate snakes! Barranca does not convince to faze Mr. Jones. So off they go. They are making their way through the cave. What is that I feel on my back? Indy turns out and sees a petrified look on Barranca's face, who is looking at Mr. Jones’ back, and he realizes that what he was feeling is half-a-dozen of giant tarantulas on his bag. Smoothly, with his whip, he taps them off. But what does Indy notice when he sees Barranca? There are even more tarantulas on him! Barranca looks scared! Indy firmly gets the spiders off of him, which comes as a big relief too him. Seeing a light coming through a hole into the cave, Indy gets suspicious and tells Barranca to not go near it. Sneaking under it, and then testing if it is a trap, by placing his hand quickly into it, reveals that it was, and sharp steel spikes spring out of the walls. A few feet later, they discover the dead corpse of Indy's old competitor Foreststone. They slowly make their way through the cave, jumping over a large hole in the ground by having to swing off of a branch with Indy's whip. They finally arrive to the end of the cave, into its final compartment where they can see the golden idol. But Indy knows that it can't be this easy. Just like in the picture Land of the Pharaohs, Indy suspects that the room is rigged with traps. He is weary about making a step: after uncovering some dirt over a tile on the ground, he presses it, and sees that it activates arrows to be shot. "Stay here," says Indy. "If you insist, seignior," says Barranca. Indy gets to the idol. It looks like a hybrid between pharaoh and a beetle. In a swift gesture, Indy snatches the idol and replaces it with a bag of sand. Whoa. That was too easy! Crack. Boom. Crash. The idol display slowly lowers and then the wall behind it crumbles and the cave is falling apart.  Time to make a run for it. Indy is scrambling out of the cave while letting all of the booby traps go off. Barranca would betray him once they get back to the large hole that they would need to jump over: "Give me the whip," says Indy to Barranca after Barranca jumped to the other side. "Throw me the idol, there is no time to argue," says Barranca. Indy throws the idol. "Adios seignior," says Barrana, before he would get killed in one of the traps on the side. Indy is able to jump to the other side of the hole, with difficulty. That was a close one. And then he sees a giant round boulder sliding down a ramp right over him. This is a bad moment for Indy, how is he going to make it out of this one? Going around a corner, running, hazardously checking behind him to see how he is doing, getting mixed up in a bed of cobwebs, he finally jumps out of the side of the mountain, rolling around in the dirt, stones and scrubs. Whew! But what happens then: his rival René Belloq who speaks Hovitos is there with the local tribe and demands the idol. Knowing that he has lost this particular round, Mr. Jones gives Belloq the idol and, when Belloq is distracted with it, he then runs away. Indy's friend Jock Lindsey should be waiting nearby on a water-plane. Indy yells to him, "Start the engine, get it up," as he is being chased by a gang of Hovitos, who are shooting poisonous arrows at him. But Indy is able to escape, right at the last minute, getting onto the plane. It was good to be able to get out of that one! I've got to teach class tomorrow! ghrr... ghrr... Oh no! "What is that?," asks Indy. Not a snake! "That's just my pet snake Reggie," says Jock. Indy makes it out of Peru, still in one piece, but the scene ends with him screaming, "I hate snakes!"
This ingenious opening sequence from Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark would become a template for the openings of all of the other Indiana Jones films. The series is a classic of the action adventure genre, which goes all of the way back to the silent film cliffhanger serials, all of the way to the present, with such great recent additions like Andrew Stanton’s John Carter and J.J. Abrams' Star Trek: Into Darkness (whose opening is an ode to this one from Raiders). As part of a fun contest to pick one Spielberg film for the summer of 2013, along with Paul Bullock and Will Sloan, I nominate Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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