Saturday, June 10, 2017

My personal favorite Indiana Jones movie is Kingdom of The Crystal Skull

Saying my "personal favorite" is not the same as saying the best.  The best is probably still Raiders of The Lost Ark.

It being my favorite may just be because it's closer to being made for my generation, same year as my absolute favorite movie The Dark Knight.  And I'm also a well known Star Wars Prequel fan.

But a major factor is that in general it feels like the only Indy film that actually researched it's subject matter.  It's fringe history research mainstream historians and archeologists don't take seriously, but the 80s Indy films didn't even really do that.

Maybe it's simply because in 2008 with the Internet it was harder to get away with slacking on the research.  But the fact is if you were looking into real theories about the Crystal Skulls and related topics during the build up to the film, that effort felt like it paid off.  And it's the only movie where the character of Indiana Jones actually seemed to me like a well read educated collage professor and not just a dumb action hero.

For The Ark they just went with the most boring theory, Shishak took it, Shishak is assumed to be Shoshenq so it winds up in the Egyptian city with a Libyan name, Tanis.  Only Lucas and Spielberg could have made such a great film out of such boring starting premises.

Temple of Doom isn't based on a real mystery at all, other then Colonial fear mongering about Thugges (who probably didn't even really exist).  It's the worst Indy film for a multitude of reasons.  In fact the absolute worst film either Lucas or Spielberg were ever involved with.

But it's with The Last Crusade that this issue really caused disappointment for the 2017 version of me.

The Last Crusade was once my personal favorite Indy film, way back before KOTCS existed, and before I was very informed on actual Grail Lore.  But now I've written on that topic extensively on this blog and elsewhere.

So the other day I watched The Last Crusade again, and It's still a very good movie, very fun, it stands the test of time in all of those ways.  But it's use of Grail Lore feels like such a major missed opportunity.

The key exposition scene early on name drops Arthur, but the history for the Grail it goes on to build actually totally precludes Arthur or any contemporaries of his from having anything to do with it.  Instead we get this completely made up story of Three Brothers.

It's such a missed opportunity because I feel they could easily have used real Grail Lore in a way that kept the same basic sequence of events for the main 1938 narrative of the film.

The valley of the Crescent Moon, filmed at Petra, but implied to be located in or near the Republic of Hatay, 1938-1939 (that part of modern Turkey that looks like it should be part of Syria), they could have called Sarras.  And instead of this lame Three Brothers story that Knight guarding the Grail could have been Sir Galahad.  And then the Tomb with the Shield and the other returning Knight could have been Sir Bors and Perceval.  Then you'd have a fun modern Adventure film that also works as a sequel to Medieval Grail Romances.

It doesn't make the movie bad, but it makes me feel like they could have done better.  KOTCS feels like the best version of that story they could have told on every level.

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