Monday, June 02, 2008

Steven Spielberg and The Return of Indiana Jones : Entertainment Inc.

If ever there was a megalomaniac of cinema (the Hollywood kind) it is undoubtedly Steven Spielberg. There is nothing this man cannot do. Benevolent alien beings, not-so-benevolent alien beings, swashbuckling treasure hunters, dinosaurs, sharks, thieves, war heroes, war-profiteer turned heroes, racism, Nazism, colonialism - you name it he's done it.

Although it reeks of the assumption 'If it's bigger it must be better' Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull is so great to watch only because it is unpretentious and unapologetic about its need to entertain. I mean, just look at the opening sequence - the audaciously self- conscious introduction of Indy Jones as his shadow creeps up on the edge of a jeep and he puts on 'the' hat, a rapier-toting Cate Blanchet, highly magnetised mummified remains and a chase that ends in a nuclear blast which of course Henry Jones survives (and how!) . The scale of imagination (for a rationalist like myself) is just unbelievable. It's good stuff as far as entertainment is concerned. And the promise of a thrill-ride is well-kept right till the end.

Of course the tendency to indulge in some all-American flag-waving did not go unnoticed. "Better be dead than Red!". Come on! We already know what you mean Mr Spielberg when you have the Russians running amok looking for aliens that landed smack in the middle of the U.S of A. So leave the 'west is best' sloganeering where it deserves to be. Back in the 50s.

But let's call a spade a spade. This film shouldn't be judged for its cinematic appeal. Or for political correctness. Or for Spielberg's directorial abilities. For that evidence is plentiful in the form of his other films. Wikipedia has a whole other page devoted to a 'list of Steven Spielberg's films'. The point is that here is a man so comfortable with the medium at hand that he can do virtually anything with it. And for that - just that nothing more - he deserves to be remembered long after his time.


ROHIT IYER said...


Spielberg totally "nuked the fridge."

Busy Scribbler said...

Just another take on the film -

Mandakini said...

@bhavana - funny....i laughed. but that only reinforced my view of the film :)

its ridiculous yes....but then if you went into indiana jones expecting logic to shine through....then good luck.

actually thats why i enjoyed it....i dont like the film but i did enjoy it. it starts and ends in the most preposterous way. so the you know from the beginning what cards you'll be dealt. and i appreciate the honesty of that....

of one knows the true intention behind making such a film....maybe the writer/director are in on some secret and are laughing all the way to the bank?


Mandakini said...

@ rohit - so did u like the film or not?

ROHIT IYER said...

Well, I did say he "nuked the fridge."

My experience of watching movies these days is marred by too much information.

Like how George Lucas was the one who wanted aliens.

Or how the script is like a frankenstein patchwork, made of bits and pieces of other drafts.

We had an Indy marathon before seeing this one. I've grown up with Indy and it was one of those icons that I knew nothing about (who directed, wrote, acted), but it was a powerful enough for me to realise that it was awesome on many different levels.

That said, Indy 4 plays like a total money grab and I'd rather see original new stories, than remakes and sequels - especially from these guys.

I suppose they should take a leaf out of PIXAR's book, who seem to be emulating their childhood heroes (read: Lucas and Spielberg) in the first place.

All I can say now is... God save Tintin.

Mandakini said...

Ah! Well i wasn't familiar with that phrase and what it means....

This post wasn't meant to be a review or sound like one.

he did "nuke the fridge" i a sense. and i also agree that an original film is far more satisfying than remakes or sequels( to which there are exceptions like Godfather II :) )

Die-hard Indy fans are bound to be disappointed because there's too much baggage associated with the series. It's like ram-gopal remaking sholay when there was absolutely no need.

But i still grant Spielberg the benefit of the doubt in this case (I was more mortified by War of The Worlds) on the grounds that he has proved his mettle countless times before. I suggest you watch "The Duel" (if you haven't already). Might restore your faith in his abilities :)