Friday, July 3, 2020

Three Personal Experiences with Indiana Jones

A few days ago I had the opportunity to see Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on the big screen at a drive-in theater, two movies I have watched numerous times, though it's been many years since I have seen either one. Seeing them again helped me recall three personal experiences I have had with the Indiana Jones series.

First of all, I consider Raiders of the Lost Ark to be a perfect movie and I would easily place it in my top ten list of favorite films. When I was in high school my history teacher used Indiana Jones as an example for something, I can't recall what exactly, and he mentioned how his adventures brought him to Africa, Asia, Italy, Germany and the Middle East. Being an Indiana Jones fan as well as Greek I couldn't let him get away without also mentioning Greece. When I added that he also went to Greece as well, he was a bit bewildered, and was trying to think at what point Indiana Jones went to Greece. Then I helped him remember that in Raiders of the Lost Ark, after they found the Ark of the Covenant in Egypt, the Germans brought it by ship to a Nazi occupied Aegean island just north of Crete, where the Jewish ritual took place and they opened the Ark. Though the island is fictional in the movie, still the map that shows the island in the movie is a Greek island. My teacher then confessed that he never noticed that before and would pay more careful attention next time. The next day my teacher told me that he rented Raiders of the Lost Ark after school the day before, and he confirmed that I was right.

Seeing that no one had realized this, this is a fun fact I like to bring up about Raiders of the Lost Ark, and every time I mention it everybody seems shocked by the fact that the ending scene takes place on a Greek island. I think they all assumed it was an island off Africa or somewhere in the Mediterranean. Since this surprises people, especially those with a Greek background, I now also add the fact that this was not the first time Indiana Jones went to Greece. In 1996 there was a television movie called Young Indiana Jones: Travels with Father. Here we learned that a young eleven year old Indiana Jones visited Greece in 1910 with his father Henry, mother, and tutor. Their ship stopped in Thessaloniki before reaching their final destination in Athens. In Athens, the Jones family visited the Parthenon briefly. Realizing that father and son need to spend more time together, Indy accompanies Henry on his research trip to the monasteries of Meteora. After a series of misadventures on the road, father and son reached an isolated monastery perched high on the peak of a mountain near Kalambaka. While working on a homework assignment for his father in the library, Indiana met Nikos Kazantzakis. As they were leaving the monastery via hand-pulled elevator, the Joneses were trapped on the cliffside over night. In the morning, using the lessons of Greek philosophy and some ingenuity, they were able to escape. Eventually, having bonded over the weekend's adventures, they returned to Athens closer than ever.

My second personal experience that I recalled from Indiana Jones took place when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released, which was the summer of 1984. I was eight years old at the time, and I was really excited to see my first Indiana Jones film in the theater, but I was unable to persuade anyone in my family to take me. We were in our vacation home in Cape Cod that weekend, so I had to come up with a plan to convince my parents and two older sisters to take me to see Indiana Jones. I decided to appeal to what they like about movies, and separately I approached them and made the case why Indiana Jones would appeal to them. First I went to my mother, and I explained to her that there is a lot of romance mixed in with the adventure in the film and that she would like it. She was convinced, but she said I had to convince my father. I told my father that Indiana Jones has a lot of comedy and action, which I knew he liked. He also approved. I then told my sisters that since our parents approved, we were going, so they gave in without any further argument. With my mission accomplished, we went to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that night.

When the movie started, I was nervous and hoping that there was some romance and comedy and action in the movie to satisfy my parents. The first scene passed and all seemed good - it had all three of those. But then things started taking a turn for the worse. When they arrived in India and were served snake to eat, my mother immediately regretted coming. My mother had an encounter with a large snake in Greece when she was a little girl and ever since then she can't even look at a snake, let alone see a movie where they are eating one. And I can't lie, it totally grossed me out too. Then they ate big bugs and monkey brains! This was getting to be too much, even for me. Then a little later they enter into a dark tunnel full of large bugs crawling all over them! I turned in horror. Then they see an ancient Indian ritual where an evil looking dude rips out the heart of someone then burns him alive as a sacrifice! That was enough for me. I started crying, begging my mother for us to leave. My mother then took me into the lobby and let me cry, and agreed that it was really gross and that she didn't want to see anymore either. Then my sisters came out, saying they wanted to leave. Finally my dad came out, and he said he was just getting nauseous because there was a scene where Indiana Jones is made to drink blood! Thank God I didn't see that.

Basically, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is not a movie for an eight year old. It absolutely traumatized me. It took me at least another five years to get the courage to see it. But now I was older and actually really liked it. A year after seeing Indiana Jones with my family, I was sitting at my kitchen table eating dinner with my mother, and Entertainment Tonight had a feature on the movie ratings system. Goonies had just been released, and parents were complaining that their children were leaving the theater traumatized. They said the same thing happened a year prior with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. According to the report, both of these movies were rated PG, making them to appear as movies for children. This is when it was first proposed that a new rating system be implemented, and it was specifically because of children's reactions to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Goonies that the PG-13 ratings system came to be. I must say, even then, I agreed with this new rating system, and I was happy to be a part of this phase of movie history.

The third and final Indiana Jones experience I had came about with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I saw this movie in the theater at least twice when it came out in 1989. I was now thirteen and ready to handle an Indiana Jones movie in the theater. I won't go into details about this movie, but I will say that this movie is one of the most influential movies of my life. It was after watching this movie that I wanted to study history and archaeology. And I did. I read a lot about those subjects. It also coincided with the time that I was studying the Bible. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade served as a great inspiration for me. I knew after watching this movie that my future career would have something to do theology, history, archaeology, relics, new discoveries and a bunch of adventures. In many ways, I wasn't wrong.