Questions of humanity and authenticity have always been at the heart of the Blade Runner universe. In Ridley Scott’s original film, Rick Deckard a “blade runner,” administers an “empathy test” meant to distinguish humans from realistic androids known as replicants, and fans have spent well over three decades debating whether Deckard himself is a replicant. Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, Blade Runner 2049 (2017), deftly maintains a sense of ambiguity regarding Deckard’s origins, and also finds new ways to wrestle with the question of what it means to be “real.”
Tag: Harrison Ford
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – 2008 – dir. Steven Spielberg
It was only a matter of time, I suppose, until aliens would show up in an Indiana Jones film. After countless screenwriters and even more countless drafts, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finally saw the light of cinemas nearly twenty years after the release of Last Crusade. The actual legend of the crystal skull concerns a series of artifacts discovered in Central and South America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Explorers purportedly unearthed several carved quartz skulls, and it was claimed that these skulls possessed not only unimaginable powers but that they could not have been crafted by modern means. A 1996 BBC documentary investigation revealed that several crystal skulls that had been displayed in museums and held by collectors throughout the world were forgeries. However, there did indeed exist a few specimens whose construction defied conventional explanation.
Speaking of defying convention, Indiana’s fourth outing has been tossed about as one of the weakest (if not THE weakest) of the series. As an action film, it delivers, and Harrison Ford himself presents a terrific performance. So what’s the problem with Crystal Skull?
By Jessic O’Byrne
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 1984 – Steven Spielberg
It would be easy to pick on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for its outdated and grandiose special effects or its condescending treatment of women, children, minorities, and essentially every other character in the film that is not played by Harrison Ford. It would be equally simple to write the film off as pure, unsubstantiated kitsch filled to the brim with unrealistic depictions of, sex, foreign cultures and academia. To do so, however, would be to stomp on the cavaliering dreams of the millions of little boys (and girls too, myself among them) who grew up in an era when our first glimpses of the outside world were broadcast to us in our cribs via TV and movies and our fictional heroes had to somehow be more grandiose than the already larger-than-life celebrities depicting them. The world has changed a lot since this film was originally released in 1984: we’ve all become a little older, a little fatter, and a little more politically correct. Temple of Doom offers viewers a chance to travel back to a simpler time when we could be satisfied with a tub of popcorn, and orange soda, and an entertaining (if not always fully engaging) adventure story. And so, as responsible stewards of our younger, less cynical (more easily amused) selves, we must throw aside our super PC mantles for a couple of hours in order to bask in the glory of all that is Indiana.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 1989 – dir. Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford is in this movie too, but Indy for the first time takes a backseat to a character that is even more engaging than he is: his father.
A public left scratching their heads at the significance of Shiva Lingas identified far more readily with the lure of the Holy Grail. “Every man’s dream,” indeed.
Of course, the Holy Grail is a metaphor, and while it makes a physical appearance in this film, it stands for tempered wisdom, responsibility, and courage. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) says, “The search for the Grail is the search for the divine in all of us.” Indiana Jones, as he walks the breath, word, and path of God, demonstrates his humility, his wisdom, and his bravery. In short, Indiana must prove himself heroic to be worthy of the grail. Certainly, so must we all.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The movie that defines the action-adventure genre, Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced movie audiences everywhere to Indiana Jones, the romance of archaeology, and just how dangerous the ark of the covenant can be.
*FUN FACT: According to the Ten Commandments, graven images were strictly forbidden. However, the one time God makes an exception in the bible is for the lid of the ark itself, adorned with two golden seraphim. Why do you think that is?
Indiana Jones took full advantage of the blockbuster mentality that had gripped Hollywood since the arrival of Jaws six years prior. Gone were the days of the big studios, the stables of stars, and the Vietnam-enriched, experimental filmmaking that defined much of the late 1960s and early 1970s.