June 1, 2023
Like a sword beaten into a plowshare, Indy’s signature weapon is most often wielded to give life.
Good thoughts here, Josh! I have been thinking about the franchise films in anticipation of Dial of Destiny, although I'm a little hesitant about the extent it will deliver...the least of my concerns not being what are they going to do with the opening Paramount logo dissolving into a feature in the mise en scene?
One of things I have noted is how Indy distinguishes himself from the villains by relinquishing power...as opposed to the Nazis, Communists seeking to acquire sacred objects for their own self justification. From the start, Indy is portrayed as "losing" the very objects his enemies seek to possess - i.e., he doesn't even get to 'keep' the idol he finds in the opening of Raiders. We see this also in the opening of Last Crusade with the cross of Coronado (one the best lines in the series is in this scene: 'it belongs in a musuem'...'Dr Jones, so do you!').
In Last Crusade's prolog as you mentioned, we discover the origins of his signature characteristics, The Whip, The Hat, fear of snakes. And while we one level, we are drawn to Indie (pun intended) films by the action, stunts, the whip, etc., what makes him heroic is his prioritizing of releasing control. In Raiders, his most significant moment is the refusal to look at the ark in the end; in Crystal Skull, the villain is overtaken (as in most of the other films) by her own lust for power, while again Indy fails/refuses to "acquire" the pursued relic; in Last Crusade, his best moment is when he lets go of the chalice...incidentally after he hears the affirming voice of his father, finally calling him by his 'rightful' name. What gave him his identity in the end wasn't per se the items related to physical strength or what Robert Capon would call 'right handed power', but rather hearing the voice of approval from the Father. Same for those who are in Christ.
I'll still probably go see Dial though...just because...
Love all this, Jason. Matt Singer, at ScreenCrush, explored a similar line of thinking in his fun piece, "Indiana Jones is a Great Hero Because He is a Total Failure." https://screencrush.com/why-we-love-indiana-jones/
Wow! I had not read that Matt Singer piece! Thanks for sharing. I rewatched Last Crusade last night...noted that when the whip is used salvifically on the train, he's also holding a cross (;
Also, I was wrong: I guess he actually does end up attaining at least one relic: the cross of Coronado...
I'm adding a postscript to this article, now that I've seen Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which I found to be an honorable final entry in the series in general, especially in how it handles Indy's whip. The whip only appears three times: once in the prologue, where Indy uses it to snap a gun out of a Nazi's hand (classic); then again when that Nazi uses it to choke Indy (more blasphemy!); then later in the film when Indy tries to keep a room full of adversaries at bay with it. Basically in line with what I suggested - that the whip as a weapon is mostly used to preserve life.
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