Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Named the Blog Indiana: Anything Goes

Oh to have been a member of the audience sitting down to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on May 23, 1984. Fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark were eager to see Indiana Jones embark on a new adventure. Fans had seen a trailer full of exotic settings, thrilling action and must've been rubbing their hands together in anticipation over how the movie would begin. What would match the thrilling trip through the Hovitos temple? When you think about it, the answer would be "nothing." Something Steven Spielberg and his screenwriters Will Hyuck and Gloria Katz most assuredly knew. So Spielberg began with something that was so perfect yet so different that had there been an internet at the time it would've no doubt split it in half.

After transitioning from the Paramount logo to a mountain on the face of a gong we open to a very different kind of action, a glorious, glamorous 1930's musical number, "Anything Goes." Spielberg begins the film with one of his only musical numbers that he's ever filmed and I for one love it.

The scene takes on a whole new level when you realize that the main figure of the set-piece, Willie Scott, as played by Kate Capshaw, had a suitor in the form of director Steven Spielberg. If one of the greatest director's in the world is in love with you, chances are you're going to look good on screen. The number is exquisitely staged on the one hand paying homage to the kaleidoscopic patterns of Busby Berkley's dancers while at the same time disorienting the viewer by having the Cole Porter standard being sung in Mandarin. Once again Indy's greatest sidekick is John Williams orchestrations, giving the tune a whole new life. While the bulk of the chorus and the verses are sung in Mandarin, Spielberg wants us to be sure that we pick up the underlining point of positioning the number right at the front and having the song's main-line "Anything goes" be sung in English. You'll notice that most of the time when Willie sings the line we cut in close to her face. The reason being that the film wants us to know that in this, Indy's second filmic outing, truly anything goes. Whether it be assassins appearing out of wall portraits, mine-car chases, voodoo torture or men getting their hearts pulled out of their chests all the rules from Raiders have been thrown out. The characters in Temple of Doom probably have the most wear and tear of any of the films because of it's intensity, just think, most of Indy's signature wardrobe is torn or burnt to shreds by the end and it's all because in Temple
anything goes.

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