Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We Named the Blog Indiana: There!

Saying that there are many classic set-pieces in Raiders of the Lost Ark is sort of like saying the sun is incredibly hot, superfluous but true. Yet for all those great moments only ONE can be a person's favorite. When I first saw the movie it was a toss-up seeing Indy escaping the traps of the Hovitos temple and Indy going after the truck. When I was older, more cynical and mopey it was when Indy shoots the swordsman. Older still and in a relationship it was when Marion and Indy pick over his wounds, the "It's not the years, it's the mileage" sequence. Now though my favorite moment is something a bit more smaller and a bit less obvious. Let me set the stage and give you a sense of my FAVORITE Raiders moment:

About an hour and a half (give or take a few minutes) into the movie. The exhausting and awesome chase for the truck with the ark as ended. Sallah has placed Indy and Marion safely aboard Captain Katenga's ship. Indy and Marion have spent a sweet, calm night together to kiss their wounds and have some Mutt making time. Then comes the morning and everything goes wrong, a Nazi sub has been sighted off the port bow. The Nazis board Captain Katenga's ship (with a bit of blocking that nods to Battleship Potemkin of all places).
They take the ark and despite his bargaining Katenga and his pirates can't manage to hold on to Marion. Indy is forced to hide in a vent. With ark and girl in tow the Nazis take their leave and all seems lost. Williams score is as low as defeated as it has ever been at this moment. A mournful Katenga is informed "Can't find Dr. Jones Captain, we've looked everywhere." Katenga, an experienced sea-hand suspects otherwise. "He's got to aboard somewhere, keep looking." Then (and this is really a credit to whoever played the crewman, note to self-find that out) out of the corner of his eye there is a glint of recognition,"I've found him sir." "Where?" asks the befuddled Captain "There!" the crew-man answers pointing. The camera cuts to Indy pulling himself onto the railing of the adjacent submarine. And at this point the Raiders March kicks in perhaps as triumphantly as it ever has or will as a harried but somehow rugged Jones tracks across the top of the sub sopping wet. Harrison Ford does a sort of half-run, half-shuffle across the deck after shooting off a salute(a Cagney-esque move if ever there were one) and it is glorious. The "March" is played in a sort of military time, a bit more syncopated and precise than typical and it really neatly accompanies the whole thing. The camera cuts back to the crew (now acting as a surrogate for the audience) cheering madly while Katenga and the mate who were just speaking return Indy's quick salute. It's glorious, just typing about it gets me a bit misty. Whatever happens now it is absolutely clear that no obstacle will be too great and Jones will pursue this thing to his absolute last breath. It's the sort of never-say-die attitude that one doesn't really see in films this often, but when used properly can really rally an audience. This is the perfect runner's high in the last quarter of the race and consequently my favorite Indiana Jones moment maybe ever. It's simple, it's action that stems from character and if there is even one moment like this in Crystal Skull it will have been worth it.

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