Last night we watched “Raiders of the Lost Ark” once again, and I thought about the series and came to the conclusion that Lucas and Spielberg missed out on some opportunities. They didn’t really have to keep upping the ante in every movie by making them progressively more violent, outrageous and dependent on special effects. They could have saved themselves the embarrassment of the Crystal Skull movie (especially the scene where Indiana survives an A-bomb explosion by taking refuge in a refrigerator) if only they had imagined the premise for the series a little differently.
For example: what if Indy truly absorbed the lesson of the first movie, that the woman he loved was more important than treasure, and he married Marian and settled down to a quiet life as a professor of archaeology in a small town in the Midwest? The filmmakers could have focused on the smaller dramas of life, the fascinating emotional textures of day to day life with its routines, occasional boredom, and sudden spikes of domestic drama. The series could have been a meditation on a long term marriage to the spouse one loves more dearly than seeking adventure in exotic places, risking life and limb just to satisfy an adrenaline rush addiction, and digging up statues of golden idols that almost always carry a curse or two.
The second movie in the series could have become, “Indiana Jones and the Waiters of the Lost Entree,” a humorous tale about a wedding anniversary that Indy meticulously plans. The big night goes awry when he gives flowers that make Marian sneeze, their roadster breaks down in a little hamlet that time and incest laws had forgotten (Indiana uses his bullwhip to force miscreant mechanics to make only necessary repairs), and the waiters at the cozy French bistro Indy chose for a romantic meal turn out to be Mr. Bean and Jack Black. Marion would end up challenging Jack to a drinking game to get him to bring them their food after an hour wait, and Indy would be trapped in the walk in freezer with Mr. Bean.
The third movie could have been entitled, “Indiana Jones and the Perimenopausal Peril” in which our hero’s academic career is threatened by sleep deprivation brought on by his wife’s violent reaction to her nightly hot flashes. He goes on a desperate search of the shelves at an all night pharmacy for a drug that will finally give them both a peaceful night’s rest.
And the final episode could have been, “Indiana Jones and the Prostate Exam of Doom”. Marian discovers that Indy has been flirting with one of his coeds in an attempt to revive his flagging sense of manhood. At the same time he has been waking up at night more often with an urge to pee. Marion sets him up for an appointment with a urologist “hand picked” for his gruff, slightly sadistic manner and abnormally thick digits. When Jones comes home his fear of snakes has been replaced by a phobia for the sight of a latex gloved finger smeared with KY jelly.
And then there could have been “I.J. and the Insurance Case Manager From Hell,” “I.J and the Daughter Who Only Dates Weaselly Creeps”, and “I.J. and the A.A. Meeting Woman Who Just Won’t Stop Complaining About Men When All He Wants is for Marian to Stand Up and Finally Admit She Has a Drinking Problem”. The list is endless.
Steve, George, are you listening?