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On the weekend, I took the train into the big city and went on a bit of a spending spree. When I spotted a copy of "The Complete Making of Indiana Jones" for a slight discount off the cover price, I decided to add it to the haul, for all that it meant carrying a great slab of a book around in a somewhat flimsy plastic bag for the rest of the trip... I was familar with its size and heft from having a copy of "The Making of Star Wars," though, although one thing I did wonder about was how much detail this new book could go into about any one film, covering four in the space the previous book gave to one... I also eventually noticed that the new book is just a few pages shorter than the previous, and its typeface seemed just a little larger. However, the coverage generally seemed detailed enough to me, particularly for Raiders of the Lost Ark, which seems obvious enough. It's possible that the section for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade left me wishing for just a little more information, in contrast to how the section for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, ten pages longer, was quite satisfying (and left me with the vague thought that one of these days, it surely wouldn't hurt me to watch the whole movie.)

In some ways, early ideas left by the wayside interest me as much as anything else about the making of a movie. I took note of George Lucas's earliest conceptions of "Indiana Smith," having already heard that he was supposed to have a taste for the nightlife and seeing how he was supposed to be a treasure hunter to pay for that. However, I'd also read in the old book "Skywalking" that Indiana Jones's final character was supposed to be a compromise between that first idea and Steven Spielberg's idea of him as a "sleazy alcoholic," and there seemed no hint of that in this book. On a less questioning note, I noticed a suggestion that Indy was once imagined to have to replace his hat after escaping from the idol's temple, and that reminded me of how, in the comics and novelization (which was pretty much how I first experienced Raiders of the Lost Ark), he had explicitly lost his hat swimming out to the Nazi submarine. That had left me convinced in 1984 there was an obvious reason for Temple of Doom to be set before the previous movie, and I might have still been wondering a little how things would work out for Indy in The Last Crusade in 1989... Some early ideas reminded me of ideas from Star Wars, and could even be seen as anticipations of them at first glance. The earliest ideas of the Nazi agent who became Toht gave him a mechanical arm (complete with built-in machine gun), and while this could obviously be seen as a Dr. Strangelove reference, I was reminded of how the early drafts of Star Wars featured various characters breaking their artificial arms open and how it wasn't explicit that Darth Vader had mechanical parts under his armour until Return of the Jedi. Then, in an early concept for Temple of Doom, I was struck by how the eyes of the evil characters could become yellow, and thought of one trailer-notable moment in Revenge of the Sith (although, as I later realized, the Emperor's yellow eyes had already been established...) As well, I noticed how a number of early concepts in some overstuffed Raiders of the Lost Ark drafts, such as "an escape from a nightclub fight in the Orient" and "a mine car chase," were recycled into Temple of Doom. It was also kind of interesting to see a number of concepts for the Raiders of the Lost Ark poster logo.

When reading about the actual filming of the movies, at times I suppose I did wonder if it amounted to "letting daylight in on magic" to realize how the location and on-set shooting was arranged, so that Harrison Ford would be filmed dropping into the Map Room (one picture in the book let me realize at last that the chamber was supposed to have an actual door into it, only choked with debris) in England, and then considerable shooting time would pass before he would be filmed "outside" it in Tunisia. It was surprising to learn that the "original extended version" of Indy's encounter with the "swordsman" in Cairo had been filmed sufficiently for it to be included in a preview version of the movie, only to then wind up a footnote to history. As far as other editing decisions go, though, I wondered if it might be a useful counter-argument to the accusations that "George Lucas is too fond of broad comedy relief" to know that he himself took out a moment where a digger sees Indy and Marion emerge from the Well of the Souls and faints. However, I found myself wondering about "Skywalking" again when, in mentioning the late shot where Marion and Indy meet up at the end of the movie, there's no mention of the old book's statement that Marcia Lucas had pointed out to everyone else that the point had to be addressed. I suppose it made me wonder "either the old book was inaccurate, or the new books may be downplaying some things..." George Lucas's showing up every so often to observe the filming, but not being always there, seems consistent across all the movies. There is a picture of him during the filming of Temple of Doom with his shirt off, duelling with water guns with Steven Spielberg (who keeps his shirt on); it seems to my uncertain eye to not threaten Hayden Christensen's appeal to female fans.

It seemed "a relic from a vanished time" to read about how Raiders of the Lost Ark's box-office business picked up over its first weeks of release, yet intriguing to realize that it had been competing with Superman II (although, this far from 1981, it no longer seems important to me which one of those movies "topped" the other). As well, I did take notice of how some reviewers complained about it was "unrealistic" for Indiana Jones to have travelled so far lashed to the periscope of a submarine...

In a sense, the section on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was of course a little bit different from the sections on the other movies, given how it had to leave off a few months before release. It was interesting to learn, though, that George Lucas had come up with the idea of "a take on 1950s 'sci-fi' B movies!" around the time that "Young Indiana Jones" was being made, not that long after The Last Crusade... and then he had to try and convince a reluctant Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford about it. I admit that when I first realized the new movie would feature "saucermen" and was uncertain about that, I had told myself "Well, it is a Steven Spielberg movie..." However, Spielberg himself had said he had already made Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. (He didn't say anything about the TV miniseries "Taken," though, which I'm pretty sure he was involved with...) Likewise, I can agree with Harrison Ford's skepticism on the subject, although some of that springs from my feeling that the whole idea has become imaginatively sterile as it's become a matter of insisting on flying saucers with a bad habit of crashing, ominous abducting aliens, and long-dusty secrets locked up to no seeming effect. The movie, I think, restored a portion of that old "sense of wonder." I did note how, after Independence Day (more traditionally "imaginatively sterile," in my opinion) and Spielberg and Ford's initial reluctance, Lucas said "I gave up and started doing Star Wars again." I know that he had started working on the new movies in 1994, but I could wonder about some accusing him of "trying to blame others..."

The idea of Indy getting married in this new movie seemed to have turned up quite early on, but I did notice how it didn't always involve bringing back Karen Allen as Marion. That made me wonder if a new character would have seemed controversial for being "made too perfect" to some... However, I was interested by the almost as early idea of Indy's unknown child being a thirteen-year old daughter and "a little spitfire," for all that I wondered if that would have meant having to set the movie in the early 1950s. (There was a little comment about how it seemed just a little too easy to make Harrison Ford look "younger than his age," though...) In the end, though, Steven Spielberg mentioned how he'd had an idea like that in Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World, and in that case his objection won out.

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