Last night, I had drinks with my friend, Brad, and his friend Jason. Both are professors at different universities - both teach Biblical studies, ancient civilizations, world religions, Ugaritic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and a host of other really really specific things about antiquities and the like. So what is our first order of conversation?
The Indiana Jones trilogy - and upcoming sequel.
It went something like this:
Brad: Who cares about a Crystal Skull?
Jason: "To make this film truly a big hit, Indiana Jones has to be searching for something that everyone knows and cares about..."(NOTE: As you remember - Raiders of the Lost Ark dealt with Indiana Jones searching for the Ark of the Covenant - the famed box that contained the Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron, manna from the Israelites' flight from Egypt - and the like. If you think about it, it was a big bang for a cinematic buck... the actual ark - the actual stone tablets that civilizations' morality is based on... food from heaven... In all, an excellent choice.)The second film - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - was a nearly forgettable fest of noise. Honestly - The only thing I recall about the movie is that little kid yelling "Indy! Guard your Heart!" and this frightening man who ripped people's hearts out. IMDB.com reminded me that Dr. Jones was looking for some precious stones. Big deal. Everyone's looking for precious stones.
In 'The Last Crusade,' national interest was piqued again by a great tale of a father and son reconnecting after years of estrangement NOT TO MENTION a Grail Quest.
How do you follow up with another compelling artifact hunt? Inquiring minds want to know!
Kelly: How about the quest for Noah's Ark?
Jason and Brad: Overdone.
Kelly: But no one's allowed on Mt. Ararat - it's guarded carefully. And what about the popularity of "Walking The Bible?"
Jason: Bruce Feiler? Still overdone.
Kelly: What about Nebuchadnezzar's statue?
Jason: Book of Daniel? Wasn't that a dream?
Brad: No. Two statues. One was Daniel's dream - the other was the one Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow to. There's no actual evidence that statue actually existed.(NOTE: This didn't stop the popularity of all the grail quest movies - nor did it stop people from believing *every freaking word* written by Dan Brown.)
Kelly: Moses' staff?
Brad: It's in the Ark of the Covenant...
Kelly: Darn that ark!!!! Oh - What about the Fountain of Youth?
Jason: El Dorado!
Brad: Indiana Jones wouldn't believe in the Fountain of Youth.(Brad is too practical for Hollywood, methinks)
Jason: But here he is, aging - wouldn't you think that Indiana Jones might be going a little senile and getting obsessed with things?
Kelly: And - the third movie proved that his father was a little kooky - it could be written in as genetic! Although I think people would hate to see Indy's mind going - so he'd have to find something that would lead him to believe it's not fiction.
Jason: My brother and I think of a million things that would make good film all the time.
(Jason might be just impractical enough for Hollywood, methinks - but then again, I don't know him very well)
So I thought I'd ask you guys - what would make a more compelling quest for an aging archaeologist of reknown than a crystal skull? To recap: Great movies are universal in theme, contain psychological drama, an hope for a wide audience. So answer carefully!
Remember - In the first movie, one of the first things that we ever heard the legendary Dr. Jones say to his classroom of lovesick coeds was "History is the study of Facts. If you want Truth - the Philosophy department is down the hall..." - So give me some truth!