The vid above is the Indy IV cast looking back at the original trilogy.
Did you guys read the David Koepp interview in the latest issue of Creative Screenwriting?
Let me set this up first. When Darabont was doing interviews to promote Mist, I watched some video (don't remember where) in which they just HAD to ask him about Indy IV like everyone else – the man was a saint with the way he tolerated it. In any case, Darabont revealed that his script also involved Crystal Skulls, also brought back Marion Ravenwood, and he shared one line of dialogue. It was a variation of a classic line from Raiders in which Indy had said, “It’s not the years, sweetheart. It’s the mileage.” So, Darabont had Indy say, “It’s not the mileage, sweetheart. It’s the years.” How funny is that? Well, in the Entertainment Weekly interview, Spielberg said that the “It’s not the mileage, sweetheart. It’s the years” line represented for him the theme of the new film, even though that line will not be in the movie.
This brings me back to David Koepp and Creative Screenwriting. I’d like to share two passages from the article:
…Koepp did not want Indy “to make references to the previous films,” which would have turned the project into a fan script and something unrealistic. As Koepp points out, “I don’t think people remember their specific dialogue from 25 years ago and refer to it in the present…” Koepp could not rely on fans’ knowledge and affection from the previous films; positive feelings “have to be treated like a bonus, not taken as part of your creative endeavor.”
The idea to bring back Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s love interest from Raiders, was present in some previous drafts Koepp read and not in others. He found, however, that “the drafts that she was in worked a lot better than the ones that she wasn’t.” On a more fundamental level, it was for Koepp “a really obvious and strong choice because she’s great, and she’s his one true love.” Moreover, if this film proves to be the last in the series, it will give their story a sense of closure.
Does anyone recall Indiana Jones and The Sons of Darkness? This was a fan script with a troubled past as the writer at first tried to pass it off on the web as a Jeffrey Boam script. After a number of cease and desist orders from Paramount, he finally fessed up to having written a bogus script. He wanted to get LucasFilm’s attention because he was so desperate to work with them. (He got their attention and almost went to jail.) So now Sons of Darkness sits amongst a heap of Indy fan scripts like Realm of the Dead, Blade of Abraham, and Spear of Destiny. I have not read them all.
I have read Sons of Darkness, though. Horrible. However, let it be said that this kid did not reference any lines from the previous films. He, too, brought back Marion Ravenwood and with her a teenage boy named “Abner” who, of course, turned out to be Indy’s son (conceived during their time on the pirate boat in Raiders). In the end, Sons of Darkness brought all three together to live happily ever after.
My question to David Koepp would have to be – how did you NOT write a fan script? The concept, action, characters, and storyline, which was created in collaboration with Spielberg and built upon years of treatments by other pros, will undoubtedly be superior to anything an amateur’s going to write or conceive. But the ideas behind Indy’s personal story, that is, the return of Marion with a son is actually no better in concept than fan scripts that have already been written.
I wonder if Koepp has it backwards. A line like, “It’s not the mileage, sweetheart. It’s the years,” would surely not be the end of the world. Most fans would’ve loved it. This isn’t reality. This is an old school 40's serial adventure story. To me, it’s the return of Marion that screams “fan script” more than anything else. Koepp said that he could not “rely on fans’ knowledge and affection from the previous films.” Uhh, wait a sec, Dave, you brought back a character that the fans had to have seen in the first film to understand their story. You are COMPLETELY relying on knowledge and feelings from the first film by including her, which may do more harm than good to her character's legacy. I’ll wait to reserve judgment, but what's less believable? Indy saying “it's not the mileage, it's the years” or Marion running through the woods with Indy 25 years after Raiders?
Let me ask another question – does it at all reek of lazy writing to bring Marion back because (maybe) it would be a hell of a lot of work to get fans to fall in love with a new female character?
Another question - when did we, as fans, ever get the impression that Marion was Indy’s true love? She may very well have been the most popular girl in the series, but how does that mean she’s his true love? She was strong-willed and perfect for Indy in many ways, but that doesn’t mean they could’ve lived happily together. Rhett and Scarlett were perfect for each other and look what happened to them! We know that Indy and Marion had a checkered past before they got together in Raiders. So who’s to say they wouldn’t break up again? I can’t help but wonder if Jeb Stuart got it right in his script when he had Indy marry a new character and brought back his old flames in one very funny scene in a bar. Wouldn’t the introduction of a new love interest for Indy be more in keeping with the spirit of the series?
For me, all of this begs an even bigger question --
What are the distinguishing characteristics of fan scripts?
I’m not sure, except to say that it would be amateur in every respect – cardboard characters, horrific dialogue, poor execution of the story, and a concept that doesn’t work and maybe be born out of an obscure reference in a previous film. Other than that, I really can't say.
What are your thoughts?