Monday, June 16, 2008

50 Strengths of Darabont’s Draft


[The photo above is courtesy of
our friend Alan at Burbanked.]

Hey guys,

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. Darabont’s script has leaked onto the web (I believe it’s still available
here) and Indy fans are talkin'!

Let me just say that a hell of a lot of love and heart went into Frank Darabont’s rejected Indiana Jones and the City of Gods script. There is NO question that his script would have been THE film Indy fans were waiting for. There is also NO question about its superiority of craftsmanship over Koepp’s or most likely any other draft.

Let us validate his work once and for all.

Hope you enjoy it.

-MM

-------------------------------------

50 Strengths of Darabont’s Draft

** Total Spoilers **

1) City of Gods is a vastly superior title.

2) Indy – Okay, let’s talk characters. I’m reminded of a complaint Languatron’s Bane made about Crystal Skulls. He was one of three guys that posted scathing
early reviews. Bane complained that there was nothing about CS that stood on its own, that it was constantly leaning on the past, and failed to bring anything new to the franchise. He gave an example from Rocky Balboa: “Stallone used nostalgia to further a new story – Rocky’s obsession with the past allowed the audience to relive some of their favorite moments, but it also showed us who Rocky is now – lonely, lost, a little pathetic. It used old story elements to tell something new.” That is EXACTLY what Darabont did with Indiana Jones. Indy’s age wasn’t addressed with a few throwaway jokes that had no bearing on the story. Indy’s age was addressed through character, particularly in the opening scenes. He’s no longer doing adventures, but he still loves archeology. He’s out there camping, riding his horse, collecting Indian pottery, taking photos, and making notations. After being forced to take a leave of absence and getting humiliated in the newspapers, Indy gets sloshed and tours the college museum at night, which gave us the opportunity to hilariously relive the opening scene of Raiders, a moment I will treasure forever. But you see, we weren’t reliving this moment for the sake of reliving it. This was an integral part of a new story about the different obstacles Indy faced at this stage of his life within this very different era. Who wouldn’t look back at himself and his past?

3) Indy’s Motivation – My biggest complaint about CS was the fact that Indy was either under-motivated or there were too many confusing multiple motivations. This was never a problem in City of Gods. Indy falling under suspicion of being a commie is what drove the story forward. Period. He left for NYC out of self-preservation and to solve the mystery of the secret activities of the Russian spies.

4) Marion – I could’ve easily titled this article “50 Ways Darabont Got Marion Right.” She was, first of all, given a far better, more humorous entrance in the bar, like a femme fatale from a 50’s film noir. I loved it. And what does she do? She walks up to Indy, punches him in the face (knocking him off the bar stool and on his ass), and says, “What the hell are you doing here?” THAT, my friends, is Marion Ravenwood. And THAT is how you introduce her character in an Indiana Jones film. But then what does she do? She tells him off, downs his martini (also in her character, if you recall), and she storms out of the bar drinking straight from a gin bottle. I love you, Frank Darabont.

5) In CS, Marion was practically an inanimate object that was added just for show. In COG, Marion was an integral part of the action. Consider the airplane sequence. Indy screams at her, “PULL UP! PULL UP!” She says, “I WOULD IF THERE WEREN’T A DEAD GUY ON THE STICK!” “WELL TRY HARDER!” Hehehe... I loved it.

6) And let us now praise the banter between Indy and Marion. Darabont got their banter down so well I doubt anyone in the audience would’ve felt that his version of Indy IV was an empty exercise. There is so much entertainment value in seeing those two go back and forth that almost every audience member would’ve thought, “Yup, THIS is why I want to sit through another Indiana Jones film.” There are so many examples of their great banter, but I’ll provide just one. How about when they’re both flying two, parallel, damaged planes:

Marion: NOW WHAT?
Indy: CAN YOU FLY?
Marion: DOES ONE LESSON COUNT?
Indy: OKAY, PLAN B! GRAB THE SKULL! I’LL GET MY WING UP TO YOUR COCKPIT! YOU WINGWALK OVER TO ME AND WE’LL FLY AWAY!
Marion: YOU CALL THAT A PLAN?
Indy: YOU GOT A BETTER ONE?
Marion: WHY DON’T YOU COME TO ME?
Indy: UH, LET’S SEE… COULD IT BE BECAUSE YOUR PLANE IS SHOT TO PIECES AND WILL FALL APART AT ANY MOMENT? NO? OKAY, HOW ABOUT I CAN’T FLY AND WINGWALK AT THE SAME TIME! AM I GETTING WARMER? LOOK, EITHER DO IT OR DIE ARGUING!

7) The Evolving Relationship – I have said this many times before, but great screenwriting charts an evolving relationship over the course of three acts between lead characters. You never had that in CS. Marion shows up alone in the jungle, single, and with his child. It couldn’t have been more obvious where their storyline was headed. In Darabont’s script there was an evolution to their relationship – first anger about seeing each other again, a nice plot twist about her being married to another archeologist, her throwing into Indy’s face how great and handsome her husband is, Indy’s regrets, and then there’s Indy’s choice about her in the end, and ultimately, their reconciliation. That is a vastly superior approach to their storyline.

8) The Baddies – Unlike Irina Spalko, Darabont’s multiple baddies were truly bad, and he made a point of stamping fear into our hearts about each one before Indy had to fight them. The Thin Man was not only a scary figure in the warehouse, but he also shoots the federal agent in the museum (as well as the artifacts, much to Indy’s chagrin) before he tries to kill Indy. As Indy and Marion were talking over their plans at the banquet table, President Escalante (“El Presidente”) has a line of men paraded across a stage behind them and hung for treason.

9) Warehouse – There is much to say about Darabont’s warehouse sequence, which was undeniably superior to what we saw in the finished film. Let’s talk about the slow start to the script. It is, first of all, now more in Indy’s nature to have a slow start to a new adventure. I recall someone asking, “why did we have to see that diner scene?” Oh come on, you screenwriters, you should be able to see why Darabont had that diner scene! Do you recall my complaints about Mac’s betrayal in CS? Mac's betrayal happened way too quickly and before we ever had the chance to get to know the guy. It was like character whiplash! But here, Darabont gets it right and accomplishes two things with the diner scene: 1) He makes us spend time with Yuri and makes us love Yuri with all his talk about how much he loves America before he reveals Yuri’s betrayal. 2) “I love America” sets up Indy’s line before those two characters duke it out. The fact that we spend time with Yuri gives an added emotional punch to his betrayal and makes the audience more involved in the fight scene.

10) The writing styles of the warehouse sequence is a classic showdown between on-the-nose dialogue vs. dialogue with
subtext. I’ll take “No loading zone, pal” over “Damn, I thought that was closer” any day of the week. “I thought that was closer” was obvious, on-the-nose, and not very funny. “No loading zone, pal,” means Indy’s going to royally kick your ass. How about the difference between “I like Ike” vs. “I love America?” “I like Ike” was never setup. It came out of NOWHERE and bombed with audiences in both screenings I sat through. Darabont’s “I love America” was full of subtext. Indy was throwing Yuri’s words right back in his face meaning that he’s a big liar. He’s also basically saying, “this is why I’m foiling your plans. You really DON’T love America, you two-faced liar, but I do.”

11) The Collision – Did you notice the improvement in the head-on collision? In CS, Indy uses his whip to swing out of his jeep right before a head-on collision, a spectacle that would involve three vehicles. The collision in Darabont’s version was a textbook example of how a moment like that SHOULD BE DONE. So Indy’s driving his truck down a big aisle in this warehouse and he finds himself trapped. There’s a jeep headed straight toward him and another one right behind him. He quickly spins the truck to slide into a side aisle while the two jeeps collide right in front of him. And then what happens? Indy puts it in gear and – BOOM – plows right through the wreckage and takes off! Then you cut to Indy looking back, grinning from ear-to-ear, and THAT, my friends, would have been THE MOMENT that heralded THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN of Indiana Jones! This is HIS MOVIE and he’s back and better than ever! If you can just imagine Williams’ sweeping score, Indy grinning after that moment of triumph, and I swear to you, audiences around the world would’ve applauded. This wasn’t just about seeing a head-on collision. It was action punctuated with Indy’s moment of triumph; it was a big, fun statement about an iconic figure.

12) So what does Darabont do right after that? He does what Koepp consistently failed to do, what is so crucial to an Indiana Jones film, and that is, once Indy gets out of one bad predicament, he finds himself in an even worse predicament. I loved how he set it up, too. The Russians run to the end of the aisle to cut him off but they see a sign, “Engine Test Area. Extreme Hazard!” and they let Indy pass by. And there’s Indy laughing. But his laugh turns into a classic “oh shit” look as he drives right between two rows of massive jet engines, which of course, the Russians turn on. There are only two words to describe the jet engine sequence: GREAT FUN. Here you would’ve had the sense that Indy really got himself into some big trouble, a feeling we never got in the finished film. And you have this humorous moment of Indy frantically driving his truck forward and backward to avoid the random engine blasts. I know that would’ve played well.

13) Rocket Sled – In CS, Indy battles some unknown Russian guy we don’t really care about on the rocket sled. In COG, Indy battles YURI, the man who betrayed him. Yuri: “Sorry about your truck.” Indy: “Sorry about your plutonium.” Not only that, Darabont gives us a fight while the rocket sled was rocketing down the track.

14) Details – Guys, I admired the hell out of Darabont’s attention to detail. I loved the choice of the Russian Burp Guns:


Plus, we had Indy driving up to college in his very classy, open-top, BMW 328 Roadster. Yeah, baby!


15) Scene with Dad - I like it. It’s not happy, funny banter that we’re used to seeing, but it serves an important purpose in the narrative. It escalates the growing tension at home, defines why Indy needs to leave, sets up the pay off at the end about his love life, and ultimately, Dad supports him by holding off the police.

16) Travel Montage – I loved the travel montage! We weren’t watching a montage for the sake of watching a montage just because it’s always been part of Indiana Jones films. Darabont does something FUN with it and he gives us a comical shift in values where it starts with Indy flying out of New York City in style in a beautiful McDonald-Douglas Constellation. But then, over the course of his layovers on the way to Peru, the quality of his transportation progressively deteriorates until he’s riding a “scary old DC-3 with rags stuffed in the windows… and the aisle is packed with crates of live goats.” And then it ends with Indy “jostling around in the most godawful rickety bus ever…” I love it! That’s the heart of screenwriting, isn’t it? Scenes and sequences are almost always about a shift in values of some kind. Tension gets raised, circumstances change, etc. What did we get in Koepp’s script? Indy looking at Mutt waxing his bike. Ho hum.

17) By the way, seeing Indy in Manhattan and Grand Central would’ve visually taken our breaths away. That would’ve been cool.

18) A Bomb – I think the A Bomb sequence would’ve played better in the context of Darabont’s narrative. The events that lead up to it in CS were so over-the-top that this just made it seem that much more preposterous and bloated. In COG, though, nothing was terribly unbelievable leading up to this sequence. And we never would’ve felt this was done just for the sake of doing it, because Indy runs into this town with the Russians hot on his trails. There was definitely more tension in Darabont’s draft leading up to the A bomb explosion. You may recall in CS, the Russians drove into town and sorta wandered around looking for Indy. In COG, the Russians were HOT ON HIS TRAILS. And it was funnier. Indy yells at the troops in Russian, “You idiots shot the car!” They respond, “Shut up and run!”

19) Tension, Act One – Okay, let’s consider all the ways Darabont kept up the tension throughout his script. We had in Act One the rising tension inside the warehouse of a dirty deal going bad, which was right before Indy’s intervention. As I mentioned, there was more tension leading up to the A bomb explosion in the fake town. With Indiana Jones and the Mushroom Cloud, we saw in CS, Indy looking at the cloud and walking off. In COG, Indy looks at the cloud, turns, and raises his arms because the U.S. military had guns pointed at him.

20) Tension, Act Two – Even when Indy returned to college, Darabont never let up on the tension. We had the federal agent watching him and taking notes. We had the Thin Man in the museum. We had police arriving at Indy’s home while he was talking to his dad. We had the gangster watching him in NY. In Peru, he was surrounded by “a nefarious bunch” in the bar. You always felt like things could go wrong very easily and quite often, that’s what happened. Oh, there was also the wall of El Presidente’s photos of all the people who tried to find the City of Gods and never returned. (And I love that moment where Marion looks at the wall and through gritted teeth and a forced smile, she says to El Presidente, “Lovely tradition. Lovely.”) What else? Lars’ death helped maintain good tension during the expedition. And then there was the tension in the showdown between Yuri, El Presidente, and Indy’s team. This sequence began with a simple fight between Indy and Peter, followed by the arrival of El Presidente, followed by Yuri’s men (talk about ESCALATING TENSION), which was followed by an unexpected conclusion that creates pandemonium, that is, big damn ants. Darabont described very graphic destruction.

21) Tension, Act Three – What did I say about the third act of CS? “How can there be any tension leading up to the Third Act when Indy has the McGuffin in his possession and he’s doing what the Russians want him to do (without forcing him to do it) and he’s also doing what the skull wants him to do…? If anything, the Russians should’ve obtained the skull in the chase sequence, captured Indy and the gang, and they all marched up to the chamber together.” And that’s exactly what happened in COG. Not only that, we had the tension of them tied to the TNT and a 3-minute fuse. That’s great tension. You also had Oxley growing more terrified as they arrive at the grand plaza of The Great Stone Temple of the Gods. And then Porfi walks down the steps holding the machete and severed head. THAT is how it’s done.

22) The Big Bang Theory of Film – In the comments section of the
50 Flaws article, I remember saying about CS that there should be a new screenwriting theory: The Big Bang of Openings! If you open with a big bang, you damn well better close with an even bigger bang! In COG, Darabont did not make that mistake. His ending wasn’t just about a spaceship taking off. There was far more to it than that and we got an even bigger bang than what he gave us in the opening.

23) Indy was allowed to show pain.

24) Darabont never sanitized the violence.

25) After complaining about pacing missteps in CS, I admired a number of places where the pacing felt so right to me. I loved the scene in Indy’s Hotel Room with Marion. That was great screenwriting. The scene was book-ended with a setup and payoff. The setup was Marion walking around the room while they talk as she searches for the Crystal Skull. The scene ended with the visual revelation about where Indy had kept it hidden – in the overhead light fixture.

26) It ain’t the mileage, sweetheart. It’s the years. – Following the airplane crash, Indy could barely move. Marion says, “What’s the matter, Jones? Mileage finally catching up with you?” Indy says, “It ain’t the mileage, sweetheart. It’s the years.” Indy wasn’t just saying this line of dialogue for the sake of saying it. In this context, I think it’s perfectly acceptable. First of all, on multiple occasions, Indy was allowed to show us his pain. This line, just as in Raiders, was in the context of his pain and in the context of his relationship with Marion, and a part of their ongoing battle of wits. He's also him proving himself to her again. It was a moment of honesty, too, about how he’s changed, and that, in a small way, rekindles her respect for him again.

27) Exposition – What did we learn about
exposition in our study last year? The best exposition is usually fed to the audience in the context of something else. Koepp gave us two talking heads in a diner. The exposition in Indy’s Hotel Room in Peru in COG was spoonfed to us in the context of Indy and Marion’s rocky relationship and dueling wits.

28) Same goes for the exposition about the skulls between Peter and Indy at the expedition base camp. This wasn’t just about the skulls. This was also about two archeologists with different belief systems challenging each other in front of Marion and trying to prove who is the better archeologist. Peter wins that battle, and Marion says, “I knew you two would hit it off.” Of course, Indy would win in the end.

29) The revealing of the McGuffin was, indeed, more special. The slow revelation, and then the Secondary Heading of “INDY” (to indicate a closeup) who is completely thrilled and yet completely stunned. You know damn good and well in this moment that Indy cares DEEPLY about the skull. “Skull of Destiny. My God,” he says. And then we have a moment where Indy is entranced by the skull, which suddenly ends with the pounding on the door. The moment where Indy was entranced by the skull in the CS was preceded by a lot of verbal exposition about its powers. Here, we learn with a simple moment of “show, don’t tell” that it HAS powers without being TOLD that it has powers before we SEE it. The pounding on the door and gangster watching Indy are just more fine examples of how Darabont never let up on the tension.

30) Great transitions – We had Yuri interrogating Reggie the gangster and asking him, “And what did this man look like?” and then we cut to a tight shot of Indy. We had El Presidente saying to Yuri, “Now. Tell me about this skull,” and then we cut to a tight shot of the skull. And at the end, we had Indy telling Ike, “Mr. President, there are only two words I’d like to say today…” and we cut to “I do.” I cannot think of one good transition in Koepp’s script.

31) Setups and Payoffs – The setups and payoffs were managed better. Remember my complaint about the scorpion sting in CS? “What was the point of the scorpion sting on Mutt's hand? Shouldn't that have led to something else? Or a setup to a joke of some kind later?” Well, here we had a poisonous, black, red-striped frog that killed Lars. That was not only used to help maintain tension during the expedition, but it was also a setup to a funny payoff in the Third Act.

32) Plus, the stream of frogs leaping out of Lars’ mouth was the kind of classic Indiana Jones brand of “EWWW!” moment that was sadly missing in spades in Crystal Skulls.

33) Here, the action was always Indy’s, not handed over to some kid wannabe. This was INDY’S movie, as well it should have been.

34) Monkeys - Koepp’s script: bad monkey scene. Darabont’s script: good monkey scene. Koepp’s script: nothing funny about his monkey scene. Darabont’s script: the whole point of the monkey scene was to enjoy two funny gags: 1) the monkey landing on Indy’s chest as he’s hanging on for dear life on the landing gear under Marion’s plane, which makes the monkey scream, which makes Indy scream, and 2) a few seconds later, when Indy’s back in the plane, we get a great line of dialogue: “the monkey pooped on my chest.”

35) Snakes - Koepp’s script: bad snake scene. Darabont’s script: good snake scene. I recall, after they made an announcement about Indy IV, complaining that they’ll probably give Indy a character arc, and I remember Unk saying, “Yeah, they’ll make him overcome his fear of snakes.” And damned if that wasn’t exactly what Koepp tried to do with that stupid sandpit scene. But with Darabont, it was handled better. Indy surprises everyone by announcing that he’s overcome his fear of snakes. But then he has a really bad experience with a really big snake, and thus, he’s fearful all over again. It’s perfect. The more Indy tries to change, the more he stays the same.

36) In CS, I never understood the “wish” in the third act. It just came out of nowhere. Here, it’s explained on the way to the lost city.

37) I’m running long, so I need to shorten my last few points. The treatment of Oxley, his powers, etc, was handled far better. It was a surprise to me that he was in the cage. That was a great moment.

38) Waterfalls - To have Oxley announce beforehand that there will be three waterfalls is no fun. You mentally count them as they go over. That’s NO FUN! Here, we don’t know how many waterfalls there are. Each new waterfall is a surprise. Darabont had four in total, and it’s a running gag. It would’ve played better, because you’d be going through that experience WITH them, not counting them off.

39) Yes, the swinging in the vines scene is better in COG. It’s Indy trying to swing, which would’ve been funny to watch. Plus, he’s chasing after something HE desperately wants.

40) I never understood, as they were running out of the Chamber of Gods in CS, what that whole room with the spinning wheels and water was all about. Here, Darabont explains the aquaducts before going into the Chamber, and thus, no confusion.

41) I wasn’t confused about the number of Skulls, either.

42) Darabont never indulged in confusing double meanings of words.

43) The plot with the FBI and Indy being under suspicion was a fully developed plot. In CS, we had no idea how this plot got resolved and Indy’s name restored. Here, the plot about suspicions of Indy carried over into Peru with the U.S. diplomat recognizing Indy and keeping an eye on him. This was plausible because Indy’s name had been in the newspapers as this was a scandal for the college. We also know how this plot gets resolved. The diplomat witnessed Indy fighting the Russians on the expedition and thus, cleared his name.

44) Okay, the finale. It was a bit long, but it made much more sense to me than what we saw in CS. The aliens were pissed because they DIDN’T have all 13 skulls, and that is why they were in trouble. The aliens were all about giving them what they want before killing them.

45) INDY makes the choice to put the skull on the head of one of the skeletons, NOT because the skull told him to. The only thing the skull told him was which skeleton the skull should be placed upon. Even then, I think that verbal piece of exposition could’ve been handled visually with perhaps the skull glowing near the appropriate skeleton.

46) The ending (brilliantly, I thought) put Indy into a position that exploited a lifelong inner conflict – his love of knowledge or Marion. And ironically, in a contrast to the ending in Raiders, she saves him.

47) The fact that Indy chose Marion over his lifelong desire for knowledge in that crucial moment in the Third Act when his life was on the line gave an added emotional boost to the wedding scene.

48) No bad third act dialogue.

49) I know how some feel that, “well, Darabont’s script still involved aliens and that just doesn’t feel like an Indiana Jones film to me.” I’ll give you that. But Darabont didn’t have the luxury of choosing the McGuffin. So the question I have to ask is, given what Darabont had to work with, did he realize the full potential of this concept? YES.

50) And finally, in the 50th comment in the
50 Flaws article, I wrote, “they should’ve turned to me for the writing duties.” I take it all back. Had they turned to me, I would’ve said, “Lucas, you dumb ass, you should go with Darabont’s script.” Hehehe

58 comments:

Carlo Conda said...

Brilliant.

ps. I would've said the same thing to Lucas. Maybe even a bit more... lol.

Anonymous said...

To bad, so sad. I did like this script a lot better.

I do agree the third act was a little long, but he had to describe everything that required it to be longer.

"The monkey pooped on my chest" Was great! I do love humor in things like this.

After Indy's been swallowed by the large snake and goes into his tent to see the little snake. He screams. That was great! Can't get over his fear no matter what. Curve ball.

I agree with your feelings on the matter.

What was Lucas' feelings on this script?

I can see him thinking this could be an athiest type thing(don't think he is one). If this was the chosen script... It would've been rated-R(I'm sure he didn't want that). They could've changed some things to make this so it's not rated-R.

There's always two sides to the story... What was his reasons for not going this route? I know the die hard Indy fans don't care about his feelings on the matter, but it's his feelings that matter the most.

Anonymous said...

“Lucas, you dumb ass, you should go with Darabont’s script.”

No shit.

Great coverage, MM

Bravo.

Rob

aldentre said...

I'm not necessarily doubting its authenticity, but do professional drafts typically contain so many typos? There seemed to be an over abundance of them.



Sad, though, this would have been fun to see on screen.

Carlo Conda said...

If it was a fake, would there not be typos too? Perhaps the con artist would over-revise the script in order to take out all typos as to make it look professional - TOO professional.
Or perhaps the con artist would LEAVE the typos in there, knowing that people like me would use this path of logic. In this case, you'd be correct to question the typos.
But maybe the con artist would've known that I'd call him on calling my thought process, so he would have removed all of the typos, in which case we can prove that this script is, in fact, not written by a con artist.

Lol

Look half way down this Lost script.
http://bp2.blogger.com/_RrObyQ3XzcY/SE9_gWoMSsI/AAAAAAAAZdg/lfeOgyhykkc/s1600-h/l5.jpg

Spot the typo? :P

Anonymous said...

Typos? You guys are so pedantic. Same militant nonsense I put up with 12 years ago. It has typos?!? So it must be fake. Guys, even pros miss the keys on occasion.

And no hate mail please. I'm just here for the great coffee. ;)

James said...

4) Totally agree. Marion was awesome. Her entrance is terrific. The scene you describe is basically, the opposite of Raiders. Indy in a bar, and Marion coming to meet him.

Darabondt missed an opportunity though. The scene is a completely talking heads scene.

In Raiders, when Indy shows up wanting the head piece to the staff of Ra, we have a very, very similar scene, that ends with Marion saying:

"Come back later"
"Why?"
"Because I said so."

Really... it's so that the Germans can come and Indy can save the day. And that's because, Indy is a GENRE film.

There needs to be "adventure" conflict, rather than simply, "Do you have the skull, yes, no, yes, no, okay let's team up and work together."

Raiders ends with Marion's bar burning to the ground and Marion stating that they are now partners after what just happened.

Darabondt missed this opportunity.

8) I agree. The problem is there are too many. Tiered badguys are fine, as most Indys have a hierarchy of badguys that Indy must fight through. The problem here, is that there are so many badguys all with ulterior motives on their own side that go head to head and distract from Indy.

I never felt like the movie answers the question: Who is the main threat to Indy?

Perhaps this is because of the missed opportunities I spoke of in #4, above. In Raiders, every opportunity is taken to have a head to head with the Nazis.

9) You probably read my "Why do we open in a diner? comment."

I agree it is a GREAT scene that shows Yuri's character. He is likable from the start. Comparing him to Mac is no competition at all.

The problem is, this is an Indiana Jones film. A certain type of opening is expected.

Also, introductions of characters in the opening moments of a movie are VITAL times. I feel this opening was squandered, trying to introduce Yuri, instead of Indy.

Why is Indiana Jones even an archaeologist in this movie?

The Skull has been found for him. He's really more of a courier/messenger.

In the 3 previous movies, the opening has put Indy in the middle of a situation where him being an archaeologist was VITALLY important.

The 35 pages of opening in Darabondt's script does not. It feels more like a James Bond opening, than an Indiana Jones one.

The reason the scene is inappropriate is not because it is a bad scene (it isn't), but because tonally, it does not fit in the movie.

The ONLY reason Indy is there is because we're going to run through Area 51, see jet engines, and a huge nuke go off behind him.

35) I disagree on this one. Both are extremely cartoony.

Indy eaten whole by a giant snake to burst out of its stomach ... that's a little bit of a stretch even for Indy.

49) The mark of a great screenwriter is the ability to tell your boss that aliens don't belong in an Indiana Jones movie.

A ton of stuff was left out of Raiders when Kasdan wrote his draft. He tried to address all the set pieces Lucas wanted, but many didn't fit. (And ended up in ToD).

For some reason, this practice of picking and choosing the best set pieces for a script has gone out of fashion. Now, it seems, the objective is to throw EVERYTHING into the mix.

Look at Lucas's interests and look at the final INDY IV film.

It's American Graffiti meets Indy meets Star Wars.

Of course he is going to be bias toward those things. It's what he is into. Your job, is to make the best screenplay you can, and stick up for it tonally.

If you really, really wanted to make this an alien pic, there should have been an earlier setup that elaborates Indy's feelings toward the little green men.

Like, Indy doesn't believe in aliens... Why is there no physical (cough*Archaeological*cough) evidence of their existence?

And that plays into the knowledge theme as well. And makes his turning away at the end, even more difficult.

The problem is... it feels like Lucas ran out of ideas for Indy. And went with something else he liked -- spacemen.

As a screenwriter, bring in IDEAS, bring in alternatives. And know the bounds of the story.

*) I thought the scene where Indy enters his classroom, and its a substitute teacher writing on the chalkboard was brilliant. It gets a laugh. Is a throwback, but a complete reversal of what we know.

Burbanked said...

Great job, double-M. You make so many terrific points - even MORE than 50! - that I just want to discuss each one of them, but time is short so I'll hit just a few highlights:

#24: Darabont never sanitized the violence: GREAT! I hated how CS felt so watered down and dulled by whoever's wimpy sensibilities. I think by page 10 Darabont has Yuri shoot someone at point-blank range with a great dialogue punchline. THAT's how it's done.

#43 (kinda): the resolution of Indy's FBI problems. I thought the bit with Eisenhower was terrific; a great payoff of the "I like Ike" line as well as a definitive resolution of any lingering "what happened with that government problem" question. Not to mention that a lavish medal-bestowing ceremony recalls the end of STAR WARS - how could Lucas NOT like that shameless bit of cross-promotion?

#35: Here's the only place I'll disagree with you. I thought the gigantic snake bit was a bit too cartoony, MEN IN BLACK-ish. Darabont does an excellent job of tying in the gigantic animals with the effects of the City of the Gods - there's more building tension, by the way - but this gag felt a bit too over the top for me. The payoff's hilarious, though.

There's a whole lot to love in this draft, and a whole lot of heartache, too, for what might have been. Darabont's draft isn't perfect, and it's tough to know how many they had to slog through to get to this point, but the truth is his take provides a far better framework for what could have developed than what they ended up with on the screen.

Splendid work, MM, as always. There was a lot I meant to catch up on this morning but this was my first and only stop! And thanks for the links!

Jonathan said...

This is going to sound kind of silly, but reading your article made me a bit emotional, probably because it reminded me of "What could have been." I read the script as soon as you mentioned it, and I was so swept up in the adventure that all of my bitter memories of the Crystal Skull temporarily faded away. Your positive feedback on Darabont's draft of course brought them back, but that would have happened anyway.

What amazes me the most about Darabont's draft (and I'd like you to elaborate more on this if possible) is that I forgave the implausibility of the bomb sequence this time around, while in the Crystal Skull it completely kicked me out of the movie. I sort of understand why that is, but I can't quite articulate it. Is it just because the rest of Darabont's script is so good? Is it because it makes more sense the way he wrote it? I don't think I'm asking the right questions.

Burbanked said...

@Jonathan - I think the A-bomb sequence is a bit more motivated in Darabont's draft because we see Indy running from the town alongside the Russians and then he makes the decision to go back. This makes all the difference in the world because he realizes how futile survival is going to be, but running is a hell of a lot more futile than shielding himself might be. Both survival tactics are foolish, idiotic, can't possibly work, etc. But given a choice, Indy weighs his options and makes a choice that feels true to his character. Darabont also shows us the refrigerator overtaking the Russians as they get incinerated - which, naturally, shows us that Indy was right. It's still implausible, but I think it's a better moment because we saw Indy figure it out and we saw him - once again - "choose wisely".

kevinbroom said...

I thought the kiss of death for this movie was "Story by George Lucas". I'm looking forward to reading this version of the script to see how different screenwriters handled the same story elements. Having seen the finished film, it's interesting to see how Mystery Man's comments intersect with problems I had with the film -- and how Darabont's script addresses those problems.

Carlo Conda said...

James said: "49) The mark of a great screenwriter is the ability to tell your boss that aliens don't belong in an Indiana Jones movie."

Woah woah, you just jumped the shark there. This is George Lucas we're talking about. It's likely some screenwriters DID tell Lucas that aliens don't belong in an Indy movie, and they likely didn't get to write a first draft.
Most of the problems you mention are largely due to George Lucas's vision. He wanted these things from Darabont, so don't expect Darabont to get all rogue on him and go against his notes. In this case, Darabont is a business partner, not a producer like George Lucas. There ARE limits to what screenwriters can do in these blockbuster situations.

Proust's Panda said...

I'm no George Lucas apologist, but Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford are both adults.

James said...

Carlo:

You say, "Wait, this is George Lucas we are talking about."

To that I say...

This is Frank Darabont we are talking about. The guy knows how to write.

As I said, Lawrence Kasdan eliminated elements of George Lucas "story" for the betterment of the script.

Frank Darabont can do the same. And probably should have. Remember, this version of the script was VETOED by Lucas.

Might as well do what's best for the story, if its going to be yea or neigh for whatever unknown reasons are rattling through Lucas's head, anyway. Don't ya think?

Might as well write something that's appropriate.

Carlo Conda said...

Seeing as the script Lucas chose didn't do what's best for the story (to the least extent), I doubt it would've helped.

Spanish Prisoner said...

To those who don't think Aliens belong in an Indiana Jones movie miss the point. Indiana Jones was made for the love these adventure b-movies from that era. And as you move on to the 50s you have to get into Area51 and aliens.

It doesn't feel right because Indiana Jones was stuck for two sequels in the 30s/40s era.

We missed the transition naturally.

George Lucas is a smart guy when it comes to stories but he's most propably an average writer from what we know. Maybe he doesn't care that much about writing lessons. Just the feeling must be right. Or maybe time ran out and Harrison Ford ain't getting younger. And there isn't much of an interesting archelogical adventure story you can set in the 60s. Hehe.

David Alan said...

Neither version is what an Indy movie should be. There really wasn’t a story that needed to be told. With that said...

Darabont’s version is UNQUESTIONABLY better than the version that made it to the big screen. Here are the two main reasons why:

1. He focused on Indy and Marion. The dialog between Indy and Marion moves the story. They feel like the couple I fell in love with in Raiders.

2. Indy is given something to do in the end. Having him face the ultimate knowledge, and choosing his love for Marion was pretty cool. Though, I do have to admit it was cheesy.

But sadly, the other obvious thing is that there's still quite a few of those moments of utter fucking stupidity from the film, like the multiple waterfalls and the A-bomb scene.

And the problem with the "nuked fridge" BULLSHIT is that, although it may be cool up on the screen, we all know that you can’t jump into a lead lined fridge and bounce several miles and survive the extreme heat and atomic shockwaves, it's just fucking idiotic.

Both also failed to make the danger FEEL palpable. There were no "oh shit moments" where I felt like Indy's gonna bite the dust.

But then again, I don't think the casual moviegoer goes to an Indy movie looking for anything even remotely resembling reality. They don’t want the movie to take itself too seriously. And that's what Lucas and Spielberg delivered. They had no intention to deliver anything other than a fun-filled summer action movie.

And to be honest, we students need to go to the theater with a more relaxed frame-of-mind and just watch the movie, just as any casual moviegoer would.

Anyway, if anything is apparent, it's that Spielberg didn't have his heart in this film. He just doesn’t seem to care anymore.

God, I hope I’m wrong.

-- David Alan

Danny said...

There actually were a few "oh shit" moments for me in this one. Like when he's in one plane and an unconscious Marion is still in the other, which just happens to be without a pilot and, uh, currently in a nosedive.

At first I wasn't really digging this dogfight scene b/c it's so far-fetched (though I did like the monkey here), but at that moment, I definitely said "Oh shit."

Love it.

Carlo Conda said...

To those who say "we need to relax and enjoy a fun action film" need to understand that some of us cannot 'enjoy' bad movies, simply put. We could turn our brains off, sure,and IndyIV would've been entertaining, but by turning our brains off we could be entertained by anything.

Make a movie about two people bonking each other with clubs over and over. It's garbage, sure, but as long as I turn my brain off I can enjoy the movie for the fun it was meant to be. Right?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I really wanted to bask again in the Indiana Jones experience. But what Lucas and gang gave us was a "shadowy reflection" of something once great.

I hated CS. Period. It was insulting, brainless, and a parody of itself. I can't believe we waited 20 years for it, and it held non of the magic found in Raiders. Even Doom is superior.

I hope they redeem themselves with a 5th one. At least then we can treat CS like Star Trek blank - the one that sits between 4 and 6.

Just to cleanse the palette, I watched Raiders again... exciting, inventive, realistic - that for me is Indiana Jones. Not that cartoon, Wile E Coyote abomination we got in CS.

All that talent... all that money... wasted.

David Alan said...

Danny -- C'mon, man. Did you seriously believe they were in danger? No way Darabont kills off Marion.

Carlo -- You missed the point.

From a SCREENWRITER perspective both versions show that Indy 4 had problems from day 1. Neither version is on par with the previous films. Neither version rekindled any fond memories of a kid and his brother being awestruck by "Raiders".

But when I take my SCREENWRITER cap OFF, it doesn't take much for me to be entertained by a movie. I'm not looking for a masterpiece, just to have fun!

And while the film had its share of flaws, I felt it worked pretty well for what it was -- namely, a B movie from the 1950's. It was worth the 4 dollar matinee admission. It’s far from a hideous movie.

People just took the movie too seriously. True "fans" are those who don’t stake too much claim in the movies and hold them as sacred. They watch the movies for what they’re worth, albeit good or bad...at least they give them a fair chance.

So there you go.

Anonymous -- "All that talent...all that money...wasted."

Hardly. Did you not see how much money this movie made? If you had said characters instead, I would agree.

-- David Alan

Proust's Panda said...

"True 'fans' are those who don’t stake too much claim in the movies and hold them as sacred. They watch the movies for what they’re worth, albeit good or bad...at least they give them a fair chance."

I smell a true Scotsman in the room.

Anonymous said...

"Hardly. Did you not see how much money this movie made? If you had said characters instead, I would agree."

Wasted money because what was produced won't ever be considered on par with Raiders - a film produced by the same megateam. Sure, Lucas made his dime back. And he may have entertained a new generation... but this old kid wasn't impressed.

And this whole argument about leaving your brain at the door because it's just a send-up to 50's B-movies is just plain nonsense. I didn't have to leave my brain at the door before watching the trilogy -- even 20 years later the films stand up, with Raiders miles above the others.

I'm well aware that Indy films are genre and push the envelope of believability... but I truly think Lucas and Spielberg forgot what excited them about the character in the first place.

Danny said...

David, I never thought she would die, but at that moment, I did pause and put myself in Indy's shoes--"How would I rescue her?"

When I came up completely blank, I was genuinely excited to keep reading and see how Darabont would figure this out.

To use your own words, that moment definitely rekindled fond memories of watching the trilogy with my older brothers. Definitely a lot moreso than anything in Koepp's film, anyway.

Caliburn said...

Hi, new vistor here.

Thanks, Mystery Man and anyone else who may have collaborated with you on the 50 Flaws/50 Strengths features. This is great, thoughtful stuff.

I'm still not sure we really needed an Indy 4. Last Crusade, whatever its weaknesses, seemed to bring a feeling of closure to the series.

However, there were a lot of things in Darabont's draft that I loved and am glad that I got to experience, even if only in my imagination and not on the screen where they belonged. I think Darabont had a superior angle on where this movie needed to go.

That said, I think we can all agree that this is just a draft and it could use some tweaking here and there. So as this is a screenwriting site, do you think there could be a feature like Ten Suggestions for Continuing to Improve the Darabont Script? And, hey, maybe ten for the Koepp script, too? (Ten is just a tentative number, of course, and could be reduced or expanded at your desire.)

The suggestions shouldn't drastically recast the whole story. No eliminating aliens or the crystal skulls, and the core character dynamics should remain close enough that it's recognizable as a variation on the given script rather than a whole new script. And although there's obviously many among us who would love to excise less-than-plausible moments like the refrigerator and the highly elastic tree, let's leave those kinds of changes out of the suggestions in this feature as well. Why? Since the refrigerator sequence (like the ants) apparently came from Jeb Stuart's very early draft, let's assume that someone in the production is very attached to these action sequences and nothing could be done about them. This will be more fun and fair if we work under some constraints, like Darabont and Koepp did, even if we don't have the inside knowledge to perfectly duplicate those constraints.

(We're certainly welcome to continue bemoaning things like the aliens or the refrigerator in the comments, I'm just talking about the proposed feature article(s).)

Beyond these two restrictions, suggestions could address broader script concerns (reducing characters, adding or eliminating scenes, changing someone's motivations) or specific details (replace this dialogue, alter these critters).

The changes need not be fully formed, though. Obviously if you tug on one thread, the whole fabric will need some re-weaving, and for a frivolous mind experiment like this it's asking too much to actually do a lot of that re-weaving. So you're perfectly welcome to say: I'd like to do this, without having a thorough idea of how to do it or what all the ramifications would be. For example, in the Koepp draft, if you were to recommend getting Marion and Indy to spend some time together without Mutt, Mac, or Oxley, you don't have to know precisely how to split them apart or bring them back together. If you do have an idea, that's bonus.

To get interesting suggestions, the why is as important as the what. As some have mentioned, the first act of Darabont's script lacks an archaeological component. (It takes him a long time before he gets the skull, and up until that point it actually made me think of a Hitchcock wrong man thriller, but with Speilbergian storytelling style and action sequences.) So if you opt to address this (not saying you will, it's just an example) by cutting a scene in order to get Indy to the skull a little quicker*, you should say that this is the reason, not just recommend the cut without a reason.

Sound fun and worthwhile? I think so. If you need help, I have some thoughts I'd be happy to send you, although I'm ultimately more interested in what you and others would suggest.

-Caliburn

* For what it's worth, I loved Act 1 for being refreshingly different and can't imagine what I'd cut except the nuclear scene. (I might rewrite some scenes a little bit, but I wouldn't cut them.) However, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was a heavy factor in Lucas' rejection of Darabont's script, since he may have felt this early part of the story didn't feel like a proper, treasure-seeking Indiana Jones adventure.

David Alan said...

Anonymous -- No matter what, people were going to feel like Lucas and Spielberg trampled on something sacred. People had their hopes up so fucking high that there was ZERO CHANCE this was ever gonna do it for them.

Lucas has created a bunch of little monsters that need to Loosen The Fuck Up! sit back and put all pretense (we’ll never have the likes of Raiders again) aside. Had they done that, I think they would’ve liked the movie.

And people may moan now -- but they'll STILL pay to see anything Lucas and Spielberg makes, no matter how bad.

Also, I don’t think Lucas and Spielberg forgot anything. They made these movies to pay homage to what they loved growing up.

And we can take it or leave it.

Danny -- That’s cool.

-- David Alan

Oh, buy or sell Terminator 4 being a good movie?

Carlo Conda said...

"there was ZERO CHANCE this was ever gonna do it for them. "

So you're telling me CS is just as good as the first 3 Indys, but it's just our hype that's ruining CS? Please.

I know hype lets people down, but CS sucked. Period. If it was released in the eighties, it would've sucked too. If it was the first Indy, it would've sucked. Don't think we're stupid and have no idea what hype is. We know what we're saying when we say CS was garbage.

And Darabont's draft "did it" for us. Much more than the actual movie did. It's possible to live up to hype, it's just seldom it happens.
Heck, nobody was expecting the next coming of Christ. We just expected another Indy movie, even if it wasn't on the level of Raiders and, instead, Temple of Doom. People were HYPED for Temple of Doom too, and it didn't disappoint (especially not as much as CS does).

And, as I've said, if CS and Doom were swapped in terms of when they were released, people would still agree that CS sucked bollocks and Doom was better.

So please, don't treat us like whiny ignorant fanboys who haven't been through anticipation and reaction before.

Carlo Conda said...

Heck, you know what they could've done to make CS "do it" for us? Listen to MM's notes and simply not make it suck. CS is definitely fixable, and Darabont shows us that. It'll always have the stigma of being an unneeded movie, but nothing was standing in the way of its ability to simply be a good (or decent) movie.

Anonymous said...

"And we can take it or leave it."

I'm not a purist, mate, despite how I'm coming across here... and chillax already... your indignation is flaring up... I simply expected more from the team that brought us Raiders of the Lost Ark. It wasn't Uwe Boll's Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - it was produced and directed by two of the most influential and ground-breaking filmmakers ever to walk the planet. These masters of their craft had 20 years -- 20 years -- and 185 mil to perfect a 4th installment and CS is what they came up with?

Cthulhu help us all. ;)

David Alan said...

Carlo -- You are reading way too much into what I’m saying. And you took it out of context. I never said any of the things you accuse me of.

I never said that "Kingdom" was better than the original three. In fact, I said the movie should’ve never been made. Linky . You’ll dig it. I guarantee it.

Also, I never said you didn’t know what you talking about. I was speaking about what I’ve seen and the conversations I’ve had. I was just looking at the movie from another point of view.

And from what I've noticed people who really liked the original Indiana Jones movies hated it, but for people who are younger and don't quite remember them too much they love it.

That told me a lot of people -- not everybody -- had high hopes. And when it failed to deliver, they were pissed...rightfully so...but just because it didn’t meet my and others expectation doesn’t make the movies shit. It isn’t good. But it’s definitely not shit. Different strokes for various folks.

That’s all I was saying.

Anonymous -- I’m cool, man. I’m with you. I never thought you were a purist. You just didn’t care for the film. I’m with you. I even include myself into the post above. I'll pay to see anything Lucas and Spielberg makes. But I was just looking at things from a different perspective.

Anyway, I'm done. Too much shit getting lost in translation.

-- David Alan

Anonymous said...

No worries mate... speak your mind. Just didn't appreciate being lumped into the "spoiled fanboy" category when CS -- by all accounts -- is an inferior work of cinema.

Did I expect too much? I don't think so. Spielberg, from my perspective, phoned this one in because he wasn't happy with the script and was doing it out of his obligation and friendship to Lucas.

And perhaps if Lucas had paid more attention to the "fanboys" then Indy 4 might have been something to celebrate instead of dismiss.

But life goes on, Indy - er - David.

Cheers!

Jim said...

I just want to quickly say thanks for putting all this together. I have yet to see Indy 4 but have heard how awful it is. Can't wait to watch it and then check out 50 things that stunk about it, and 50 things why this version is better.

James said...

To David Alan:

Movies like MEET THE SPARTANS make money. That doesn't make them good.

You argue that people who are stuck on the previous 3 INDYs are the ones that have "missed the point" for not enjoying this movie.

I have to disagree. From what I've seen, its the younger generation stuck on the idea of INDY as a character, that don't let the quality of the film (and in general films) speak for themselves.

I think this is in part, why, so many nostalgic throwbacks to the 70s and 80s -- cartoons, remakes, etc, etc. are being made.

This is really no different than the Spiderman 3 hype over Venom being in the movie. A really crappy movie. That made lots of money.

Or DIE HARD 4. In fact, INDY 4 is almost exactly the same flawed formula as DIE HARD 4.

These things make money based on the franchise alone. This isn't new.

DC, as a comic book company, rarely turns a profit. Where it makes its money is on the simple licensing of 2 characters -- Superman and Batman. Point being, the comics don't even have to be good, they are advertising for characters that have become icons for pop culture.

END NOTE:

Just to clear up some facts -- Indy isn't based on B-movies from the 50s. Several of you have stated this as fact. It's based on SERIALS from the 50s. As I'm sure we can all agree, there is a pretty big difference between movies and TV in terms of medium.

James said...

I think the real problem is, as a handful of you have stated, there's no purpose for this movie to have been made. It's pure fluff.

None, of the INDYs prior were pure fluff. Even TOD was trying to juxtapose INDYs quest for "fortune and glory" against doing something for the betterment of a small unknown community -- save their kids from the Thugee mines.

It failed, but at least the movie was still trying to be ABOUT SOMETHING. And I believe that's why this movie still resonates with us, even though its flawed.

The problem is Crystal Skull doesn't know what it wants to be.

Is it a Russian spy movie about McCarthyism? Is it a movie about spacemen? Is it a movie about a father and son? Is it a movie about a lost love? Is it about a man who is past his prime?

The problem is Indy IV tries to be everything.

P.S. --

I personally, don't think aliens belong in an INDY movie. But I can sure as hell make them work in one, if at the end of the day, there must be aliens in the movie.

There's a beautiful connection between aliens and evidence. For a character like Indiana Jones, a man of science, an archaeologist -- all you have to do is pose the question: Do aliens exist? as your central dramatic question to the character.

Indiana, who doesn't believe in superstitious nonsense, surely isn't going to believe in the existence of extra terrestrials. Heck, he's been digging up the earth's past for decades -- and nothing he's unearthed has led him to believe there's life outside our own.

Which is a great tie-in to the Crystal Skull being an artifact that proves Indiana wrong.

The real problem, is this is a tough premise for an INDY film because there simply isn't that much room for "debate." Every scene needs to be slanted around the question "Do aliens exist?"

How you show this in an Adventure movie could be very problematic. It's not exactly an adventure premise.

----

The Russians on the other hand, could have easily had some vague Russian artifact from their history, and made an excellent adventure film around it.

The question with this type of movie would be more along the lines of -- Is Indy a patriot?

This premise lends itself much more to an INDY story. You can already picture the action sequences, not to mention the fact that INDY does seemingly unconventional things (leaving the damsel tied up instead of saving her) that could possibly complicate the implications that Indy is a Communist.

You could probably even dove tail the romantic story of Marion into this tale -- because a roughneck adventurer getting the girl that, at first, hates his guts seems to me at least, to be a very American ideal.

--

Movies are simple things. They are really proving or disproving a single question. To that, each and every scene needs to be focused toward that central question.

The movies that seem deep, that seem to delve into multiple themes and premises have simply found a way to use these other issues to answer the central question without distracting from it.

Mystery Man said...

Hey, guys! I’m going to try to respond to everyone, if I can.

Carlo – Thanks, Carlo

Anon – Thanks, man. At one point, Lucas said they’d have to rewrite it and take out the “offensive parts.” I wonder if Lucas was worried about the communist vs. America rhetoric hurting sales in Europe because at the time, anti-American fervor was at an all-time high outside of the U.S. Although, it’s still not good. But in the 50’s, American pride was huge, and you can’t avoid that if you want to be true to that timeframe. I wonder, too, if he felt that the backstory with the aliens would’ve offended religious groups.

Thanks, Rob.

Aldentre – Well, you have to make a distinction between those who are just writers and those who are writer-directors. Writer-directors, which Darabont falls under, may not be great writers, but they can be exceptionally gifted, visually-oriented storytellers. You, on the other hand, are not permitted to have so many typos - EVER. I will personally kick your ass. A writer ought to know how to write and a screenplay ought to look like a damn screenplay.

Carlo – In my book, there’s no such thing as too professional. Hehehe…

Anon – Sorry, man, but a writer ought to know how to write.

James – Talking heads isn’t so bad if there’s good tension, good conflict, and the audience is invested in a goal of some kind. Joshua James always reminds me that there’s nothing wrong with lots of dialogue so long as its superb dialogue, and I would agree. Pulp Fiction was quite talky but you never really felt it. With respect to too many bad guys, I wondered if that was a weakness. But if I had to choose between City of Gods and Crystal Skulls, I’ll take too many (really bad) bad guys over one weak, soft bad guy any day. Was that diner comment you? You’re right, though. They probably could’ve come up with a different way of accomplishing the same goals. When I first read it and then saw his betrayal, I was thrilled because Darabont got right what Koepp failed to do. I want to say, too, that this was just a first draft. As first drafts go, this is a homerun, and a lot of our complaints probably would’ve been resolved had they stuck with it and did revisions. Loved your other comments.

Alan – Thanks for your very kind words. Ya know, there felt like a number of references to Star Wars, particularly when Indy was saying things like “your highness.” On the snake – I hear ya, man. Not only that, this scene would’ve required CGI. Darabont was definitely in a CGI state of mind. But had they stuck with this draft, they probably would’ve toned it down and made it more realistic. At least, that’s what my suggestion would’ve been, like perhaps Indy gets wrapped in a (real) giant python and gets saved RIGHT before he dies. But the IDEA about Indy and snakes was better here. It’s comedy through reversals – the surprise of Indy having overcome his fear, a new incident with a big snake, and he’s afraid all over again. I love it!

Jonathon – That’s not silly. I was emotional reading Darabont’s draft! I, too, forgave the implausibility of the A Bomb scene, and I’m not sure I can articulate why. I think the context of the scene and all those little differences (the heightened tension, the humor) leading up to that moment can make all the difference in the world. It felt more in the spirit of an Indy film. I’m not sure how else to explain it.

Alan – And those Russians were HOT on his trails! That made a big difference!

Kevin – It was such an eerie feeling how almost every flaw I mentioned was perfectly addressed in Darabont’s draft. Everything I complained about was handled better. It gave me chills.

Carlo – There are limits.

Proust’s Panda – I certainly won’t argue with that.

James – I would just add that the circumstances were quite different when Kasdan wrote Raiders. Everyone wasn’t quite so fussy about so many different things.

Spanish Prisoner – Missing the transition is a good point.

David –The problem with you is that you’re too subtle. It’s hard to gauge what you really think about a subject. Hehehe… I love ya, man. All right. First, I must say that they made some really f*cking great fridges in the 1950’s. I’m just saying – they kicked ass. Hehehe...

Le me ask a bigger question – what is the point of an Indiana Jones films?

To have FUN.

Danny – I loved that airplane sequence.

Carlo – I completely agree. I should revise what I said: To have some QUALITY FUN.

Anon – Completely agree.

David – I certainly never believed there were going to die, but I certainly felt the tension, which was non-existent in CS. If you didn’t have bad memories of the waterfall sequence in CS, I’m willing to bet that you would’ve enjoyed more Darabont’s waterfall sequence. The Indy films were always attempts to be A films under the guise of B films, and CS just failed on almost every level. It was beneath the caliber of everyone involved.

Anon – You can’t expect lightning in a bottle on a par with Raiders, but you can shoot for second best, and I believe Darabont’s draft had that potential. I think it was probably a case of deterioration of quality over the course of countless drafts, and somehow Koepp failed to keep it all tied together really well.

Danny – It certainly did rekindle fond memories, that was very true for me.

Caliburn – Hey there. I’ll tell you why we needed Indy IV – because it’s really fun! You’re absolutely right. I don’t believe in perfect drafts, never seen one. But this was a superb first draft, as good as any first draft has ever been. I don’t know if I’ll do a ten suggestion article. I thought we’d talk about that here. But let’s list 5 here.

1. I would’ve had lots of tweaks to the dialogue.
2. I also thought of a number of additional jokes.
3. I would’ve cut down on the self-references to the museum scene and “it’s not the mileage” and probably cut everything else. I laughed at the jokes about Willy Scott, but ya know, in hindsight, it took me out of the story, and I think I would’ve cut it.
4. Indy needed to use his whip more. I believe he used it only once, didn’t he? In the airplane sequence?
5. Redesign the snake sequence to be more realistic.
6. Shorten the third act sequence in the Chamber of Gods.
7. I think there was too much action, which is a good thing at this stage of the process (better to have too much than too little), but as it is, it probably would’ve been over two hours, and it’s just part of the natural process to trim some things here and there.

On Indy not being much of an archeologist – he was very much the archeologist in the beginning with the pottery and in the end when they found the lost city, was he not?

David – So long as everyone has a really good time, they won’t bitch about bringing Indy back. I feel pretty good everyone would’ve been happy with Darabont’s vision. Your “little monsters” comment made me laugh out loud.

I don’t have much to add to this back and forth here.

James – Yeah, I certainly would’ve gone for a religious artifact. But, Darabont did the best he could with what he was given. Something Russian would’ve been brilliant.

Whew!

-MM

Mystery Man said...

OH! I forgot to mention - here's something my friend, Neil, shared with me:

"Did you catch all of the Looney Tunes references? 'Look, just call Dean Stalling at my university! Or Senator Tashlin! Or Congressman Freleng...' And then the agent following Indy at school had the last name 'McKimson'. Dean Stalling is even called 'Carl' in the script!"

Thanks so much for that, Neil.

-MM

Unk said...

My 2 cents...

The Darabont draft is the real McCoy.

I think Spielberg would have made a better movie i.e., he might have cut loose instead of holding back.

I read both versions and saw the flick and I just felt that Spielberg was crossing off scenes on his SCENES TO DO LIST... LOL.

I think the Darabont draft would have unleashed him a bit more which is what we've been waiting for.

Great post MM.

Unk

Unk said...

Had a few emails asking me if the script might be anywhere else... Apparently, a few of had problems with the site mentioned.

Here's another:

Indy 4 Darabont Draft

Unk

Anonymous said...

No one has said this one thing that is the overwhelming difference between the two scripts: Shia Le-Fucking-Beouf. The movie doesn't get made without him. Who can pressure Lucas and Spielberg? Dunno, maybe their own greed to have him as the star of future movies, but that's the biggest reason I figure Darabont wasn't the writer of note- Lucas said 'I like it, now put in Shia,' Darabont said 'no can do.' Lucas said 'buh-bye.'

Mystery Man said...

Unk, thanks so much for that and the link, too.

Anon - au contraire! Here's number 33) "Here, the action was always Indy’s, not handed over to some kid wannabe. This was INDY’S movie, as well it should have been." With respect to Darabont, he was never given a chance for revisions. I seriously doubt he left over creative differences revolving around a son.

-MM

Anonymous said...

um...MM, my point was agreeing with #33, that Darabon't script's action was Indy and the movie was LePoof.

Mystery Man said...

Umm, anon, you wrote, "NO ONE has said this one thing," but I said it. I know you agree with the sentiment.

-MM

pheadx said...

It seems to me that you compared Darabont's Draft to the actual film, which doesn't make any sense. I really thought CS was aweful, but half of the decisions you mention are the director's decisions and not the screenwriter's. Have you actually read Koepp's script?

Brad Hansen said...

Speaking of karen Allen, I wrote an unsolicited script for Starman 2 back in 1998. It was my first script and I quit college to finish it. It’s been gathering dust ever since. I sent it to Jeff Bridges and John carpenter, although I would prefer if Carpenter didn’t direct a sequel. I wrote some good f/x sequences and some interesting characters. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be involved, but I’d to see the f/x scene from the beach being incorporated, (Jeff’s manager Neil will know the one, totally plagiarised from another movie, but it would look great on film today). If anyone has any questions, email me at hansenfilm@yahoo.ie and I’ll answer them. (Although I won’t give away any plot points. And yes there is a son and indeed, I actually have the perfect casting suggestion!

Robot Gunfighter said...

It worries me that anyone thinks "that monkey pooped on my chest" is good dialogue.

Frankly that sounds like the kind of thing that Mr. Lucas would really love.

oy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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