Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Narrative Studies on Indiana Jones

On the left is the cover (created by artist Steve Anderson) of an upcoming Dark Horse comic adaptation of Indy IV, which was recently premiered at the Diamond Comics website (thanks to theraider.net). There's a sword?

theraider.net is hosting two new articles, one a narrative case study on the Last Crusade by Joaquim Ghirotti who has a master’s in screenwriting.

Here’s a sample:

“A structural resource commonly used in 30s adventure serials, and used in all Indiana Jones films, is to begin the narrative in the middle of another adventure and then take the protagonist to the main story, thus giving the audience an electric rush of adrenalin, making it associate and care for the character, and then presenting us with the main drama. In the first film, Indiana is in a South American Jungle, getting an ancient statue from a cave. After an exciting chase sequence, the proper search for the lost Ark of Covenant begins. In the second film, The Temple of Doom, Indiana begins his adventure in Shanghai, negotiating the sale of an ancient idol in a restaurant and having to deal with evil gangsters. In The Last Crusade the opening adventure has two functions: to prepare the audience for action adventure sequences, establish their mindset and expectations accordingly, and to shed some light on Indiana’s past. The film begins with young Indiana, played by the late River Phoenix, in a trip with his scout team to caves. There, he finds out that a group of men is taking an important object from the site to sell it.”

They also have a 90-page
Thesis on Indiana Jones written by Russ Crespolini. This thesis got Russ his master's degree in communication studies in 2002. It wasn’t bad. Here’s a quote:

“One of the key features of father/son stories is the gradual transformation of that relationship. In Rambo, once trained by Trautman, is rescuing him from Soviets in the final film sequence. Similarly, Marty McFly of the Back to the Future Trilogy, initially awed by Doc Brown’s knowledge and at the mercy of his inventions, finally rescues Doc from his own time traveling death in 1885. In Star Wars, Luke is initially tormented by and divided from his then unknown father. By the final movie, Luke has rescued his father from the dark side. And, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy is reunited with his long-estranged father who he must save from Nazis jailers.”

Personally, I prefer their articles on
Cecil B. DeMille’s and Hitchcock’s influence on Spielberg in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Great stuff, guys.



Anonymous said...

I'm always amused when I hear about a "tried and true" plot device that I've just stumbled across and have applied to one of my stories. In this case, the screenplay I've been working on lately starts exactly as the Indy Jones pictures do -- in the midst of an adventure that precedes the main story.

Mystery Man said...

I know! You do the most learning when you study films for yourself. You see tricks not showcased in screenwriting books, you discover that not all protags have to be sympathetic or empathetic, voice overs are not all bad, and by God, inner arcs in protags are not always essential. And then you curse the name Robert McKee.