Monday, May 05, 2008

Did Koepp write an Indy IV fan script?

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.

Ho hum.

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?


Anonymous said...

I think he hit it on the head when he said that it'd tie the series up nicely by having Marion return.
They had a good amount of backstory and their relationship was the only meaningful one out of the three.
You could tell there was a lot of history between them, and I was definately wondering why, in the third Indiana, Marion was absent.

She's the woman in Indiana Jones's life. She may have only been in the first movie, but it was also the only one that had any meaningful romantic aspect to it.

I'm glad they're broadening their relationship. Yeah, it's a fanboy aspect of the script, but so is having Indy use his whip and having him go dungeon spelunking. Heck, any moment in the movie where we hear the theme song will feel like a fanboy moment in the movie.
In a sense, all of the Indy films had these fanboy-inspired moments. It's part of what makes Indiana Jones so fun.

Too bad Marion 25 years older, though. She hasn't aged as well as Harrison, I must say. :P

By the way, I'm glad that line of dialogue isn't in Crystal Skull. It makes sense, but it isn't fitting at all. It's also kind of a downer, and I cannot imagine an interesting scene where Indy would say that.


Lit up by torchfire, the dungeon's walls are moving with critters and heaps of half-decayed corpses litter the floor.

Indiana bends over to tie his shoes. A loud crack sputters from his spine.


Come on, we've seen worse.

Marion is scanning the room. Four piles of corpses grab her attention.

I mean, look at those piles of bodies. There are obviously some sort of traps or mechanisms there that got 'em. Right?

Indy bent over to his feet, stuck. He tries to get back up, but his back ceases to cooperate with him.

Yeah, good thinking. Look, could you give me a hand over here?

Marion turns to Indiana, who has given her reason to laugh.

How many times do I need to show you how to do the Bunny Ears?

I know how to do the Bunny Ears.

Indiana's boot laces are freshly tied -- one loop is twice as big as the other.

I just can't get back up.

Marion bends down to speak to Indy.

Well, doctor, I'm fresh out of Aspirin.

Just get behind me and pull my back straight.

Wow, you're not kidding. How bad is it?

Bad enough I can't get back up. Now get behind me and pull.

Marion walks behind Indy.

You know, I'm starting to think it may be you who's gonna need saving this time around.

Marion begins wrapping her arms around Indiana's chest, getting ready to pull.

The Indiana Jones I used to know was too busy finding relics and chasing after bad guys to worry about rusty joints.

It's not the mileage, sweetheart.

Marion pulls back, cracking Indiana's spine into posture and stealing his wind in the process.

It's the years.

Anonymous said...

Thank God you didn't write the sequel. That was lame.

Thomas Rufer said...

Let me try!


Indy grabs Marion and pulls her close to himself, just like Rhett did with Scarlett.

You can't take me back. You went too far for that.

It's not the mileage, sweetheart. It's the years.

This doesn't make any sense.

I was referring to something I said over 20 years ago, don't you remember?

You mean in Nepal? I was drunk then.

BAM! Three Russian soldiers burst into the room.

Indy pushes Marion back to the soldiers.

You ruined it. Not them.

He jumps through the window. Klingalingaling.

Unknown said...

To me, I don't care if Lucas wrote it or the nerdiest fan on earth wrote it, all it comes down to is whether it is entertaining and well written or not. Just from looking at the photos, I am a little worried of the cheese factor. Instead of writing an original, as is the danger with sequels, there is potential here for lazy easy obvious writing instead of doing something new, edgy, and fantastic. No matter what, it will have an enormous box office turnout; I will definitely be there. I really hope with all that star power and high level filmmaking talent involved that they made something great.

Mystery Man said...

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Can tell share any distinguishable characters of fan scripts? I'm curious...


Mystery Man said...

"can tell share..."

Oops, I meant,

"Can ANYONE share..."

I haven't had my coffee yet.


Anonymous said...

My first thought when finding out that Marion was in this film was: if Marion is apparently the most importnat person in Indy's life, then why was she absent in two sequels? I think the answer is nostalgia and familiarity. Plus, it is easier to write a relationship that was established in a classic. Nothing against the character of Marion, but going back to her breaks the tradition of these franchise movies with women that are replaced in each film. I didn't see P****Galore in Casino Royale. Bringing back a side character from three movies ago smells of sequelitis, and makes me nervous that this will be as much of a stand alone success as the other three films.
As to the line of dialogue, I would have left it in. One, because there are trademark components of a franchise - the whip, the hat, the one-liners - that are referenced in every film. Think about the martini in Casino Royale. Shaken or stirred? Do I look like a give a damn? Did that bother me? No, I enjoyed the irony. I think Koepp's reasoning is weak here.
Two, it's not such a gigantic, iconic line of dialogue that will jar people. Yeah, the original line was great, but in a movie full of great lines, I'm not convinced that throwing a reference to it would break an audience out of a new film.
Anyways, I hope it's good. I'm not a huge Koepp fan (Zathura...), so I have my concerns. Why didn't they get Kasdan back for this one?
The Corsair

Anonymous said...

Marion wasn't in the second Indiana because it was a prequel. Marion was likely absent from Indy's life for the reasons heard during the bar scene in Raiders.
Marios wasn't in the third movie because she didn't fit into the story, and Indy and Marion likely got into another fight of some sort. Their relationship is rocky, as we see from the bar scene in Raiders. It's not like Marion and Indy are married and have a butterscotch teddybear relationship.

They'll probably show us, or tell us, how and why Indy and Marion got back together in Crystal Skull, so save your judgements of "contrivity" for then.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read a lot of fan fiction. But what I've read all seems to focus on wish fulfillment.

Moulder and Scully hook up.

Darth Vader invents C3PO.

Doc Ock kills Mary Jane

various gay relationships are initiated


A writer's job is too thwart expectations. Fan fiction just connects the dots with the shortest lines.

It's writing without using any imagination. You don't introduce new characters, or new dimensions to old characters. You just get right to the part where it turns out The Emperor is Obi Wan's clone and then Obi Wan and Anikan fight.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You know, Indie 3 could be seen as fanboy material. I mean, they brought back the british archaeologist friend and the chubby cairo guy, and it had an Indy flashback that explained his fear of snakes and a pivotal "rite of passage" segment for cryin' out loud.

I'd bet 100 bucks that, if that movie was released today, it'd be under similar criticism as Crystal Skull.

Anonymous said...

Watch Raiders-It is clear that Marion is Indy's true & only love.

Last Crusade should of been placed time wise before Raiders, like Doom was. Then there would of been many more story ideas that worked with Marion & Indy. IJ4 would of had many more possiblities too for scripts. I think the writers came up with the scene of Indy & Elsa seeing the painting of the ark on the wall & changed the time line of Crusades to put it in. This screwed everything up.

Just because Marion & Indy fought a lot in Raiders does not mean they would of not been able to stay together after.

Lucas probably thought it would be more interesting to have a new female lead. Spielburg wanted Marion in all the movies.

Watch Raiders again & you will see that Indy's true love is Marion.