What The Indiana Jones Movies Mean To Us

Published 7 years ago by
raiders 1 What The Indiana Jones Movies Mean To Us

Screen Rant writer Jamie Williams came up with a great and timely idea. With all of us here being hard core movie fanatics and a new Indiana Jones movie debuting this week – he suggested that we each share our most significant memories related to the Indiana Jones movies.

This is going to be a long one because I couldn’t bring myself to edit any of my guys’ memories.

First, from our most ardent supporter of the upcoming Indy movie, Niall Browne:

“Growing up I always knew that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were friends. I don’t know where I learned this fact – but I always knew it. I probably figured it out from the credits of the Indiana Jones movies, after all this was a time before the internet and media based television shows. Lucas has always been one of my heroes – and despite what a lot of people think – I have a tremendous amount of respect for the man.”

“To people of a certain age – men of a certain age, Harrison Ford is an icon. He is Indiana Jones, he is Han Solo – these legendary roles made him a role model to boys around my age. I don’t remember the first time that I saw an Indiana Jones film, but the earliest memory that I have about Indiana Jones is from around the time Temple of Doom was released – that would be 1984 – I was four years old. I saw the film at the cinema, and although I have a very fuzzy recollection of the events, my parents tell me that I loved the experience.”

“The strongest memory that I have of the franchise is of the Last Crusade, being a huge James Bond fan – it was a nine year old’s dream to have Ford and Sean Connery in one film. Even today Last Crusade is my favorite film in the series – from the religious artifact to the relationship with his father, the Jones boys remind me very much of my dad and me. Sentimental I know, but that’s the power of cinema.”

“Over the years there have been hundreds of Indiana Jones rumors, one that I always hoped for was that Kevin Costner would play Indy’s evil younger brother. This was never to be, a shame but the reality of things. I got to the point where I honestly never believed that they would make a fourth Indiana Jones film. I couldn’t see it happening, I thought that they would talk about it and write numerous scripts, but that I would never see a new movie. Man, I’m glad that I’m wrong!”

Indiana Jones has influenced me directly and indirectly throughout my life, even at University I studied archeology. It was however for a very brief moment as it clashed with my film classes. I had to decide that I could either become Indiana Jones or watch him. I made a choice for the latter. I could never be that cool! I even studied Medieval literature at College – Arthurian legend, the Holy Grail – a nod to Sean Connery’s character from The Last Crusade – a Medieval Literature Professor. Heck, even in my day job – I teach! If only it were – ‘Part Time.'”

“Now on the dawn of Indy’s return I’m excited. I’m as excited today writing this as I was nine years ago before the release of Star Wars: Episode I, I’m older now – but I still have that excited feeling that only George Lucas knows how to unleash. Will this fourth Indy adventure be as good as the previous efforts? I don’t think for a second that it will, but it’s making me feel nineteen years younger – and that is a miracle in itself.”

“Indiana Jones, I salute you.”

Next we have the guy who came up with the idea, Jamie Williams:

“To Hell with a fireman, ball-player or doctor, I wanted to be Indiana Jones ‘when I grew up.'”

“I can’t exactly point to where or how it started. The idea that he had dual personalities was always appealing to my young mind. By day, he’s a clean-cut, Clark Kent-type professor of archeology. But at night (or more appropriately in a far-away country), he was a rugged, unshaven adventure-seeker; a trait he always appeared to be more comfortable with in my opinion. But then again, maybe I’m reading too much into that. By the way, just where the Hell did Indy teach? If someone can point to me where, you get a cookie!”

raiders 2 What The Indiana Jones Movies Mean To Us“It becomes clear to me as an adult. As crazy as it sounds, we all wanted to be Indiana Jones because he was one of us. Sure, James Bond is cool and what not. But you can’t relate to a guy who always has the answer to his problem(s) stored away in a gadget from Q’s lab or one-liners perfectly quipped after killing his latest enemy. On the other hand, Indy was human. The guy bled when shot at, bruised when punched and was always having to think on his toes just as his adversaries were about to do him in.”

“I’m not gonna lie. There is a part of me that envies you readers old enough to remember seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in theaters during the summer of 1981 and having your heads explode (i.e. alongside Belloq’s of course!) I just can’t fathom what that was like experiencing a film of that magnitude. [You’ll find out in a minute – Vic] Surely, the opening ‘teaser’ with Indy retrieving the golden idol from the Peruvian jungle resulting in traps galore (including the iconic giant ball) was enough to satisfy audiences. But… there was even more to come within the remaining 115 minutes – i.e. among others, that amazing truck-chase sequence where Indy is going after the Ark.”

“Honest to God, there is just… no way to properly describe just what Raiders means to me as a film-lover. There was a period in my life as a child where I watched Raiders Non. Stop. I could quote you lines right outta the mouths of the characters and mime all the action set-pieces. Thus from an early age, I was born to be film nerd.”

“Its influence is evident in the blockbuster tentpoles you see nowadays from the likes of Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, Bryan Singer, Michael Bay, J.J. Abrams to name just a few off the top of my head. Young filmmakers who were just at the right age when Raiders opened furthered their own passion to make movies.”

“To this day, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the finest example of pop entertainment. Audiences will never get another film like that ever again no matter how great Kingdom of the Crystal Skull may be (which I certainly hope it is, mind you).

Ladies and germs, what I’m basically trying to say is… I still want to be Indiana Jones… when I grow up.

raiders 3 What The Indiana Jones Movies Mean To Us

Here’s what contributor Heath McKnight had to say:

“I was very young when I discovered Indiana Jones. I loved Raiders, but was too young to appreciate it when I first saw it. Temple of Doom scared the crap out of me (I was 9 or 10 when I saw it in the 1980s, on HBO or a tape rental, yes we didn’t have DVDs or On Demand back then) with the scene of the guy ripping the dude’s heart out!”

“However, I was 13 when The Last Crusade came out in 1989, and it was a lot of fun! I couldn’t get enough of the film with its non-stop action, its comedy, Sean Connery (I wish he was in Crystal Skull), River Phoenix as a young Indy (I loved how he wasn’t afraid of snakes until he fell into the pit of snakes, then the hard cut to Harrison Ford as Indy), evil Nazis, the Biblical overtones, and more.”

“This was the Indy film I came to love, because I think I was old enough to appreciate almost everything in the movie. I caught it recently on TV (never the best way to watch a movie, least of all Indiana Jones), and watched it all over again. I also know many guys and gals in my age range of around 29 to 34, seem to like The Last Crusade the best.”

Let’s not forget our TV aficionado Bruce Simmons:

harrison ford raiders What The Indiana Jones Movies Mean To Us“From the Indiana Jones franchise, I developed an interest in exotic type weapons. Whips being the main influence from how I saw Indy wield his whip, I took up the hobby.”

“What did I learn? Whips do not anchor onto cross beams like the do in the movies.. [No, no broken bones or anything, just some subtle tests] Cracking a whip over your head at a target usually hurts your back very badly unless you learn the technique very carefully, which is very different from other angles of use like side-arming. Also: Whip cracking thrashes the end and you go through many whip-tips because the crack of a whip is the result of the tip creating a tiny sonic boom. Something about the tapered shape, transverse energy, recoil and forward motion of the energy.. (American Scientist) Regardless, IT HURTS if hit with it!!”

“My hobby then branched out to other exotic toys, such as boomerangs, bolos and other various farming instruments of old… Word from the wise: When learning the boomerang, you need lots of space, some sort of head wind would help, and really really good ears and lightning reflexes. [Yes, I have an interesting story to tell, but that’s for some other day.]”

Finally, the impact that Indiana Jones had on me, Vic Holtreman, owner of Screen Rant…

It’s funny that Jamie mentions envying folks who are old enough to have experience Raiders of the Lost Ark at a movie theater when it first opened. I was pretty damned near the perfect age to appreciate that amazing movie when it opened in 1981. Back then I was 20 years old, and had come of age in the wonderful era of the resurgence of Sci Fi. I was in my teens when I saw Star Wars (before any “Episode” nonsense was tacked on to the title, and Han shot first) and that big, beautiful, never ending ship come over my head in that opening scene – 17 when I saw the nothing-like-it-ever-before Ridley Scott film Alien, and the best ever Star Wars film: The Empire Strikes back.

Back then Spielberg and Lucas were the wunderkind – young geniuses creating magical films destined to become classics for generations to come.

Now remember this was LONG before the internet – we actually had to get our movie information from magazines! Starlog Magazine was the go-to source for Sci-Fi movies at the time. That needs to be said so you can understand how I could have possibly walked into a screening for Raiders of the Lost Ark on opening night knowing absolutely nothing about it.

raiders 4 What The Indiana Jones Movies Mean To UsI was out with a couple of close friends and my sister (back then partner-in-crime and uber-movie-geek like myself) when we decided to go catch a movie at the last minute. We went to the local multiplex and bought tickets to this movie about a guy with a whip. It was so late that we ended up sitting in the front row.

I can tell you for a fact that my mouth never closed once during the entire movie. And the funny thing is, I realized at the time that I was watching something that would impact me for the rest of my life and would be a yardstick against which I would compare other films for years to come.

I just could not believe what I was watching – the movie grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, whipped me around and never let me go until the closing credits. The coolness of Ford as Indiana Jones in the opening reveal, his incredible self-assuredness as he navigated the traps in that first sequence, the skin-of-his-teeth escapes, not leaving behind his whip or his hat, the movie not giving me time to breathe before a giant rolling stone ball came after him… I mean it was bloody non-stop excitement the likes of which I don’t think I’ve experienced ever again, and that countless movies have tried to match without success.

It was pretty shattering to be met with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom after such an amazing experience. Trading the incredible Karen Allen for the whiny and annoying Kate Capshaw and that kid “Short Round.” I don’t know what the hell they were thinking.

Of course eventually we got Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which brought things back around in 1989, but by then the magic had started to wear off and I’d begun to get cynical about all things cinema.

You can talk all you want about CGI and modern special effects, but I truly think that there was no better time to be young and a movie fan than the period from about 1977 to 1989. Man, what a time that was. I’ll never forget it and if it wasn’t for those years you wouldn’t be reading this site today.

I may be hard on George Lucas now, but God bless him for his early work.

So what does Indiana Jones mean to you and how has it influenced your love of movies? We’d love to hear your stories!

Images from TheRaider.net

TAGS: Indy 4
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  1. you guys about summed everything up, except I didn’t get to see any of them in theaters, since I was born 01/01/90. I grew up with someone who did, so I got right into those movies at the ripe old age of 5.

  2. I remember going to the theatre to see all of the Indy movies and I loved every single one of them. I can’t say that the movies changed my life, but they directly skewed the types of movies that I love. To me, Raiders will ALWAYS be one of the best films ever made and I can watch it over and over again. I guess that is why Harrison Ford is probably my all-time favorite actor. He was in Star Wars and Indy. How many of US would love a career that is defined like that??

  3. What a wonderful idea! I’ve been reading this site since its inception, but always on the run between work and trying to build a creative life. So, before I join in on this conversation, please allow me a moment to apologize to my brother, Vic, for not participating sooner. I’ve been a very, very bad sister.
    As I read my brother’s post, I must admit a tear came to my eye remembering that night and how floored we were at what we’d just witnessed.
    Sure, we’d been sitting next to one another as young teens watching STAR WARS twice through in the days where one movie ticket allowed you to stay for a second showing. I remember looking at Vic after the first run and telling him I was going to make movies someday. His simple answer: “Okay.”
    Sure, we’d taken the day off from school (with our mother’s permission!) to be the first two in line, lawn chairs in tow, at 7:30 a.m. one rainy morning. We’d waited three years to see THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
    But RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was an altogether different experience. It’s incredible mixture of high action and fantasy caused it to transcend its genre into something that had never been seen before. I know, it was modeled after the old serials, but please, Spielberg knocked his knock off out of the park. Indiana Jones became the benchmark for the perfect action hero. That reluctant, flawed, honorable sort that, whatever his issues, would sacrifice everything in order to save the day.
    My number one reason for going to a movie is to leave feeling, not only entertained, but inspired. How many movies can continue to do that for you for 27 years straight?
    Recently, I went back to school to obtain a Master’s degree in Screenwriting and just won a grad student award for my first action/fantasy entitled THE MIN RUBY. I was very pleased to receive the award but I have to be honest, when my professor told me that parts of my script felt like an Indiana Jones movie, I knew I had arrived and that I finally had a shot in this business.
    Lucas and Spielberg were the filmmaking dream team of their time. I devoured everything I could about them and their films and when I saw the trailer for this last (?) installment, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. They, and this film is why I’m one of a handful of women who are determined to write and ultimately direct action/adventure movies.
    People sometimes ask me to name my favorite film of all time and my answer is always “In what genre?” But if I’m pressed to name one and only one it’s RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, hands down.
    Kudos to you, Vic, for creating this site and for reminding me of that formative time that made us both who we are today.

  4. Well it only took 4 1/2 years and 1600 posts, but I finally got you to drop a comment. :-)

    Good times…


  5. Its like leaving your normal life behind, sneeking into a train out of town with cash, gun, whip, and a treasure map!

    Harrison Ford and the Crew, have made alot of people happy!

  6. I don’t think you need a cane or a bottle of ensure. maybe just a whip and a fedora.

  7. “I don’t think you need a cane or a bottle of ensure. maybe just a whip and a fedora.”

    Damn straight.



  8. Well, I certainly don’t need a bottle of Ensure yet, but I do remember going to see all three Indiana Jones movies at the theater. I also remember that movies spent a few months in theaters back then when they were good and “Raiders” was there for a long time. I remember going to see it with my dad. That and “Empire” have the strongest memories because I went to see them both with my dad. To this day I’ve always wanted to be an archeologist. Even if, as Jones says in “Last Crusade” – “An archeologist spends most of his time in the LIBRARY!”. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to duplicate the experience I felt seeing “Raiders” for the first time. I was completely swept away. It took you to truly exotic locales and you met interesting characters. Although I did like “Last Crusade” immensely (I didn’t care for “Temple of Doom” nearly as much), “Raiders” really was the one that just takes you from one adventure to the next. Even “Star Wars” didn’t make me want to pilot an X-wing as much as “Raiders” made me want to be an archeologist. At any rate, now that I’ve seen “Crystal Skull”, I can say that I liked it over all – much better than I liked any of the new “Star Wars” flicks, but it didn’t leave me feeling like I wanted to quit my day job to become an archeologist. But Harrison Ford can still pull of Indiana Jones, so maybe I’ll go out and get a fedora and whip after all.

  9. I just saw Crystal Skull which I thought was pretty good, not as good as the others of course, but it did have it’s moments. it’s definitely a worthy addition to any “archeologist’s” collection. I’m betting that they re-release Raiders in theaters for a few nights only in 3 months or so. I might finally get my chance to see it on the big screen. it won’t be the same as it was for you and Vic, but I think it will be pretty cool. I am also waiting for the confirmation on Indy 5, and I hope they don’t give Shia the fedora until the 6th one, but after that last scene I’m kinda nervous.

  10. Well, if “Raiders” comes back to the big screen, I’ll shell out for it again. I remember jumping the first time that skeleton hanging from the spikes appeared as they were headed into the temple to grab the golden idol. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen that movie, or parts, or started in the middle and finished it anyway… but its been a lot. I’d even like them to run all 4 back to back… 😉 (Actually, MY back probably couldn’t take it, but I still don’t need that bottle of ensure!)…

    The original post mentioned “the golden age” of childhood movies from 1977-1989. There were a lot of breakthroughs in those years. And quite a few interesting stories. “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones”, a few good “Bond” flicks, two of the better “Star Trek” movies, “Back to the Future”, and a variety of PG kids movies that turned out fun as well as some of the other sci-fi /fantasy flicks. Lot of amazing screen visuals and so forth, but mainly just darn good story-telling.

  11. Brilliant idea for a thread! I love hearing people’s impressions of the same thing at different stages of their lives. Vic, I walked into Raiders knowing nothing about it as well (Ark? What, with Noah and everything?), and came out, shall we say, “pleasantly surprised”. I used to read Starlog religiously cover-to-cover, devouring anything I could about these weird & wonderful movies and shows I’d never seen and was never likely to – this being back when the UK had a grand total of three yes THREE TV channels! Occasionally its sister-mag Future for the factual stuff, and over here we had Starburst as well.

    I visited Elstree studios during a break in the filming of Temple Of Doom in 1983. I remember the big Chinese dragon on the bar being sculpted out of styrofoam, covered in plaster and painted; had a walk round the mine car set, which had a completely circular track running the entire circumference of the biggest sound stage, with the cars powered by electric motors. Best of all was the pit of spiders. 50% of a shaft (if that makes any sense) to allow the actors to still be filmed head-on, with the walls lined by eight-foot planks of wood. Onto these had been nailed hundreds of rubber spiders they’d apparently ordered fom some local joke shop. When the scene was being filmed, guys up top would jiggle the planks about to create the impression of a seething mass behind the actors. Cracks me up, that. These days they’d spend silly money and several months CGIing the whole thing.

    None of the actors were on set at the time, but I did see Spielberg on his own in the catering unit getting himself a salad. Not as tall as you’d think (don’t they say that about everyone?). I really wanted to go up and just thank him from the bottom of my heart for Close Encounters, but didn’t want to be a pest and didn’t have the guts anyway!

    Sadly the finished movie wasn’t a patch on the original and I haven’t watched it for years. The initial thrill of seeing an old 1930s-type serial being played hell-for-leather in a big-budget present was further eroded by those rip-off series like Bring ‘Em Back Alive and Tales Fom The Gold Monkey, or Jade Monkey, or whatever it was called.

    I can’t say Raiders or the two sequels changed my life in any way, but for me Kate Capshaw was up there with Carrie Fisher and Sigourney Weaver in changing how women could be portrayed in action films. I’m hoping the new one will do something interesting with the concept of her aging as well as Indy.

  12. Ah, another oldster. :-) And I think you meant Karen Allen and most certainly NOT Kate Capshaw when referring to strong females in film.


  13. I still have a theater stub from Raiders – the old fashioned kind, and it was only $3.50!

    To me, there are scenes that I will re-watch over and over again (and have)like the airplane fight, the truck chase (especially the truck chase – which in my opinion is the single best action sequence ever committed to film – it is action perfection) The way Indy pauses on the bluff before charging his horse down the path out of the blind spot, the way he pulls the first German straight out of the truck, the silly “are you kidding me?” grin he gets when the motorbike and sidecar try to overtake him, the grunt he gives when seeing the Germans in his side view mirror, the look of raw determination when retaking the truck after being thrown out the window, the music, the look on the German officer’s face right before getting Indy’s shoe in the face, Indy finally overtaking Belloq’s car, the looks on their faces, the sense of triumph, the cinematography, the editing, all spot on.

  14. Sorry, you’re quite right: I meant Karen Allen! I’ve just got back from my niece’s wedding and it’s the early hours of the morning here. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

  15. Like most kids of my generation, Indiana Jones had a huge influence on me. My dad took me to see the first movie when I was 9 or 10 and, even though I’m female, I too wanted to be Indiana Jones.

    I majored in Anthropology and have spent my career working in archaeology and museums. Thanks Indy for the inspiration to enter a low paying, highly competitive field (wink, wink).