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Indiana Jones Returns - Too Little, Too Late?
For those who came of age in the 1980s during a time of sleek consumerism and homogenous globalization, Indiana Jones was something of an idol. Harking back to a time when the jungles of South America and the Pyramids of Egypt were truly a world away, the Indiana Jones trilogy excited in us a feeling of adventure that has been rarely seen before or since.
The popularity of the Indiana Jones movies stems not just from the fact that they were directed and acted by some of the greatest Hollywood talent of the day, but also from the fact that the movies were classic adventures. They were swashbuckling epics that found an ideal mix of adventure, intrigue and mystery, steeped in myth and mysticism.
This formula was clearly successful. The first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was the highest grossing movie of 1981 and was nominated for eight Academy Awards (of which it won four). The following two instalments, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade, fared almost as well, each winning an Academy Award and grossing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Since 1989, though, all has been quiet on the Indy front. Despite regular calls for a fourth movie there were no developments for years. Rumor and hearsay surrounded plans for the fourth Indiana Jones movie since 1995, when Last Crusade writer Jeffrey Boam was asked to write a script.
Since then, several screenwriters and directors have attempted to take on the project -- including Chris Columbus (Home Alone), M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) -- without success.
Finally, though, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford have accepted a script written by David Koepp (Spiderman, War of the Worlds). As of July 2006 Spielberg and Koepp were fine-tuning the screenplay in advance of pre-production, expected to begin in early 2007.
The question that will be repeatedly posed by fans of the series over the next couple of years is this: will it be possible to recreate the magic of the original trilogy? Hollywood has moved on since the 1980s, and audiences have come to demand big budget CGI and dazzling visual effects. Despite winning the Academy Award for Visual Effects with Temple of Doom, the appeal of the Indiana Jones movies was never in their special effects. In fact, Temple of Doom -- admitted by Lucas and Spielberg as the most visual effects-heavy of the trilogy -- saw the most disappointing box office performance of the three.
The main concern, though, is Harrison Ford's age. Already in his 40s in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ford will be at least 65 when filming begins on the fourth movie. Even with the use of makeup, camera trickery and stuntmen, how can it be possible to remain faithful to the original trilogy when the star is old enough to draw a pension?
Despite these worries, however, one thing is certain. Come the release date a couple of years from now we'll see a sudden surge in the sales of fedoras and bullwhips. He may be old enough to qualify for a buss pass, but there's something about Indiana Jones that brings out the child in us all.
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