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Indiana Jones Trilogy


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#1 Tim Partridge

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 12:20 PM

I saw these three movies again on DVD and was admittedly blown away. The second film was sewage on paper and is a real detriment to the series, no matter that everything but the script is on peak form. That said, in terms of image clarity the second and third Jones movie especially are just unbelievable. It can't all be down to a new digital grade for DVD either, as I've always remembered the later films looking really crisp. They look alot like Dean Cundey's work on ROGER RABBIT (a film that used more or less the same production team).

It's so weird looking at NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, shot between RAIDERS and TEMPLE by Slocombe and it looks terribly flat, often indistinguishable from the shabby looking THUNDERBALL which it derives from. One factor is clearly the art direction on NSNA compared to TEMPLE, by the great Elliot Scott, which is comparitively far more bold and imaginative than Norman Reynold's work on RAIDERS even (not to say he was a slouch)! The other factor is the precise, perfect camera angles and movement, which is clearly Spielberg and really makes that often frontal hard light come alive. There is a knock out shot in TEMPLE, looks totally unbelievable and more like what someone like Robert Richardson would do- the shot is a steadicam set up (Garrett Brown himself) where an Indian boy walks from atop a cliff top in silouhette, sun setting with smoke rising behind him. It is an amazingly powerful image on it's own, wonderfully delicate, but then the camera pans and tracks 180 degrees to show Indiana Jones standing in a village lit by a bonfire!! It's an image that Ridley or Tony Scott would die for, but could probably never achieve themselves. A wonderful marriage of old school disciplines and the hunger of an image junky hard lit, anamorphic and it beats the stuffing out of anything atmospheric shot low key on spherical lenses.

Still, camera movement and art direction are obviously not the only factors. WHY does TEMPLE (and CRUSADE) look so crisp and ageless? No grain in sight! I don't remember PIRATES OF PENZANCE or LADY JANE looking like this- was it something to do with the prints being made outside of the UK?

I would also like to mention the car chase from TEMPLE, interiors shot by Allen Davidau, which are all delicately sidelit more in the Jordan Cronenwerth vein. Integrates wonderfully with Slocombe's stuff but just doesn't look anything like something from a Slocombe shot film!

Also, does anyone know why Robert Stevens ASC shot the train interior stuff (Raymond Stella on steadicam) and much of the US location work on LAST CRUSADE? Why was this portion of the studio set work done at Universal studios when the majority done with River Pheonix on sets was at Elstree in England? It is also interesting that Indiana Jones was yet another pre1990 blockbuster franchise where anything filmed on stages in England DIDN'T have steadicam work, yet the location work shot/operated by Americans did!

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK certainly looks like the film where it is both equal parts Spielberg and Slocombe, with no other cameraman's stylistic preferences apparent, in my opinion. No steadicam work either. ;)
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#2 Christian Appelt

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 01:34 PM

It's so weird looking at NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, shot between RAIDERS and TEMPLE by Slocombe and it looks terribly flat, often indistinguishable from the shabby looking THUNDERBALL which it derives from.


I have seen THUNDERBALL in 1970s Eastman release prints, 1965 Technicolor IB prints and in an 1990s studio print - not to mention a very good PAL TV transfer 8didn't see the DVD). In my opinion THUNDERBALL is an example of perfect 1960s anamorphic cinematography, vivid colors, extreme sharpness and good use of wide angle anamorphic lenses. What exactly is it that you find shabby about that film? :blink:
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#3 Tim Partridge

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 02:03 PM

All those elements you describe in THUNDERBALL's favour I can appreciate for the second unit and underwater stuff. For the main unit photography though, over two thirds of the film, the lighting is horribly artifical, muddily lit for exposure, flat and the compositions are rather poor and unimaginative. Moore's work on DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, LIVE AND LET DIE and MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is just as dreary. The earlier spherical FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE I think looks great though.

Look at YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE for dynamic composition, artful lighting and expert use of lenses in 1960s anamorphic.
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 03:25 PM

Thunderball , there is a scene in the clinic where Bond is near begining of film he walks across the studio set near to wall followed by about six shadows , no excuse for that , a Ted Moore trade mark crap dop.

Tim 1980 , Elstree same studios "The Shining " loads of steadicam ,ok i know it was Garret Brown.
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#5 Tim Partridge

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 03:54 PM

THE SHINING wasn't a franchise, John. ;) I'm talking Bond, Indianan Jones, Star Wars, Superman- actually ALIENS had steadicam too, three operators, albeit not one is credited on the finished film.

Thunderball , there is a scene in the clinic where Bond is near begining of film he walks across the studio set near to wall followed by about six shadows , no excuse for that , a Ted Moore trade mark crap dop.


:D CLASSIC John Holland post!

Just out of interest John, what work of yours might I have seen? cheers
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#6 Christian Appelt

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 04:34 PM

Tim, I see your point. But that's what you remember from THUNDERBALL, all the nice colorful atomic bombs, mini subs and people in diving suits - and of course the beautiful Disco Volante ship. Hm, you're perfectly right, my brain saved only the second unit stuff... ;) YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is indeed much better - no wonder, it's the work of Freddie Young!

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (DP Douglas Slocombe) is a very strange film, I remember the release prints looking very muddy and brownish. Must have had to do with the sloppy 1980s dupe/release printing, because a few weeks ago, I spotted it on TV in a new transfer and it didn't look as bad as I remembered it.
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#7 Michel Hafner

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 06:31 PM

The trilogy was digitally polished by Lowry Digital (now part of DTS) so that explains the additional detail and clean pictures. It has also added occasionally grain reduction artifacts, unfortunately.
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#8 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 11:21 PM

I must be one of the few people who wasn't overly impressed with the third film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.' Certainly not a bad film by any means - it was good entertainment but in in my opinion no way in the same league as the first two films which were fine examples of legendary, rip-roaring adventure. Crusade did have it's moments. There was certainly some good humour in there - like Indy (dressed as a ticket inspector) punching the German officer out the window of the blimp and then telling the passengers this is what happens if you don't have a ticket - I still laugh at that when I think about it. Though the archaeology segment near the end was not as interesting or imaginative as the exploring of ancient temples in the first two films. That bridge forming over the gap looked cheesey. And that skeleton dressed in knight's armour having a conversation with Indy just looked a bit odd to me.

I have to say that the introduction of Indiana's character in the beginning of Raiders is so well executed and memorable. Most of the characters are in shadow and you see a close up of a gun being cocked. Then a whip unleashes and knocks the gun out of the guy's hand, and then the viewer sees the first appearance of Indiana Jones - emerging from the shadow - classic!
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#9 Max Jacoby

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 04:40 AM

I remember seeing this in the theatre with my family when I was a kid and I really loved it. The scene where Sean Connery shoots of the back of the plane they're on and blames it on the Germans and the one where they put a stick into the wheel of a German motorcylce, making it flip still stick to mind.
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#10 Tim Partridge

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 05:18 AM

I must be one of the few people who wasn't overly impressed with the third film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.' Certainly not a bad film by any means - it was good entertainment but in in my opinion no way in the same league as the first two films which were fine examples of legendary, rip-roaring adventure. Crusade did have it's moments. There was certainly some good humour in there - like Indy (dressed as a ticket inspector) punching the German officer out the window of the blimp and then telling the passengers this is what happens if you don't have a ticket - I still laugh at that when I think about it. Though the archaeology segment near the end was not as interesting or imaginative as the exploring of ancient temples in the first two films. That bridge forming over the gap looked cheesy. And that skeleton dressed in knight's armour having a conversation with Indy just looked a bit odd to me.


I severely disagree-

The true unforgivable black sheep of the franchise is the second movie, written by the talentless smug couple behind Howard The Duck. All of a sudden the sense of awe and wonder of RAIDERS is replaced by hopelessly misplaced racial stereotypes, anachronisitic sexist jokes and a LOUD, high camp tone straight out of Spielberg's WW2 bomb 1941. the entire opening sequence seems to have been lifted directly from that movie. RAIDERS had the well of souls, lots of tense moments with a crate full of demons abused by Nazis, a plucky love interest and endless moments where the frustrated hero is exploring real life archaelogical history. The second film ditches this for shish-kebabs through the ribs, an annoying, played for laughs, totally unbelievable love interest, a child sidekick on too much sugar, flat out MEANINGLESS bug banquets and a light dabbling in the occult that is used as an insulting signpost to midwest American kids how much their parents love them. TEMPLE is also the one film where the hero gets the girl and gets the treasure, and look how boring it is- further proof that those lousy hack writers Hyuck and Katz didn't understand what made Lawrence Kasdan's RAIDERS script so good. Plus, it has often amateur level visual effects (the one Oscar ILM didn't deserve). The mine car chase was about the only visual effect that was technically impressive, but even that is ruined by being so detatched from the tone of Indiana Jones- when that cart flies off the rails and reconnects, who cares? It's about as far removed from the sense of innocence and wonder of the well of souls or the boulder chase from RAIDERS it's critically depressing.

LAST CRUSADE is a lighter affair and structurally more or less a retread of the first movie, but that's really secondary to the patriarchal story that glues it together. Also, as Max hints (with the plane sequence), the humour comes from the action, and isn't just a playground toned, boring waste of everyone's time. Then again, we are comparing Jeffrey Boam and Tom Stoppard to the writers of HOWARD THE DUCK!

I do really like the opening dance number from TEMPLE though. As a movie within a movie, that segment is on par with RAIDERS and LAST CRUSADE!
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#11 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 07:17 AM

Well I guess we can both agree that Raiders of the Lost Ark is a classic adventure film - probably the only thing that we can agree on! Going back to discussing Temple, I really am in awe of that scene where Indy and his companions come across that enormous cavity / cavern with the multiple Khali worshippers and the giant statue of Kahli and that fiery pit where people are sacrificed. The set design was very impressive. The ceremony was fascinating too. Then when all the worshippers leave and Indy climbs down to investigate this menacing and sinister place, the viewer feels a chill down his/her spine as the suspense builds and one wonders what's going to happen next.

And for outright adventure, you can't beat that scene towards the end where Indy is faced with Khali worshippers on either side of him on a rope bridge which he cuts in two. The lucky ones are merely slammed into a cliff face. The unlucky ones fall hundreds of meters into crocodile infested waters. Very attractive location too.

I actually wasn't aware that the writers of Temple had also worked on Howard the Duck. It goes to show that writers are capable of producing hits and misses. And Temple is definitely a hit!
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#12 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 11:26 AM

I severely disagree-

The true unforgivable black sheep of the franchise is the second movie, written by the talentless smug couple behind Howard The Duck. All of a sudden the sense of awe and wonder of RAIDERS is replaced by hopelessly misplaced racial stereotypes, anachronisitic sexist jokes and a LOUD, high camp tone straight out of Spielberg's WW2 bomb 1941. the entire opening sequence seems to have been lifted directly from that movie. RAIDERS had the well of souls, lots of tense moments with a crate full of demons abused by Nazis, a plucky love interest and endless moments where the frustrated hero is exploring real life archaelogical history. The second film ditches this for shish-kebabs through the ribs, an annoying, played for laughs, totally unbelievable love interest, a child sidekick on too much sugar, flat out MEANINGLESS bug banquets and a light dabbling in the occult that is used as an insulting signpost to midwest American kids how much their parents love them. TEMPLE is also the one film where the hero gets the girl and gets the treasure, and look how boring it is- further proof that those lousy hack writers Hyuck and Katz didn't understand what made Lawrence Kasdan's RAIDERS script so good.


Don't forget, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz were screenwriters along with George Lucas on his
"American Graffitti", a GREAT film.
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#13 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:01 PM

Don't forget, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz were screenwriters along with George Lucas on his
"American Graffitti", a GREAT film.


But that wasn't an action adventure movie though.

Something that really bugged me in 'Temple' was that the sacrifice victim in the temple was still alive after his beating hearty was removed. & by then I had found rope bridge scenes to be a hoary old cringeworthy cliche.

Back to 'Thunderball', the lighting, rather illumination, on the carnival parade always bothered me because was at best TVnews lighting.
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#14 Tim Partridge

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:12 PM

Katz and Hyuck with genre stuff are alot like David and Leslie Newman (who did SUPERMAN III), in that they patronise the subject matter and show nothing but contempt for ther material. It's not self aware with intelligence, it's just totally cheating the audience and ultimately themselves. Katz and Hyuck have AMERICAN GRAFFITTI, the Newman's have got BONNIE AND CLYDE, where both parties seemed to hold a high regard for period Americana.

Well I guess we can both agree that Raiders of the Lost Ark is a classic adventure film - probably the only thing that we can agree on! Going back to discussing Temple, I really am in awe of that scene where Indy and his companions come across that enormous cavity / cavern with the multiple Khali worshippers and the giant statue of Kahli and that fiery pit where people are sacrificed. The set design was very impressive. The ceremony was fascinating too. Then when all the worshippers leave and Indy climbs down to investigate this menacing and sinister place, the viewer feels a chill down his/her spine as the suspense builds and one wonders what's going to happen next.

And for outright adventure, you can't beat that scene towards the end where Indy is faced with Khali worshippers on either side of him on a rope bridge which he cuts in two. The lucky ones are merely slammed into a cliff face. The unlucky ones fall hundreds of meters into crocodile infested waters. Very attractive location too.

I actually wasn't aware that the writers of Temple had also worked on Howard the Duck. It goes to show that writers are capable of producing hits and misses. And Temple is definitely a hit!


I think TEMPLE has flawless direction but it cannot save a terrible script. As I mentioned before also, Elliot Scott was the star of TEMPLE, and along with Spielberg's direction it makes stunning results out of the worst material possible.

I do loathe the pointless "rollercoaster" shot of the chief villain falling into the croc pit though. Stupid, meaningless and excessive shot that doesn't heighten the drama at all. Plus the optical effects stink.

Reed Smoot gets a special thanks credit at the end of TEMPLE btw- I heard he shot alot of the 2nd unit in Florida uncredited. Weird.
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#15 John Holland

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:17 PM

Tim , "Le Mans" ,2nd unit , "Robin and Marion " pick ups , "The Empire Strikes Back " just one of the many operators in Norway , bits of " Saving Private Ryan " but mostly commercials , docs for Ch 4 ,corporates and other crap ,take your pick , john :)
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#16 Kim Vickers

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:40 PM

There's a scene in Raiders between Indy and Belloq, sitting in a Cairo cafe. Jones thinks Marion is dead and he's hungry for blood. Then Belloq patronizes him with a lesson in archaelogy 101, rubbing salt in the wound. The scene is shot with Jones's face in the foreground, slightly out of focus, and runs as a master, until Jones pulls his gun. The patrons pull their guns and Jones is rescued by a gang of...children. Great performances by both actors, great script. Probably the quietest moment in the film, but for my money it's the most memorable. Almost feels like something out of Casablanca.

The two sequels produced lots of whiz-bang, but nothing on the thematic or creative level of the above scene, which is why I find the sequels quite disappointing in comparison.
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#17 Christian Appelt

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 03:09 PM

I think it's a bit unfair to judge TEMPLE OF DOOM too hard. Since then we have seen a zillion of adventure movies of that kind with comic book characters, stupid scripts and video-game like effects.

I remember seeing TEMPLE back then, in a 70mm mag sound print and in a huge old-style movie palace, and I felt like after a ride on a super-sized rollercoaster when I walked out of the theatre.
21 years later, I saw TEMPLE again (even in 70mm) and remained quite indifferent while watching it. Did the film change - certainly not! It was made for an audience from 14-20 years of age (I was 17 back then), and there had been few adventure films with that amount of spectacular visual effects.

Today, while I do not blame TEMPLE for being a mere rollercoaster ride, which it was supposed to, I prefer RAIDERS because it has a more naive approach in storytelling and better cinematography. And over the years I have seen most of the great epic films from which Spielberg&Lucas borrowed for the Indy films, so the imitation cannot hold the same fascination any more.
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#18 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 03:54 PM

Temple of Doom is perhaps more racialy offence than the rest, though admitedly all three films are fairly racialy offensive.

Even Speilberg has admited being embarrased by his depiction of Nazis as comic book villians, rather than the more complicated, dangerous reality.


I think Raiders is very much the best one, much faster moving, more humourous - its character based action.

Temple and Last Crusade both have their moments but don't quite pull it off. I think the only thing that doesn't work about Raiders was the climax with the evil spirits coming out the box, i don't think it works in contect with the rest of the film (it obviously an ode to Kiss Me Deadly) nor is it as exciting as the rest of the film - plus it gave this 8 year old nighmares for years to come.
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#19 Tim Partridge

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 05:13 PM

By the way, as far as the NEVER SAY NEVER/THUNDERBALL comparisons go, obviously Slocombe's lighting is in a league lightyears away from Ted Moore's shoddy work. It's just very evident that compared to the Indiana Jones movies, NSNA is an unimaginatively directed movie, and it's sets and camera angles aren't particularly inspired. compared to a Spielberg film. Additionally, taking the sets and direction/camera angles into mind even before the new Lowry grade, TEMPLE specifically looked incredibly crisp compared to NSNA- Must have been something to do with the release prints and/or duping. I know more nets were used on NSNA, but that can't be the sole factor for the noticable resolution gap between both pictures. Certainly of the two Bond movies made in 1983, Octopussy looked miles better.

I think it's a bit unfair to judge TEMPLE OF DOOM too hard. Since then we have seen a zillion of adventure movies of that kind with comic book characters, stupid scripts and video-game like effects.

I remember seeing TEMPLE back then, in a 70mm mag sound print and in a huge old-style movie palace, and I felt like after a ride on a super-sized rollercoaster when I walked out of the theatre.
21 years later, I saw TEMPLE again (even in 70mm) and remained quite indifferent while watching it. Did the film change - certainly not! It was made for an audience from 14-20 years of age (I was 17 back then), and there had been few adventure films with that amount of spectacular visual effects.

Today, while I do not blame TEMPLE for being a mere rollercoaster ride, which it was supposed to, I prefer RAIDERS because it has a more naive approach in storytelling and better cinematography. And over the years I have seen most of the great epic films from which Spielberg&Lucas borrowed for the Indy films, so the imitation cannot hold the same fascination any more.


Christian,

you talk as though TEMPLE came out in 1904, not 1984! For rollercoaster spectacle I'll gladly take Ghostbusters, The Last Starfighter heck even Buckaroo Banzai over TEMPLE.

John Holland,

Finally, we've learned a bit more! Well, what you lack in punctuation you certainly make up for in CV. ;) Makes sense that you appreicate the work of Mr. Watkin (not that any camera person shouldn't)!
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#20 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 04:04 PM

I really love the use of hard light, saturated colors and high T/stops of these films, no matter who was responsible of the final look. I agree "Raiders" is timeless and is the best of the bunch, but "Temple of Doom", while more contemporary looking, was overall entertaining and very well done -except for some effects shots-. The interaction between Ford and Connery was really nice on "Crusade" and that film looks great too.

While I don't expect that much from the upcoming "Indy 4" as a film, I must admit that I'm anxious to see how it will perform visually and which techniques developed or improved since the 1980's will be employed by the filmakers (CGI, DI, the Super-35 format, etc). At least I hope that it will be more faithful to the original films in that regard than the new "Star Wars" films to their counterparts.
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