LUKE SKYWALKER RETURNS TO THE GALAXY, FROM DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

ARRIVING IN THE NETHERLANDS, FROM 30/9/17. BOOK NOW FOR THE ULTIMATE 'STAR WARS' EXHIBITION

Sunday, 16 June 2013

CLASSIC INDY: 'THE COMPLETE MAKING OF INDIANA JONES' BOOK (2008)



THE COMPLETE MAKING OF INDIANA JONES

By J.W. Rinzler (new interviews by Laurent Bouzereau)

Published by EBURY PRESS U.K.


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Of J.W. Rinzler’s work researching his legendary adventures on screen, and his creation off of it, our favourite intrepid hero,Indiana Jones, would be ruggedly impressed with the authors new book, not only with Rinzler's own exhaustive archaeological detective work in unearthing a treasure trove of behind the scenes text, but also with it’s equally attractive visual detail and interior design (and don’t forget that great cover as well-in hardback only in the UK, too!!). THE COMPLETE MAKING OF INDIANA JONES certainly fulfils it’s titular mission statement, and does the tricky job of balancing the making of four classic movies (yes...THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL qualify) into one huge tome that will delight and satisfy fans of all ages.

As with his previous, superb MAKING OF STAR WARS, the book's text is crisp and efficiently written in an engagingpresent all the facts that you can style. And, like before, it too has a nice layout- in some ways a lot better than that of the previous STAR WARS title (though some great images are still being reproduced too small on the page). Past the lovely nostalgic preface and forwards written by Messers Lucas and Spielberg, the book is everything you could have asked for regarding Indy (and fortunately exempting the tedious TV series which never appealed to me anyway). It’s so good that, even at 300 pages plus, I never really wanted the experience of reading it to end. The major emphasis of the book concentrates on RAIDERS- the first and best of the films anyway- and is worth getting just for that section alone, and how the character of Indiana Smith, later Jones, was first created, and all the film, TV, book and real life adventurers that would inspire/influence his cinematic birth. It’s also great to see the history behind the character’s visual appeal, with those four embryonic conceptual paintings by Jim Steranko reproduced beautifully within the books pages, alongside George Lucas’s original notes for Indy. Also great are the transcripts of the interviews between Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan and Steven Spielberg and an information on the early scripts-one of which was a far a darker, tougher version of the film that even had Marion working as a prostitute to make ends meet whilst stranded in Nepal. A bit different to the final version!! All in all, the books presentation nicely shows the way the history of the saga and its main hero comes into being. The first story outline meeting transcript pages are revealed as eventually running to 117 pages (where we get to find out more about the cut action material that would eventually find its way into other films, including TEMPLE OF DOOM and CRYSTAL SKULL). One day I would love someone to print that entire storyline conversation between Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan, just so we can all see how those great creative minds worked together on such a classic movie. One thing that is clear from the get-go is how much of the stories on all four films were developed by Lucas (who had previously worked for a brief period on RAIDERS with Philip Kaufman way back in 1974, when the former was taking a break in his STAR WARS script writing duties).

Intriguingly, Lucas always knew Harrsion Ford was the man for the task of playing Indy but didn’t want him until push really did come to shove….We also get an intriguing list of actors screen tested for Indy and Marion Ravenwood-some of whom surprised me (including Bruce Boxleitner, later to be the real life adventurer, and possibly real-life Indy influence, Frank Buck in the RAIDERS inspired ‘80’s TV rip-off BRING ‘EM BACK ALIVE)

There are the customary behind the scenes filming details, production date lists and storyboards (nice to see the early looks for the Peru sequence inside and outside the Chacapoyan temple), and some great cut scene info across all the films (including some that I wasn’t previously aware of), including terrific info and pics on the swordsman scene from RAIDERS, showing the original partially competed fight which was later cut to the individual and iconic moment where Harrison just shoots him. The story behind that scene carries on in an interesting way as the film is readied for its preview screening in 1980.

As well as the cut scenes, it’s nice to see how some of the series other classic moments were created-some of the best being improvised by the cast and crew including Ford and First Assistant Director David Tomblin. Other on set stories and anecdotes prove equally fascinating. I didn’t know that Spielberg was nervous about taking on the original film in 1979/80, sticking to his guns in making it, even though he wanted to commit to other stuff, as he wanted to keep his earlier promise to Lucas, and the landmark production deal with PARAMOUNT mentions one film (RAIDERS), pus four sequels-message to George, Steven and Harrison-I think you guys owe us one more adventure before retirement!!

Lovely production paintings by talented artists such as JoeJohnston and Michael Lloyd illustrate the weighty tome, and I particularly liked the formers very scary moments for the opening of the Ark-nice to see that the finished film kept the same kind of style of creepy wrath of God horror… The Well of Souls conceptual art is equally superb and is almost as fully realized in the final version seen in the film, and very atmospheric. With the characters conceptions, obviously the visual look of Indy is a highlight, though I was also fascinated by the early ideas of supporting characters, like the German villain Toht, looking almost like Christopher Lee in one sketch, the actor presumably still in Spielberg’s mind after his appearance in 1941, with an almost cyborg-like machine gun arm. To cap things off, there is also some great unused poster artwork for the films, including some beautiful previously unaware of pieces by STAR WARS film poster artist Tom Jung for RAIDERS.

Continuing into the rest of the book, the sequels get strong behind the scenes sections too (a lot of the interviews are transcriptions from the making of DVDs documentaries by Spielberg documentary favourite/Laurent Bouzereau from 2003/4, though it seems the writer had access to longer versions of the interviews than were seen in the DVD (disappointingly, why the author didn’t use previous interview quotes from surviving film/TV documentaries on the previous three films I don’t know), packed with further info, storyboards, cut scenes, lovely costume sketches (check out the colourful spread section for TEMPLE OF DOOM), production designs, storyboards, and photos (the latter with great TEMPLE images including Lucas and Spielberg having a water pistol fight in Sri Lanka, and a shot of Vic Armstrong as Indy for costume test reference photos (I had to look twice before I realized it wasn’t Ford!!), whilst for LAST CRUSADE there is a great photo of Alex Hyde White as Doctor Henry Jones in costume for LAST CRUSADE filming his scene-though sadly only his hand illustrating his Grail diary drawing made the final film!!).

More great anecdotes pop up and it’s intriguing to see how the films were judged at the time. I wasn’t aware that LAST CRUSADE got quite a lot of mixed reviews during its original release-the film now seems unanimously poplar. Is the same thing happening with the CRYSTAL SKULL-will the reviewers eventually mellow to it over time?

Sadly, presumably for legal reasons, or Rinzler having to tow the LUCASFILM official party line, some behind the scenes material never makes the book, like the hilarious Barbara Streisand story, where, dressed as a dominatrix, she arrives on the Temple set whipping Harrison Ford for making HANOVER STREET!!!, and the furore regarding that film’s original release in the UK (with the heart removal scene edited out of all British versions of the film, on TV, VHS and DVD, ever since 1984).

There are also a couple of photo caption inaccuracies, especially on RAIDERS (actor Sonny Caldinez not Malcolm Weaver should have been listed in one of the pictures), but that can’t be helped, especially with that first film, after twenty five years or so...

Beyond the main films, the book also tantalisingly delves into the mysterious screenplay adventures for Indy that never got made in the intervening years between movies. Chris (GREMLINS/HARRY POTTER) Columbus script summary for THE MONKEY KING, from a story by Lucas, is an interesting read and has some great ideas and action sequences (which can still be done for another movie. Hint, hint!!) –though it could, had it been made in 1987, and before LAST CRUSADE, have been the most far out movie of the series of its time-almost in the same way that many consider the KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL to be now. Some of THE MONKEY KING’s ideas would indeed metamorphose into LAST CRUSADE and also CRYSTAL SKULL. Jeffery Boam and Lucas ideas and storylines for what would ultimately become LAST CRUSADE continued to pique my interest, and again I wish some of them had been visualised too.Ever the risk taker, Lucas’s later ideas for the INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN script in the mid nineties, heighten the action reality further, but are also ingenious and original, and many of those would also make for CRYSTAL SKULL (Indy in a fridge, fighting on a rocket test sled, in nuclear town).

Other film magazines have reported further unused adventures for INDY over the last nineteen years and it would have been nice to find out more about them...also the controversy regarding Frank Darabont’s unused script for CRYSTAL SKULL is played down-obviously for legal reasons.

Onto that latest silver screen return to fun form, the section on the making of THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is excellently put together, with superb visual material. The photos, and pre-visualization sections at this section are excellent and you can see that everyone involved in the film was giving one hundred per cent to make the adventure worthy of the INDY name and please the audience. The summary going through David Koepp’s original draft story and script for the movie is very good (though, to keep secrecy, a part of the film’s ending is kept unrevealed), and there are also great comments on the script ideas and reasoning behind the film, and Lucas’s back story to the adventure that didn’t make the final cut, all backed up with the new interview transcripts conducted by Laurent Bouzereau, which brings the whole MAKING OF book to an excellent conclusion.

All in all, this book is a superb treat for Indy fans, Rinzler’s compilation clearly shows how much  Lucas, Spielberg, Ford and the rest of the casts and crews on the four films have enjoyed bringing the adventures of our fedora wearing hero to our lives for the past twenty eight years. And in our hearts and minds we’re all the more richer for it.

Thank you!

REVIEW RATING:  Though it doesn't top Rinzler's earlier The Making of Star WARS, this vital book still manages the difficult task of successfully covering all four Indy films in a superb visual and written examination. Not immediately purchasing this superb book for your collection would be a crime against Indy-hood! 9 OUT OF 10

No comments: