Chapter 5: The Last Good Year
Although not quite the same fully centring and healing experience as AMERICAN GRAFFITI and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was still another triumph for Kershner and Lucas. Indeed, the film and its music delighted fans, topping APOCALYPSE NOW in the Star Director Wars and reinstating Lucas via Kershner as the Godfather of American film and Williams and his equally stirring and memorable score as the maestro of the soundtrack. However, despite besting Coppola again, Coppola worked with Lucas to provide financing and world distribution for Kurosawa’s allegorical film, KAGEMUSHA (1980), implying that the continued allegorical heroics of Solo in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK may have helped to appease Coppola. STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK also struck far into the accounting black, costing $32 million to make and earning approximately $300 million in worldwide box office receipts in its initial run. The sight of the evil Empire striking back clearly struck a dark chord with viewers at a time when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian revolution had suddenly emerged to threaten world peace and security. Particularly with this viewer, as STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was the first film I ever saw on my own.
Indeed, I celebrated turning thirteen that summer by bussing into Vancouver from North Delta on the 316 and seeing the film at the legendary Stanley Theatre with a friend also on his first film outing without a parent chaperone. In addition, STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK’s story, its gritty realism, its stellar f/x and sound, and its continuing commitment to a world where education, discipline, freedom, religion, science and technology worked together re-ignited youthful J.D.Jedi geek interest in fantastic films and fiction, and also in religion and science. Indeed, the film’s stellar success helped make Carl Sagan’s COSMOS the most popular science book and tv series of all time in the fall and winter of 1980, encouraging a whole generation of cosmocenti to sway in tune with the cosmic symphony. STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK also helped send home video game sales through the roof, fuelling the success of Atari, Intellivision, and Coleco. The one sour note was the continued success of its movie tie-in merchandise, which led toymakers such as the Cabbage Patch Kid and Smurf people to believe that film and television could be turned into filmmercials and telefilmmercials for their stuff.
Not surprisingly, this emphasis on the commercial side of film art combined with the continued gee whiz bang and comic book like nature of STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK to enrage serious film artists yet again, convinced that Lucas had betrayed the higher artistic goals of New Hollywood yet again and reaffirmed his status as successor to Disney. A link of Lucas to Uncle Walt implicitly anticipated and satirized by executive producers Milius and Spielberg in the prescient Robert Zemeckis film, USED CARS (1980). For the film saw the implicitly Lucas linked Rudy Russo-played by Kurt Russell-triumph over the implicitly Disney linked and rival used car dealer, Roy L. Fuchs-played by Jack Warden-the latter’s link to Disney affirmed by the fact that Roy L. Fuchs evoked Roy L. Disney jr., the last of the Disney clan to still be working at Disney at the time. Of course, the location of Russo’s used car lot at 3217 New Valley Road was yet another ominous memory of the twilit and disastrous future.
Perhaps it was this continued movie tie-in merchandise success that also caused the august Academy to treat this stellar sequel with such disinterest. For this spectacular film was only nominated for three Academy Awards, for Art Direction, Best Original Score and Sound. And in the end, STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK only took home one nominated Oscar for Sound at the Academy Award ceremony the following spring, as well as a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects. Despite this failure to impress the august Academy, the global film public was clearly hungry for more adventures of its favourite Ozian heroes. In fact, the questions raised by the film-who was the Other? Was Darth Vader really Luke’s father? Did Tinny Luke become a full fledged J.D. Jedi on Dagobah? Would the Tin Han survive carbon freezing? Would Leia, Luke and the Rebellion finally triumph over Vader, the Emperor and the Empire? Would Lucas triumph over his incestuous Dark Side and finally end the acrimonious Star Director Wars in healing harmony? Would Han and Leia ever marry?-left an eager public forcefully demanding more (Pollock 242-4 and 308).
While audiences-particularly young audiences-began the agonizingly long wait for the climatic conclusion to the Classic Trilogy, Kershner and Lucas would have been pleased to celebrate their triumph with the allegorical, exuberantly campy, BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY evoking but Lucas supporting Mike Hodges romp, FLASH GORDON (1980), which cheekily fused FLESH GORDON with STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE and saw the Coppola linked Hawkman leader, Prince Vultan, the Lucas linked Dr. Zharkov, and the Spielberg linked Prince Barin-played by Brian Blessed, Topol and Timothy Dalton, respectively-join the perhaps Larson linked and fearless Flash Gordon-played by Sam L. Jones-in a resounding triumph over the Huston and Anjelica Huston linked Emperor Ming the Merciless and his sexy and exuberantly seductive daughter, Princes Aura-played by Max von Sydow and Ornella Muti, respectively-in the pulse pounding end. FLASH GORDON was one of the few films Kershner and Lucas could celebrate with in 1980, for most other young and passionate film artists blasted the rise of the new emphasis on beastly blockbuster profits and movie tie-in merchandise in the world of allegorical film art.
Curiously, Richard Lester anticipated the struggle to come to grips with and release Chen, Le and Morrow after the TZ disaster-or was that the struggle to release Kennedy, Landis and Marshall?-with the desperate battle of Reeve’s Superman against the twilit super villain trio of General Zod, Ursa and Non-played by Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran, respectively-after their accidental release from imprisonment from the Twilight Zone anticipating Phantom Zone in the twilit and allegorical sequel, SUPERMAN II (1980). Rush fretted over the increasingly out of control behaviour of New Hollywood film artists and their dangerous sets and launched a righteously furious reply to HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD in his ominously twilit and Ozian themed allegorical film, THE STUNTMAN (1980), a docufeature film about the making of an allegorical World War One film called HELL’S SQUADRON that pitted Steve Railsback’s tormented Vietnam veteran stuntman, Cam, against Peter O’Toole’s possibly homicidal Great Oz director Eli Cross. Curiously, Morrow appeared that same year as the Rush resembling and corporation loving Henry ‘Hank’ Slattery in the allegorical Barbara Peeters film, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980). A film that appeared to be lashing furiously out at the generous tax scheme that was drawing American film artists up to Canada at that time to create film art in the first implicit American protest against Hollywood North. For the rampaging and rapacious humanoids arrived at the small American fishing village of Noyo the same time that the Canada evoking corporation Can Co. and its Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau evoking president, Charles Morgan-played by Alan Smithee-arrived to corporatize and monopolize the fishing and canning of fish in Noyo-implicitly linking the dread humanoids to Canadian film artists and their film art.
Significantly, on top of confirming that Landis and the rest of the world were still on course for a fatal collision with the Twilight Zone, the films of 1980 also made clear that an allegorical meeting with James Francis Cameron in a theatre close, close indeed was soon to occur. Indeed, on top of determined heroes like Cameron Vale and a Good scanner who resembled Cameron in SCANNERS, Cam in THE STUNTMAN and Doug McClure’s Jim in the Canada-phobic HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, this year also saw Cameron’s first film work as an Art Director-according to the closing titles-on Jimmy T. Murakami’s allegorical sly fi film, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980)-another low budget Corman quickie that evoked the link of Bartel, Coppola, Dante, Nicholson and Scorsese to Corman and made Cameron another neo-Old Hollywood film artist who learned his trade on the set and in the school of life rather than from a film school. Fittingly, given that Cameron emerged as the film world’s premiere Zonebuster, his first film featured a desperate symbolic Seven Space Samurai battle against John Saxon’s Evil and Lucas linked intergalactic tyrant, Sador-pronounced ‘Sader’-and his space thugs in a determined but futile attempt to stop the all conquering advance of Lucas and Kershner in 1980. Even video games had memories of the future that year, with the ghostbusting and insatiable Pac-Man of Namco’s PAC-MAN (1980) anticipating the frantic attempt of the equally insatiable blockbuster Hollywood beast to fight off the three ghosts of the TZ disaster with CGI after 1982.
Significantly, ominous memories of the twilit future continued in the allegorical and implicitly Cronenberg roasting Kubrick film, THE SHINING (1980). For Kubrick changed the number of the ghost haunted room of the Overlook Hotel to Room 237 from the Room 217 of the inspirational and allegorical King novel, The Shining (1977). Making it appropriate that King would also reappear that year with the allegorical novel, Firestarter (1980), that implicitly linked King and his literary art to the mentally Forcefull Andrew ‘Andy’ McGee and his pyrokinetic daughter, Charlene ‘Charlie’ McGee, and implied that their victories over Captain ‘Cap’ Hollister, John ‘J.R.’ Rainbird, Albert Steinowitz and Dr. Joe Wanless were victories over Coppola, Lucas jr., Spielberg, Landis and the rest of the New Hollywood brat pack that dared to defile his literary art with lesser cinematic facsimiles. The fact that Charlie survived her saga unlike Carrie was also significant, suggesting that the spectacular success King had experienced since Carrie had made him more confident about the survival of himself and his literary art in a cruel, cruel world. Curiously, more twilit and eerie memories of the future appeared in Firestarter. For the allegorical Jerome Bixby short story, ‘It’s A Good Life’ (1956), that inspired the allegorical James Sheldon directed telefilm, ‘It’s A Good Life’ (1961), from the third season of TWILIGHT ZONE, and the equally allegorical albeit twilit Dante episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, was mentioned early in the novel. A government agent who was decapitated and another who was dismembered by whirling pieces of a barn that cut through them like out of control and snapped off propellors in the pyrokinetic inferno that Charlie ignited at the end of the novel anticipated the out of control and rotoring helicopter and deaths of Le and Morrow in the TZ disaster. A character named Ray Parks mentioned near the end of the novel also anticipated the actor who would play Darth Maul in STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE.
Luckily for Kershner and Lucas, however, Kubrick did not escape a memorable roasting in 1980. For in the strange story of a high and virtuous lord named Shingen-played by Tatsuya Nakadai-and his low, raunchy and uncannily twin-like security double-also played by Nakadai-Kurosawa implied that he was addressing Kubrick’s tendency to flip from high and virtuous films like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and BARRY LYNDON to low and raunchy films like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and THE SHINING. Indeed, the name of Lord Shingen was almost a scrambled up version-Shineng-of the ‘shining’ in THE SHINING, reaffirming that implication. His fifty-three years of age was also close to the fifty-two of Kubrick in 1980. The fact that his one son-Kenichi Hagiwara’s Katsuyori-looked and acted like Hopper, the New Hollywood film artist Kubrick declared the real film art convention challenging film artist in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, reaffirmed the implication that Shingen symbolized Kubrick. Thus, when the death of the high Lord Shingen forced his low double to become the real lord, Kurosawa implied that with THE SHINING, the high Kubrick killed his high self and became forever a low facsimile and mockery of himself. A low mockery doomed to death, for the false lord died in the end, as well. A sentiment that Coppola and Lucas implicitly agreed with, explaining why they had acted as the international distributer/producers of the film-not surprisingly, since they had combined against Kubrick in THX 1138. A sentiment also shared by Altman, as he had the Landis linked Popeye-played by Williams-triumph over the Kubrick linked Bluto-played by Paul Smith-at the end of his allegorical film, POPEYE (1980).
Just as ominously, given what was going to happen on July 23, 1982, Friedkin linked serial killer Stuart Richards-played by Richard Cox-to whirling rotors via the fan in his apartment window in his allegorical film, CRUISING (1980). CRUISING also ended on a surprising note after the capture of Richards-implicitly linked to Richard Brooks, being roasted for his nasty and implicitly New Hollywood roasting allegorical film, LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR (1977)-with the discovery of another bloody corpse of a gay man-Don Scardino’s Ted Bailey-whom NYPD undercover cop Steve Burns-played by Al Pacino-had got to know while posing as gay man John Forbes. This unanticipated murder left the audience wondering if Burns was the killer now, a suspicion seemingly confirmed when Burns acknowledged the film camera, cameraman and everyone else behind the camera, the art of making film art and the audience with a significant look in the mirror while shaving at the end of the film. An eerily prescient look that linked Burns to Landis, given that breaking the fourth wall by looking into the camera was already an established tradition in the film art of Landis, particularly in SCHLOCK. Thus, the final look yet again prepared audiences all too well for the fatal mayhem of the TZ disaster, and the possibility that Landis was a real life directo. Ominous memories of the future disaster and the dread allegorical Zone Wars seen again in the allegorical Ted Kotcheff film, FIRST BLOOD (1980).
For the sight of Stallone’s implicitly Landis linked and haunted Vietnam vet, John J. Rambo refusing to leave the town of Hope and returning to cause trouble for its inhabitants anticipated the twilit trouble that enshrouded all film artists by the refusal of Landis to leave Hollywood and stop creating films after the TZ disaster. Indeed, Rambo ominously affirmed his link to Landis by causing a pursuing police officer-Jack Starrett’s arrogant and nasty Galt-to fall out of a helicopter to his death, evoking the death of Morrow in another eerie memory of the future. The presence of Richard Crenna as Rambo’s older military mentor, Colonel Trautman, reaffirmed Rambo’s implicit link to Landis, as he recalled Folsey jr., the older producer mentor of Landis. How all too eerily fitting as well that Jerry Goldsmith composed the soundtrack for FIRST BLOOD, given that he would compose the soundtrack for TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. The dangerous live stunts and explosions that made FIRST BLOOD such a gripping action adventure and box office success and that somehow did not result in any serious injuries for cast and crew also made it all too ominously clear how dangerous film sets had become by 1980 and that a film set tragedy like the TZ disaster was an accident waiting to happen. Thus, with all of these cinematic meditations on Landis and the TZ disaster, it was somehow fitting that he returned to the Temple Theatre the same year with his wild and erratic allegorical film, THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980).
While perhaps another satirical and allegorical roast of Kubrick-now paired with a symbolic Huston-in the tradition of SCHLOCK and ANIMAL HOUSE, the tragicomic misadventures of Jake and Elwood Blues-played by Belushi and Dan Akroyd, respectively-and their film long quest to rustle up enough money to save their childhood orphanage also evoked the equally tragicomic friendship of Landis and Folsey and their equally quixotic quest to make and succeed with films like SCHLOCK and ANIMAL HOUSE. Indeed, the sight of Jake being released from Joliet Prison in Chicago at the beginning of the film reminded us that the success of ANIMAL HOUSE had freed Landis from a lifetime of failure as well, linking Joliet Jake to Landis. At any rate, the mayhem and car crash filled film brought Lucas closer to his fateful date with the Twilight Zone, as the sight of Oz as a prison guard supervising the release of Jake from Joliet Prison in Chicago at the beginning of the film linked Landis and THE BLUES BROTHERS to Yoda, and, hence, to Lucas.
A fateful and disastrous date with the Twilight Zone ominously confirmed by the $23.07 returned to Jake by Oz’s character, as the amount of money yet again correctly and eerily anticipated the 237 date of the TZ disaster. Linking Jake to Landis all too well, and even implying that he was being set free from Joliet to unleash the TZ disaster on the world. An impending disaster affirmed by the fact that sixty of 120 stunt cars were destroyed over the course of the film (LaBrecque, 4). Curiously, the appearance of Fisher as the mysterious ex-girlfriend of Jake reaffirmed the link of Landis and THE BLUES BROTHERS to Lucas. As for Lucas, he strangely disregarded his convictions and the massive Star Director War that he had launched against Spielberg in the Classic Trilogy and collaborated with the insidious Emperor Palpaberg in an odd cinematic couple, indeed, and reached out to Joliet John to boot, with the allegorical, Ozian themed and Landis addressing Lucas executive produced and Spielberg directed film, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, a film whose producer-Frank Wilton Marshall-assistant to Spielberg-Kathleen Kennedy-and Costume Designer-Deborah Nadoolman, the wife of Landis-brought together three more important players in the TZ disaster.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK began with a lone mountain rising above a steamy Latin American jungle-actually a jungle in Hawaii-that evoked the mysterious and forbidding jungle island of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. The lone and towering sight evoked the shark fin of JAWS as much as the equally lone and towering Devil’s Mountain in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, immediately implying that this Lucas and Spielberg collaboration would also be about confronting, vanquishing and releasing the blockbuster beast without-and within. Indeed, the opening image was literally in perfect yin/yang harmony between the Dark shadowy bulk of the mountain and the Light blue of the sky, underlining that an arduous and equally matched battle between the Dark and Light Sides was going to take place in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The lone mountain was also a visual pun, reminding us that the surname of Spielberg meant ‘play mountain’. Significantly, this lofty vista and its lush surrounding jungle also immediately evoked the lush and fecund landscape of Dagobah and Siberia, as well as the jungle moon of Yavin, the Latin American jungles of SORCERER and the Phillipino jungle of APOCALYPSE NOW-and anticipated the equally lush forest moon of Endor in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The lush junglescape also evoked the fantastic garden of Munchkinland, underlining the Ozian structure of the film and preparing us for the arrival of the Hovitos, the indigenous Munchkins of this steamy Munchkinland, and a Nikko evoking emissary linked to the film’s Wicked Witch of the West figure. Indeed, the name of one of the guides of the jungle expedition we soon saw toiling beneath that lone blockbuster berg-Vic Tablian’s Barranca-began with a Nikko-like ‘Barra’, preparing us for the imminent arrival of another Nikko linked figure. Barranca’s name also evoked Coppola, an appropriate link as Barranca would soon try to shoot the leader of this jungle expedition, Ford’s Dr. Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones, jr., in the back. An ironic backshot, for the battered leather jacket and fedora worn by Jones evoked the similar leather jacket and fedora worn by the desperate and Coppola linked driver Manzon-played by Bruno Cremer-in SORCERER, initially implying that Jones symbolized Coppola. Not for long, however, for soon Lucas and Spielberg would link Jones to Landis.
Significantly, ‘barranca’ may have also been a feminine play on ‘barranco’, the masculine Spanish noun for precipice, preparing us for the vertiginous fall of Jones down the heady heights of love. The lush jungle of South America 1936-a fitting three years before the outbreak of World War II, given that the film was also released a year before the outbreak of the dread allegorical Zone Wars-also recalled the legendary Valley of the Vanished of a mysterious and little changed tribe of Maya in the mythical Latin American country of Hildago in the allegorical Kenneth Robeson pulp classic, The Man of Bronze (1933), the first of the super sagas about Dr. Clark Savage jr.-better known as Doc Savage-the all American, Euro-Indigenous and Protestant Superman destined to take on and thrash the German ‘ubermenschen’-an indomitable destiny underlined by the fact that The Man of Bronze appeared the year Nazis were elected to power in Germany-and inspire the creation of Superman. This link to the noble Savage implied the hope of Lucas and Spielberg that the soon to be Landis linked Indiana Jones was an Euro-Indigenous hero, an implication further strengthened by his nicknames ‘Indiana’-Latin for ‘land of the Indian’-and ‘Indy’. The link to Doc Savage also prepared us for further allusions to the first Savage super saga in the Indy films.
Significantly, Jones was initially only seen from behind, like the masterless and wandering samurai Sanjuro at the beginning of YOJIMBO. This also linked Jones to Sanjuro from the outset, underlining that Lucas and Spielberg were out to cut down and free themselves from their favourite pet peeves in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, as Kurosawa had done when he had implicitly roasted corporate and political corruption in post-war Japan in YOJIMBO. Unfortunately for the hopeful Lucas and Spielberg, however, the name of Jones ominously reaffirmed that they were still on a collision course with the Twilight Zone. For Henry Jones was an actor who played an angel named J. Hardy Hempstead who helped Orson Bean’s lovable and Serling linked eccentric James B. W. Bevis in the allegorical and William Asher directed telefilm, ‘Mr. Bevis’ (1960), from season one of the original TWILIGHT ZONE.
The RASHOMON-like quality of this prologue mini-adventure also quickly led us back into the troubled subconscious of Lucas, evoking the four subterranean descents of Skywalker in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. For we soon found ourselves exploring a mysterious inner labyrinth-that evoked the cavern home of the blockbuster manbeasts of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU-in an hidden temple with Jones, the film’s ragged and hat wearing Scarecrow hero, and his other South American guide, Alfred Molina’s Satipo, a name that meant ‘little toad’ in Spanish, evoking Toto. Significantly, this hidden underground temple was also noticeably linked to film by a spike trap set off by film projector evoking sunlight, turning the subterranean labyrinth into a deadly underground Temple Theatre. Here Jones and Satipo encountered Forrestal, an ex- colleague of Jones who had already been mentioned by Jones before entering the hidden underground Temple Theatre, hanging dead and decomposed from the spikes. This was an important discovery, for the corpse of Forrestal reminded us that J. Forrest Ackerman, a world famous fantastic fiction and film fan in those days and editor/publisher of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine, had a cameo role as an audience member in a cinema in SCHLOCK, implicitly linking Jones to Landis. Forrestal was also the dead Wicked Witch of the East figure whose death opened wide the gates of the healing Ozian spiritworld dream, implying that it was Jones who had to face down a wicked inner Dark Side like Skywalker and Dorothy and heal himself in this latest healing Ozian dream. Indeed, Jones soon gave into his blockbuster lusting fortune and glory Dark Side when he stole a gold maternity idol that was the same colour as the Oscar and that finicky walking and talking Oscar, Threepio-and glowed with the same rich gold light as the magic leprechaun bowl in FINIAN’S RAINBOW-from the main dais of the womb-like hidden Temple Theatre, reminding us that Landis was desperate to succeed and be taken seriously as a film artist at the time.
Not surprisingly, and in another omen of the impending TZ disaster, taking the idol destroyed the harmony in the subterranean Temple Theatre, causing it to collapse in fury on Jones and Satipo, a raucous collapse that reminded us that harmony in the Temple Theatre had been destroyed by the equally raucous mayhem of SCHLOCK, ANIMAL HOUSE and THE BLUES BROTHERS. Significantly, as the idol was a maternity idol, the theft of the female idol was on one level a symbolic rape of the Temple Theatre, preparing us for Indy’s unsavoury history with Allen’s Marion Ravenwood, and the outraged female Forces that exploded in full throttle fury at the end of the film. Of course, this furious collapse evoked the furious rejection of 1941 by audiences two years earlier, a rejection that destroyed the magical and healing nature of the hidden away from the world Temple Theatre for Spielberg. Indeed, the collapse of this Temple Theatre so soon after the audacious actions of Jones underlined that Spielberg was all too aware that the audacious and frenetic action of 1941 caused viewer faith in him to collapse. And that maternal women had been most offended by 1941, as mothers and wives often chose films for families and significant others. Thus, the destruction of this hidden Temple Theatre not only destroyed the brash and calculating confidence of Jones and sent his universe into disharmony, but also symbolized the destruction of Spielberg’s confidence and the disharmony in his own life after the failure of 1941, implying that on one level, the film was also coming to grips with the Dark Side of Spielberg. As such, Jones’ determined efforts to defeat Dark Sides and wicked baddies and return harmony and virility to his life over the course of the film represented Spielberg’s own efforts to defeat the Dark Side that created 1941, and return harmony and virility to his own life with another successful film.
Interestingly, Jones and Satipo’s frantic escape from the hidden Temple Theatre also recalled Skywalker’s frantic escape from the Kid Wampa’s lair at the beginning of STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, implying that Lucas was also still trying to exorcise his Dark Side in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Indeed, a monstrous grey boulder that evoked Gor and the Death Moon and prepared us for the Deathly Moon soon chased Jones out of the Temple Theatre after Satipo foolishly fell prey to the film spike trap, returning insidious sexual evil to the films of Lucas and preparing us for their sniggering return in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. A fitting reminder of Gor, as the subterranean passages of the Temple Theatre evoked the cave and tunnel created in Mystery Mountain by Gor’s crashed spaceship in THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS. This link to evil and alienated aroused brains and Dr. March also set us up for Jones to be revealed not as a tomb robber but as a Doctor of Archaeology. This link also confirmed that Dr. Jones had symbolically raped the hidden Temple Theatre when he stole the maternity idol, for it evoked Dr. March’s brutish manhandling of Sally when under the mind control of Gor in THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS-and set us up for the revelation that Dr. Jones had also brutishly manhandled Maid Marion Ravenwood in their past. The link to THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS also reminded us that March was saved by George the loving and Vol controlled dog in the end, a link to loving dogs heard in Jones’ nickname Indiana, the name of a favourite dog of Lucas. This was a significant reminder, as Schlock was briefly mistake for a dog by his blind love, Mindy-played by Eliza Garrett-in SCHLOCK, reiterating the implicit link of Jones to Landis. Clearly, a Lucas evoking and sexually diseased Dark Side was controlling and troubling the Landis linked Jones. But just as clearly there was hope that love would succeed in the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, as it had at the end of THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS-with a little dogged determination!
This sexually diseased nature was confirmed when Jones escaped from the Gor boulder and the collapsing Temple Theatre, only to be captured by Paul Freeman’s Rene Belloq, a vainglorious, evil and Great Oz linked archeaological nemesis with a Nikko cadenced surname and an undisguised lust for blockbuster fortune and glory. Significantly, while Rene Belloq resembled the murderous Ken Franklin in COLUMBO: ‘Murder By The Book’, his names evoked Carradine’s perhaps Lucas linked E.J. Bellocq, the impotent portrait photographer of New Orleans prostitutes in PRETTY BABY, implying not only that Belloq also suffered from impotence, but was linked to Malle. In fact, the link to Bellocq also implied that Lucas and Spielberg were also more concerned about blasting Malle than Coppola in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Indeed, shortly before capturing Jones, Belloq revealed that his indigenous Hovitokin companions had already killed the Coppola linked Barranca, ending the film’s implicit interest in Coppola. Curiously, the link to Malle also linked Lucas to incest again, for Malle’s allegorical film, MURMURS OF THE HEART (1971), climaxed with an incestuous encounter between a drunken mother and her son. The allusion to Bellocq also evoked the impotence problems suffered by Lando, Skywalker, Solo and Vader in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, implying that Lucas was still uncertain whether he would succeed as a J.D. Jedi film artist. A fitting evocation, as Jones was soon rendered as impotent as Belloq, Murakami, Skywalker, Slide and Solo when he was forced to hand over both his gun and the gold Oscar idol of blockbuster fortune and glory to Belloq. This stripped him of success and potency, underlining that Jones, Landis, Lucas, Malle and Spielberg needed to work hard over the course of the film to defeat their Dark Sides, please viewers, and bring harmony, success and virility back to their lives.
Significantly, when Jones fled Belloq like a Cowardly Lion and ran frantically through the jungle like Braddock frantically ran through the jungle of that mysterious isle from the blockbuster manbeasts of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, a pilot named Jock-played by Fred Sorenson-saved the leonine hero from being killed by the pursuing Hovitokins by flying Jones to safety in his float plane. Unfortunately, Jock also ominously linked the Landis evoking Jones to the rotoring propellors of flying machines for the first, but not the last time in the film. Jock also reaffirmed the impotence problem of Jones-or was that just the problem Jones ahd with snake people?-when his pet boa constrictor, Reggie, appeared and terrified Jones. Curiously, this plane rescue evoked Henderson’s Magic Carpet Airline ride to that Eastern college and adventure at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. A fitting link to that Magic Carpet ride, for Jock’s plane rescue did lead to Henderson’s mysterious Eastern college after the prologue adventure, where we discovered that the raggedy and Cowardly Scarecrow Jones was indeed actually a dapper and esteemed doctor like March and Great Oz professor of Archaeology, continuing transformation from one Ozian character to another and the Journey of Self Discovery in a Lucas film.
The scholarly transformation of Jones reinforced his link to Dr. March, and evoked Dreyfuss’ university trained shark expert Matt Hooper in JAWS, preparing us for more Kid monsters and alienated brains rising up from the depths. Indeed, pretty young girls in his classroom were seen stirring up those depths by flirting with him, recalling the knowing Mr. Wolfe and Wolfman Jack in AMERICAN GRAFFITI. While amusing and vaguely sinister, this was actually a significant moment, for it was the first time in a Lucas film that his cinematic alter ego was openly linked to post-secondary school success. This underlined that Lucas had indeed reassessed his USC years, and was now firmly committed to post-secondary education after the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE and STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Indeed, gone forever were the uncertain Curt Hendersons, lonely Dagobah Lukes and dismissive Uncle Owens who doubted the value of post-secondary education in his film art. From now on Lucas was imbued with full throttle support for post-secondary education in his major film art, preparing us for the arrival of Luke as a fully trained J.D. Jedi in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, and for the Jedi Temple and its indomitable twelve member council of Jedi in the Tragic Trilogy.
Significantly, the tweed jacket and glasses of Jones reiterated his link to Landis, who liked to assume a professorial air with similar clothing and glasses to disguise the fact that he had not progressed higher than grade Nine in high school. Indeed, as a ‘Lukas’ could be made from Luke Skywalker, so a ‘Jandis’ could be made from the letters for Indiana Jones, underlining that implication. The possibility that Jones was actually linked to Landis rather than Lucas or Spielberg was increased by the arrival of Denholm Elliot’s Marcus Brody, an older colleague of Jones whose name evoked Amity Island police chief Martin Brody in JAWS in another link to that film that reiterated that the blockbuster beast within and without would also be faced down in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. For the older, grey haired and Tin Man linked Brody also reminded us of Folsey, the older and grey haired editor/producer mentor of Landis who had watched over him and helped his film career since SCHLOCK, a film that had also begun in a spooky underground cavern tunnel complex like RAIDER OF THE LOST ARK and THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS. The implication that Jones symbolized Landis increased when Brody introduced Jones and the audience to two tragicomic and Laurel and Hardy and Pinto and Flounder evoking US government agents who returned the Comedy narrative to a Lucas film. For the link of Don Fellows’ Colonel Musgrove to Huston linked him to Lucas-and prepared us for another deadly and duplicitous quest to acquire another dangerous ancient and Oscar linked artifact as in the allegorical and Oscar thrashing Huston film, THE MALTESE FALCON (1942)-while Hootkins’ Major Eaton was linked to Hitchcock again like his Red Squadron pilot Porkins in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, a link that also hitched him to Spielberg. The conversation with Eaton and Musgrove reiterated the implication that Indy symbolized Landis, for at one point Eaton mentioned that Indy had studied under Abner Ravenwood at the University of Chicago. This revelation reminded us that Landis was born and initially raised in Chicago, before his family moved to the Los Angeles area, reaffirming the link of Indy to Landis.
Of course, the two tragicomic agents also evoked Artoo and Threepio, and confirmed the link by sending Jones off on a quest to Egypt to discover the lost Ark of the Covenant, just like Artoo and Threepio sent Luke on a quest to find Ben and his Ark of the Covenant linked axe-saber in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE. As the meeting with Ben led to a desperate quest to rescue Leia, it was fitting that the first stop on the Ark quest was a trip by Jones-on another ominous and propeller rotoring flying machine-to get the headpiece of the staff of Ra from an old flame and new Dorothy named Marion Ravenwood in her boisterous and raucous cantina in Nepal. Here we found her winning a bet by drinking a male patron under the table who evoked one of the more gleefully and unabashedly insidious and salacious male patrons of the New Orleans brothel in PRETTY BABY. Significantly, this drinking contest recalled the Russian roulette gambling dens of THE DEER HUNTER, implying that Kennedy, Lucas, Marshall and Spielberg were again using a film to soften and exorcise a previous film. Seeing Allen’s Maid Marion in her cantina also reminded us that Allen’s Katy was first met tending bar at Delta House in ANIMAL HOUSE, in an open link of the film to Landis that reaffirmed that Indy symbolized Landis. Indeed, Marion’s Christian name evoked Verna Bloom’s Mrs. Marion Wormer, wife of Dean Vernon Wormer in ANIMAL HOUSE, reaffirming the film’s link to Landis. Marion’s name also reminded us that the name of Deborah Nadoolman, the wife of Landis and the Costume Designer of the film, had the same syllable cadence as Marion Ravenwood, linking Marion to Deborah and reinforcing the implication that Jones symbolized Landis. In fact, seeing Allen as Ravenwood reminded us that Allen had just played Nancy, the girlfriend of the Landis linked Burns in CRUISING only the year before, reiterating the implication that Marion symbolized Deborah.
Not surprisingly, this visit to an old flame in a cantina in Nepal also brought both the Western and the passionate Romance back to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Indeed, the visit to Marion’s cantina also recalled Solo’s trip to Cloud City to enlist the aid of Calrissian in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, preparing us for more swelling Han and Leia evoking love between Indy and Maid Marion and embattled tumult amidst the Atlanta evoking flames here in Nepal-and in the trimax of the Classic Trilogy to come. In fact, the fact that Maid Marion was the daughter of the Anakin Skywalker evoking deceased archaeological mentor Abner Ravenwood confirmed that Lucas was continuing his Classic Trilogy themes in this new full throttle film. Marion even had a major domo named Mohan-played by Anthony Chinn-whose name evoked Han, Lando and Lobot, confirming the film’s link to STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, her links to Leia and Dorothy, and her cantina’s link to Cloud City. Mohan also recalled An Loc in MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI, evoking the film long quarrel between Steve and Laurie in that film, and setting us up for another film long battle between Jones and Marion here. Indeed, the sight of Jones dangling from the side of a pit in the South American hidden Temple Theatre at the beginning of the film had evoked the police officer hanging from the roof of a building at the end of the rooftop chase at the beginning of VERTIGO, preparing us for Jones being afraid to fall down the vertiginous heights of love here in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
The sight of the Gor boulder chasing Jones out of the Temple Theatre after its implicit rape and its evocation of Dr. March and Sally had also set us up for these uneasy relations between Jones and Marion. Jock’s pet boa constrictor, a snake with the Nikko-cadenced name of Reggie, that terrified Jones on the magic carpet ride back to that Eastern college, had also confirmed a fear of the vertiginous heights of love on the part of the good doctor. Indeed, this fear of a phallic snake in the South American Garden of Eden also implied that Jones suffered from the same impotence problem implicitly suffered by Belloq-and Lando, Skywalker, the Tin Han and Vader. Clearly, sexual disease troubled another Lucas film, reminding us that after years of marriage, Lucas curiously did not have any children. Indeed, Marion quickly revealed that, like Sally of THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, she had been sexually used by the brutish Doctor Jones in a more naïve past, and as a result she refused to confirm whether she still had the headpiece to the staff of Ra when questioned by Jones. The headpiece turned out to again be as solid gold as an Oscar statuette, Threepio or the maternity idol in the hidden Temple Theatre, confirming that a symbolic rape had in fact occurred in that hidden Temple Theatre. This symbolic rape turned the scene at Ben’s desert sanctuary on its head, preventing Indiana Skywalker from acquiring the light of the Covenant saber linked headpiece. However, this refusal did turn Marion into another Kenobi guardian of the Judea-Christian Force, preparing us again for the explosion of righteously furious female Force at the end of the film.
Some of the bitterness in the past of Jones and Ravenwood was assuaged by a Western brawl in the cantina with some brutish thugs led by Ronald Lacey’s Jean-Luc Godard resembling, black clad and Wicked Hitler serving Nikko, Major Arnold Toht-a first name that evoked the first name of the father of Spielberg, and a surname that evoked Hoth, Toto and tot, the German word for death-a tension relieving brawl that united the two ex-lovers. Indeed, the boisterous brawl led to the torching of Marion’s Cantina, evoking the torching of Atlanta in GONE WITH THE WIND again, as well as the saber swinging and blasterslinging dustups in Mel’s Cantina in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE and the brawl in a Western bar in MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI. The bitter brawl reaffirmed that the Western narrative had indeed returned to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, as well as the swelling Romance. The sight of Toht menacing Marion with a flaming fire poker prior to her rescue by Jones and the beginning of the brawl also recalled a similar scene in RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE, a nice nod to Kershner that definitely linked the film to STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in classic Lucas fashion. Luckily for maid Marion, her grave robbing hood had by the time of the eruption of the brawl been linked to all four of the personified and healing Ozian elements, from ragged, hat wearing and Earth linked Scarecrow, cowardly and Fiery leonine escaper of hidden underground Temple Theatres, Airy and garrulous Great Oz scholar and impotent, inner Water frozen, and headpiece of staff of Ra-less Tin Man. This healing and harmonizing conjunction allowed him to rise to the challenge and defeat the baddies like a human Fifth Element. And to help transport Maid Marion to another world, for the fiery inferno that destroyed her tavern was the Kansas twister that encouraged this new Dorothy to leave Kansas and let herself be carried away by magic carpet airplane with Jones for healing, harmonizing and romantic adventure in Cairo in the fantastic Ozian land of Egypt.
Here in the labyrinthine new Emerald City of Cairo-noticeably lacking in Cairo landmarks as the Cairo scenes were filmed in Sidi Bouhlel in Tozeur, Tunisia-the two reluctant lovers met John Rhys-Davies’ huge and bearded Sallah, the genial and true Cowardly Lion of the piece, whose Fiery presence confirmed that the healing Ozian dream continued on touchdown in Egypt. Ironically, Sallah looked like Kubrick in a mischievous nod to the fact that Landis had started off his film career by roasting Kubrick in SCHLOCK, reiterating that Jones symbolized Landis. Sallah also looked like Grot, the head foreman of the underground workers in METROPOLIS, a link that reiterated that RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was about defeating the Dark Rotwang Side of directors. Sallah’s children evoked not only the children saved by Freder and Josaphat from the rising waters at the end of METROPOLIS, but were the new Munchkins of the film, reiterating that elemental and healing Ozian Force was flowing in Egypt. However, Sallah’s comment to Jones that the Tanis dig supervised by Belloq made it seem ‘…as if the Pharoahs had returned’ also evoked the Pharaohs of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, warning of adolescent perils and gangsta directos in the labyrinthine streets of bright lights, big Emerald Cairo City that had to be avoided if Jones and Marion hoped to escape the healing dream as whole and healthy adults like Curt and Laurie at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI.
Significantly Sallah affirmed his commitment to the healing Ozian dream by bringing Jones to Imam-played by ‘King’ Tutte Lemkow-a genial and Kenobi and Yoda evoking scholar who was the true Great Oz of the film and the obligatory wise and knowing Old Man of all good Westerns. In true good Great Oz fashion, Imam successfully translated the inscriptions on the gold headpiece of the staff of Ra, allowing Jones and Sallah to discover the true resting place of the Lost Ark rather than Belloq, Toth and the rest of the Germans. Sallah also saved the life of Jones at the house of Imam by catching in mid-air a poisoned date that Indy was about to eat in celebration, after noticing that another poisoned date had killed the film’s surrogate and real life flying monkey. This rescue confirmed Sallah’s good and healing Ozian nature, a goodness that reminded us that Sallah’s name evoked Allah. Unfortunately, however, a helicopter rotor evoking ceiling fan in Imam’s hermetic abode constantly rotored above this scene and gave it an eerie and ominously twilit cadence that darkened its celebratory nature. Indeed, the shadow of the ceiling fan rotoring over the lifeless body of the monkey-and even worse the sight of the body of the monkey seen through the rotoring blades from above-eerily anticipated the deaths of Chen and Le in the upcoming disaster. This was the second time in the film that a ceiling fan had rotored ominously over the Landis linked Indy, for one had also rotored above Jones and Belloq only moments before during a tense conversation the two had had about the Ark in the Marhala Bar.
This eerily and ominously twilit ambience overshadowed Jones and Sallah and their success in using the correct translation on the headpiece of the staff of Ra in another underground Temple Theatre called the map room in Tanis, the second Skywalker-like descent into the subconscious for Indy in the film. Significantly, the theatrical nature of the film’s underground Temple Theatres were reaffirmed here, for as in the first underground Temple Theatre that kicked off the film, film projector evoking sunlight yet again shone into this new subterranean Temple Theatre. Soon it burst out of the film frame like Light of the Covenant headpiece on top of the staff of Ra in a seering beam that pointed the way to the location of the Ark of the Covenant at the Well of Souls, and to the power of the Judea-Christian Force, on a movie-like miniature of Tanis on the floor of this second hidden Temple Theatre. This was a mystic and spiritual scene that confirmed the sanctity of the Temple Theatre to Lucas and Spielberg, and their commitment to the healing and spiritual nature of film art. With the emphasis on film art, as the scene evoked a similar scene involving a headpiece owned by Commander Adama in an underground room of an ancient temple in the allegorical and Christian I. Nyby II directed telefilm, ‘The Lost Planet of the Gods’ (1978) of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. However, and ominously, the seering projector beam also reminded us of the destructive beams that blazed out of the Gor controlled Steve March and the Death Moon, preparing us for the awesome and deadly cinematic power of the Ark and the outrage released by the TZ disaster. A link to death that already haunted Jones before Imam translated the head piece, for he was led to believe earlier by Belloq and the duplicitous Germans-including Wolf Kahler’s Herzog evoking Dietrich-that Maid Marion was killed in an explosive truck crash, the latest life changing crash in the film art of Lucas. Significantly, one of the duplicitous Germans pulling the wool over Indy’s eyes was Dietrich. He was played by Wolf Kahler, who had earlier played the Prince of Tubingen in the implicitly Landis roasting BARRY LYNDON, fittingly reaffirming the implicitly Landis roasting intent of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Thus, it was no wonder Jones looked so grim when he and Sallah led a hidden in broad daylight dig at the real location of the Well of Souls, fittingly taking place above the massive Ark excavation headed by the blockbuster fortune and glory lusting Belloq. Luckily, however with the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion empowering the diggers with their healing elemental energy, it was no surprise that the two Ozian companions and their exuberant Egyptian crew soon broke into the Well of Souls, the third subconscious descent into the latest underground Temple Theatre for Jones, and discovered the legendary Ark of the Covenant in a scene that evoked a similar scene involving Commander Adama and Captain Apollo in that subterranean room of the ancient temple in ‘The Lost Planet of the Gods’. Significantly, the Ark was in a chest that was as gold as Threepio, the Oscar and the maternity idol. This linked the Ark not to the humble space seafaring chest Ben kept Anakin Skywalker’s axesaber in for Luke in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, but to the gold idol and headpiece of the staff of Ra that we had already seen in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. This implied that another rapacious assault occurred when the Ark was taken from the Well of Souls, a rapacious assault that was implicitly confirmed by the fact that the scenes showing Indy and Sallah discovering the Ark and encasing it for transportation in a crate were intercut with scenes of Belloq trying to seduce Maid Marion, with Toht threatening them both with torture. Soon the Ark was hoisted out of the Well of Souls and stolen by Belloq and the Nutzis, setting off a desperate battle for control of the Ark between Jones and his people and Belloq and his people, linking the rest of the film more openly to THE MALTESE FALCON than hitherto.
Not long after, Marion was thrown down into the strong arms of Jones by the wicked and black clad Toht after Sallah and the Ark were hoisted out of this third hidden Temple Theatre. Significantly, this scene underlined that Spielberg used RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to atone for 1941, for it reminded us that Dorothy heroine Betty Douglas was unceremoniously dropped into a hole with no one to catch her by that Nikko cad Sitarski at the beginning of 1941. Clearly, that previously caddish drop was being annulled by Indiana with his careful catch of Maid Marion in this more healing Ozian adventure. As Toht was doing the dropping this time, the drop also underlined that the black clad Toht was the subservient Nikko to the Wicked Hitler in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, for Sitarski was the Nikko of 1941. Of course, Toht’s link to Sitarski and his capture of the Ark for the Wicked Hitler also linked the Ark to the wild and adolescent mayhem of 1941, preparing us for the equally wild and adolescent mayhem that exploded out of the Ark at the end the film.
The rapacious nature of this latest hidden Temple Theatre assault was also underlined by the phallic snakes that menaced the trapped Adam and Eve pair of Jones and Ravenwood down in the Temple Theatre of Souls. Similar poisonous snakes menaced Doc Savage’s archaeologist aide Johnny when he was almost thrown down a sacrificial well in the Valley of the Vanished in The Man of Bronze, reiterating the link of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to the first Savage super saga. However, the snakes also recalled the dianoga of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, suggesting that Jones was being rejuvenated with their phallic energy like Skywalker in the garbage compactor. Significantly, this scene also implied that an overbearing mother who dominated Jones as a youth was the reason why Jones could not commit to Marion. Indeed, the mummies that menaced Marion prior to the escape of the pair from their hidden Temple Theatre recalled the mummy of the mother of Norman Bates-played by Anthony Perkins-that Marion Crane’s sister Lila found in the basement of the Bates house at the end of PSYCHO. In this case, however, the mother no doubt symbolized Spielberg’s fear of being returned to Mother television if RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK failed at the box office. Luckily, Jones saved Marion and Spielberg from this fear for the moment with a timely escape. Timely indeed, for no sooner did the pair escape from this latest underground labyrinth, then they were forced to prevent Belloq and the impious Nazis from flying the Ark to Berlin.
Not surprisingly, the newly liberated Scarecrow Jones rose to the occasion and appeased his pretty Dorothy by recapturing the Ark and defeating the flying monkey Nazis, reiterating that phallic mojo was imparted to him by the snakes of the Well of Souls as it had been imparted to Skywalker by the dianoga in the garbage compactor of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE. However, the liberation of the Ark did not come easy. For it necessitated a bitter fist fight on the tarmac of a small airfield with a huge and belligerent bald Nazi-played by Pat Roach, a stuntman who reaffirmed the implicit Landis roasting intent of the film via a role as an equally belligerent and pugilistic Irish soldier in BARRY LYNDON-while dodging the parked but out of control and slowly revolving plane that was being readied to fly the Ark to Berlin as the airfield tarmac was being just as slowly flooded with leaked gasoline. Ominously, the German pilot was played by Marshall in an uncredited cameo, ominously linking him to out of control flying machines a year before the TZ disaster. Indeed, the out of control prop plane eventually sliced the huge bald German to death with one of its propellers, eerily foreshadowing the TZ disaster.
This airplane sequence also underlined the differences between the two film artists, with the Magic Carpet airplane leading to adventurous new lands of Lucas morphing into the impersonal instrument of Hitchcock evoking terror of Spielberg. Indeed, the gushing gasoline evoked the gushing gasoline that led to gas stations blowing up in 1941 and THE BIRDS. Thus, it was no surprise that the airfield soon blew up, taking the plane with it. Unfortunately for Indy, Marion and Sallah, the nasty Nutzis still managed to retain control of the Ark, leading to an exciting and stunt filled DEATH RACE 2000 and DUEL evoking chase after a large and indomitable German army supply truck transporting the Ark to Cairo-a link to DEATH RACE 2000 that reaffirmed the implicit link of Jones to Landis, reminding us of his cameo as an ill fated mechanic in that film.
Significantly, this embattled and full throttle truck chase and road duel began with Indy riding a white horse down a desert hill to leap on to the indomitable truck, a white horse that was the twin of a white horse ridden by the Lucas linked Neidermeier in ANIMAL HOUSE, reaffirming the link of Indy to Landis. Significantly, while this unstoppable truck recalled the equally unstoppable and Warner Brothers linked truck that barred the way of Lucas in DUEL, it also recalled the supply trucks carrying dynamite that were driven by the various desperate and New Hollywood film artist linked drivers in SORCERER even more, implying that this segment of the film was a righteously furious, two fisted and pedal to the metal reply by Lucas and Spielberg to that film. Ominously, with a front license plate of WB 1204, the supply truck also anticipated the desperate battle to leave behind the Warner Brothers linked TZ disaster and blast film art free from the number 23 in the dread and allegorical Zone Wars after 1982.
Luckily for the heroes, the truck chase ended in triumph for Jones in Cairo. Here Sallah helped Jones and Ravenwood escape with the Ark by boat from Egypt. This boat, the Bantu Wind, its black African crew, and its Captain Katanga-played by George Harris-confirmed that J.D. confidence and virility had returned to Lucas and Spielberg. For they evoked Lando, the Pharaohs, SRT and the forceful Afro mojo that all heroes must have if they were to truly succeed in the life and film art of Lucas. Unfortunately, the J.D. Jedi ship was stopped and boarded by a German submarine commanded by Belloq and his Nazi ‘friends’. This German submarine evoked the Japanese submarine that triumphed over Hollywood and Kelso at the end of 1941, reaffirming that Spielberg was taking on his 1941 Dark Side in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. This link to 1941 was also confirmed by the fact that Ravenwood and the Ark were captured and carried off in the submarine like Kelso, emphasizing that the film career of Spielberg had been hijacked by the wayward adolescent mayhem of 1941. This time, however, Jones escaped capture, and rode the submarine’s phallically raised and dianoga/penisaurus evoking periscope to a mysterious and Dr. Moreau evoking nearby desert island like the naked female blonde swimmer who rode the periscope at the beginning of 1941, linking that film’s prologue to the beginning of JAWS, and the submarine to Bruce, the constantly malfunctioning mechanical great white shark. This phallic journey reiterated the submarine’s link to 1941 and the interest in JAWS in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and allowed Jones to literally keep his head above water and keep his cool, like Spielberg did after being shafted by the 1941 fiasco.
After arrival on that nearby and mysterious Mediterranean island not far from Egypt, Belloq revealed himself to be a grandiose character with Dark Great Oz directorial pretensions indeed. For he donned a Professor Marvel headdress and tried to see visions in the opened Ark of the Covenant in an open air and nighttime religious ceremony that recalled the contact with UFOs on Devil’s Tower at the end of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. However, and unfortunately for the grandiose and blockbuster fortune, glory and power lusting Belloq, all the opened Ark revealed was sand, worthless sand that recalled the sand that also poured out of the capsized locomotive-tanker that same year at the end of THE ROAD WARRIOR. As in the Miller film, the sand reiterated the meaninglessness of striving for directorial fortune and glory. The quasi-religious ceremony also recalled Jones’ symbolic rape of the hidden Temple Theatre at the beginning of the film, implying that we had arrived at the fourth and final Temple Theatre of the film. This link also prepared us for another furious attack on the violators of this latest Temple Theatre as at the beginning of the film, bringing RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK full circle.
And this righteous fury duly arrived in the form of vengeful female ghosts that reminded us that all forms of art are seen as female-including film art-and evoked the maternal nature of the first Temple Theatre and Marion, the female 3D holograms of the Classic Trilogy and THX 1138, and the smaller UFOs that accompanied the Mother television ship at the end of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. These vengeful female art spirits fed on Belloq’s delusions of cinematic grandeur and blew up his aroused and egotistically swollen directorial head like the Death Moon at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, destroying Malle and PRETTY BABY, evoking a similar headburst in SCANNERS the year before, and anticipating the destruction of the partially rebuilt Deathly Moon at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The outraged female spirits of film art also fittingly melted the face of the black clad Toht in a way that evoked the melting Wicked Witch of the West at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ to confirm his Wicked Witch of the West linked status-and so Godard melted away, and whatever films he had made that had aroused the righteous fury of Lucas and Spielberg. The righteously furious art spirits also crushed the face of the Herzog linked Dietrich, probably due to the fact that Herzog had roasted Lucas over the course of the Seventies in such allegorical films as NOSFERATU (1979). These vengeful Ark Side spirits also annihilated the impious Nutzis with death ray-like beams of energy, evoking THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS and SCANNERS again, and destroying the evil people who followed Godard, Herzog and Malle and anyone who had dared to write off Spielberg after 1941. The film cameras that the impious Nazis used to record the event were also destroyed, underlining that the Dark Side of directors and their twisted ‘film art’ was being destroyed at the end of the film, in an open warning to Landis to grow up and get his act together, as much as to Godard, Herzog and Malle.
Clearly, the wronged, righteously furious and full Force throttle fury within Ravenwood and the film’s four hidden Temple Theatres had finally emerged in this Forcefully fourth open air Temple Theatre, righting sexual wrongs and bringing harmony back to the hidden Temple Theatres and the universe of Jones and Ravenwood, at last. This point was underlined by the fact that Jones and Ravenwood were tied to a phallic wooden pole together while the Sodom and Gomorrah-like destruction of Belloq and the Nazis raged behind them. This wooden pole also underlined the Scarecrow status of Jones and implied that virility had returned to him with the destruction of his Dark Side. Ravenwood’s presence beside him also implied that any difficulties they had in the past were now behind them, and that she was no longer hostile to the J.D. Force of Jones. Curiously, the desert location of the ceremony and the fact that the scene was also filmed-like all of the Egyptian scenes-in Tunisia also evoked the Tunisian locations for Tatooine in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, preparing us for the righteously furious destruction of the equally grandiose and insidious Jabba and his diseased entourage on Tatooine in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI.
And so Jones and Ravenwood and Landis and Nadoolman had faith in God and each other and this fearful and loving faith liberated them from sexually diseased directorial Dark Sides in a way that confirmed the triumphant return of the Journey of Self Discovery and the Romance in the films of Lucas, and anticipated the equally healing, transforming and loving endings of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE and STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH. And so 1941, Belloq, Dietrich and Toht, and Malle, Herzog and Godard-and Friedkin-and the impious flying monkey Nazi critics were wiped out by the righteous and vengeful female art spirits. And so the Ark rose up into the air on a cyclone of power after the sacred vessel annihilated its foes like the Mother television ship at the end of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, and then crashed down onto the ground again like Dorothy’s house to underline that we had just experienced another healing and Ozian themed Lucas film-an ending that yet again, unfortunately, also ominously anticipated the crashing helicopter of the TZ disaster. And so the ending healed and harmonized heroes and viewers, allowing everyone to leave the spiritworld dream as whole and harmonious adults as at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, THX 1138 and THE WIZARD OF OZ.
And so Dorothy and her Scarecrow hunk and Sally and her Dr. March finally fell down the vertiginous heights of love and walked off hand and hand in the end. Significantly, they were noticeably minus the Crate Ark, taken from them and hidden away in a government warehouse for safekeeping by the Huston/Lucas and Hitchcock/Spielberg linked pair of Musgrove and Eaton in a way that made it gently but firmly-and ominously and presciently-clear that Lucas and Spielberg still correctly felt that Landis had not fully come to grips with his raucous adolescent Ark Side and still needed some maturing and seasoning before he became a true J. D. Jedi film artist. And so this disappointing, sobering and tragicomic but romantic ending anticipated the romantic triumph of Leia and Solo at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, successfully concluding the Comedy, Journey of Self Discovery, Romance and Western narratives of the film. And so Lucas and Spielberg defeated their Dark Sides and fears in a triumphant new film that proved that Lucas and Spielberg could be more Hollywood than Hollywood. And lost in their healing triumph, they missed the signpost at the side of the Yellow Brick Road. The one that warned of a shadowy land up ahead where sweet dreams turned into bitter nightmares, a shadowy land midway between light and darkness called…the Twilight Zone.
(Curiously, and as with the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, the success of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK inspired numerous imitators. Two of the worst were Ferdinando Baldi’s allegorical disaster, TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS (1982), and J. Lee Thompson’s allegorical bomb, KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1985). One of the best was Woody Allen’s bleak but sweet allegorical tragicomedy, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (1984). While set in the Dirty Thirties, the film could be seen as a wry and ironic look at the public’s retreat into fantastic films like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to escape the ‘downsizing’ and widespread economic depression of the Eighties. Curiously, the crate containing the Ark of the Covenant also soon returned in ‘The Crate’ episode of the King scripted, George Romero directed allegorical film, CREEPSHOW (1982), their always gleefully macabre allegorical roast of Ozian themed films and exuberant ode to twisted and educational comics. Significantly, after the dark, stormy and Kansas tornado-like prologue, this darkly amusing film featured five Ozian themed stories that took a separate and horrific look at Dorothy and her four elemental companions in turn, in the same order that they were met in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Thus, the first story was an horrific ode to Dorothy, the second an horrific ode to the Scarecrow-in the form of lonesome Jordy Verill, sympathetically played by King-the third an ode to the Tin Man, and so on.
In ‘The Crate’, the Cowardly Lion linked fourth episode, a weak and cowardly middle aged professor named Henry Northrup found a forgotten and leonine Kid monster in an old crate in one of the basements of his university campus. While at first frightened of the leonine monster-nicknamed Fluffy by cast and crew, and played by Darryl Ferucci-in Cowardly Lion tradition, Hal Holbrook’s Northrup later decided to feed his Wicked, rude and domineering young wife Wilma-played by Adrienne Barbeau-to the monster. And so he did, and his universe was cleansed of her diseased presence by the crate Ozian monster like the universe of Jones and Ravenwood was cleansed of the diseased presence of Belloq and his wicked gang by the thoughtful Ark. Then the crate was disposed of in a nearby lake, consigning Fluffy to oblivion. Or did Fluffy break free, and return as the monster in the crate seen at the beginning of Spielberg’s twilit, allegorical and gleefully commercial film, JURASSIC PARK (1993)? At any rate, the October 1982 release of CREEPSHOW linked King and Romero and the actors of the film forever after to the year of the TZ disaster, making them all quick visual shorthand for the twilit and disastrous year of 1982).