If I had a nickel for everyone who's asked me if I have a Christmas playlist, I'd have two nickels, which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it's happened twice. I hadn't actually bothered to make one because I feel like I hear enough Christmas music without making a concerted effort to do so, and I had some Christmas music on some of my other playlists and that satisfied me. But I made one just to make these two people happy. The title is a placeholder for something clever that will probably never come to me. The picture is from "The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives" (1933), a really great cartoon if you can look past the racist bits, which I admit is easier for me because I'm not the subject of them.
After last week's post it should come as no surprise that I'm agnostic about Jesus. Not about whether he lived - scholars are almost unanimous in the affirmative on that point - but about whether he said and did the things the Bible says he said and did. I don't want to be agnostic about Jesus. I want to love and follow Jesus. But if I'm honest, I have to hold everything to the same standard of scrutiny right now. The Christmas story itself has some issues that I once regarded as little more than interesting bits of trivia but now must take into real consideration. Apparently nobody had ever heard it until it was written down decades after Jesus' death, the timing of the Roman census doesn't line up with his birth, and the word translated as "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 really just means young woman. None of these disprove his divinity, of course, but they raise questions. How important is it for the details that have been passed down about Jesus to be accurate? Can we really know him if they aren't?
These last couple days, I'm unexpectedly believing in him more after I read Return from Tomorrow, George G. Ritchie's account of a near-death experience. I've heard that near-death experiences can be explained by hallucinogenic chemicals flooding the brain. He explains why he doesn't believe his was a hallucination but acknowledges that one can never know for certain, that there's still an element of faith involved. In any case, it was powerful to read and the world would be a better place if all of us hallucinated such things. I'm not going to make it the foundation for my spiritual views but I do take it quite seriously. I love his initial description of Jesus: "He would be too bright to look at. For now I saw that it was not light but a Man who had entered the room, or rather, a Man made out of light, though this seemed no more possible to my mind than the incredible intensity of the brightness that made up His form.
"The instant I perceived Him, a command formed itself in my mind. 'Stand up!' The words came from inside me, yet they had an authority my mere thoughts had never had. I got to my feet, and as I did came the stupendous certainty: 'You are in the presence of the Son of God.'
"Again, the concept seemed to form itself inside me, but not as thought or speculation. It was a kind of knowing, immediate and complete. I knew other facts about Him too. One, that this was the most totally male Being I had ever met. If this was the Son of God, then His name was Jesus. But... this was not the Jesus of my Sunday School books. That Jesus was gentle, kind, understanding - and probably a little bit of a weakling. This Person was power itself, older than time and yet more modern than anyone I had ever met.
"Above all, with that same mysterious inner certainty, I knew that this Man loved me. Far more even than power, what emanated from this Presence was unconditional love. An astonishing love. A love beyond my wildest imagining. This love knew every unlovable thing about me - the quarrels with my stepmother, my explosive temper, the sex thoughts I could never control, every mean, selfish thought and action since the day I was born - and accepted and loved me just the same."
At a minimum, Jesus is real in the same way that Santa Claus is real, and I don't mean that derisively. I mean that he represents something good and beautiful and inspiring. And I frankly feel that the idea of Jesus surpasses what's actually in the Bible. We have no record of Jesus advocating social change. Some scholars argue that as an apocalyptic preacher, he saw social change as a waste of time because the world was about to end anyway. Yet now many of us take for granted that because he loves everyone infinitely and equally, he would support sweeping measures - not just individualized acts of kindness - to make life better for marginalized people. We believe we're following him when we do so. The nineteenth-century abolitionists believed they were following him even though, so far as is known, he never once spoke against slavery. I, for one, see social justice and true religion as inseparable. I think it's pretty useless if not straight-up dishonest to preach that all people are equal before God without being actively concerned about police murders of Black people, sexual harassment and assault, or anti-LGBT hate crimes. I hope Jesus is, after all, more than a symbol for the best impulses of humanity, but I can't say he is with the certainty I once could, so I have to take as much as I can get.
For several months of moderate existential crisis I've been trying to really figure out God, even as I recognize that it's futile because billions of people have their own ideas about God and most if not all of them are wrong and I'm not likely the smartest person in the world. I think God is too big and complicated for any mortal being to really understand. Charles Darwin put it thus: "A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can." I no longer believe there is one definitive "true religion," because if there is, God has done a terrible job promoting it and most people throughout history and still today have failed to find it or be attracted to it. I think religions represent people's best attempts to understand, and each of them approaches him from a certain angle and has certain insights and truths but really knows very little in the final analysis. Perhaps multiple seemingly contradictory teachings about God are all true, like the blind men's observations about the elephant, or perhaps they're all laughably wrong. I'm trying to keep an open mind. I try to take in a lot of ideas, but my current thoughts about God, which I hardly claim to be revelatory and hardly expect to be final, are mostly inferred from my own experience and my observations of this world he supposedly created.
(For now I'm going to keep using masculine pronouns for him because that's what I grew up with and what most people are used to, though for all I know he's more of a she, a they, or an it. I'm not going to capitalize them here because the frequency of that would become awkward and distracting.)
I've questioned, of course, whether God even exists or all my experiences with him have been confirmation bias and delusions. After an analysis I described a few months ago, I am fairly confident that confirmation bias and delusions can't account for all of them, and that some higher power has at times communicated things to me I couldn't know on my own, but I also feel that this higher power has recently been less than honest with me and let me down big time, so that's kind of torn my brain apart. I've wondered if God isn't really all good. Maybe he's more of a Chaotic Good or a Chaotic Neutral who isn't above lying when he feels like it. Maybe he's a capricious being who helps, hinders, or ignores people more or less at random. How could I know? If he tells me he's good, if he tells me he loves me, he could be lying. I don't know what's a more disturbing thought - that God doesn't exist, or that he isn't entirely trustworthy. It reminds me of a Legend of Zelda fanfiction I read once where the characters discovered that Hyrule's goddesses were just ordinary women who accidentally became immortal, then studied science and created the world with its eternal cycle of good vs. evil because they were bored. I loved that fanfiction and I wish I could remember what it was called because the site I got it from has hundreds.
This summer I also read The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss by David Bentley Hart, which is available to "borrow" on archive.org. It outlines what looks to me like a pretty airtight philosophical case for God's existence, certainly one light-years beyond the paint-by-numbers anti-theism of people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Of course most of this philosophy isn't original to Hart or even remotely new, but he covers so much so well. I would hate to try to do his arguments justice by paraphrasing them in a few sentences. I'll comment on the title, though - the book is divided into those three parts, being, consciousness, and bliss, because he argues that despite their obvious theological differences, most religions really have the same concept of God as comprising the totality of those things. An Orthodox Christian, he liberally quotes from Hindu and Muslim as well as Christian thinkers. But this is, in fact, a very different concept of God than the one I was taught in the Mormon Church. I was taught that God is an embodied, exalted human being occupying a physical space on a planet somewhere with his silent, invisible wife or wives, not "just" a force that fills the universe. I think Joseph Smith made a point of rejecting all this philosophy to close the distance between people and God, to make him more relatable and accessible. Mormons would conversely argue that these "philosophies of men" led to the obfuscation of these truths and the corruption of the original Christian church. I know philosophy has its limitations, but if it's that useless, I don't know why God gave us brains in the first place.
The world doesn't look to me like the product of a divine plan where every detail is worked out with perfect foreknowledge. It looks more like the result of a science experiment with no ethical constraints. It looks more like God just set it in motion to see what it would come up with. Everything is just too complicated to fit into the little box my religion gave me to put everything in. If we humans are the purpose for which God created this planet, then I'm hard-pressed to understand why dinosaurs were here for 550 times as long as we've been, why more than two-thirds of its surface is covered with water that will kill us if we drink it, or why its sun's life-giving rays cause cancer, to name just the first three examples that pop into my head. I find it very difficult to believe that every living organism has a spirit designed by God before the world was formed. There are more microorganisms living on and inside my body than there are cells in my body. If God planned each of them individually, it makes more sense to believe that they're at the center of his plan and I'm just here to host them. The final straw for me was the incredibly hideous Demodex mites that live on humans' (and other mammals') faces and fill up with feces until they explode. I'll be nice and not include a picture that nobody asked for. I find it very, very, very difficult to believe that these creatures' existence was a conscious, premeditated detail of God's plan. I think he just didn't bother to stop them from evolving.
I'm increasingly inclined to attribute most of the circumstances of my life and others' lives to luck, good and bad, because I simply can't accept the disparities. I am so, so lucky compared to most people in the world today and most people who have ever lived. I've spent most of today sheltering from the awful cold in a decent apartment listening to Spotify Premium and playing Callahan's Crosstime Saloon while millions of people didn't even get enough to eat. I have education and hobbies and realistic career goals while countless people have never had a higher purpose in life than staying alive. Am I better than them? Am I more deserving than them? Did a capricious God arbitrarily decide to favor me over them? The only adequate theistic explanation I can think of is that God blessed me so I can bless others, but that still makes me special, chosen, entrusted with a responsibility that most people aren't. It still rubs me the wrong way. The solutions to the problems of evil and suffering that I've been taught still more or less satisfy me, but I'm growing reluctant to call God "Father" or conceptualize our relationship in those terms, because if a "real" father treated people the same way, he would go to jail. If my "real" father had withheld basic human needs from me as a "learning experience" that would "make me stronger" or whatever, or if he'd given me the silent treatment for months at a time to "test my faith" or whatever, we would call that abuse. I'm not saying God's methodology is abusive, I'm just saying I'm no longer satisfied to think of it as parenthood.
So I gravitate nowadays toward a deist vision of a God who pushed a button, set a bunch of things in motion, and sat back to see what would happen. I'm inclined to feel - even as I recognize this is a privileged view that people whose lives are living hells might not be able to share - that my existence is a miracle and a joy not because it was premeditated and inevitable, but precisely because it wasn't. And yet... and yet I know, or at least have more cause to believe than I can seriously doubt, that God has intervened in my life sometimes, in response to prayer or just because. He may well intervene more often than I notice and I wouldn't notice because I don't notice. It's my burning desire for further guidance and aid that drives me to put so much effort into knowing him despite the impossibility of the task. And I still sense in my heart what a lot of people sense in their hearts even though their religions don't teach it - that in some way I existed before I was born, and had some idea what I was getting into and why it would be worth my while. Many people's experiences have shown that they knew each other before this life and only had to find each other again to recognize it. I think God does have a plan and I think he has things under control. So I have these contradictory philosophies going on in my head. Or rather, they seem contradictory to me now but they may both be correct from a certain point of view when God's bigness and complexity are finally understood, if ever, which I doubt.
We're all familiar with the insistence that opposing same-sex marriage or gay lifestyles is not bigotry, that you don't have to agree with someone to love them. I believed that for several years. It rings true in theory. But the more I learn about the history of the gay rights movement, the more convinced I am that this opposition is inextricably rooted in bigotry after all, even if most such people are sincere when they say they don't hate gay people. The gay rights movement started with the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969, when gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn decided they were tired of being harassed by police officers. That's why Pride Month is in June. Conservative Christians didn't lift a finger or say a word to protest anti-gay bullying and discrimination back then, but now they have no problem complaining about the existence of Pride Month. How "loving" of them. In the 1970s, the gay rights movement faced significant setbacks thanks to a conservative Christian named Anita Bryant who spearheaded a coalition to roll back non-discrimination ordinances and bar gay people from public life. The coalition was called Save Our Children. She was no different than the modern morons throwing around the "groomer" buzzword as if they forgot about "snowflake." Painting gay people as a threat to children is the definition of bigotry. Likewise, I believe freaking out that "traditional" families will disintegrate and society will collapse if gay people have the same right that straight people take for granted is also bigotry.
This is a very, very obvious realization that most of my generation came to before I did. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to. My heart and my brain both told me it was wrong to ban same-sex marriage in a secular, pluralistic society based on religious beliefs that many people don't share. But believe it or not, I am capable of being humble sometimes. My church taught me that God wanted same-sex marriage to be illegal, and I didn't like that and I wasn't comfortable with it, but I acknowledged that didn't mean it wasn't true. I acknowledged that God's ways were not my ways. I'm never going to supplant my conscience with someone else's dogma like that again. I've seen much too much of the pain that these teachings cause real live gay people, and there's no way in hell this pain comes from a loving God. If it does come from a god, then this god is not worthy of my devotion. I saw a meme once upon a time that says, "For being so concerned about gay marriage, God sure was preoccupied with dinosaurs for millions of years." While this is technically a non sequitir, it intuitively rings true to me now. This obsessive focus on sexuality and gender, most of it coming from old white people, feels much too petty and small-minded for the Creator of this massive and ancient universe.
For a few months before I left the church, I did my best to be an LGBTQ ally and create a more inclusive, loving environment by posting things on that topic in my ward's Facebook group. I never posted anything that was in opposition to the church's teachings or policies. That didn't stop my bishop and stake president from both inquiring about my activism when I sought a temple recommend. They granted the recommend, but they had to make sure I was aware of the church's teachings and policies - even though it was impossible not to be - because my inclusiveness and love were a red flag to them. That frustrated me a lot, but my bishop confided in me that he'd grown up in a different generation and had to adjust his own feelings about gays and lesbians, so I empathized with that. In my next ward, the bishop deleted my first LGBTQ-themed post and straight-up lied to me that the group was for ward news and announcements only, even though nobody had a problem with the memes I posted or the articles about dating that one of his counselors posted. I didn't empathize with that. I lost respect for him and blocked his number.
Recently there was a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, which most Americans have moved on from by now just like they move on from every shooting. In the reddit circles I frequent, a lot of discussion centered around the fact that the shooter was a nominal member of my former church and whether it was fair to blame the church for his actions. I don't think it is. He clearly wasn't an active member by any stretch, and as hollow and unconvincing as the church's professions of love for LGBTQ people are, they do pretty clearly rule out murder. But I do think it holds a bit of culpability in a broader sense. Anti-LGBTQ protests and hate crimes have skyrocketed in the last couple years at the same time that white supremacy has skyrocketed, and while I've been privileged enough not to notice until now, it's not altogether surprising. Another thing I've learned from history is that social progress is always followed by a backlash from conservatives who feel threatened by other people having rights and/or being treated with respect. I've decided that any and all sources of stigma that could possibly contribute to this environment in any degree need to stop. I want to fight this bigotry and the only weapon I have is my words. I can be pretty good with words. They could be a pretty effective weapon. Oh, but what I don't have is a following of any decent size, so that frustrates me a lot. Not that I don't appreciate both of my readers very much, but I want to influence the world, dang it.
I want to be live-and-let-live toward my former church. I'm not interested in trying to deconvert people for intellectual or historical reasons. Life is short and cruel and I think people should believe whatever makes them happy as long as it doesn't problems for other people. But I am going to be adamant from now on that same-sex relationships are not wrong and gender transitions are not wrong. I'm done agreeing to disagree on unscientific and unethical beliefs that ruin people's lives. I don't claim to speak for God, I'm just following my heart and my brain, and if God has a problem with that he's welcome to step in and let me know anytime, but I won't have anything nice to say to him if he does. If he has a problem with gay marriage, he could have adopted a better strategy than creating millions of gay people and then commanding them not to do anything gay. Oh, and also here's David Archuleta talking about his own experience suffering in the church and then being validated by God. His description of meeting with a clueless apostle just confirms to me yet again that these men really are acting out of ignorance and prejudice, not revelation. (He doesn't mention it in this clip, but the apostle told him thrice that he needs to find the right girl, even though mixed-orientation marriages are usually horrible for everyone involved and the church has claimed that it no longer encourages them.) His departure is very embarrassing for the church because of his celebrity status, and I expect it will go a long way toward bringing about the changes that we all know are inevitable for the simple reason that its current position is not sustainable.
I feel like I was a little premature in writing about Indiana Jones 5 last weekend because if I'd just had a little patience, I would have waited for the trailer to come out and give me more to work with. Now it's out and I think I'll go ahead and analyze it. I've never analyzed a trailer before and I don't expect to do so as skillfully as the YouTube channels dedicated to that sort of thing, but I think it will be fun. For me, at least. I can't promise it will be fun to read. Everything here is either my own speculation or information from official channels. I have no desire to ruin the movie for myself. Director James Mangold did see fit the other day to debunk one particularly stupid internet rumor from mouth-breathing misogynists who claim that Indiana Jones will use time travel to erase himself from existence so his goddaughter can take over the role. This is particularly stupid because he's seventy years old and could just, you know, retire, at which point I would have no objection to his goddaughter taking over the role and starring in additional movies that would at best be great and at worst fail to ruin the great movies that already exist. Good grief.
So here's the trailer on YouTube, but it looks much better on Disney+. The first four Indiana Jones movies aren't on Disney+ because Paramount still owns the distribution rights, but fear not, that will be moot in the near future when Disney buys Paramount. In the meantime I suppose this will be the only movie that doesn't open with the Paramount logo dissolving into a real mountain or a mountain etched onto a gong or a CGI prairie dog hill.
First things first: I'm not crazy about the title, which was already rumored and is now confirmed. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. As much as I appreciate alliteration, I just don't think it conveys the proper sense of scope and awe for an Indiana Jones movie, especially one that's meant to cap off the franchise. Across the titles we have an ark, a temple, a crusade, a kingdom, and now... a dial. But whatever; the title won't make or break it. Visually, I think it looks great and I can tell it will be a thrill to watch even if the plot and the dialogue and the acting suck. Some of the CGI looks a bit dodgy, but with seven months left until release I'm sure it will be finessed further. Most of the cinematography and effects of the movies from the eighties still hold up and feel timeless while I'm watching them, but then the cinematography and effects here are still a vast improvement, more visually interesting with more kinetic energy. This particularly stands out in the shots set closer to the timeframe of the originals - but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The trailer opens with a voiceover from Sallah reminiscing about the desert and the sea, and we see shots of the desert and the sea. He didn't do anything with the sea in his original movies but it's implied here that he had several more adventures with Indy. He had some in the books and comics, of course. I don't know how seriously Disney is taking the tie-in materials. It didn't explicitly purge them from canon like it did with Star Wars. Some of them contradict each other, of course, but unlike the contradictions in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, I like that because it contributes to the feeling of Indy as a larger than life, almost mythical character. Anyway, the desert shots show a bit of a chase sequence including Indy and his goddaughter Helena and some other people, and then there's a shot of him in New York City (actually Glasgow in costume) even though Sallah doesn't mention missing the city, and then there's a rearview closeup on a couple of divers (probably Indy and Helena) and then an old barnacle-encrusted skeleton is destroyed by some eels swimming out of its mouth. Will eels be the creepy crawlies of this movie? Granted, they neither creep nor crawl, but they're basically underwater snakes, which could present some entertaining possibilities.
Sallah keeps talking and makes it sound like he used to go on an adventure with Indy every day. That's a bit much. I didn't see him in India (actually Sri Lanka in costume) in 1935. Indy's in a classroom lecturing students about some kind of alien spacecraft or diving bell, and it's a nice little lecture hall with rising seats, nicer than his previous classrooms, but this is 1969 and he's old and his students, far removed from the days when they would write "Love You" on their eyelids, probably think he's, like, not a groovy cat at all, man. Then Indy and Helena walk over a bridge in a cave and look down at the outstretched hand of a statue. Then all of a sudden it's 1944 and a couple of Nazis - okay, really they're just German soldiers who may or may not be formally affiliated with the Nazi Party, but at best they're Nazi enablers and that's bad enough - are dragging a prisoner with a bag over his head while a castle explodes behind them. Who could it be?? Then a wide shot of someone running across the top of a train on a foggy night. Who could it be?? Then a rear view of a motorcycle approaching a parked plane in the rain in the dark. Who could it be?? A lot of build up here. If the shots weren't so quick, the suspense would be unbearable. Someone walks between the shelves of what looks like a museum storage room, and fortunately he comes into the light so we can see that he's none other than Indiana freakin' Jones!
Now the trailer does the clever trailer trick where it switches from a voiceover over a bunch of different shots to the actual scene that the voiceover is coming from. We see Dr. Jones up close and personal for the first time since he turned seventy (actually eighty in costume) talking to Sallah in front of what appears to be an airport. Sallah is once again played by John Rhys-Davies. Nowadays casting a Caucasian British man as an Egyptian would probably be frowned upon, but he's been grandfathered into the role. Indy says to him, "Those days have come and gone." He turns away and starts walking toward the airport. Sallah says, "Perhaps - perhaps not." Indy, apparently just waiting for the flimsiest pretext to persuade him to do what he really wanted to do anyway, stops, turns back, and manages a bit of a smile as the scene fades out. Mic drop. Here we see clear evidence of James Mangold's script revisions. Originally, aside from a few jokes it didn't address Indy's age or how he's become obsolete in a changing world. It was just another adventure and didn't serve to cap off his career as neatly as it could have. James Mangold may have fixed that - or he may have been too heavy-handed with the idea. These brief snippets of dialogue seem kind of heavy-handed. But eh, at least they weren't written by George Lucas.
Then old Indy shines his flashlight on a statue that kind of looks Greek except that it has arms and isn't naked. Then young Indy and his assistant played by Toby Jones stand atop the train and brace themselves as a Nazi emerges from the fog, but we don't get a good look at them yet. Then we get our first closeup shot of Helena, looking concerned about something as she runs to the edge of something in New York City. I actually don't watch a lot of the movies that normal people watch, so I still associate Phoebe Waller-Bridge with a woke robot that makes weird innuendos, and I hope this character will be completely different. Now, holy crap, the guy with the bag over his head is tied to a chair that appears to be inside the castle (before it exploded?) and someone takes the bag off and HOLY CRAP IT'S LIKE HARRISON FORD TIME TRAVELED! The de-aging looks phenomenal, at least in the brief glimpses we get here. Some people are concerned that he'll still move like an eighty-year-old man, but I don't think eighty-year-old Harrison Ford even moves like an eighty-year-old man, and if they did use a stunt double for most of these scenes I don't even care. Whatever it takes. Now here, in 1944, is where I think the contrast with the cinematography and effects of the originals really stands out in a good way. It's the best of both worlds - twenties technology with eighties Harrison Ford. (Not to be confused with eighty-year-old Harrison Ford.)
Now we get a succession of quick shots. Voller, the main villain and unequivocally affiliated with the Nazi Party, opens a box as two other Nazis look on. I was only half-joking when I predicted that Mads Mikkelson would be a villain as soon as his casting was announced. A big machine gun turret on the back of the train fires and burns. Antonio Banderas looks up suspiciously as he sits in his humble abode with a banjo and some other stuff nearby. I saw him earlier this year in Uncharted and couldn't help but notice that even at his age he remained sexier than either of the young female leads. Someone walks across an airfield in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot and then Voller, probably on the same airfield, looks up majestically. Young Indy turns around inside the train and gives us another good look at his unnatural face. Twenty-five years later, his aged hands pick up some kind of mechanical disk artifact that just might be the titular dial, although tossing it in here so casually doesn't exactly rectify the title's lack of awe. Helena shines a flashlight over the statue's arm. Indy and Helena fall into a canal with broken Gregian pillars on either side. The shot is too quick for me to tell, but I think they're standing in the water and the canal floor suddenly gives way.
Through all of this, Indy - perhaps still talking to Sallah, perhaps not - gives a voiceover: "I don't believe in magic. But a few times in my life, I’ve seen things, things I can’t explain. And I’ve come to believe that it’s not so much what you believe...." And he leaves us hanging for a moment before concluding, "It's how hard you believe it." This addresses a couple weird details of the quasi-reality that is the world of Indiana Jones. First, essentially every religion, myth, and legend is true. Second, in spite of this, he spends much of his career being skeptical every time someone tells him about a new magic artifact. One has to assume that as a scientist, he looks for the most naturalistic explanation and evaluates everything on a case-by-case basis. It wouldn't be professional to start with the assumption that the Holy Grail is real just because Sankara stones and the Ark of the Covenant are real. But even so, by 1957 he's seen enough to say, "I believe, sister. That's why I'm down here." Now with this line in the trailer he seems to grant some validity to all supernatural beliefs without embracing any of them. He maintains an agnostic detachment, but long gone is the outright skepticism of his younger years. One can imagine him hastening to add, "Sallah, I've been from one side of this planet to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything."
But before he finishes talking - I had to go a bit out of order to preserve a more coherent flow of ideas - there's a few shots of the ticker tape parade in New York City on August 13, 1969 in honor of the "astronauts" who made the "moon landing." It marks an interesting shift in the movies' approach. The first four don't disclose specific dates, and they remain sufficiently detached from the real world that you could pretend they actually happened without interfering with known real history. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series took a very different approach. Episodes were named after years and months, and Indy constantly participated in historical events and interacted with historical figures (actually actors in costume). This movie brings in some of the latter approach. Voller works for NASA by this point and that's going to tie into the prologue and the artifact somehow. Maybe they'll have their final showdown in space, a bold original move that I'm sure wouldn't upset anyone. In a quick series of shots in the middle of this parade, Indy rears up on a horse, Voller's sycophant Klaber pulls up on a police motorcycle that he probably borrowed from one of his fellow white supremacists, a beauty pageant winner looks frightened as her unpleasant-looking driver brings her car to a halt, and Indy rides his horse at high speed. Then Indy picks up his hat and whip from a table as lightning flashes offscreen and he finishes the aforementioned voiceover. Mic drop.
Now the trailer blasts into full gear. Nazi motorcycle, falling boulder, exploding floor, Indy punches a Vietnam War protester, Indy punches a Nazi enabler, Klaber fires his gun into the air and makes parade viewers get down, Toby Jones yells "Indy!" atop the train, a Nazi gets pulled into a motorcycle as something explodes behind him, an airplane cockpit provides a beautiful view of a stormy sky reminiscent of the Millennium Falcon going into hyperspace, Indy whips a gun out of the train Nazi's hand, someone swims away from something exploding underwater, car chase, train chase, car chase, closeup of Helena apparently gripping an old person's neck through the shattered back window of a car, Indy rides his horse down a subway tunnel toward an oncoming train and ducks aside just in time, all backed by the Hidden Citizens Epic Trailer remix of the Raiders March: DUN-DA-DUN-DUNNN, DUN-DA-DUNNNNN! How can something sound so cool and so much like self-parody at the same time? I doubt this rendition will appear in the movie itself, and I have mixed feelings about the possibility that it will. It would sound kind of cheesy and dated, but fresher than an identical repetition of the motif we've heard in three movies already. I can live with or without it. TITLE SCREEN! Meh, I'm still not sold on it.
Now we're in the home stretch. In some wretched hive of scum and villainy, a Middle Eastern gangster-looking guy asks, "Who is this man?" Indy, looking annoyed, says, "I'm her godfather" while Helena, looking perhaps embarrassed, says, "He's... mildly related." Who is she severely related to anyway? Someone British. Marcus Brody would be nice, but for storyline purposes, it's probably Toby Jones' character from the prologue. Now Indy draws his whip, cracks it thrice over a dozen people's heads, and snarls, "Get back!" But in a karmic reversal of his hilarious casual murder of the Cairo swordsman, the dozen people all pull guns on him. He gets a panicked look. They graciously give him time to duck under the table before they all fire at the spot where he was standing. This bit of ridiculousness justifies itself by being funny, but I wouldn't be surprised to see in the movie that they don't really want him dead anyway. I bet they're just putting him in his place before offering him a mutually beneficial alliance that they intend to break at the first opportunity.
Missing from the trailer, as far as I could see, was CIA agent Mason, played by Shaunette Renée Wilson. Not a good look, Disney. Also missing was Mutt, who's been confirmed to not appear in the movie, and Marion, who hasn't. Seeing as Marion is Indy's wife, liked by fans, and played by an actress who's alive and well, she should at least get a couple lines to explain that as much as she'd love to come on Indy's final adventure, she's already committed to a series of bra-burning rallies. And Mutt probably died in Vietnam. Come to think of it, even though this is meant to be Indy's final adventure, and even though every franchise doesn't need to be kept on life support forever, he's such an interesting guy that I wouldn't mind watching more movies about his everyday life as a grouchy old man. I would pay money to see him walk out of a screening of Star Wars and complain about what an obnoxious ass Han Solo is.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.