8 Reasons why The Last Crusade is the Worst Indiana Jones Film

(With apologies to Jonathan Tuckett for stealing his format. And writing style. And, you know, just in general.)

    1. The original series. I am obviously ignoring the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is obviously the weakest of the series as a whole. Although actually I think it’s better than most people give it credit for. It has some really good scenes—the opening, the CIA debriefing, and the scene with the fridge is no more ridiculous than jumping from a plane in a dingy, getting dragged under a truck or that leap across the chasm in a minecart… But the main point at which the series jumps the shark is that the Hebrew god (and Aztec and Indian gods)—who the central character disavows on a number of occasions—actually get involved in the plot. And nowhere more so than the denouement of the Last Crusade.
    2. There’s not enough Harrison Ford. He’s not even in it for the first twenty minutes. Then he has to share all his screentime with Sean Connery (although that he manages to compete at all is impressive).
    3. The plot is complete bobbins. Spielberg and Lucas admitted as much when they added a sequence to the middle – and that it was another chase sequence is telling. The film is structured like this: Beginning (20 mins—established Henry Jones and makes a bunch of references to the other films), Plot Setup (30 mins—mostly boring until Connery turns up, although I admit a complex admiration for Elsa, who is in my opinion the best looking of the Indy Girls, though lacking the chutzpa of Marion… Complex because she is a Nazi, after all. Still, no-one missed Willie, eh? (Except Spielberg lol)), Chase Sequence (about an hour), Christian Ending (20 mins). It’s boring. The chase sequence was a small part of Raiders and Temple, but here, it’s literally half the film.
    4. Sean Connery makes shit films watchable. That is the Mystery of Connery. See also: the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Rock, that one with Zeta Jones. Or, my personal favourite, Sword of the Valiant (see below). If you can think of other examples, please add that in the comments below. 
    5. Spielberg’s using the “Daddy Issues” plot again. See also: ET, War of the Worlds, Hook, Munich, Catch Me If You Can, Jurassic Park…
    6. Again and again, the film riffs on Raiders. Say what you like about Temple of Doom, but at least it tried to innovate—Last Crusade is terribly derivative, but amplifies Raiders every time it copies it. Indy meets Nazis; Indy meets Hitler. Characters like Marcus and Sallah reappear, although tellingly, none from Temple of Doom. Most obviously, the sequence at Marshall College is a complete remake of the sequence in Raiders, except now so many students demand his time that he has to jump out of a window to escape. While a hot student writing “I Love You” on her eyelids is not part of my experience as a lecturer, it is at least believable, but in Last Crusade his teaching career becomes utterly cartoonish.
    7. Raiders was steeped in Christian imagery. But it is little noted that the mythology it uses is rather unorthodox, drawing from the same deep well that the Da Vinci Code and its ilk would later again capitalise upon. Indeed, the god of Raiders is somewhat complex in his motivations—he sets fire to the swastika on the boat on principle, yet seems only to kill those with their eyes open at the end (even if we doubt that Indy and Marion would have been killed, Belloq is killed extravagantly despite having never directly harmed anyone. Then Temple is all Hindu stuff, and we can say that it is at least heavy handed, or at worst downright racist in places, although the villagers themselves are portrayed very positively. But importantly, for Lucas et al, the agency of the Hindu deities is absolutely as real as that of the Hebrew deity in Raiders—a manifestation perhaps of the perennialist approach to religion as promoted by the Eranos school, and the writings of Jung, Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade. Significantly, Lucas was inspired by Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Masks, upon which Star Wars was built. But then… back to Christian imagery for Last Crusade. Except, even more so. Indy becomes a sort of Christ figure, rather than the tomb raider-esque rogue of before. So the tour of objects which embody various hierophanies is over. All we get is a bunch of platitudes about meek-and-mild Jesus’ rubbish old cup. Bah.
    8. …Alright, it does have its good points. Especially the best line in the film, improvised by Denholm Elliot: “Water? No thank you sir. Fish make love in it.”

Revelations of a Mother Goddess

Sorry for the lack of updates of late – I am astonishingly busy in the meat-world, but I’ll have some new writing for you all soon.

In the meantime, here’s another David Icke rarity – his 2002 video presenting the account of Arizona Wilder, a Californian woman who claims to have been the victim of psychological torture by the reptilian elites. She claims to have had a split personality induced through trauma, and that the other personality was a sex-toy for politicians including George Bush. Grab a drink, and strap yourself in – it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

“Thrive: What on Earth Will it Take?”

Long-term readers will remember that I’m working on a PhD about a field called Metaphysical Conspiracism, in which the holism and millennialism of the New Age Milieu is combined with a theodicy drawn from conspiracism, frequently involving UFOs.

Any doubts as to the existence of such a field should be put aside after the 11.11.11 release of the film Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?, and associated website. Here’s the official blurb:

THRIVE is an unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what’s REALLY going on in our world by following the money upstream — uncovering the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives. Weaving together breakthroughs in science, consciousness and activism, THRIVE offers real solutions, empowering us with unprecedented and bold strategies for reclaiming our lives and our future.

The production standards are unusually high – perhaps because it was made, written and presented by Foster Gamble, heir to the (considerable) Procter and Gamble fortune. Which has led to some conspiracy theories of its own. But this one has everything – UFOs, crop circles, New World Order, David Icke, a coming “awakening”, the Rothschilds. Most importantly for me, it is clear evidence of how some fully-signed-up, meditating, vegan, reflexology New Agers turn to NWO conspiracies to explain why the New Age hasn’t come yet.

And don’t tell anyone, but the whole thing’s here.

Ancient Aliens

Shakōkidogū (遮光器土偶) (1000-400 BC), "goggl...
Image via Wikipedia

The ancient astronaut thesis, despite von Daniken being roundly discredited, remains popular. Zacharia Sitchin‘s 12th Planet and its sequels argue that the Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elish, as well as other texts including Genesis, record memories of ETs visiting Earth at an early stage of human development. These aliens, called the Annunaki, originate on a planet called Niburu which orbits the Sun on a 3,600 year orbit, and is thus unknown to contemporary science. His books have been very influential upon metaphysical conspiracist narratives.

The following videos are of a series of “documentaries” on the ancient astronaut thesis which were produced by the History Channel in 2008. 12 more episodes after the jump.

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The Invention of a Guru

I recently came across Vikram Gandhi’s documentary Kumaré, in which the native New Yorker attempts to pass himself off as a spiritual teacher, his success, and dilemma when the time comes to admit the truth to his followers. I’m intending to use this as part of my Alternative Spiritualities class (starting January 2012), which takes the idea of inventing tradition as its theme. Gandhi’s point seems to be that anyone can become a guru, although logically, it doesn’t necessarily follow that because Gandhi did, anyone can. But does it matter? If the followers he attracted got something out of it, is their experience invalidated because of a lack of supernatural mandate?

The Prestige: Magic Tricks and Fiction

There is a lie at the heart of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. The movie is an elaborate trick, and Nolan knows it; he rubs our noses in it, not once, but twice. The trick is that the film has a glaring logical flaw, but we don’t notice it. We don’t notice, because we don’t want to notice it. But if we choose to see it, it opens up the real meaning of the movie. Nolan is showing us that this is how all movies work.
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