Escaping politics with Indiana Jones

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had it with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. I’ve certainly had it with George W. Bush.

I’ve had it with politics, at least for now, so I did what I always do when I’ve had it: I escape with a movie. Not just any movie, mind you, but a bona fide fantasy, the more adventurous and far-fetched the better.

The god of good fortune was with me last Thursday morning when I opened the newspaper and read that “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” opened nationwide that afternoon. I immediately bought a ticket online for the 5 o’clock showing.

After entering the comfortably air-conditioned multiplex, buying a bag of popcorn and waiting in the semi-dark auditorium for the trailers to start, I began to feel better. When Indiana Jones himself, 65-year-old Harrison Ford, appeared on the screen, wearing that brown fedora and carrying that trademark whip, I forgot about Obama, Clinton, McCain and Bush.

I was in pure movie mode.

I hadn’t read anything specifically about “Crystal Skull” and didn’t know what to expect. I rarely read reviews beforehand because I don’t want smart-aleck critics, mesmerized by their own arch prose, spoiling the clean fun of a new experience. I’m still enough of a kid to enjoy real “movie moments,” when you don’t have to think, when the action, characters, dialogue, mechanical wonders and scenery pull you in for the ride and delivera few surprises.

I acknowledge, however, that because I was a lit major as an undergrad and a grad student, I knew a few things about the skull as an artifact. This little bit of knowledge enhanced the anticipation: What role would the eerie Crystal Skull of Akator play in the action? In general, as I learned while studying Hamlet and Faust many years ago, the skull is a symbol of man’s mortality. It’s what survives after the body has been destroyed and becomes significant as a receptacle for life and thought and as a vessel used in the processes of transmutation. Countless forms of ritual, including the quest for the Holy Grail, superstition and cannibalism originate in myths about the skull.

Although I didn’t know the plot of the film, I was familiar with the legend of the 13 crystal skulls, dating back more than 500 years to the Aztec period. The skulls must be reunited by 2012 lest the world will come to an end. That’s some pretty scary stuff, so I was betting on Indy and Co. to find the lone skull and return it to its Peruvian tomb for a skulls’ family reunion.

In the end (I won’t give away the whole thing), the skulls are reunited, but making this happen is where all the fun is and the reason that millions of fans already have flocked to see the film.

The story, like all good escapism, has a believable frame and a substantive extended metaphor. The action begins in the desert Southwest in 1957. Guess what? This is the height of the Cold War. And guess what else? Indy’s mortal enemies, the antagonists, are those ruthless Soviets, led by the beautiful and evil Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). The Russkies want the skull for nefarious purposes, mainly as a means of worldwide mind control.

Yes, Indy, the brilliant archeology professor at Marshall College, is more jowly, more wrinkled and heavier than he was in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the old boy still has his swagger, acerbic wit and knuckles of iron.

The supporting cast adds to the fun. Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), Indy’s lover in Raiders 27 years ago, still lights up the screen when she turns on the attitude and the humor. Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), Marion’s son, is Marlon Brando and The Fonze rolled into one. Harold “Ox” Oxley (John Hurt) is the smart, pixilated old goat who understands the ways of the skull.

With the music of John Williams teasing the imagination, the duo of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, director and writer-producer, pulled off what may prove to be the best cinematic spectacle of the summer.

Anyone who is tired of our real-world political spectacle will find a great escape in “Crystal Skull.”

(Bill Maxwell is a columnist and editorial writer for the St. Petersburg Times. E-mail maxwelll(at)sptimes)


  1. Carl Nemo

    A good point Bill Maxwell concerning the need for diversion on occasion. People like you, myself and others that are paying attention and that are involved with the issues could use some, but surely not the greater electorate.

    The problem is that Americans are immersed in video diversions 24/7/365 having little interest in the workings of their government.

    Most of our brethren; ie., the unwashed masses are stumbling around still thinking the U.S. is the “bestest and the baddest” when in reality our entire paradigm is nothing but a “Potemkin Village” phenomenon. Things look good on the outside, but under this thin veneer is rot to the core…!

    We the people owe the planetary banksters almost 10 trillion bucks and the profligate criminals that have hijacked this nation’s treasury have a projected public debt of 12 trillion by 2012. It’s already on the books. In other words they’ve already committed us for more debt before they’ve even done so, meaning they have no intention of changing their ways. Check the Thomas Register, follow the links and you’ll see the figures.

    So while our complacent masses are watching Indiana Jones, American Idol, et. al. diversionary programs ad infinitum ad nauseam, they are being damaged even moreso by their duly elected traitors; ie., our newly emergent Congressional “politburo”. : |

    “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” …Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. Flapsaddle

    A little dose of Good vs. Evil is often necessary to remind us that some issues are really that simple; ditto the Star Wars saga.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  3. griff

    Who needs a Crystal Skull for mind control when you’ve got television and pharmaceuticals?

  4. pollchecker

    don’t you mean television and pharmacueticals in the drinking water? Also, you forgot America’s favorite past time….drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages.

    If they wanted to control the masses for the life of me, I don’t see why they continue to criminalize marijuana. They could make an entire country of conformists then.

  5. griff

    So pharmacuedicals in the drinking water is your only problem with pharmacueticals? It’s Ok to have ten prescriptions, but don’t put ’em in the water! Besides, aren’t they getting in the drinking water through the massive usage and prescription of them?

    Marijuana has been shown to have many health benefits and is completely natural, so is thereby less harmful than the lab-derived drugs. It has also been shown to heighten awareness and increase critical thinking, so it wouldn’t quite work in that respect. Marijuana is actually the non-comformist “drug” of choice for that very reason.

    I’ll give you a real-world example. An aquaintance of mine, a former co-worker, was recently prescribed Lipitor. He was otherwise healthy and in his late forties. He was normally smart and attentative. His doctor insisted his cholesterol levels were too high (a lie – cholesterol is necessary for healthy and normal brain function, and there are natural ways to reduce cholesterol, such as fruits and vegetables) and wrote him the prescription. Within a couple of days, he was a literal zombie. He was functional, but otherwise a zombie with zero short-term memory function. We came to have the same conversations everyday because he didn’t even remember having them the day before.

  6. pollchecker

    actually is was sarcastically meant as a joke, Grif. Next time I will put a bunch of symbols to convey my intent. Geez you must be having a slow day…..(grin)!

  7. griff

    I realize it was sarcastic, but you opened the door and I walked in. I should have conveyed that understanding, though, considering my original post was sarcastic in itself.

    But sarcasm aside, it is based on a popular belief about marijuana and one that needs to be changed. Perhaps someone else may get something out of it.

    I promise this’ll be my last post today. The sun is shining here (finally – Al Gore, where ya been?) in Upstate NY and my motorcycle beckons me from the garage. I can resist her no longer. I am off! Good day.

    Oh, by the way, convenience stores here in New York are beginning to scan licenses for beer and cigarette purchases. What’s up with that?

  8. old_curmudgeon

    Why, it’s for a couple of reasons…

    1. It’s allowing the state to track to whom the stores are selling a semi-controlled substance.

    2. It’s allowing the state to record who has received their daily dose of mood enhancers and depressants that the alcohol and tobacco industries have placed in their products.

    I also believe the public has been misinformed & brainwashed about the benefits and effects of marijuana.

    3. It allows the state to test the reasons for encoding personal information on state driving licences, the Real ID in action. Fortunately, for now, here in VT we’re a little more respectful of people’s rights to privacy – thou I do not believe it will last much longer.

    As you say Griff, it is a beautiful day, finally, a little chilly but the sun is out and everything is spring green so enjoy your ride!! I’m doin’ the same.

    But, this is just this old curmudgeon’s opinion…