26 March 2021 556 Views

Indiana Jones and the very important Clarification: yes, you CAN use CGI and de-age him. But..

by James Murphy



So, my last Indiana Jones piece got nice hit count and comments back. Lovely. Thanks. In view of which, a minor amendment by way of follow up..

I never said you cannot ‘de-age’ Harrison. In fact, experimental special effects tech is a selling point of the whole series. But it has to be done ‘right’. As in not as the movie’s central premise. Never in a manner to undermine the leading man’s vital contribution and in no way at all rushed out for the uncanny valley look. 

Indeed, man vs man is a central trope in hero lore. Sometimes, a take on that goes wrong, be it at technical or casting or some other level. Gemini Man was made, finally, with the requisite technology.

But they missed the trick which was casting either a younger man and aging them up or an older one than Will Smith and their aspect ratio was all over the shop imho. SUPERMAN 3 actually did a great job of the hero vs self in a literal sense and that’s almost 40 years ago now. There are precedents!

Indiana Jones works in that world of personal conflict.  He is suited to, even defined by, struggle with self. Indy begins the series (either in Raiders..or Temple..depending where you start) as a whisker removed from all out baddie. This is not a man with whom to screw.

There is a natural progression by Last Crusade and a kind of mellowing by Crystal Skull, albeit with occasional flashes of rogue that hint at his still being a bit on the naughty side. That scene where he is about to steal a ceremonial dagger, only to be stopped by his son (Mutt /Shia); THAT is classic character communication.

So it follows, logically, that the man vs self motif and the possibilities to visualise that in this fifth film make for an exciting prospect. What if Dr Jones dug up something that causes his persona to fragment throughout time? One could age Harrison UP, even.

Take him to 100 and beyond in front of his own eyes. Have him wake up mid mummification.go wild, crazy but keep it brief and do not go TOO far for too long, either..balance is key, without being bland. Indy’s second greatest fear after snakes: becoming one of his own artefacts, as predicted by Belloq. He sees time and eternity and mortality in differing terms to the rest of us, does Dr. Jones!

Thereby giving us the kind of body horror you had in those first 3 films. AND making us think of Harrison as relatively young again, by taking ownership of the oldest of olds. It’s a trick he has pulled off on frequent occasions in real life as an actor; by threatening retirement / ceasing to do action for a bit and then bouncing back, renewed. And as art imitates life, so Indiana Jones must face a nemesis: himself!

Just imagine the ultimate boss level fight with the most evil personification of younger Indiana at his nastiest? Perhaps as some representation of evil, before access to the final good /redemption? As in Kali cult possessed, shooting low level henchmen at random, seducing Abner’s daughter kinda nasty. Amped up, pumped up. Ford on full on bad guy duty?

As in What lies Beneath level eeeevilll with a dash of bathos. Reversal and recognition of his own failings through the years, a collision with conscience and consequence (THAT is where you sneak in the cameos from past characters btw). Personified in one image of a peak era Harrison exuding a kind of demonic charisma. Only to be laughed down, as with all of Indiana’s threats, by the better version of himself, at any age.

Could the more weathered ‘good’ Indy somehow defeat that younger nastier counterpart? Relishing the sight of his basest self, whilst finding a way to slay the dragon and outwit the baddie?

So long as all of those are set-pieces, tagged onto execute a separate and specific plot /vision /mcguffin that is not ‘about’ age or regret or looking back. THEN you have a reason to ‘go there’ on the CGI, the de-age stuff, the motif of man vs self. And yes, as part of that, a knowing nod and wink to, but never a self indulgent dwelling on, the impact of time.

Clearer now? I do hope so. The speculation is fun in any event so thanks for inspiring the discussion. Best of luck to all involved in the movie. 



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