The Great Movie Re-Watch
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Ke Huy Quan
In 1935, Indiana Jones arrives in India, still part of the British Empire, and is asked to find a mystical stone. He then stumbles upon a secret cult committing enslavement and human sacrifices in the catacombs of an ancient palace.
I’ve never enjoyed Temple of Doom. It’s too scary. The food is even terrifying. Hearts are ripped from people’s chests. People are burned alive. All of that, and it’s rated PG. It’s no wonder PG-13 was created because of this movie. On top of all of that, Indiana, Harrison Ford, is somehow even a bigger misogynist than in Raiders.
Watching this movie after the Me Too movement has not been eye-opening, but certainly uncomfortable. I never liked how women were treated in the film, but I just accepted it. Now it actively pisses me off. Indy’s treatment of Willie, Kate Capshaw, was disgusting. He repeatedly dismissed her, even though he literally dragged her with him. She has a right to complain. Willie had been singing at her club, and all of a sudden she’s in a jungle surrounded by a foreign nature. Naturally, she’s scared, and Indy just laughs at her and rolls his eyes. Women, amirite?
Temple of Doom is technically a prequel, which explains why I don’t like it. I tend to hate prequels. There’s no explanation for why it happens before Raiders. Indy is a bit more mercenary, looking for only fame and glory. He starts off willing to ignore the plight of an entire village because he doesn’t believe them. I guess he hadn’t yet been shown that the supernatural was alive and well in his world.
Willie was a female version of Indy, but he’d never acknowledge it. They were both the top of the careers and complete narcissists. So sure of how amazing they are and only capable of the barest minimum of self-reflection. That was at least amusing to watch.
Even harder to look past than the sexism is the blatant racism in the film. It’s just soooo bad. You’ve got the heavy-handed Indian racism and the casual racism with Short Round, Ke Huy Quan. They covered as many bases as they could with Temple of Doom and racism. I refuse to allow the whole ‘it was a different time’ excuse to be used either. Fuck that noise. The Indian government actually told them they didn’t like several things in the script, and instead of changing them, they changed location. They knew exactly what they were doing.
Also, if anyone ever complains about how unrealistic certain scenes in Crystal Skull are, just point them to the beginning of Temple of Doom. They fall out of a plane in a life raft onto a snowy mountain. Ride down the mountain at breakneck speeds and then fall off a cliff into a raging river. It’s beyond ridiculous, which is fine for the type of film. My issue is more with people complaining about Crystal Skull.
I own Temple of Doom in a boxset, and I’m a completionist, or otherwise, I’d be fine not owning it. It’s definitely not a movie I feel the need to re-watch at frequent intervals. Normally, it’s not until I forget just how bad it is that I re-watch it.