Commentary: Putting ‘Indiana Jones’ In A Historical Context

With the upcoming release of a new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the question of antiquities has been placed front and center. This wasn’t as big of an issue when the original movie trilogy first came out, but now a reckoning has begun regarding artifacts that are on display and housed in museums across the US and Europe. During the age of exploration, artifacts and relics were taken from countries across Asia, Africa, and South America (to name a few regions) and brought back to the explorers’ home countries. This, more or less, is what Indiana Jones was doing. But critics of the character should understand both the historical context and the films canon before jumping to conclusions about the fictional archeologist.

Regarding the films themselves, there is very little evidence that Indiana Jones was a callous and greedy appropriator that stole artifacts away from those whom they belonged to. The first prominent example is the first scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy (Harrison Ford) navigates a dungeon or tomb of sorts and steals a statue. He is quickly forced to give that statue back to a native tribe who are working with the film’s bad guy. While many want to draw conclusions from this scene, the context for the how and why are never really explained or explored. A better example would be at the end of Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom when Indy actually had no issue giving artifacts back to a native culture because he believed it rightfully belonged to them. In fact, the entire movie questions his status as a graverobber well before his more legitimate artifact collecting fell under the microscope. Then, of course, there’s young Indy (River Phoenix) refrain that the Cross of Coronado “belongs in a museum” in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade‘s opening sequence.

Outside of the Indiana Jones universe, this is a very controversial and hot button topic. During the character’s time, third world countries did not have the infrastructure or resources to properly house such artifacts. Dr. Jones probably had a benevolent motive behind taking these artifacts to a place that they could be preserved and put on display. In the modern age, many of these countries do have the museums and personnel to properly care for the relics, and they are calling for the artifacts to be returned. While Indiana Jones is a fictional character and it is impossible to get inside his head, it certainly would be interesting to know his opinion on the subject if he were actually alive today. Unfortunately, all fans and critics have are the films to go off of. But regardless, it is very difficult to judge a real historical figure let alone a fictional one through a modern lens.

With the upcoming release of a new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the question ofCOMICONRead More

Leave a Reply

Generated by Feedzy
%d bloggers like this: