The Indiana Jones Trilogy DVD set has to be the first DVD I have heard exciting talk about all year. Attending the DVD release event in LA on October 11, 2003 was truly exhilarating. Forget that it meant ditching a sunny Saturday afternoon. It is worth it for Indian Jones: classic heroic, good vs. evil, shot like an epic with the quick-and-dirty grace of an old Republic Serial.
Many of the press in attendance seemed grumpy for the early Saturday scheduling and few had questions following the screening of several clips in a small first-floor theatre at the American Film Institute.
The event planners had arranged an approximation of a "typical consumer's home theater" for us to watch a classic scene from each DVD. It blew us away. If being a typical consumer means I have a Fujitsu plasma screen to watch Indian Jones on - sign me up!!
Immediately we all could see the wait for this release was well worth it. The restoration work is breathtaking. The depth of field in the opening idol trap-room scene in Raiders was stunning. The picture looked as though it could have been shot yesterday.
You will be able to see the vivid detail of the wall's carvings and hear the terrifying sounds of surely poison-tipped arrows. In Last Crusade, the matte lines surrounding the Zeppelin and Jones' biplane are gone. During Temple of Doom, the monkey brains look remarkably like
real monkey brains! All in all, the films no longer scream "I'm from the '80s". They are still the movies some of us grew up with watching on BETA, and the project's technicians should be commended for ensuring and unearthing the timelessness of these classic adventures.
After lunch, the ladies of Indiana Jones were introduced to the press and a fine Q&A session was had. Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw, and Alsion Doody were all lovely and still deserving of a place in the pantheon of damsels in distress--although each deserves her own category.
All three women reflected on their three very different characters. Kate Capshaw was at first at a loss at how to approach her "whiny, complaining" heroine in Doom. Alison Doody found out she had been cast at the 11th hour, and surprisingly had very little acting experience with which to shape the unforgettably evil Dr. Elsa Schneider. Karen Allen seemed to relive several fearful grimaces as she told how Spielberg dropped a rotting python carcass on her to get the screams he wanted for the Well of the Souls scene in Raiders. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get a great movie made, even if it means giving a terrific actress the scare of her life.
The real thrill of the event was when unscheduled Harrison Ford appeared at the side of the stage in the middle of Ms. Allen's first answer. Immediately met with tremendous applause, the Leading Man of Adventure was clad in an Indy hat, Indy jacket, blue shirt and jeans. Still the man. The ladies greeted their star warmly, and posed for a brief photo op before Harrison abruptly left, saying that the day was "for the ladies." Before leaving, he viewed the crowd and delivered "You'll be seeing me real soon." Watch out, Indiana Jones 4!!
This 4th disc in the DVD set is filled with extras: a two-hour making of documentary in which it seemed every stuntman and camera operator was found and given their chance to speak. There is a lot of footage of Steven Spielberg in a variety of movie ball caps and short pants. We see him clearly terrified of the Temple of Doom rope bridge. In spite of the fact that the steel-reinforced marvel was constructed by civil engineers borrowed from a near by dam project, he merely stared suspiciously from beneath the visor of his hooded ET hat and tennis outfit as Ford ran full-gait over the entire span on his first try (studly!). We learn that Raiders was laid out in three days on a tape recorder by Spielberg and George Lucas. Each of them recounts the experience with vigor and sparkle in their eyes - for a truly legendary time in their creative lives. Great footage.
The DVD menus have the feel of the watercolor/pastel artwork of the Pan AM Clipper posters of the 1930s. There is a link to a special DVD-only area of the Indiana Jones website, where it was hinted that previews of the fourth installment may soon appear.
Apparently, there is also a fifth DVD available only at Best Buy. This disc contains some contemporary interview footage from the making of Raiders.
Despite all the content, you will still want more. I left the event wishing I had not left all my Indy video tapes back in Florida. Good thing the next best thing to a trip back in time is now only a DVD store away. Thanks to Paramount and LucasFilm for the invite!
Read our review of the Indy DVD set or click here to purchase it.