Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has yet to hit cinemas, but archaeologists are already rubbing their hands. If the Jurassic Park series made millions of kids fall in love with ugly and terrifying dinosaurs, then Harrison Ford may turn archeology into the most popular course on college campuses.
This Indiana Jones, in the words of its creators, is to be much different from its predecessors. First of all, the eponymous character has aged a lot and wild chases with the Nazis are not for him anymore. Instead, Professor Jones will engage himself in cutting the red tape as grants for expensive trips have become more and more difficult to obtain. But even then, his Latin American escapade is expected to be no less breath-taking than his previous trips to Egypt and India.
From a daredevil, Indiana Jones has evolved into a respectable scholar. He still knows, though, how to keep his aids and enemies busy. Instead of hordes of bloody thugs, the professor’s gang, comprised of his students, will face a more tedious task in the form of awfully thick books lurking in the shady shelves of the local library. “I’m really too old to be doing another jumping, fighting, action movie, so this suits me just fine,” says Harrison Ford who, despite his gray hair, still looks handsome in the famous leather jacket, the indispensable whip in his hands. “In the end, real archeology is so much more interesting anyway, and these people are the real heroes,” he adds.
Indiana Jones does not want to compete with Tomb Raider, admits the producer, George Lucas. Lucas, himself the pioneer of special effects, says that this time realism will be the main strength of his latest movie. “We’re looking for realism here, so the ‘crystal skull’ is just a metaphor for information, anything more would be foolish,” he says. In other words, Professor Jones will stick to his learned profession, leaving decimating evil guys to the likes of Lara Croft and other clones with big guns and bigger boobs.
Real archaeologists like Mark Rose of the Archaeological Institute of America, however, remain skeptical. In his interview given to the Associated Press, he warned that it would be difficult for someone like Indiana Jones to adjust to the real rules. “There are codes of ethics in archeology and I don’t think he would be a member. Not in good standing, anyway,” said Rose. But Lucas disagrees, advising Rose and his colleagues to wait and watch the movie. “We wanted to really capture what archeology is like, so we are doing our best to keep the ratios of fieldwork to lab work accurate,” says Lucas.
Even if the previous Indiana Jones movies failed to present archeology in the true light, they managed to arouse the passion for history in thousands of teenagers. Paul Zimansky who teaches archeology at the States University of New York at Stony Brook told the Associated Press that the majority of his students from the 1990s recruited among Indiana Jones’s fans. “If you asked these people why they were becoming archaeologists, it always starts off with Indiana Jones. It actually converted a number of people. They got their initial interest in archeology from Indiana Jones.”
Dinosaurs from Jurassic Park were not more real than Indiana Jones’s adventures, yet they made millions of children give up computer games and begin reading books on history. It is true that some of them lost this zeal after a few months, but some cultivated their love for the huge creatures throughout high school and university. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull may dust off the noble profession of archaeologist and present it as an attractive alternative to Batman and Spiderman.