Friday, October 09, 2009

Indiana Loves Me

So Indy is down in Hati running with the zombi, and the reviews are starting to come in. Sales seem pretty good, reactions mixed -- some like it, some don't, and as I've pointed out before, a writer can't get attached to such things, since it's too late to do anything about it once the book is published.

One thing I knew was gonna happen is that I'd be catching flak for having Indy think that maybe he's getting too old for this shit. At the time of the novel, set in WWII, (1943), Professor Jones is forty-four years old. This when the average life expectancy for a man at the time was about sixty-five, thus making Indy well past middle age -- about 2/3rds of the way through, actually.

Remember, this was when everybody smoked, drank, and ate as much pork as they could. The U.S. Army issued cigarettes to its soldiers, and I had to explain to my editor why Indy didn't smoke -- because even then, everybody knew smoking cut your wind and Indy knew he'd be doing enough running he'd need all the air he could get.)

So I slowed him down a little, and had him wonder now and then about why he was doing this when he could be in a nice air-conditioned classroom teaching ...

We all know he's not gonna go that route, but it seemed to me that, as beat-up and living on borrowed time as he is, Indy might now and then reflect on what he was doing and why. Goes to, you know, character.

Like when he sees the hot local chick and realizes he's old enough to be her father.

Not a whole lot of that in the movies, save what Ford brought to the role. Indy kicks ass, takes names, loves-'em-and-leaves-'em, and hates snakes.

I have a scene in which Indy remembers the first air mattress he saw in a tent, and how sissified he thought the thing was at the time. And how now, twenty years later lying on the hard ground, why, that doesn't seem like such a bad idea ...

In Crystal Skull, he's doing the same acrobatics, but now and then, you see the weariness, and they had to speak to it. In that movie, set in the late 1950's, Jones would be fifty-eight, and even less likely to be bounding about like a kangaroo. (And what a testament to Harrison Ford, who was sixty-five when they shot the film, that he could do the stunts he did.)

Some fans don't want to see that character crap, they want to see exploding heads, and I can understand that. (Most of these fans are, I expect, relatively young.) And if I'd been playing it safe, I'd have pandered to that more. But I didn't, because I want to see that character crap ...

C'est la vie ...


kdorian said...

I'm glad you do put the 'character crap' in there; to me it's what makes the character come alive.


Justin said...

Isn't "character crap" the whole thing that makes books better than movies? You've got so much more time/space to tell the tale and explore beyond the skin-deep level of the characters.

I guess when you write a book based on a movie property, you're going to get backlash from the plebeians who don't read much.