You want to know how Indiana Jones was created? After the incredibly draining production of Star Wars (1977), filmmaker and future-silly sausage George Lucas decided to enjoy some much deserved R&R in sunny Hawaii. While he was there, best friend Steven Spielberg and The Empire Strikes Back (and eventually Raiders of the Lost Ark) screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan paid him a visit. Lucas sat them down over a few days and pitched them an idea for a film that would hark back to the old adventure serials he’d enjoyed as a kid. With a hero called Indiana Smith.
The great part is that they recorded the sessions. The amazing part is that you can read the entire transcription online here. The New Yorker recently published a top article on the transcript and the idea of ‘spitballing’, or throwing around ideas, in the film industry. It’s pretty rare you get such an insight into the minds of filmmakers as prolific as Spielberg and Lucas. What’s really incredible is just how much of the finished film (and parts of the sequels) was conceived during these original sessions. Here’s an excerpt from The New Yorker article –
But most importantly, the film had to hurtle at a furious clip. Lucas envisioned the whole story as one elaborate chase: the hero chases Nazis, Nazis chase the hero, and everyone races to find the Ark of the Covenant. They needed a love interest, of course.
“She’s sort of a Marlene Dietrich tavern-singer spy,” Lucas suggests, of the character who would become Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). She works in a bar, he continues. It’s like Rick’s Place, in “Casablanca.”
Kasdan: This is in Cairo?
Lucas: No. This is in Nepal. She’s stuck there.
Kasdan: Who are her customers at this Rick’s Place in Nepal?
Then later on –
At one point, hours into the conversation, Kasdan asks, “Do you have a name for this person?”
Lucas: I do.
Spielberg: I hate this, but go ahead.
Lucas: Indiana Smith.
You should head over to The New Yorker‘s site to check out the whole article, which is fantastic, but in the meantime here’s one of the coolest things John Williams has ever written –
For an extremely cool video on the influences on Raiders of the Lost Ark, check out our Awesome Videos section, or click here. Cheers to Dom Amerena from The Nose for the heads up on this one. For the entire New Yorker article click here. If you’re digging ReelGood, sign up to our mailing list for exclusive content, early reviews and chances to win big!