Mar 10, 2009

Indiana Jones And The Missing Camel Chase

In the summer of 1978, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan met to hash out their ideas for Raiders of the Last Ark. They met on 5 consecutive 9-hour days at the L.A. home of Lucas's assistant Jane Bay. "We had a tape recorder going and George essentially guided the story process," said Spielberg. "And that's where the fantasy of all our pent-up, wet-movie dreams coalesced. Most of the time we were on our feet, trying to out-shout each other with ideas." For the first time, those conversations have been published. They make for fascinating reading.

SPIELBERG: I like the idea that she's a heavy drinker and our hero doesn't drink at all. She gets drunk a lot. She's beautiful and she gets really sexy when she's drunk, and silly. And he doesn't touch the stuff.

LUCAS: I don't want to soften her. I like the fact that it's greed. I like all the hard stuff, but you're going to love here... I was thinking that this old guy could have been his mentor. He could have known this little girl when she was just a kid. Had an affair with her when she was eleven.

KASDAN: And he was forty-two.

L: He hasn't seen her in twelve years. Now she's twenty-two. It's a real strange relationship.

S: She had better be older than twenty-two.

L: He's thirty-five, and he knew her ten years ago when he was twenty-five and she was only twelve. It would be amusing to make her slightly young at the time.

S: And promiscuous. She came onto him.

L: Fifteen is right on the edge. I know it's an outrageous idea, but it is interesting. Once she's sixteen or seventeen it's not interesting anymore. But if she was fifteen and he was twenty-five and they actually had an affair the last time they met. And she was madly in love with him and he...

S: She has pictures of him.

L: It would be nice if they left in a huff, they fought or something. He left rather pissed. I don't think he would leave without the pendant. That's the only thing that bothers me about that.

S: So he goes upstairs and stays up, plotting how he's going to take it off her.

L: That makes him into a real rat.

K: That's all right. He never does it. What he does is just the opposite, save her life.

L: No matter how you do it, the fact that he thought about it is the rat part.

S: Rhett Butler was a rat.

L: He wasn't a real rat --

S: He proved himself by raising her family. Before that he was a gambler, dealt with cheap ladies.

L: There's a difference between being a rat and somebody who's having fun. He never hurt anybody.

K: I'm a little confused about Indiana at this point. I thought he'd do anything for this pendant.

L: But he still has to have some moral scruples. He has to be a person we can look up to. We're doing a role model for little kids, so we have to be careful. We need someone who's honest, trusting and true. But at the same time he's confronted with this difficult problem. We have a great thing when she won't give it to him. She doesn't like him...


L: What can he chase them with? What if he jumps on a camel?

S: I love it. It's a great idea. There's never been a camel chase before.

L: Is this camel going to chase a car?

S: You know how fast a camel can run? Not only that, he can jump over vegetable carts and things. It could be a funny chase that ends in tragedy. You're laughing your head off and suddenly. "My God, she's dead."

L: We've added another million dollars.

S: Not really. How much trouble can a camel be?


  1. I'm such a fan of yours -- I am pretty sure I'm the only Malaysian who used to read The Modern Review -- but I just found this blog. So I am happy, and I shall link.

  2. Hey Amir
    Thanks for reading! I think we can say with some confidence that you were indeed the Modern Review's only Malaysian reader. We only had about ten readers in England and I knew most of them personally. Nice to make your acquaintance!