Qlassic Qliches: The Indiana Jones Map Scene
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 29, 2008
Pack up, but don’t stray
So yeah, in what must be a record for me in recent years, I saw a second new movie within the space of a week. That record-breaker of a cinematic release would happen to be Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, fourth release in the Indiana Jones franchise. Can’t say I really had high expectations going in, nor did I really have particularly high hopes, even–much as I love the Indy franchise, I don’t think any of the movies are particularly remarkable on their own all the way through. I knew the dialogue was probably going to be on the dull side, I knew the chemistry between him and Karen Allen (and him and Shia LaBoeuf) was going to be forced, and I knew that the plot was probably gonna make no sense whatsoever. I just demanded two things of the movie, both of which it delivered:
- It had to have at least one chase / escape scene of double-digit minute length, with multi-part sets, multiple different villains, and a bunch of different fights going on at once.
- It had to have one of those scenes where Indy flies somewhere and you follow the route taken on the map in the background.
I don’t really know what it is about these scenes that I love so much, but for whatever reason, I just can’t imagine an Indiana Jones movie without them. For me they sort of personify the entire adventurous spirit of the movies, in which there’s so much travel and excitement packed into the movie that they need to reduce the actual voyage of their world-trekking to a few seconds of a continuous red line. Plus, they also usually mark the moment in the movie where things are really starting to kick into gear–when the background work has already been laid out and the shit is really starting to go down. We’re not at university anymore, it’s time for sword fights and deadly insects and nazi face-melting.
Also, I think it must’ve been these scenes, more than anything, that completely fucked my sense of geography at an early age. It made trans-continental flight seem like something that could be accomplished in a matter of seconds, like people regularly took flights from Quebec to Qatar like it was no big deal. Additional confusion was provided by the way it makes it seem like countries are just differently-shaped slabs of brown–fairly clevelry parodied in that Family Guy where Peter and Brian balloon over the Middle East and see the land beneath as an Indiana Jones map, and Brian observes “Huh, so that’s what it looks like from up here.”
Mad points to the then-Puff Daddy, by the way, for parodying the IJ map scene in the forgotten classic video for “Been Around the World.” with joke-towns like “Koffee Kake” providing the layover cities. Let it never be said that the Diddler didn’t pay attention to pop culture details.