' ' Cinema Romantico: Dissecting A Scene From Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dissecting A Scene From Raiders Of The Lost Ark

We have just been introduced to Marion (Karen Allen) at her bar in the mountains of Nepal where she has just won the infamous shot contest. Everyone at the bar is ushered out. As the last person leaves Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) himself enters. But we don't necessarily see him enter through the door. We see him enter as a humongous shadow cast against the wall, looming over Marion in the lower left hand part of the frame. I love this shot. No, no, no, no, I LOVE THIS SHOT. I love this shot so much I named it one of My 13 Most Iconic Movie Images.

Initially, Marion is taken aback. She adjusts quickly, smiles, laughs, throws a glass aside, and walks toward the camera which, crucially, allows her to become EVEN with the size of Indy's shadow. As in, nope, you're no bigger than I am. Not anymore, slugger.

"Indiana Jones," she says with that chuckle that is one part cocky, one part knowing, one part disbelieving. "Somehow I always knew you'd come walking back through my door."

Indy smiles. Marion loses the smile. She punches him. "I learned to hate you in the last ten years!" she exclaims, and he just stands there and takes his medicine. He deserves it. He knows it. Even if he says, "I never meant to hurt you." "I was a child!" she shouts. "I was in love! It was wrong and you knew it!"

It was wrong and you knew it. There are a lot of critics who argue there is little to no characterization in this greatest of the great action movies. I would argue, as I always do, that they are somehow missing likes this one. "It was wrong and you knew it." Indy is, of course, our hero. Yet, he apparently engaged in an age-inappropriate relationship that he KNEW was wrong only to go ahead and take part in anyway. You will find so-called dramas that don't have the size of those balls.

"You knew what you were doing," he dismisses. "Now I do," she retorts. "This is my place." And it is, it really is, because at that point a few people previously in the bar re-enter and she casts them back out.

From here they argumentatively banter and Indy makes it clear he needs a "worthless gold medallion" that, of course, is not really worthless at all that belonged to Marion's deceased father. He offers her "three thousand bucks" and "another two" when they get to the States. He grabs and turns her and the following exchange is set in glorious reverse shots supremely acted by Ford and Allen with their faces illuminated by a crackling fire.

Indy: "It's important, Marion. Trust me." (The look on his face when he says "trust me" is just MIND-BLOWING. It somehow says "Trust Me" while simultaneously saying "I Am Not To Be Trusted.")
-Marion goes to break free from his grip but he keeps her close and forces the wad of cash into her hand.
Indy: "You know the piece I mean? You know where it is?"
-Marion meanwhile has this shit-eating grin plastered to her face because she KNOWS she's got this archaeology guru who broke her heart right where she wants him after all these years she spent hating him.
Marion: "Come back tomorrow."
Indy: "Why?"
Marion: "Because I said so, that's why."

Now we switch to a wide shot of the bar. Marion turns and walks to a wooden table and takes a seat on top. Indy walks past, eyeing her warily. She just laughs. She says: "See you tomorrow, Indiana Jones."

And the shot of Indy at the door shows him pausing, looking back, sort of, and Ford brilliantly cluing us into the fact simply via that facial expression that he knows that by her saying see you tomorrow that there is no chance in hell that he is seeing her tomorrow. And then he leaves. And then we see Marion in a wide shot set in the ceiling just above rafter. And she looks like the loneliest person in the world.

She climbs off the table, walks around to the next table in line and has a seat. We see her straight on, the camera filming her face through the flame of a candle. She removes the aforementioned "worthless gold medallion" that isn't really worthless from within her shirt where it hangs via a chain. She looks at it, pondering it, as if it represents Indy himself since, hey, it sort of does. And what happens then?

The flame flickers.


Anonymous said...

Marion is such a GREAT character, so attractive and spunky. Karen Allen played her so well!

Great choice for an iconic image, Nick, it's kind of unexpected but it's indeed awesome. Man, you made me want to rewatch this movie again, certainly one of my movies from the 80s.

"Because I said so, that's why." Indy's certainly met his match.

Too bad her cameo in the fourth one isn't nearly half as memorable.

Nick Prigge said...

Yeah, her just being in the new Indiana Jones made me so, so happy at first. Especially when Indy says she was the only girl who ever mattered (so true). But you're totally right, the part she was asked to play wasn't anything as cool as Raiders. She's SO cool in Raiders.