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Old 01-04-2009, 10:48 PM   #1
blueoakleyz
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The MacGuffin doesn't matter one damn bit

Here's all the macguffin needs to be: "something important Indy goes after"

THAT'S IT. The key to the good Indy movie is the characters and the action and the path to get to it.

I'm irritated it took so long to make Indy 4 JUST because of the macguffin which was lame anyway.

Indy 3 was so good because of Sean Connery and Sallah
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:06 PM   #2
Attila the Professor
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Not quite, though. It needs to motivate a particular sort of setting, which determines in large part the sorts of action set-pieces you can have, what sorts of critters you can have, what sort of imagery you get to use, any sort of thematic overtones that might be there (Last Crusade becomes a vastly different film if it's not about an artifact that's tied directly to redemption, for example), characters you can reasonably bring in...there's also the question of avoiding too much similarity to things that have gone before.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:16 AM   #3
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Almost nothing can be decided until GL has chosen a Macguffin.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:36 AM   #4
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Re: "The macguffin doesn't matter one damn bit"

*sigh*

Yes it does. The Macguffin's purpose is to not only hook the protagonists and antagonists into the story, but also the audience. Plus, Atilla hit it pretty well; it influences the story greatly.
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:42 PM   #5
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The ark and grail were more wonder/awe inspiring IMHO. The skulls were as a concept more interesitng than the sankara stones but TOD didn't suffer from it.

The ark/grail plots have more of an allegory underpinning their use as plot drivers and we saw the excellent crafting of pursuit, suspense, charatcer interaction etc.

To me the sankara stones were kind of secondary to charatcer interaction (also present in ROTLA & TLC) and bringing about the downfalll of an evil cult, freeing the slaves and restoring prosperity to the village became the main plot.


In summary I feel the macguffin can either be pivotal or secondary, if done right.

Not sure exactly where the skulls lay in my line of though here though!
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:53 PM   #6
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I'm in the camp that feels that the item itself doesn't mean that much. All we need is something to drive the story and get Indy going on his adventure.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:08 PM   #7
Attila the Professor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Bones
In summary I feel the macguffin can either be pivotal or secondary, if done right.

Not sure exactly where the skulls lay in my line of though here though!

Well, the skulls are definitely pivotal. It's a movie that's most consistently about knowledge. We've got the repository in the warehouse, we've got the similar treasure room at Akator, we've got an action sequence on campus that culminates in Indy giving academic advice to a student while in the library, we've got Indy lecturing about the difference between quick and dry sand. Indy is more focused on transmitting knowledge and wisdom at this point in his life; he's really just going for pot shards in the beginning of the film, when they're in Mexico. Oxley went crazy (a disorder of the mind) because of the the skull. There's the question of Mutt's education, there's Spalko wanting to use the skulls to control what people think; there's her death while attaining complete knowledge. Spalko wants to know. Mac knows Indy in a way that the Soviets, Boris and the others, did not, and said so, many times. Is there any action film that's ever featured just so many variations on the word know? And finally, of course: "there treasure wasn't gold, it was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure."
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
Well, the skulls are definitely pivotal. It's a movie that's most consistently about knowledge. We've got the repository in the warehouse, we've got the similar treasure room at Akator, we've got an action sequence on campus that culminates in Indy giving academic advice to a student while in the library, we've got Indy lecturing about the difference between quick and dry sand. Indy is more focused on transmitting knowledge and wisdom at this point in his life; he's really just going for pot shards in the beginning of the film, when they're in Mexico. Oxley went crazy (a disorder of the mind) because of the the skull. There's the question of Mutt's education, there's Spalko wanting to use the skulls to control what people think; there's her death while attaining complete knowledge. Spalko wants to know. Mac knows Indy in a way that the Soviets, Boris and the others, did not, and said so, many times. Is there any action film that's ever featured just so many variations on the word know? And finally, of course: "there treasure wasn't gold, it was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure."

Hmm...very well put. It seems to me the allegory here is knowledge is power which can be good or bad, the skull itself was merely as key to kowledge.

To me the actual plot of attaining of the skull (like the stones) seemed a little less important than the final result. The real story/allegory was in the periphery of the macguffin, i.e the charatcer's personal journeys etc and the finale brings it back together

The physical/spiritual quest for the ark/grail was just as important as the actual end result in many ways with the addition of good character development. A more rounded type of storytelling.
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Bones
To me the actual plot of attaining of the skull (like the stones) seemed a little less important than the final result. The real story/allegory was in the periphery of the macguffin, i.e the charatcer's personal journeys etc and the finale brings it back together.

Well, that's some of the strangeness of it, yeah. Of course, it's not that Spalko got "bad" knowledge: it's that total knowledge is impossible, shown here on a physical, head-burning level, but it's also simply true apart from that. There was this whole pretension of communism towards being a science, and the ultimately destructive quest for ultimate knowledge is a destructive one. Contrast this with Henry's search for illumination in Last Crusade, which is both a humbler and more ambitious quest object. Not wanting to know is, ironically, an act of wisdom. Indy saves his family by running away from the skulls and his gift. Stanforth himself shows his worthiness by resigning his post at the college for the sake of his friend, a good man. Heck, Indy manages to get out of the warehouse because he doesn't try to get a good long look at the mummified remains. It's Spalko and Oxley who are punished for wanting to know, for seeking to harness the skull or for the hubris of expecting it could truly be possessed.

I'm not sure I entirely understand what you mean when you say that the search for the skull and the Sankara Stones was less integral (to the plot? to the final result? what does that mean) than the Ark and the Grail. (I'd say that the skull probably comes in second to the Grail in terms of thematic integration, but that's not really the point.)
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Old 01-05-2009, 05:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Professor

I'm not sure I entirely understand what you mean when you say that the search for the skull and the Sankara Stones was less integral (to the plot? to the final result? what does that mean) than the Ark and the Grail. (I'd say that the skull probably comes in second to the Grail in terms of thematic integration, but that's not really the point.)

Well, I felt that the actual physical hunt and deciphering of clues, cracking codes etc for the skull or stones was sightly less taxing. It was liberating them from the wrong hands and the reaon for doing so which semed the more important challenge. The ark and grail plot had this in equal measure but also took Indy et al on more of a physical/emotional/theological journey where the particular allegory is underpinning almost everything that happens.

The stones and skull was kind of. "Oh, there it is, now we just gotta steal it back for obvious reasons" whereas ark/grail, what are they, what do they do, what does that mean, where is it, how do we get it, how do we keep it out of the wrong hands and lesson learned.

Plus for me the ark/grail probably have more ressonance as well known "true" religious artifacts with supposedly great power. The "wow" factor as in every archeologist would love to find them but none have which add to the enigma. The skull, is regarded by many as nothing but what you see. The sankara stones... well they were not real as depicted in the film??


I found myself routing for the central characters in all the films but with the ark/grail I was also very intrigued by the actual artifact and what it did/meant and how to find it then what it meant to our heroes in the end etc. The stones and skulls seem overshadowed somewhat.

I am probably not as adept at explaining my point as eloquently as you can.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:13 PM   #11
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So the Macguffin can be anything?!

Indiana Jones and the Search for the Sacred Spork!
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:39 PM   #12
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So the Macguffin can be anything?!

Indiana Jones and the Search for the Sacred Spork!

Ah yes, some much-needed alliteration in the next title to attract the classy crowd and give English scholars a reason to commit suicide.
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Old 01-09-2009, 05:57 AM   #13
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Is the McGuffin important? Does it need to resonate with us?

I don't know. Frankly, I never heard about the ark's or the grail's existence before I saw the movies. It was actually exciting afterwards to read about them being actual legendary artifacts. So they only resonated with me because I am somewhat familiar with the religion(s) in which they are based, but only after having seen the movies.

Not so with the Sankara stones, but I still like the movie. Same with the crystal skull, though the alien link kinda OVER-resonated with me. I used to like aliens, until they got milked dry in the late '90s.

It depends on what we expect from a movie. Do we care about the story, the epicness of it all, or are we only interested in the characters' escapades as they stumble through whatever plotline?

A perfect movie to me is a combination of both. I like cool visual stuff, but I also like it to be there for a reason.
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Old 01-09-2009, 12:11 PM   #14
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"Raiders" had one of the best macguffins in movie history. It was friggin' perfect and used brilliantly in the film.

"Raiders" is one of the best movies in movie history. It's a masterpiece, everything perfectly in place and nothing unnecessary.

You can have a good movie without a great macguffin. Even a very good movie, in the case of "Temple of Doom", which is a helluva lot of fun, but, of course, falls short of the one-of-a-kind greatness of "Raiders."

The stones were vague, they were obscure...unlike the foreboding conversations about the Ark with Indy, Marcus and the government agents in "Raiders", all we ever learn is that they're "rocks with magical properties" and that they can glow and get hot. Nothing terribly interesting or intriguing about them, but the rest of the movie (with a few flaws notwithstanding) was very entertaining.

At no point did we REALLY believe that Mola Ram and his weird cult were going to somehow use the rocks to destroy other gods and take over the world! On the other hand, putting the Ark into the hands of the Nazis is a pretty frightening concept.

The Holy Grail was a better goal, more name recognition and at least we were told in the beginning the reasons why the Grail is important and why someone would want to possess it. It was perfectly serviceable for the movie, was somewhat awe-inspiring in spots, but again not quite at the level of the mysterious and intimidating Ark.

The Crystal Skull....well, the movie's flaws were so myriad and so huge that talking the problems with the macguffin are almost insignificant compared to the other issues. But, yeah, the skull was again a little too esoteric and vague, though I think it could have been used to better effect in a better screenplay.

Ultimately, I think the macguffin DOES matter, but not as much as so many other elements.

You can certainly have a very fine, very entertaining movie with an average (not bad) macguffin. But for true, inspired greatness, you need to have everything in place, as only the original "Raiders" did.
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Old 01-09-2009, 04:24 PM   #15
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The artifact is only as good as the writing around them. Period.
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lance Quazar
The stones were vague, they were obscure...unlike the foreboding conversations about the Ark with Indy, Marcus and the government agents in "Raiders", all we ever learn is that they're "rocks with magical properties" and that they can glow and get hot. Nothing terribly interesting or intriguing about them, but the rest of the movie (with a few flaws notwithstanding) was very entertaining.

At no point did we REALLY believe that Mola Ram and his weird cult were going to somehow use the rocks to destroy other gods and take over the world! On the other hand, putting the Ark into the hands of the Nazis is a pretty frightening concept.

There's more to the stones, than them just being stones. One stone kept a whole village alive and at peace. That's what was important. And not to mention, I see Temple of Doom, as a "day in the life" sort of look at Indy, so having there not be a total discussion and intrigue for the Sankara Stones, (although there is some decent talk about them during the campfire scene) i see it to be completely fine. Just another day for Indy, so does it really need to be the most important artifact? No, although what he learned with them and saving the village, will last a lifetime.

Now, with the logic that goes with the Indy films, if the 5 stones were brought together, who knows what would've happened. A guy had his heart ripped out...."he's still alive." (anything could happen) We essentially know what the Ark, Holy Grail, and Crystal Skeleton are all capable of, but bringing the 5 Sankara Stones together, who knows? In the Ultimate Guide, it shows that they were pretty close to recovering the other 2 stones, so maybe Indy really did save the world. Odds are, the 5 stones would not have made the Thuggees "All Powerful" but it is the one of the 4 movies that we truly don't know of all it's powers.

Edit: I agree with what you said with Raiders (like most people here), everything there is perfect, and nothing is unnecessary, hard to come by.

Last edited by michael : 01-09-2009 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 01-10-2009, 07:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
Well, the skulls are definitely pivotal. It's a movie that's most consistently about knowledge. We've got the repository in the warehouse, we've got the similar treasure room at Akator, we've got an action sequence on campus that culminates in Indy giving academic advice to a student while in the library, we've got Indy lecturing about the difference between quick and dry sand. Indy is more focused on transmitting knowledge and wisdom at this point in his life; he's really just going for pot shards in the beginning of the film, when they're in Mexico. Oxley went crazy (a disorder of the mind) because of the the skull. There's the question of Mutt's education, there's Spalko wanting to use the skulls to control what people think; there's her death while attaining complete knowledge. Spalko wants to know. Mac knows Indy in a way that the Soviets, Boris and the others, did not, and said so, many times. Is there any action film that's ever featured just so many variations on the word know? And finally, of course: "there treasure wasn't gold, it was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure."

Excellent observations, Attilla. Had never really occured to me how prevalent the theme is.
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Old 01-15-2009, 01:48 PM   #18
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it really could be anything. hitchcock, who popularized the macguffen used one in all of the movies he made which ranged from a flower to a scarf. In the big lebowsky the coen brothers used a rug and it worked great. I know Indy couldnt go after a rug, but you see what I mean.
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Old 12-28-2017, 05:59 PM   #19
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How MacGuffins can ruin movies:

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Old 12-29-2017, 07:57 AM   #20
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How MacGuffins can ruin movies:


Outstanding
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:50 PM   #21
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Outstanding
Yes, very good - although I can't believe that he failed to mention the "letters of transit" in Casablanca.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:58 PM   #22
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Yes, very good - although I can't believe that he failed to mention the "letters of transit" in Casablanca.

Or the briefcase in RONIN!

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Old 12-29-2017, 02:05 PM   #23
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One can speculate about Alfred Hitchcock making an Indiana Jones film.

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Old 12-29-2017, 05:45 PM   #24
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One can speculate about Alfred Hitchcock making an Indiana Jones film.


...go on...
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:40 PM   #25
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Imma take a stab in the dark and say it would involve Indy being a man accused of a crime he did not commit!
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