TheRaider.net
 

Go Back   The Raven > The Films > Indiana Jones 5
User Name
Password

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 02-02-2017, 03:12 PM   #1
Raiders112390
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,714
The McGuffin Problem

Indy has found, so far:
The Ark of the Covenant
The Holy Grail
The Sankara Stones
The Crystal Skull


Each of those was potentially usable by a nefarious foe as a weapon. The Ark would be used by the Nazis as an offensive weapon to obliterate their enemies and conquer the Earth. The Grail in Hitler's mind would be used to grant him and his Reich literal immortality and invincibility. The Sankara Stones when put together would grant Mola Ram the power to take down Gods and conquer entire nations, and he had already used the power of one Stone to conquer and enslave a nation. The Soviets believed the Skull could be used to turn Americans into mind-controlled slaves.

Where do you go from all of that? We've talked about the Garden of Eden, but that concept is really very abstract and doesn't really fall along the lines of a weapon or a potentially dangerous thing. The Spear of Destiny is a possibility, but then you're just redoing the Holy Grail again essentially. Where do we from here in terms of a McGuffin that works as a central plot point, that could be a deadly device if placed in the wrong hands? All of the previous McGuffins can be looked at, essentially, as an "Ultimate Weapon". The Garden of Eden doesn't really do that for you.

Also, each of the McGuffins had some connection to real life: With the Grail & Ark, in real life the Nazis did have very strange occult leanings and desire to have mastery over the supernatural to further their cause. Crystal Skulls are believed by some in real life to have been made by aliens, and in the 1950s, the Soviets did actually research psychic warfare to be used against Americans; The Thuggees were once a real group of murderous assassins and villains who terrorized India. So so far, each of Indy's McGuffins is at least based in part on real history as well, albeit embellished or slightly twisted of course.

Last edited by Raiders112390 : 02-02-2017 at 03:18 PM.
Raiders112390 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2017, 04:17 PM   #2
Pale Horse
Moderator
 
Pale Horse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: L.A.
Posts: 6,681
Indeed. It's a McMuffin problem to be sure:

Pale Horse is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2017, 04:31 PM   #3
JasonMa
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 142
I like the Roman Altar of Victory:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_of_Victory

It wouldn't be hard to wrap a mystical tale around it about how the country with the altar will have unbeatable armies.
JasonMa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2017, 06:11 PM   #4
Pale Horse
Moderator
 
Pale Horse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: L.A.
Posts: 6,681
Look how compelling Ronin or Pulp Fiction were with a briefcase as a McGuffin. The Bible never says an army with the Ark would be invincible. We believe it because we believe Brody.
Pale Horse is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2017, 07:11 PM   #5
Attila the Professor
Moderator
 
Attila the Professor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 6,392
Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonMa
I like the Roman Altar of Victory:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_of_Victory

It wouldn't be hard to wrap a mystical tale around it about how the country with the altar will have unbeatable armies.

Seems overly repetitive, considering that's roughly what the Ark is said to do, as Pale Horse notes above. Plus, it implies a return visit to either Europe, specifically Italy, or northern Africa.

To my mind, there are probably four main things that a new MacGuffin should not replicate from its predecessors, some of which overlap each other:

A) CULTURE of origin
B) Implied geography or SETTING
C) Resonating THEMES
D) Motivating POWERS

I'm actually least interested in the last of these, especially seeing as neither Raiders or Temple particularly cares about what the artifacts can do. The Ark in particular is many things to many people.

CULTURE and SETTING overlap as do THEMES and POWERS.

One might also add:

E) Physical FORM

The Ark is a big thing, can't be held in one hand. It holds other stuff. The Sankara Stones are 3 small things, with a possible 2 extra to be found; they do special things when brought together or when special words are said. The Grail holds liquid, and has some possible decoys surrounding it. The Skull is heavy but can be carried, it does things when it's uncovered.

None of the MacGuffins up to now have been wearable. None of them have contained information about other things, though the Ark was supposed to have, and the Skull possibly conveyed knowledge. None of them have been places or entities larger than a person, though both the Ark and Skull are found within lost cities. None of them have, in the strictest sense, been alive.
Attila the Professor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2017, 12:42 PM   #6
Z dweller
IndyFan
 
Z dweller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: The old colonel was right - but he never even got close...
Posts: 395
I like the Hall of Records, a mythical ancient library rumored to have Atlantean origins and containing all kinds of secret esoteric knowledge.

Some say it's buried in Giza - but Indy could easily debunk that theory, so we don't have to do Egypt again (although I really wouldn't mind), and find clues to its whereabouts in a completely different place.

It's easy to see that any baddie or shady organization would love to get their paws on such powerful knowledge for nefarious purposes, hence their involvement in the quest.
Z dweller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2017, 01:32 PM   #7
Grizzlor
IndyFan
 
Grizzlor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Indiana, NJ
Posts: 680
I think they should return to how Temple did it, and have it be more of a "localized" object.
Grizzlor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2017, 02:15 PM   #8
Pale Horse
Moderator
 
Pale Horse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: L.A.
Posts: 6,681
I want him to have to put something back. It's been 25 years since the Nazi's have discovered Tanis. The Jews returned to their homeland in 1945 and real research had been done on what happened in Egypt all those years ago. Some rogue student that didn't study Michelson is now the Worlds leading living expert on the Ark and finds an ancient text in the Dead Sea scrolls about how stealing something the final resting place of God would be met with apocalyptic cataclysm. This student wants to hasten that, so he sets off to steal the Ark from it's warehouse, and get it to a part of the world that he's deemed needs judgement.

Indy now reluctantly is drawn out of his retirement, because he wants to get the Ark back to Tanis and prevent the whole shebang. It becomes a cat and mouse adventure (with noir elements) to tie the whole thing up and bookend it.
Pale Horse is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2017, 02:38 PM   #9
Attila the Professor
Moderator
 
Attila the Professor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 6,392
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pale Horse
I want him to have to put something back. It's been 25 years since the Nazi's have discovered Tanis. The Jews returned to their homeland in 1945 and real research had been done on what happened in Egypt all those years ago. Some rogue student that didn't study Michelson is now the Worlds leading living expert on the Ark and finds an ancient text in the Dead Sea scrolls about how stealing something the final resting place of God would be met with apocalyptic cataclysm. This student wants to hasten that, so he sets off to steal the Ark from it's warehouse, and get it to a part of the world that he's deemed needs judgement.

Indy now reluctantly is drawn out of his retirement, because he wants to get the Ark back to Tanis and prevent the whole shebang. It becomes a cat and mouse adventure (with noir elements) to tie the whole thing up and bookend it.

I'm not too into the idea of returning to the Ark again, but this would certainly be in keeping with the general trend throughout the series towards repatriation, with the Crystal Skull narrative being quite explicitly about putting back what colonizers had taken. I think what your Ark idea has that pushes past this even further is the idea of putting back something that Indy - or at least another archaeologist - has taken. Maybe we can get that breaking into a museum scene that's showed up once or twice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Z dweller
I like the Hall of Records, a mythical ancient library rumored to have Atlantean origins and containing all kinds of secret esoteric knowledge.

Some say it's buried in Giza - but Indy could easily debunk that theory, so we don't have to do Egypt again (although I really wouldn't mind), and find clues to its whereabouts in a completely different place.

Perhaps they could take a page from Don Rosa's Guardians of the Lost Library, which details how the wisdom of the library of Alexandria moved around from place to place throughout history, before eventually being distilled into the Junior Woodchuck's Guidebook. (Of course, Crystal Skull kind of gestured towards this idea as well, with the idea of the aliens being collectors and Spalko wanting to know everything. It's hard to think of an Indy movie being more interested in knowledge than Indy IV already was.)

To take a step back towards the original post...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raiders112390
Each of those was potentially usable by a nefarious foe as a weapon. The Ark would be used by the Nazis as an offensive weapon to obliterate their enemies and conquer the Earth. The Grail in Hitler's mind would be used to grant him and his Reich literal immortality and invincibility. The Sankara Stones when put together would grant Mola Ram the power to take down Gods and conquer entire nations, and he had already used the power of one Stone to conquer and enslave a nation. The Soviets believed the Skull could be used to turn Americans into mind-controlled slaves.

Where do you go from all of that? We've talked about the Garden of Eden, but that concept is really very abstract and doesn't really fall along the lines of a weapon or a potentially dangerous thing. The Spear of Destiny is a possibility, but then you're just redoing the Holy Grail again essentially. Where do we from here in terms of a McGuffin that works as a central plot point, that could be a deadly device if placed in the wrong hands? All of the previous McGuffins can be looked at, essentially, as an "Ultimate Weapon". The Garden of Eden doesn't really do that for you.

I think the business about the artifact being useful for world domination can be hand-waved. Indeed, it basically always has. As Pale notes, nobody knows what the Ark can really do. It's very unclear how the Stones would help Mola Ram make other religions fall in favor of his cult, engendering sympathy for Kali aside. Henry Sr. and Donovan both talk about the Nazis taking over the world, but as is revealed, the Grail can't really aid them in that. The Crystal Skull is maybe the most compelling as a tool for world domination, but its specificity arguably makes it the most oblique such tool: it's about mind control, not physical violence. That is, you can make most anything into a tool for world domination if that's the sort of stakes that you want the story to have. But even then, Temple's stakes are mostly about a suffering village. Last Crusade gains most of its weight from the relationship between Indy and his father; the Nazis are taken seriously as an evil force, but their treatment within the story is arguably more about them being anti-wisdom than potentially gaining a tool for world domination (they burn books! Elsa didn't understand the Grail! Donovan doesn't know to look for the cup of a carpenter!)

If they can sell the audience on the artifact being important to some people, that can be enough.

Last edited by Attila the Professor : 02-03-2017 at 02:47 PM.
Attila the Professor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2017, 02:47 PM   #10
Stoo
IndyFan
 
Stoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Neuchâtel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
Posts: 7,938
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pale Horse
Look how compelling Ronin or Pulp Fiction were with a briefcase as a McGuffin.
Yes! Those briefcases are true to the definition. ("Ronin" is great! )

The biggest "McGuffin Problem" is a misunderstanding of term. A "MacGuffin" is supposed to be a 'thing' that the characters pursue but has no effect on the overall story, regardless of what it is (unlike Indiana Jones movies). Many people don't realize that the 'thing' is not important to the outcome.

See this thread, folks:
Isn't Lucas using the term MacGuffin wrong?

We already have threads about possible artifacts for Indy 5. Do we really need ANOTHER one?
Stoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2017, 02:49 PM   #11
Attila the Professor
Moderator
 
Attila the Professor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 6,392
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
The biggest "McGuffin Problem" is a misunderstanding of term. A "MacGuffin" is supposed to be a 'thing' that the characters pursue but has no effect on the overall story, regardless of what it is (unlike Indiana Jones movies). Many people don't realize that the 'thing' is not important to the outcome.

But seeing as Lucas is one of those not "realizing" that, isn't the original Hitchcockian use irrelevant? The Grail isn't some secret microfilm the audience doesn't care about. In the Indy films, they have thematic resonance and they determine where the film takes place. What can be more important?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
We already have threads about possible artifacts for Indy 5. Do we really need ANOTHER one?

It's a different framing of the issue. I'll allow it.
Attila the Professor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2017, 08:19 PM   #12
Toht's Arm
IndyFan
 
Toht's Arm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z dweller
I like the Hall of Records, a mythical ancient library rumored to have Atlantean origins and containing all kinds of secret esoteric knowledge.

Some say it's buried in Giza - but Indy could easily debunk that theory, so we don't have to do Egypt again (although I really wouldn't mind), and find clues to its whereabouts in a completely different place.

It's easy to see that any baddie or shady organization would love to get their paws on such powerful knowledge for nefarious purposes, hence their involvement in the quest.

I quite like this idea. It makes a nice change from a single object. Also: "This museum...belongs in a museum! Ehh, um. Yeah."

And the idea of returning something would be useful for an overall maturation of Indy's character.

If we're talking about McGuffins again, can I raise the idea of destroying the object in the climax again?
http://raven.theraider.net/showthread.php?t=21987
Toht's Arm is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:40 AM.