Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Let Marion Go!

As I was saying ...

Every fanboy knows the origin of the T-shirt slogan, “Han Shot First!” George made for a lot of disgruntled would-be spice smugglers when he re-cut Star Wars: A New Hope so as to have Greedo shoot first in the bar scene. By doing so, as anybody with even a rudimentary storytelling ability knows, he cut Han’s story arc off at the knees. By shooting first, Han Solo is shown to be at best pragmatic and at worst downright ruthless; definitely a character who looks out for number one and sticks his neck out for nobody when first introduced. By the movie’s end he’s transformed into a moral person who realizes that there are causes greater than himself and is willing to put himself in jeopardy to see them through. A thoroughly satisfying character change, and, for my money, one of the most satisfying parts of the movie.

Indiana Jones, in Raiders Of the Lost Ark, shares a great many traits in common with Han Solo, not the least of which is that they’re both played by the same actor. In Raiders, Indy is shown early on to be a shallow douchebag, as evidenced by the way Marion says he seduced her when she was a teenager and then, one assumes, ditched her. Indy has a decision to make early on, when he stumbles across Marion, bound and gagged in a tent at the Nazi desert encampment. His first impulse is to release her, but then he realizes that if she’s discovered missing, his chance to recover the Ark will be compromised. So he leaves her there to face possible Nazi torture. Pretty high on the asshole meter, if you ask me.

So now let’s chapter-skip to the third act, in which Indy pulls a bazooka and threatens to blow up the Ark unless Marion is released. So far, so good. But when Belloq calls his bluff --- he folds, and whatever growth the character had is lost. (And don’t give me “But he had to give it up or they wouldn’t have opened it at the end” don’t give me that. I can think of a hundred ways to get the story back on track for the big Deus Ex Machina at the end, and so can you.)

It really puzzles me why there aren’t just as many T-shirts being worn at cons that say “Let Marion Go!” (or some similar sentiment) as there are “Han Shot First” ones. It’s just as egregious an error in storytelling, in my opinion.

1 comment:

Charles said...

It would seem that this act is part of the growth, rather than that it invalidates it. He's grown to care for Marion, and has lost some of his worst instincts.

...and there's the fact that this wasn't a retcon.