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Help Support Features Articles Raiders of the Lost Drafts: Chapter 3
Raiders of the Lost Drafts
by Bellosh - posted in 2000

Chapter 3

Almost three years before Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out the special effects magazine Cinefex, in its article on the special effects of Raiders of the Lost Ark (in issue 6) made the following comment on the inevitable sequel: "Two other Indiana Jones adventures are already on the drawing board" the next reportedly set in the jungles of Africa... George Lucas has indicated that future films in the series will be less action-oriented and more involved with the occult’. Well, the magazine was wrong about Africa (although Lucas was planning an adventure for Indy in Africa, and this became the basis of the original Indy 3 screenplay... of which more in the next chapter of this article!). When it came to the occult, though, Cinefex was bang on the nose. Because of this quote we see that a change in emphasis, from the sunlit sands of Raiders to the dark underground caverns of Temple of Doom was part of Lucas’s plan for the series, just as The Empire Strikes Back took the Star Wars saga onto a darker canvas. Temple of Doom was not meant to be a formulaic retread of Raiders, but a totally different film with a different emphasis. However, not even Lucas realized just how different it would be. A story about the occult which was already dark, became darker still in the hands of the one person who might be expected to lighten it - Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg always claims that Lucas made the film as dark as it was. However, Lucas didn’t direct it, Spielberg did. When he made Temple of Doom he was at an artistic crossroads, eager to make more ‘serious’ films, and at a personal crossroads in his private life; a long term relationship was disintegrating. Also, Spielberg was haunted by the tragic deaths of an actor and two Vietnamese children in Twilight Zone: The Movie, a film which Spielberg helped to produce. All this found an outlet in Temple of Doom, with its astonishing shifts of theme, mood and genre. The images of suffering and slavery, and the juxtapositions of horror, comedy, and adventure were built into the screenplay from the beginning, at story conferences in which Spielberg participated. And if audiences found the final film shocking, they didn’t know half of it - the half that never reached the screen. As we’ll find out, a film based on the first draft would have been REALLY scary...

When Paramount first started hassling Lucas for a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, in early 1982, he had a number of scenarios. Indy’s African trip was one, another was a story set, like Temple of Doom, in the far East, but with different locations. It would have taken place mostly in China, and opened with a motorbike chase on top of the Great Wall! The plot would have revolved mostly around the search for a lost valley where dinosaurs still lived (remind you of anything?). This scenario never went very far, although the Australian director George Miller, then riding high with The Road Warrior (and about to start work on Spielberg’s Twilight Zone film) was approached with a view to directing the motorcycle chase. Instead Lucas concentrated on his other story idea, an adventure involving voodoo dolls, human sacrifices and the occult, set in India.

The first draft of Temple of Doom was written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (who scripted American Graffiti and polished the dialogue in Star Wars). They turned in their draft in October 1982, based on story conferences held in June of the year with Lucas and Spielberg. The draft begins much like the film, in a Shanghai nightclub, but here called ‘The Dragon’. We see the song and dance routine, but we see it through the eyes of Short Round, who has sneaked into the club - shortly before being thrown out by a doorman. We also see Lao Che and his goons, Wu Han, and a man in a tuxedo entering. In this draft, however, his boots are not polished, but caked with mud. And, shock horror, our first sight of Indy is by the light of a match, as he lights a cigarette! The rest of the Shanghai sequence continues much as in the film, with poison, gong, car chase and all, except that there is a touching reference to Wu Han, (whose death is quickly forgotten in the final draft). Short Round has bought an airplane ticket for Wu Han, but when Indy says sadly that Wu Han isn’t coming, Short Round declares himself to be Indy’s new bodyguard.

The trio get to the plane just ahead of Lao Che, as in the final draft, but here it does not belong to the gangster. Instead, his surviving son, Kao Kan, chases after them in one of two biplanes and they proceed to attack what is here a defenseless passenger plane (a DC-3). As Kao Kan strafes them with machine gun fire, the terrified pilots and passengers grab all the parachutes and bail out. Meanwhile Short Round frantically tries to wake Indy, who is sleeping heavily, an effect of the antidote he drank earlier. If this had been filmed Indy would surely have been the first action hero ever to sleep through one of his own major action scenes! The real hero of this sequence is Short Round. After a tussle with Willie for the last parachute (she wants it for herself, he wants it for Indy) the parachute itself settles matters by falling out of the door. Short Round then grabs Indy’s gun from its holster, and starts firing out of the plane door at the biplanes (!). Indy finally wakes up as a burst of machine gun fire hits a fire extinguisher next to him, spraying water into his face. He runs into the cockpit as Short Round pulls a machine gun out of the cargo compartment (yeay!) and with Willie feeding the ammunition belt continues firing at the biplanes, hitting one and causing it to explode (!!?!). As he fires at the other one he hits their own engines (‘SHORT ROUND: Oh oh - big mistake!’), but it doesn’t matter as the resulting smoke blinds Kao Kan and he smashes his own plane into the peak of a mountain. At which point Indy finds a life raft... and the rest you know.

The life raft escape was carried over from an early draft of Raiders, but the aerial dogfight was all new. The sequence was a favorite of the Temple of Doom creative team, and was reluctantly abandoned quite late into the production on grounds of cost. Nevertheless, it got as far as the model making stage. The Ford Trimotor model (which replaced the DC-3 in the draft) was originally constructed for the discarded dogfight sequence, and therefore overbuilt considering the use to which it was put (perhaps one reason why the model looks so good). There is no parallel to it in the Last Crusade’s aerial sequence, although the moment when Henry Jones Sr. shoots the tail off his own plane is borrowed from Short Round’s poor marksmanship here.

After the life raft comes to rest the draft continues pretty much as the film does, until the trio’s stop in the jungle. The night time scene is similar, but before this there is a scene when Willie bathes in a stream and suddenly attracts the attentions of a boa constrictor. Indy is too scared to help, and instead tells her to pet the snake. Incredibly, this works, and for his pains Willie punches Indy in the mouth. The scene made it into the final draft, but was never filmed due to the difficulties of filming in Sri Lankan streams and creative differences with the boa constrictor. Although funny, it would probably have been cut anyway because it makes Indy out to be too much of a coward.

After reaching Pankot Palace, the travelers are invited to dinner, which takes place in ‘The Pleasure Pavilion’, ‘an extraordinary gold dome rising in the middle of the elaborate gardens’. We meet Blumburtt, who is here more of a pompous British ass than he ended up being in the film, and Indy tells him, with regard to the British presence in India, ‘you’re hanging on better here than you did in America’. The rest of the dinner sequence continues exactly as in the film, but after Willie has fainted there is an additional scene. In the gardens of the Pleasure Pavilion, ‘illuminated by hundreds of lanterns’, the little Maharajah asks Indy to teach him how to use the whip. He reaches for it rudely and Short Round intervenes, but Indy reminds him that they are guests and agrees to a demonstration. Indy cracks it, snagging a candle from a servant’s hands, and then a flower out of a dancing girl’s hair. As he instructs the Maharajah (and a jealous Short Round sulks) ‘a dark figure in robes’ appears and talks to Chattar Lal. Indy glimpses the stranger’s ‘pale face and dark hollow eyes... then the robed apparition seems to disappear’. It is Mola Ram. The Maharajah attempts to crack the whip, but ‘it flies back and snaps... biting his own cheek’. There is a stunned silence, broken by Short Round, laughing victoriously, and the furious Maharajah cracks the whip at him, starting a fight. As they draw near each other, Short Round ‘notices something weird... the Maharajah’s eyes begin glowing yellow, and he hisses softly in a strange voice,. Nobody else sees or hears the bizarre transformation...’ This mark of possession survived until late into the production - storyboards were drawn featuring Chattar Lal with glowing eyes. Indy breaks the fight up and takes the whip back from the little prince, saying ‘The Turks say a whip can be an enemy even to it’s owner’ (as a young Indy found out in The Last Crusade!). Shorty tells Indy about the glowing eyes, but Indy doesn’t believe him.

After unsuccessfully trying to seduce Willie, and the fight with the palace assassin, the draft continues much as in the final film, until the trio reach what was still known as the ‘Temple of Death’. The Thugee ceremony takes place just as in the film, with heart, lava and all. Indy steals the Shankara Stones, and while he is investigating the screams of the slave children, Short Round and Willie are captured - except that in this draft Willie gets away. Meanwhile, Indy is captured and forced to drink the blood of Kali. First Short Round then Indy are whipped by the Maharajah with Indy’s whip (‘As Dr. Jones suggested, I have been practicing’, he says.). And what of Willie? In the final film we glimpse her evading the Thugee guards and running back up the tunnel. Several further scenes were shot of Willie returning to her chamber, and telling Chattar Lal and Blumburtt what she has seen (at this time Willie does not yet know Chattar Lal is part of the cult). However, Chattar Lal dismisses her story, saying to Blumburtt:

I sense the fumes of opium in all this.
Perhaps Miss Scott picked up the
habit in Shanghai.

Willie takes them back to the tunnel entrance, when Indy appears, ‘smiling faintly’. Willie begs him to tell Blumburtt and Chattar Lal that she’s not insane, but Indy just leads her to her bed and tells her not to worry. Reassured she falls asleep. The possessed Indy then tells Blumburtt that she has been under a lot of strain, and suffered some sort of panic attack. Blumburtt asks him if he discovered anything in the tunnel, and Indy tells him it was just a dead end. Blumburtt and his troops then saddle up and ride off, leaving our heroes at the Palace.

A version of this scene was shot and cut, to reduce the running time of the film. What was not shot, however, is what happens next in the draft, and which, if filmed, would have been surely one of the most chilling sequences ever to appear in an ‘adventure’ film. Indy goes back to Willie's room, and we see her asleep on the bed. He sits down on the bed, and Willie, half awake, turns to see him behind some gently swaying mosquito netting. She asks Indy if Blumburtt believed him, and Indy replies ‘in a strange monotone’ that he did. Willie tells him that although he’s been nothing but trouble to her, she’d miss Indy if she lost him. Indy replies ‘You won’t lose me Willie...’ and as his face comes towards the mosquito netting his mouth opens and Willie watches, stunned as Indy ‘starts hissing grotesquely, smoke billows out of his mouth and the mosquito netting BURNS OPEN to expose his terrifying face moving towards Willie...’ Wow. Never mind the kids, most parents would be scared by this scene. Indy’s eyes glow yellow, and as Willie screams Indy goes into a rage. The rest of this sequence just has to be quoted fully for the full effect:

No! I've found it -- you can't --
Kali knows!

Willie tries the door but it's locked. She sees Indiana moving toward her ranting incoherently as he smashes a vase out of his way --

-- been too many lies -- there's no
god's heaven -- just -- the horror!
I've seen it -- life preying on life!

Willie cowers in a corner, horrified by the transformation she sees in Indiana. Shouting and pacing Indy holds his head against the pain of his terrible thoughts --

-- rivers -- destroying mountains --
a comet in space -- exploding!
(holding his head)
Aaahh! -- the screams -- pitiful
people -- their pain -- the hate --
and greed -- always greed!

The light throws his shadow over Willie -- a giant shadow floating back and forth over her as she cries in the corner, unable to fight the evil devouring Indiana.

-- but I've found -- Kali's touch!
Death -- no more lies -- the death
I've been searching for!
Quit crying! She can hear you --
Kali knows fear -- don't you under-
stand -- Kali is freedom!

Indiana stops pacing and Willie freezes in terror. Now a bizarre yellow light wipes across the room. Indiana turns and watches silently as two Thuggee guards emerge from a secret doorway that's opened --

The shadows of the Thuggee guards loom over Willie and she SCREAMS again!

As I said above, wow. Where did this stuff come from? Huyck and Katz wrote it, but what inspired it? Such a pivotal sequence must have been developed by them, Lucas and Spielberg together. Who had the most input into it, Lucas or Spielberg? Spielberg, who was then riding high commercially with E.T., but undergoing turbulence in his personal life?

A Thuggee on fire.

The draft then continues much as the film, except that Short Round discovers that fire can wake people from ‘the black sleep of Kali’ when he sees a Thuggee guard splashed with lava. This scene was filmed, but cut a at a very late stage - so late that it appears on one of the Topps trading cards brought out at the time of the movie.

Shorty burns Indy, waking him up, and the trio escape, though not before throwing Chattar Lal down into the lava pit (a sequence that was storyboarded but never filmed). They free the slave children, building a makeshift bridge over the lava pit in the Temple and helping them across it. But when Indy tries to use it, it collapses under his weight and they have to find another way out. The sequence with the makeshift bridge was partially filmed but dropped from the final cut (DVD special edition, anyone?).

Preparing mine cart
chase miniatures.

The mine car chase was originally written for Raiders of the Lost Ark, but dropped from that film (see chapter 2 of this article!). It was dropped into Temple of Doom, but was meant to be the films second big action sequence, after the aerial dog fight. As that sequence was dropped the mine car chase grew and grew, with input from various ILM people and more obstacles and incidents being added, until it became the chase we know. In fact, some parts were filmed and later cut, including a shot where the mine car splashes through a pool of lava, and another where our heroes narrowly escape a lava avalanche in the tunnels.

After outrunning the Thugees and the water, they reach the rope bridge, which Indy cuts, leading to one of the biggest genre in-jokes of all time - the film’s ‘cliffhanger’ ending. However, in the draft the Thugees fire burning arrows at Indy, causing the bridge to catch fire. This would have been more spectacular but made less sense (surely the fire would kill Mola Ram too?). Indy fights with Mola Ram, and we see his eyes glow - but the glow disappears when Mola Ram is burnt by the Shankara Stones, and he dies unpossessed. Blumburtt arrives with the cavalry. The final scene in the first draft is a big improvement on the finished film - no baby elephant squirting water, just a short happy scene back at the Indian village.

Although the more horrifying elements of this draft were removed - I’m thinking of the chilling mosquito net scene - the film still caused huge controversy. Not that there was any more violence in Temple of Doom than in Raiders (and arguably less) but the violence in the final film was far more intense than in Raiders. Over half the film takes place underground, and the human sacrifice is not a quick death, but lingered over. These sequences may not have been Spielberg’s idea, but he directed them; if he had wanted to make them less intense he could have done so. It is difficult not to feel that in some perverse way Spielberg wanted to shock, wanted to get a negative reaction, perhaps so he could make a break with more ‘juvenile’ films and move on to serious stuff. Temple of Doom was followed by a string of worthy films based on award-winning novels (The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List, and, err, Jurassic Park...) and if he later went back to Indy for the Last Crusade, it took five years and a number of failed scripts. So he marked the end of one phase in his life with an ‘action’ film that was anything but a straightforward adventure movie, and in doing so created a feel good film that somehow managed also to be dark and disturbing, reflecting his own mood. In Temple of Doom Indy is possessed; Spielberg too is not quite himself.

As well as the violence, Temple of Doom was also attacked for its politics, or what critics imagined its politics to be. Speaking at the 1984 Republican convention, the then Vice President George Bush quipped ‘we’re creating our own temple of doom for the Democrats’. The film was attacked for promoting ‘American imperialism’ and patronizing a foreign culture. Is this true? Well, I’m staying out of politics. But it should be possible for a critic to articulate different viewpoints without necessarily agreeing with them, just as a film, play or novel can have more then one ‘meaning’. You can argue that the film reflected the mood and foreign policy of the times without promoting a particular political program in the manner of, say, the Rambo films. And while Temple of Doom was accused of being racist in it’s depiction of an evil foreign cult, no one made that accusation at Raiders, and that too featured an evil cult - the Nazis.

Coming soon - a look at the drafts for the third Indiana Jones film, in which Indy goes to Africa, battles ghosts, pirates and Nazis, and - er - dies?!? Now how does he get out of that one? Find out in the next thrilling installment of Raiders of the Lost Drafts!!

Continue to Chapter 4a >>


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