- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom News The Films Research Indyfans


Paul Shipper

Deleted Scenes
The Making of
New Ideas
New Faces
On Location
In Studio
Post Production
The Release
Behind the Scenes
Concept Artwork
Indiana Jones Message Boards
Help Support Films Temple of Doom The Release
The Making of

Chapter 6: Mixed Emotions


When Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was announced early in 1984, the cinemas pledged a record of $40 million in non-refundable guarantees, putting the film into profit before it was made, let alone release. To promote the film, Spielberg and Lucas agreed to have their hand and footprints eternalized in cement in front of Mann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

The film premiered in the United States on May 23, 1984. Thirteen million people happily were waiting for Indy's new venture in its first week; more than had attended Return of the Jedi in the same period the previous summer. What none expected were children fleeing out of the theaters crying and parents complaining for great violence. Moral groups complained that the horrors on show were too strong for its PG rating.

click to enlarge
Partners and friends.

Spielberg, at first tried to defend the film by saying that "the picture is not called Temple of Roses, it is called Temple of Doom. There are parts of this film that are too intense for younger children but this is a fantasy adventure. It is the kind of violence that does not really happen and can not be perpetuated by people leaving the cinema and performing those tricks on their friends at home". Shortly, he admitted on live TV that the temple sequences, in particularly, were unsuitable for children under the age of ten. In the years to come he would admit that there was nothing personal of him in the picture and state, "Indy II will not go down in my pantheon as one of my prouder moments."

Huyck in an interview stated, "I would be very conscious in taking a kid to this movie, though. Hopefully, you know your child well enough to know what scares him and what doesn't. But, obviously, if the kid began to get scared, I would leave." While Huyck seemed to understand the worried parents Katz defended their work by saying, "I think it's really up to parental discretion to decide whether a motion picture is too violent or not. I would probably not want an 8 or 10-year old child to see the movie. But kids, certainly, are so much more sophisticated now." And continued, "We had to create a villain, and villains must do bad things. They just can't say: "Hello, I'm a villain with capital "V". With Nazis, you didn't have to see what they did, because you know Nazis are bad. But here, you can't have a watered-down villain. The audience must see evil, any kind of evil. You must show some of what that evil is in order to have to convincing fable. If anything, I feel it's a problem with ratings system, not with the movie."

Under the pressure Paramount put on a warning: This film may be too intense for younger children, while a couple of months later a new rating was issued, Parental Guidance-13. Still, the warning didn't stop the British board of film censors from making twenty-five cuts to the film.

When told of Paramount's decision Ford commented: "I think that's fair enough." Still a professional, he defended the film and gave an explanation on his behalf, "This is a completely moral tale and in order to have a moral resolve, evil must be seen to inflict pain. The end of the movie is proof of the viability of goodness. But I do not like films that use violence in a reprehensible way. I do not seek out movies that are bathed in blood." In later years Ford accepted that the violence went too far, an opinion shared by Spielberg. Lucas on the other hand, remained unrepentant. It was always his intension to make Temple a frightening, malevolent experience. If Raiders was the jungle ride at Disneyland, the prequel was a trip through the haunted house. In the years that passed he expressed thoughts that it might have worked even better had more comedy been employed, "but we set out to make a scary film and I think we succeeded." Besides, the violence children are exposed to through this picture is nothing, compared to the violence they face every day through the news and television.

What is funny is the fact that people seemed to totally forget that Raiders was not less a savage film, with its graphic fight scenes and mounting corpses; the only difference between the two films was that Raiders featured cartoon violence whereas Temple of Doom was more dark and acute. People got more sensitive towards children being tortured than a group of Nazis being blown off.

Violence wasn't the film's only flaw as some critics found inexcusable the way ethnic minorities were treated in the film. Audiences laughed and grimaced with the unspeakable delicacies that were served up at the Pankot palace's banquet while some people were annoyed by the way Indian villagers were presented because they looked like lepers! During a London press conference Ford apologized, again, by saying: "I have absolute sympathy with those criticisms. If that was so it's regrettable and to be guarded against next time. I don't want to be outwardly racist but movies are dependent on stereotypes. But I'm sorry that occurred and I'll use what power I have to make sure it doesn't happen again."

click to enlarge
Indy, Willie and Shorty.

The reviews Temple of Doom received were various. Many critics disliked the fact that the Temple of Doom spent much time in the Temple itself, while at the same time they believed it lacked the wit and nerve Lawrence Kasdan had managed to provide in the first film. That wasn't all wrong, as Kasdan had built brief episodes, each with its climax and a respite before the tension built again, Huyck and Katz worked to a different and more agitated drummer making the film too fast. In general, although, it can't in circle the imagination and creativity of Raiders, it has more humor and it is considered as a masterpiece, as far as the technical part is concerned. Harrison Ford was once again great as Indy while encouraging reviews went to little Ke Hui Quan, too. Quan's portrayal of Short Round presented a miniature Indiana Jones, unfearing, resourceful and totally loyal, winning audiences hearts. Kate Capshaw on the other hand wasn't very proud about her reviews, thanks to her undeveloped character created mostly by Spielberg. In his effort to balance the horror in the film with more comedy he forced Capshaw to drift away from the character in the script. She ended up being one of the constant comic parts in the film and spent most of her screen time screaming, yelling and nagging, by this way loosing the chance to create a character more interesting than Allen's.

As Robert Sellers pointed out "audience expectation was so impossible high that all of Temple's flaws were magnified. Not only it was a prequel to one of the most successful films in recent times, but Spielberg and Lucas had been placed in the unenviable position of having to out do their past glories with each new release."

Despite moral groups and raging critics Temple of Doom soon entered the top ten of box office hits, grossing $109 million only in the United States. It was the year's third top grossing film, behind Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters and the year's discovery Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop.

Nominated for two Academy Awards, one for John Williams' score and one for the visual effects of Dennis Muren and the ILM team, Temple of Doom won the second.

With the huge success of Temple of Doom it was definitely established that adventure had a name and this was Indiana Jones.

Next: Bibliography >>


Join us
Twitter Facebook The Raven
* - More Product. More Exclusives.