Thursday, 15 March 2007

Would the Real Indiana Jones Please Stand Up?

After my birthday blog on Roy Chapman Andrews, Darren Naish commented that it is a myth that Andrews inspired Indiana Jones. I admit that this is a commonly told anecdote and that George Lucas never specifically cited a person as his inspiration for the character. He apparently told Steven Spielberg when they first discussed the movie trilogy in 1977 that he had been inspired by movie serials from the 1940s and the 1950s. Though these serials may have taken their inspiration from the real-life adventures of Andrews, he had retired by 1942. Other possible candidates for Indian Jones include:

*Professor Hiram Bingham III, an American academic, explorer and politician who rediscovered and excavated the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu in 1911.

*Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett a British archaeologist who disappeared in 1925 while searching for a lost city the Mato Grosso region of the Amazon jungle.

But perhaps the most interesting of ‘inspirations’ is religious archaeologist, Vendyl "Texas" Jones, who claims the fictional character was modeled after himself. He pointed out that by trimming his first name he could be ‘Endy Jones’ and claims his name made it into the movie by way of Randolph Fillmore, a science writer who attended one of his digs before writing the first draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

While Lucas and Spielberg remain generally tight lipped about their inspiration, Spielberg has adamantly denied that Vendyl Jones had any influence over the Indiana Jones character. Lucas says that Indiana is the name of his Alaskan Malamute and that originally he had planned on using the name Indiana Smith (after the fictional western movie character, Nevada Smith) but that Steven Spielberg changed it to Indiana Jones. Also, Randolph Fillmore was not involved in writing the first draft of movie And fortunately, Vendyl Jones has now stopped making his claim.


Darren Naish said...

Excellent: yeah, you've covered what I was going to say, sorry I never got back to you. Lucas is on record as saying that he wasn't aware of R. C. Andrews when coming up with his initial idea of Indiana Smith. Incidentally, Andrews himself was a fascinating and complex character. One of my favourite quotes is 'He once fought a sandstorm with a pistol'. Sadly, he wasn't too good at extracting some of the Mongolian dinosaur fossils he found...

Sarda Sahney said...

Great quote:) Yes, he struck more as a brazen adventurer with a gift for hyperbole then a careful preparator.

Anonymous said...

Look everyone knows that Indian Jones is based on Dr. Neil Gostling from the University of Bristol.