First of all – thank you so much to Jeanne from Another Stir of the Spoon for a great first round matchup in EduClaytion‘s March Movie Madness. It was a pleasure to go up against Lord of the Rings straight out of the gate and it only gets harder from here on in!
Having survived (in true Indiana Jones fashion) by the skin of my teeth, I now dust myself off only to find I am faced with a heavyweight opponent – Dances With Wolves. Much like staring into the eyes of the shirtless German in the scene from my own movie, I am struggling to think about how to tackle this enormous opponent. If only I had an aeroplane handy – a set of wheel chocks; anything that would grant me some kind of advantage!
And yet, I feel confident. For Raiders of the Lost Ark CAN overcome!
Dances With Wolves is a quality movie, there is no doubt about it. To compare the two movies is a difficult task given that they are quite opposite, so I decided not to do that. Instead, I invited both movies over for a drink and a relaxed interview so they can speak for themselves. Here’s how things went down:
Me: Hi guys, please make yourselves comfortable. I understand you’re both extremely popular, so thank you for giving me your time today for this interview. Can I get you a drink or anything?
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Sure thing, it’s no trouble for an old friend. I’ll just have my usual shot of whiskey, thanks.
Dances With Wolves: Oh no problem at all, it’s a pleasure to be here. It’s nice to get off the prairie from time to time and experience a few of society’s luxuries. I woud love a cup of herbal tea and a nice piece of cheese if you have it. Do you mind if I smoke?
Me: I can manage the tea and cheese Dances, but if you want to smoke that pipe of yours you’ll need to go outside. One shot of whiskey coming right up, Raiders.
[I pour drinks and prepare cheese. the Peace Pipe gets put away, possibly to be brought out at the end of the interview]
Me: Ok, let’s get into this. I’ve asked you both around to try to shed some light on which one of you is the better movie. I’ve got a few questions I’d like to put to you to give you the opportunity to present your own case. I don’t want to be unfair in this. How about you both sum yourselves up briefly before we get to the questions. Dances, you go first.
Dances With Wolves: Ok, well I’m a story about a soldier who asks for a remote posting so that he can experience the wonderful American Frontier before it vanishes forever. I explore the journey of a man from a troubled, restless beginning to a peaceful, enlightened ending. The hero meets Indians who make him question himself and his future and ultimately, he helps the Indians survive and becomes part of their tribe, shedding his original ties to become a better person.
Me: I did say be brief, but ok. Now Raiders, what about you?
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Well I’m a riveting adventure that follows a hero who tracks down and rescues the Ark of the Covenant while overcoming numerous obstacles.
Me: Cool. So I’ve noticed a few similarities between you both. Let’s talk scenery. You both follow a journey, but what physical travels do your characters undertake?
Dances With Wolves: Well, the setting for my epic tale is the last remnants of the untamed frontier of America. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the most beautiful wildernesses on Earth and the expanse of the territory only enhances the feeling of solitude and displacement that I was aiming for. It’s also a beautiful place that helps symbolise rebirth in a sense, which makes the film all the more awesome.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: I spend my time in numerous locations, each striking in their elements and if you want to get all existential, potentially representative of the transition through personal development for the hero.
The steamy jungles of South America – The hero’s everyday struggle with knowledge and ability, trying to do the right thing but constantly running into opposition.
The unforgiving mountains of Nepal – Facing a past demons and having to realise his own role in the situation that has developed. His acceptance of responsibility and his acknowledgement of what he must do.
The even harsher desert of Egypt – exploration and development of the hero’s spiritual (and physical) mettle as he faces the loss of a loved one and his greatest fears.
The tropical island finale – overcoming his adversaries, defeating his fears and his ultimate redemption. Sorry about going into that kind of detail, but I figured that you’d want some kind of comparative explanation.
Me: Well, as long as the information is getting out there so that people can make up their own mind. Moving right along, you both have some run-ins with your opponents. Tell me, what happens in your respective environments when someone is captured by their opposition? More specifically, let’s talk about what happens to men and women.
Dances With Wolves: Well, my environment is as harsh and unforgiving as it is contemplative and spiritual. If you’re a male, you will most probably be killed unless you can prove to your captors that you are strong enough or useful enough to provide benefit. Even then though it’s not always an easy path – especially if you don’t speak their language. You can definitely count on a severe beating though at the very least.
Females don’t get much more mercy. If you’re kept alive you can bet you’re going to be treated very poorly all the time. You may have some other jealous females wanting to beat you up or kill you. You’ll soon learn to fend for yourself. If you don’t, you won’t survive very long.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: As for me, the captive situation is actually not bad. If you’re a woman, you’re given a fancy new dress and you get to spend a nice evening drinking and laughing with your captor. As for the guys, you might get a beating, but more often than not you’ll be put into a situation that only requires a little intelligence and common sense to escape.
Me: And what about music? It’s an integral part of any movie, often compelling and memorable long after the credits have rolled. Do you think that you each did a good job on your musical score?
Dances With Wolves: I think I did, but to be honest I can’t really remember the music. I was far too busy fighting for my life and struggling with the natural world. Developing my spirituality and all that, you know? Living the life of a man in the wild, making friends, learning languages, gaining the trust and respect of the people who had been my enemy and trying to win the heart of my lady friend.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: All I have to say is this – “dun dun dun, dudda dudda dun dun dun”
*All three of us*: Dun da dun duuuh, dun da duuuuh, dun da dun DUUUUUUH, dun du duh DUH DUH!
Me: Oh yeah Raiders, you got it!
Raiders of the Lost Ark: That’s what I’m talking about.
Me: Well we’ve been here a little while now, I’ll wind up. I guess you each have your excellent points. To compare you again, you’re both very spiritual films in your own rights; with many symbolic references and of course intentionally scripted developments.
You could both be described as a search for spirituality and the evolution of the soul. You both face conflict – internal and external and your Worlds reflect the changes in your characters accordingly. I suppose though that our viewers will make up their own minds about which they prefer.
Thanks again for your time Dances & Raiders. It’s always nice to sit down with you, don’t be strangers!