Category Archives: Film & TV

The Holy Bee Recommends, #19: Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

“It took God six days to create the Heavens and the Earth, and Monty Python ninety minutes to screw it up.” — Original film poster tagline.

SPOILER ALERT: The meaning of life, according to Monty Python, will be revealed in this blog entry.

monty-python-the-meaning-of-life-posterHere at Holy Bee World Headquarters (i.e., the second-hand desk in my converted garage), I generally try to use my “Recommends” feature to champion something that may be existing in relative obscurity, but just as often I will use it to highlight something in popular culture that is definitely on the radar, but doesn’t get the respect it may deserve.

Britain’s Monty Python comedy team (John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, the late Graham Chapman, and American animator Terry Gilliam) certainly isn’t obscure. But while every nerd over 35 in America can quote 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail at length, and the Brits have taken 1979’s Monty Python’s Life of Brian to their collective bosom, The Meaning of Life, a collection of sketches (sort of) exploring the purpose of existence, is treated as something of an also-ran…even though a mention of any of its scenes will elicit a chuckle and a quote from any Python fan (“wah-fer thin mint” is a common favorite), just like all the other of the team’s productions. 

A few of the Pythons themselves are somewhat dismissive of the 1983 film that would prove the swan-song for the full six-member group. “We started work on it before any of us deep-down wanted to,” said John Cleese, who ended up the most frustrated with the project. “It wasn’t all bad, just aimless.” Even Terry Jones, the film’s champion, admitted the writing process was labored. “It was getting increasingly hard to get [the six of us] together, and it showed.”

So, what prompted the Holy Bee to take up the cause of everyone’s least favorite Python monty-python-dvdfilm?

While cleaning and organizing a musty bookcase in the aforementioned World Headquarters, I came across a forgotten DVD still in the shrink-wrap — Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five To Go, which documented their July 2014 reunion stage show at London’s O2 arena. (The title is a reference to Graham Chapman’s 1989 death.) Reunion rumors had swirled around the group for three decades, but the reason that finally forced the five remaining members on to the stage one final time was pretty prosaic — they needed the money. (Holy Grail producer Mark Forstater successfully sued the group for almost a million pounds in royalties on Spamalot, Idle’s Broadway musical based on the film.) I cracked open the DVD and found myself enjoying the reunion show quite a bit — several “greatest hits” sketches that everyone knows, and a few deep cuts for hardcore fanatics, performed with all the energy a group of men in their seventies could muster (at least one of them with an artificial hip). The whole thing was presented as a gala stage extrvaganza, with massive production numbers backed by a full team of dancers and an orchestra. The team swapped some roles around and divided up Chapman’s parts among themselves (all six very rarely appeared in sketches at the same time anyway), and pulled off an overlong and slightly overbaked semi-reunion that was still a lot of fun.

Then…it struck me that it was now, for all intents and purposes, two down, four to go. The O2 shows were Terry Jones’ final performances. All throughout the rehearsals and the series of ten performances, Jones struggled with remembering his lines, even in material he had performed hundreds of times. (The others, with their usual sensitivity, referred to anyone forgetting their lines as “pulling a Terry.”) The following year, he was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a form of dementia. Unlike Alzheimer’s, PPA does not affect orientation or cognition, but it has a devastating effect on the ability to communicate. As of this writing, Jones, 76, is still living comfortably, but cannot write and cannot speak beyond a few garbled words. [EDIT: Jones passed away Jan. 2020.]

Watching their reunion show, and thinking sadly of Terry Jones’ illness and retirement, I decided to binge watch the three original Python films — all of them directed by Jones. (Holy Grail was co-directed with Gilliam.) 

(Their “official” filmography consists of five movies but their first, 1971’s And Now For Something Completely Different, consists of re-filmed sketches from their late 60s – early 70s BBC-TV series and shouldn’t really count. And Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, a videotaped record of their 1980 live show, was intended to be shown on HBO or Showtime. It was instead transferred to film and placed in very limited theatrical release — against the team’s wishes — in 1982.)


Grail and Brian came off as the unimpeachable classics they are, but I was struck this time by how well-done The Meaning of Life was. It looks great. Jones’ directorial eye has a good sense of color, the overall production design really pops, and he stages the musical sequences as well as any traditional musical director. The humor of Life has a reputation for being patchy, but here’s the claim on which I’m basing this entire blog entry — I’d put the first half (45 minutes or so) of The Meaning of Life up against anything they ever produced and it would come out equal — in terms of wicked satire, plain belly laughs, and the aforementioned visual sophistication, which Python realized was important for a feature film, even if it was just a collection of rather silly sketches. 

In the group’s eyes, the film’s nagging flaw was that it never found an organizing theme until the very end of the scripting process, denying it the opportunity for a final polish. They had just been writing random sketches, hoping to eventually concoct a framework on which to hang them. Grail and Brian had been narrative films, with a story that consistently followed the main character(s) from beginning to end. After those experiences, Jones in particular wanted to try a sketch film, mostly for the challenge. “[Cleese] had this theory that you can’t make a sketch film over fifty minutes,” Jones stated. “I always said ‘I’m sure we can do a sketch film and make it work,’ just to show we can.” By the time they came up with the “meaning of life” concept, they were up against deadlines. “I think it would have been perfect if had we given it one extra draft,” said Eric Idle. “We just sort of stuck in references to the meaning of life wherever we could.”  Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 6 — The Final Years and Appendices

August 1957 — Indy and his former WWII intelligence partner George “Mac” McHale head for one of Indy’s favorite places to do archaeology work — the central coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. They spend several weeks exploring Mayan ruins and gathering artifacts.[1]

August 30, 1957 — Indy and Mac are abducted by Soviet KGB agents in southern Mexico. The abduction team is headed by Dr. Irina Spalko, a Ukrainian scientist and specialist in psychic research.[1]


Indiana Jones, 1957

August 31, 1957 — After almost two days of travel (part of which was spent locked in the trunk of a car), Indy and Mac arrive with their Soviet captors at the U.S. Air Force’s Nevada Test and Training Range, better known as “Area 51.” The Soviets infiltrate the base, and knowing Indy was on the analytic team that worked on the Roswell UFO crash, force him to locate the case containing the heavily-magnetized mummified alien body. Mac suddenly reveals that gambling debts have forced him to work for the Soviets. As Indy manages his escape, Spalko and Mac make off with the alien remains. (In eluding his Russian pursuers, Indy inadvertently cracks open the crate containing the Ark of the Covenant.) Indy gets clear of the area on a rocket sled, which blasts him for several miles down a track at fantastic speed, causing him to pass out from the g-forces.[2]

September 1, 1957 — Indy is lost and disoriented, wandering through the Nevada desert. He comes upon a town that is mysteriously deserted. It turns out to be a model town designed to test the results of an atomic explosion — which is about to be detonated. Indy seeks shelter in a lead-lined refrigerator in one of the model homes. He survives the blast, and is apprehended by the FBI, who decontaminate him and subject him to a hostile interrogation regarding his “assistance” to the KGB. He is released on the orders of General Robert Ross, who knows Indy from his OSS days in World War II, and assures the FBI he is not working with the KGB. The FBI warns Indy he is now a “person of interest.”[2]

indiana_jones_y_el_reino_de_la_calavera_de_cristal_2008_4September 20, 1957 — Indy is back at his teaching position three weeks after the incident in Nevada[1]. The Dean of Students, Charles Stanforth, pulls Indy from his classroom and says the FBI came in with search warrants and went through his office. The Board of Regents instructs Stanforth to place Indy on “indefinite leave,” essentially firing him. Stanforth resigns in protest. Not wasting time, Indy plans on leaving the country that very day, taking the train to New York and getting an overnight flight to London, and from there possibly to Leipzig University in Germany where he is “owed a favor.” As his train pulls out of the station, he is convinced to hop off by a young leather-jacketed motorcyclist, Mutt Williams. At the local diner, Mutt tells Indy that Indy’s old friend Harold Oxley had found a crystal skull in Peru, suffered a mental breakdown, and was later kidnapped. Indy relates that crystal skulls are associated with the lost city of Akator. Mutt gives Indy a letter from his mother, who was another friend of Oxley’s…and is now a fellow prisoner. (Oxley had looked after and Mutt and his mother after her husband was killed in World War II.) The letter says Indy is the only one who can help her and Oxley, and contains a riddle written by Oxley in an ancient South American language. At this point, KGB agents attempt to capture them, but Indy and Mutt evade them on a motorcycle. [2]

September 21-23, 1957 — Indy and Mutt travel to Cusco, Peru, by way of Havana and Mexico City. [2]

September 25, 1957 — After some time trying to pick up Oxley’s trail in Cusco, Indy and Mutt find out he has recently stayed in the local psychiatric hospital. Oxley’s scribbles on the walls and floor of his cell lead them to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a 16th century conquistador who has searched for Akator. They discover the skull at the grave, with Indy reasoning that Oxley had returned it there after failing to get it back to Akator. [2]

September 26, 1957 — As the sun rises over the Peruvian graveyard, Indy and Mutt are captured by Mac and a group of Soviets. They are taken by air and river to the KGB camp deep in the Amazon jungle late that night, where they find Oxley, and Mutt’s mother, who turns out to be Marion Ravenwood. Dr. Spalko believes that the crystal skull belongs to an alien life form and holds great psychic power, and that finding more skulls in Akator will grant the Soviets the advantage of psychic warfare. Spalko uses the skull on Jones to enable him to understand Oxley’s ravings and identify a route to the lost city. Indy, Mutt, Marion, and Oxley escape with the skull, but Marion and Indy get trapped in a dry sandpit, and are recaptured by the Soviets. In the midst of all this, Marion reveals that Mutt is actually Indy’s son — born Henry Jones III, later becoming Henry Williams after her marriage to Colin Williams.[2]

September 27, 1957 —  On their way to Akator, Mac tells Indy he is a CIA double-agent to regain Indy’s trust, and Indy’s group once again fights its way out of the Soviet captivity. Indy and company survive three waterfalls in an amphibious vehicle, while many of the Soviets fall from a cliff while trying to pursue them. Mac had lied about being a double-agent and has been dropping transceivers to allow the surviving Soviets to track them. The adventurers gain access to the temple, and find it filled with artifacts from many ancient civilizations, identifying the aliens as extra-dimensional “archaeologists” studying the different cultures of Earth. They find and enter a chamber containing the crystal skeletons of thirteen alien beings, one missing its skull. Spalko arrives and presents the skull to its skeleton, whereupon the aliens reanimate and telepathically offer a reward in ancient Mayan through Oxley. A portal to their dimension becomes activated, and Spalko demands knowledge equal to the aliens’. The thirteen beings fuse into one, and in the process of receiving the overwhelming knowledge, Spalko is disintegrated and sucked into the portal. [2]

September 28, 1957– Indy, Marion, Mutt, and Oxley — who regained his sanity once the skull was replaced — escape, while the remaining Soviets are also drawn into the portal. Mac is caught in the vortex while trying to scrounge some of the treasure, and even though Indy offers him his whip to pull him to safety, he willingly lets go and is sucked in. Indy and the others escape and watch as the temple walls crumble, revealing a flying saucer rising from the debris and vanishing, while the hollow in the valley floor left by its departure is flooded by the waters of the Amazon. [2]

Early October, 1957 — Indy is reinstated at the college, and promoted to associate dean. Charles Stanforth withdraws his resignation. [2]

October 18, 1957 — Indiana Jones marries Marion Ravenwood at the college chapel.[2]


The wedding of Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood, October 1957

Late 1957 – ? A return to a quieter life, but we’ve been promised one more adventure…



APPENDIX A: Indiana Jones — Archaeologist

What are some details about how Dr. Jones practiced his trade?

Indy’s archaeological specialty is epigraphy — the study of written inscriptions and engravings.

The titles of any archaeological books or papers he has written over the course of his career are unknown, but he did write his memoirs at some point.[3] It seems he did not receive tenure until the early 1950s, probably as a result of his frequent absences from campus — which are grudgingly overlooked due to the amount of grant money and donors his notoriety brings to Barnett College[4] (and the fact that his classes are often covered by the capable and popular Marcus Brody.)

He speaks around thirty languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin, Greek (modern and ancient), Anglo-Saxon, Swedish, Russian, Hungarian, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, and several Meso- and South American native dialects (excluding Hovito, of course.) His Chinese and Vietnamese are basic but serviceable, but he only knows a few phrases in Japanese. He can read Sanskrit and most Egyptian hieroglyphs, and can use American Sign Language. Welsh and Icelandic have totally eluded him.

His expertise covers a wide range of historical eras and geographic regions, but his focus tends to be on the pre-Columbian societies of the American southwest, Mayan and pre-Mayan cultures of Mesoamerica, and the Inca and related tribes of South America. He is also quite knowledgeable about ancient Greece, the ancient Near East (including Egypt), and the Indian subcontinent. His heart really wasn’t in his first teaching position — Celtic archaeology in the British Isles — but he came to appreciate it. His interest can be piqued by compelling stories and artifacts from the Nordic regions or the Far East, but those areas seem to be secondary. Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 5 — The Later Adventures

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

July 1938 — Henry Jones III is born to Marion Ravenwood, unknown to Indy.[1]

November 1938 — Marion Ravenwood becomes involved with RAF pilot Colin Williams, who had been introduced to her by Indy the previous year. They marry soon, and Williams adopts the infant Henry Jones III. Perhaps thinking of his recent reconciliation with his father, Indy writes Marion a letter around this time, but it goes unanswered.[2]

914E-0IvZgL._SL1500_Spring 1939 — After discovering an ancient ram’s head idol in Sudan, Indy encounters a group of Nazis, and is forced to give up the Idol, but makes an escape when he distracts their leader, fellow archaeologist Magnus Voller. Indy chases down a departing plane and boards it. Upon his return to the U.S., Indy receives a letter informing him that his former college professor, Charles Kingston, has disappeared. When Indy heads to San Francisco to discuss the matter with the letter’s sender, Archie Tan, he discovers that Tan has been kidnapped. Indy’s investigation into the disappearances leads him to the discovery of another artifact, the Jade Sphere. The Nazi agents (led by Voller) holding Tan demand the Sphere in exchange for Tan’s return. Indy agrees, but after Indy and Tan flee the situation, Voller discovers Indy had substituted a worthless figurine for the Sphere. Kingston had left the Sphere as a clue intended to guide Indy back to where Kingston had first discovered it — Panama. In Panama, Indy is joined by Irish photographer Maggie O’Malley, and the pair are attacked by Voller’s native mercenaries. Indy fights them off, saving a local village in the process. The villagers give him access to nearby Mayan pyramid, where Indy discovers Kingston’s journal. The journal reveals details regarding the location of the Staff of Moses. (Indy had already discovered the companion Staff of Aaron in a previous adventure five years earlier.) Obtaining further clues on a flying visit to Istanbul, Indy finally finds Kingston and the Staff in Nepal. They are ambushed by the pursuing Nazis, who abscond with Maggie (who is actually a British Intelligence agent) and Kingston on their zeppelin, the Odin. Indy is able to rescue Maggie, but Kingston is fatally shot. In a final confrontation with Voller, Indy and Maggie use the Staff to clear a path through the Red Sea, and then cause the waters to inundate the German archaeologist. The ultimate fate of the Staff is unknown.[3]

For unknown reasons, Indy is living in the faculty quarters of Barnett College around this time, rather than his own home. [4,5]

May 6, 1939 — Indy is approached at Barentt College by a mysterious 71G8tIc35bL._SX342_stranger about a small key-like artifact. Indy recognizes its distinctive engraved pattern, and matches it to another artifact, a small horned idol, that the college had in storage from the 1929 Jastro Expedition in Iceland (see earlier entry). The key opens the artifact and reveals a small bead-like object. The mysterious stranger, who turns out to be SS Col. Klaus Kerner, attempts to take the gem, and in his failure to do so, leaves behind a clue leading Indy to Sophia Hapgood, a former archaeological colleague who now makes a living as a “psychic” and fortune teller, supposedly drawing her power from her collection of “Atlantean” artifacts.[5]

May 7, 1939 — While Indy is visiting with Sophia Hapgood, the apartment is raided by Kerner and his men, who make off with any artifact bearing the engraved pattern, including the idol from Barnett (but missing one worn as a necklace by Sophie), and badly wounding Indy (the fourth gunshot wound of his career by my count — his shoulder/upper arm areas on both sides must be remarkably resilient.).[5]

May 14, 1939 — Analysis by Nazi scientist Dr. Ubermann indicates the bead is a metal called orichalum, suposedly from Atlantis, and has the potential for being weaponized — a source of unlimited energy if found in sufficient quantities. While Indy is recuperating in the hospital, Sophie foils an assassination attempt on him by another Nazi agent.[5]

Late May 1939 — Out of the hospital, Indy decides to join Sophie on a trip to Iceland to investigate the Nazis’ interest in the artifacts. After discovering the frozen body of Thorskald, a fellow archaeologist clutching an idol identical to the one once in Indy’s possession, they decide to follow Dr. Jastro’s post-expedition route from Iceland to the Azores, where they find a stash of artifacts that Jastro had hidden for his private collection, including a a part of a keystone with the distinctive engraving. Following a lead in Thorskald’s notes, they end up in the Yucatan, investigating ruins that have engravings in Mayan…also in Egyptian, and an unknown script that is possibly Atlantean. A mutated skeleton in one of the crypts is wearing another engraved keystone, but this is stolen by their contact and guide, Charles Sternhart, along with their horses. Indy and Sophie make their way back to town on foot to discover an emergency cable from Brody. Brody has been investigating his own leads in Cardiz, Spain, and received a keystone from a Spanish Atlantis researcher. He arranges to meet Indy and Sophie in Leningrad to study a rare manuscript by Plato with clues to the existence and (former) location of Atlantis, only to have the manuscript stolen by Kerner. The only other copy of the manuscript known to exist…is at Barnett College.[5]

Early June 1939 — The manuscript leads them to Morocco, where local Berber diggers (supervised by the Ubermann and Kerner) are already digging for more clues and artifacts. Indy and Sophie make off with an important artifact (an “orichalum-finder”) and escape in a hydrogen balloon heading out over the Mediterranean Sea. They end up on Crete, and enter the labyrinth under Knossos, where they find Steinhart (killed by the Nazis he was working for) and collect the third and final keystone that will allow entrance into Atlantis. The information in the manuscript combined with Steinhart’s journal provide the exact underwater location of Atlantis. Indy dives down and enters the city buried under the seafloor using the three keystones. The Nazis, utilizing a U-boat and with a captive Sophie, are not far behind. Indy frees Sophie, and they use the orichalum finder to find the source of the powerful metal deep in the core of the ruined city. Sophie’s necklace begins giving her visions of the fate of Atlantis — they tried using orichalum to re-create their own living gods (“horned ones”), but it resulted in mutations and failure. Indy and Sophie are eventually captured by Ubermann and Kerner, both of whom attempt to use the Atlantean god-making device, and are both killed gruesomely by it. A series of undersea explosions destroy the remains of Atlantis for good. After their return, Sophie joins the faculty of Barnett College.[5]

IndianaJonesThunderInTheOrient1Summer 1939 — Indy is assisting a French academy on a dig in the Libyan desert when he receives instructions (via Marcus Brody) to head immediately to Nepal. (His overly-loyal servant boy from Libya, Khamal, accompanies him as a stowaway.) There he meets up again with Sophie Hapgood, who has discovered scrolls that appear to be 500 years older than any known Buddhist scripture — and point the way to a divine revelation from the Buddha himself. The government of Nepal agree to fund an expedition to find the “Covenant of Buddha.” Joined by Dr. Patar Kali, Indy, Sophie, and Khamal head for Afghanistan to begin their search. Their train is attacked by Afghani bandits. Sophie is abducted and the scrolls stolen. The Afghan warlord finds Sophie too troublesome to keep, so she is offered as a prize in a multi-tribe horseback competition. A disguised Indy manages to win her, and they escape. They meet up with a small portion of their Nepalese security detail who survived the train ambush. They reveal that Japanese military intelligence is also in pursuit of the map, in the hopes of uniting Asia under their rule, and has placed a spy in the Nepalese expedition. Without the scrolls, both Indy’s team and the Japanese must rely on clues found at various Buddhist shrines, beginning with the Colossus of Bamian, the only major shrine between Afghanistan and the Far East. They beat the Japanese to the required clue (a hidden map) which leads them to an isolated city, Chanri-Ha, high in the Himalayas. After an initially hostile welcome, inhabitants (who practice a blend of Buddhism and primitive paganism) begin to revere young Khamal as their god Zan-Khan– a reincarnation of two “gods” who had conquered the city in earlier times — Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. In the Chanri-Ha archives, they discover the next place to seek the Covenant — Szechuan, China. They flee the city when it is attacked by the bandit army of the female warlord known as the Serpent Lady. The Serpent Lady insists on accompanying Indy and his party to Szechuan, where she will use the Covenant for her own purposes. After eluding a Japanese ambush, and hijacking a train, they end up captured by a rival warlord, Ch’ao the Red, near where the Covenant is supposed to be hidden. After an air raid by the Japanese on Ch’ao’s camp, Indy and co. reach the final temple, only to be confronted by Japanese general Masashi Kyojo. After a brutal round of hand-to-hand combat, Indy finds the Covenant, only to have it disintegrate into ash.[6]

Fall 1939 — Indy has hired a salvage ship and its very unscrupulous crew to sail into the37437-5617-41944-1-indiana-jones-and-th North Atlantic in search of a Viking shipwreck. After it is discovered lodged in an iceberg, a polar bear attack causes most of the crew to flee, leaving Indy and the salvage captain, Lawton, marooned on the drifting iceberg. Weeks pass. They are rescued by the French passenger liner Normandie. On board the ship, Indy discovers a conman has claimed to be his older brother, “New Jersey Jones,” and is selling phony artifacts to wealthy donors. Indy becomes intrigued by “New Jersey”’s female accomplice, Cairo, who has some kind of previous connection with Lawton. After an altercation, all four end up adrift in a Normandie lifeboat, which drifts into a portion of the North Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea, known for its lack of wind and currents. They find a graveyard of old ships, some of them dating back centuries, trapped in the thick sargassum seaweed. They are captured by the residents of the ships’ graveyard, the Sargasso pirates, who take them to their flagship (the Freedom), and introduce them to the pirates’ leader, the Sea Witch. She allows them to stay after passing a dangerous trial — Indy must fight off a kraken. Indy is interested in investigating the Freedom’s treasure room, so he sends Cairo to distract the guards. This also gives Lawton the opportunity to assassinate the Sea Witch and take over the pirate crew. He pins the assassination on Indy. Indy is captured and sentenced to a “sweating,” a slow and torturous form of execution. He is spared when an oil lamp sets off a major fire, which destroys most of the floating city. Many of the pirates escape on the Freedom. Cairo has discovered the Sea Witch survived the assassination attempt, and they wait in the Sea Witch’s hideout until she sufficiently recovers. The Freedom gets quickly bogged down in the seaweed, but fortuitously discovers an abandoned U-boat. The U-boat chains itself to the treasure-laden Freedom and prepares to head out, but the Sea Witch reveals herself, and combat ensues. Thinking Indy, Cairo and the Sea Witch have been dealt with, Lawton steers the U-boat out of the Sargasso region, but the trio has managed to stow away on the Freedom. They are discovered and cut loose. The Sea Witch unfurls the sails and engages the sub in cannon vs. torpedo combat. The Freedom is sunk, but not before they get on the sub. The Sea Witch kills Lawton, and his mutinous crew is brought under control. Unfortunately, the treasure is lost.[7]

Late 1939 —  Indy is in Egypt, assisting a “rival” colleague, Dr. Dafoe, in deciphering clues that lead to the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Azudab. The translated inscription states that the death mask of Azudab will reveal a path to the afterlife and all the treasures that follow. Indy’s father has joined them to help with the dig. The tomb is quickly found. In an attempt to cut Indy out of his share of the artifacts, Dafoe seals Indy and Henry in a small room within the tomb. Water from Henry’s dropped canteen leads them to an escape route — where they discover a dead Dafoe wearing the Azudab death mask, and leaving everything in the tomb to Jones.[8]

1940 —  Indy is searching for the Golden Jaguar flute in Bolivia. He talks to local native (and friend from some time before) Tuxa, a member of the Guarani tribe. Tuxa reveals that his village has fallen ill, but a crystal skull has been brought to the village by an outsider, “Jasy Kuna,” which has healed the village in exchange for valuable offerings. Indy exposes Kuna as a fake (she’s corrupt botanist Josie Kelland) that caused the illness by secretly poisoning the villagers. The “healing” was just the poison wearing off. The skull is worthless cut glass. Indy is given his choice of the offerings Kelland had planned on escaping with, and he chooses the Golden Jaguar flute.[9]

Later that year, Indy and his guide, a young boy named Bhakdi, arrive at a hidden temple in the Kamphaeng Province in Thailand. Indy had discovered the route to the temple’s interior in some old writings, and planned a full expedition. When he caught a college intern, Clifford, spying in his files, he decided to make the trip a year earlier than planned. Clifford has arrived before them, and plans on taking all the treasure and artifacts for himself. Bhakdi snatches Indy’s notes from Clifford’s hand, allowing Indy to overpower him. With his notes in hand, Indy leaves with Bhakdi, but Clifford has a copy, and attempts to enter the temple, but he still does not have enough expertise of information to avoid the temples traps.[10]

Colin Williams, Marion Ravenwood’s husband and young Henry’s adoptive father, is killed in combat.[2] Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s The Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 4 — Fortune and Glory

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.


Professor Henry Jones, Jr. of Barnett College, NY.

1934 — Abner Ravenwood dies in Nepal.[1] Marcus Brody returns as curator of the National Museum after three years working for the American Museum of Natural History.

Late Summer 1934 — A large-scale excavation Indy had been organizing for the Rub al Khali desert in Saudi Arabia has to be abandoned because Rene Belloq got to the site first.[1]

Fall 1934 — Indy begins his first year of teaching at Barnett College, located in upstate New York, and closely associated with the National Museum. Marcus Brody sits on the college’s Board of Regents.

December 1934 — Indy is hired by Caspar Zzyzx to recover a treasure map in the South Pacific island chain known as the Marquesas Islands. The map is recovered with some difficulty, and Indy’s colleague Dr. Lopez is killed by headhunters.[2]

January 5, 1935 — Aboard their chartered ship, the Julie Anne, Indy, Zzyzx, and the ship’s Shrinecovercaptain, Whitby, analyze the map and determine it leads to the “Shrine of the Sea Devil,” an underwater temple of major archaeological significance 1900 miles to their north. The Julie Anne heads there, while her crew plots mutiny. They believe the shrine to be filled with pearls, and the first mate, Turps, has a score to settle with Indy.[2]

January 11, 1935 — While Indy is diving below the surface, the crew takes over the ship. Indy finds the shrine, but in the process, awakens a giant octopus, which causes catastrophic damage to the Julie Anne, killing the mutinous crew. (Zzyzx and Whitby escape on a dinghy.) Turps, the last surviving crew member, attempts to fight off the giant octopus with hand grenades, but only succeeds in destroying the ship once and for all. Clinging to the wreckage, Indy is rescued by Amelia Earhart, who is making her historic solo Hawaii-to-California flight.[2]

April 1935 — On an expedition in Ceylon, Indy has a run-in with a Nazi SS colonel called Albrecht von Beck, and recovers an artifact known as the Heart of Koru Watu.[3]

Late April, 1935 — Indy is visited at Barnett College by two Chinese officials, Kai Ti Chan and his female assistant Mei Ying. They commission him to find the massive black pearl known as the “Heart of the Dragon,” located in the tomb of the first Chinese emperor. (Indy had been inside the tomb before — very briefly — in the spring of 1934.) The Heart is said to have immense power, and the Chinese government is worried it will be found by dangerous people. To navigate the tomb’s treacherous paths, Indy will need to assemble the “Mirror of Dreams,” the first piece of which is to be found inside the artifact he had just brought back from Ceylon.[3]


May 1935 — Indy travels to Prague Castle in Czechoslovakia to recover the second piece of the Mirror, and goes on to Istanbul for the third (outwitting von Beck and his Nazis at every turn.) Mei Ying approaches him in Istanbul, and informs him that Kai is a Triad crime lord in league with the Nazis. Indy and Mei Ying travel to Hong Kong to rendezvous with Indy’s associate Wu Han and infiltrate Kai’s stronghold. Before they can act, Mei Ying is abducted by von Beck and taken by submarine to Kai’s private East China Sea island. Indy and Wu Han tail them there on a junk, and overhear Kai and von Beck agree that Hitler can have the Heart once Kai has used it to take over China. Leaving Wu Han behind, Indy makes a dangerous trip through the bowels of Kai’s fortress, picking up an ancient weapon known as Pa Cheng (“Dragon’s Claw”). He frees Mei Ying, collects Wu Han, and the trio flees back to Shanghai. Indy and Mei Ying continue on the the tomb’s location near Xian. Using the Black Mirror, they navigate most of the way to the center of the massive tomb’s interior, but become separated. In a final attempt to kill Indy, von Beck appears driving a drilling machine straight at him. Vo Beck loses control and goes over the edge of a chasm and vanishes for good. Indy finally gets to the Heart, but the power it unleashes causes him to drop it. Kai shows up and is able to briefly harness the power, summoning a some of the emperor’s terra-cotta soldiers, and a massive dragon. With the help of Mei Ying and the Pa Cheng, Indy manages to turn the power of the Heart against Kai and destroy him.[3]

Late May 1935 — After abandoning the search for the Peacock’s Eye diamond back in 1919, Indy is offered the chance to finally possess it. In exchange for Indy recovering the cremated remains of Chinese emperor Nurhachi, Chinese millionaire (and organized crime boss) Lao Che will give him the diamond in payment.[4] Indy does not seem to be in any great hurry to get started, lingering in Hong Kong with Mei Ying before heading back to Shanghai.[3]

Early June 1935 — Indy and Wu Han recover the ashes of Nurhachi in an adventure that goes unrecorded. Indy also befriends a young Shanghai orphan boy, Short Round. Short Round, somewhere between 10 and 12 years old (no one is really sure) had attempted to pick his pocket, but Indy quickly became fond of him and promised to get him to the U.S.[5]

June 14, 1935 — On high alert, Indy goes to his pre-arranged meeting with Lao Che in aMV5BMTczMDM0NjY1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjMwNDczMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,669,1000_AL_ Shanghai nightclub. Wu Han is already there, disguised as a waiter. One of Lao’s sons, Kao, had attempted to steal the ashes the night before, and got a maimed hand for his efforts. The nightclub’s singer (and Lao’s mistress) Willie Scott joins them at the table. In a tense confrontation, Lao finally turns over the diamond when faced with Wu Han’s pistol — but he has poisoned Indy’s drink. Chaos erupts in the nightclub as Wu Han is shot and killed by Lao’s other son, Chen. Kao opens up with a submachine gun. The diamond is lost in the confusion, but Indy knows that Willie has the antidote to the poison. He grabs her and jumps out the window, their fall broken by several awnings. They land in a car driven Short Round, who gets them to the Shanghai airport after a brief street chase. They arrange transport on a Ford Tri-motor freight plane, unaware that the freight company is owned by Lao Che.[6]

indiana_jones_and_the_temple_of_doom_poster_by_leonrock84-d9mlnklJune 15, 1935 — The freight plane pilots, on orders from Lao Che, dump the plane’s fuel and bail out. Indy attempts to use his limited piloting skills, but when he discovers the fuel situation, realizes they must bail out, too — with no parachutes. They use an inflatable raft to slow their fall when they bail out at low altitude. They ride the raft down the snowy foothills of the Himalayas, and end up in a river passing an impoverished village in northern India. The village began suffering from extreme drought when its protective “Sankara stone” was stolen from its shrine — along with all the village children. The village’s holy man asks Indy (who he believes was sent from the sky by Shiva) to go to nearby Pankot Palace (believed by most to be abandoned) and retrieve the stone and the children.[6]

June 16, 1935 — Feeling obligated to help the people of the village, Indy, Willie and Short Round ride on elephants toward Pankot Palace.[6]

June 17, 1935 — After a day-and-a-half’s ride, the party arrives at Pankot Palace, which is not abandoned — in fact, it has been restored and seems to be thriving. It is presided over by a child maharajah, and his prime minister, Chatter Lal. At a banquet later that evening, Indy begins asking uncomfortable questions — Pankot was once at the center of an area terrorized by the bloodthirsty Thuggee cult. The maharajah and Lal deny that the Thuggee have been revived, and Lal brings up Indy’s own less-than-stellar reputation as a grave-robber, making a point that rumors can be damaging. Indy is also curious about the food at the banquet — a bizarre meat-based menu (eels, beetles, monkey brains) that no true Hindu would ever touch. Indy’s suspicions are further aroused when he is attacked in his room later that night. After dispatching his assailant, Indy discovers a secret door that leads to a massive underground temple. Indy, Willie, and Short Round observe a Thuggee human sacrifice ritual presided over by the high priest of Kali, Mola Ram. After the ceremony is over and the worshippers have exited, Indy attempts to get the three Sankara stones that are on the altar, but is captured along with his two companions.[5,6]


Indy, Willie Scott, and Short Round, 1935

June 18, 1935 — Short Round is put to work in with the abducted village children in the mines below the temple, digging for the two remaining Sankara stones. Indy is forced to drink a hallucinogenic brew that induces the “black sleep of Kali” and putting him into a zombie-like trance. Willie is set to be the next sacrifice. Short Round escapes the mines and awakens Indy from his trance by burning him with a torch. Indy grabs the three stones, rescues Willie, frees the children, and the three escape via a fast-running mine cart. Mola Ram orders all the mine tunnels flooded. Indy and company barely avoid the deluge, make it out a tunnel exit, and clamber up a cliffside to a rope bridge over a deep river gorge. They are quickly surrounded by Mola Ram and his Thuggees. Indy cuts through the bridge supports, the bridge snaps in two and slams into the cliff wall. Most of the Thuggees are dispatched, but Indy must still defeat Mola Ram as they dangle over the river. Mola Ram is ultimately sent plunging to his death, and Indy manages to save one of the stones from following him into the river. The British Army arrive to provide assistance.[6]

June 20, 1935 — Indy, Willie, Short Round, and the children return to the village.[6]

Late June, 1935 — Willie and Short Round return to the U.S. [7].

July – August, 1935 — Remaining in India, Indy’s curiosity is piqued when he finds some map fragments leading to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, a Bengalese temple buried under silt in a flood of the “Lost Delta” 2000 years ago. The map proves accurate, and Indy begins a large-scale excavation immediately. He brings in Sallah as a consultant and partner. Word soon leaks out that the temple offers all visitors either earthly riches, eternal youth, or visions of the future. The site is flooded with curiosity seekers…and is also running out of funding. Sallah decides to monetize the situation by offering motorized tours of the dig site for a fee. In the meantime, Indy had gone missing for a week, deep within the temple searching for the source of the temple’s power. He returned to the surface not long after rescuing one of the tour groups that had gone astray. The massive dig and profitable tours continued under Sallah’s supervision for an unknown time after Indy returns to the U.S.[8]

TombOfTheGods_TPB_finalMay 23, 1936 — Archaeologist Henrik Mellberg sends a letter requesting the assistance of Indy on a matter of grave importance. Five years earlier, Mellberg and two associates, Francis Beresford-Hope and Marwell O’Brien, discovered the key to the “Tomb of the Gods” in a remote Russian village north of the Arctic Circle. They divide the key into three pieces and each man takes one for safekeeping. O’Brien’s portion of the key has recently fallen into the hands of the Nazis (specifically, the “Ahnenerbe” — the “ancestral heritage” branch of the SS, supervised by Friedrich von Hassell). When Indy arrives at Mellberg’s Manhattan apartment, he finds the Nazis are already interrogating him. Mellberg is fatally shot as they make their escape, and his portion of the key ends up in the hands of mercenary treasure hunter Janice Le Roi. Indy and Marcus Brody agree that the third piece must be recovered as soon as possible.[9]

June 6, 1936 — Indy and Brody arrive in Lhasa, Tibet, the last known location of Beresford-Hope.[9]

June 10, 1936 — Beresford-Hope had died alcoholic and insane in a cave in Tibet, but Indy and Brody discover his son son, Alex, who is initially suspicious, fearing they may be Nazi agents. They escape an attack by Tibetan bandits with the help of pilot Jock Lindsey.[9]

June 12, 1936 — Indy, Brody, and Alex Beresford-Hope arrive in Shanghai. Alex turns over his father’s piece of the key, which has a map that can guide them to the tomb’s location in remote Siberia. Brody and Indy argue over what to do next, with Brody all for dynamiting the tomb to prevent whatever’s inside from getting released, and Indy driven by his curiosity to discover whatever’s inside actually is. Indy’s view wins out, and he and Alex plan to continue to without Brody.[9]

Mid-June, 1936 — After their ship stops in Japan, the final piece is taken from Indy by von Hassell and Le Roi. Von Hassell turns on Le Roi as well, cutting her arm to attract sharks, and setting her and Indy adrift in an oarless boat in the icy North Pacific, and keeping Alex as a hostage. They are rescued by a whaling ship who spotted the signal fire they had made out of articles of their clothing. Marcus Brody was also aboard the ship, trailing them in case he was needed. Grateful for Indy saving her life, Le Roi draws a map from what she remembers on the two key fragments.[9]

June 25-26, 1936 — The whaling ship arrives in Siberia in the vicinity of the Tomb. They race Von Hassell’s Ahnenerbe team on dogsleds, both sides tumbling into a crevasse opened by a lightning strike. After wandering through the caverns for some time, Indy and Le Roi find that von Hassell has discovered the door to the Tomb, and pressures Alex to open it. Alex refuses, and is immediately killed by von Hassell. Brody is ordered to open the door next, but suddenly three of Von Hassell’s men are possessed by the spirits of the tomb, and open fire with their machine guns. Indy overpowers the men and rescues Brody. Impatient, von Hassell opens the door himself. Inside is a vault with a seemingly bottomless pit. Unsure what monstrosity could or would emerge from that pit, Indy comes around to Brody’s viewpoint. He shoves von Hassell into the pit, lights some dynamite, and seals the door.[9]


August 1936 — With a crew of two Peruvian mercenary “guides,” Satipo and Barranca, and five native Quechua Indian bearers, Indy searches for a hidden temple in the jungles of Peru, where he hopes to find the golden Idol of the Chachapoyans. They are making their way through territory belonging to a tribe of hostile warriors, the Hovitos. Indy has half of a map, Satipo and Barranca the other. As they get closer to the temple, they are abandoned by their superstitious native bearers. Barranca attempts to take Indy’s half of the map, but is dealt with by bullwhip and flees into the jungle. Satipo meekly agrees to continue. They are following in the footsteps of another archaeologist (“a competitor” as Indy describes him), Forrestal, who never returned. Indy and Satipo enter the temple and quickly discover the decayed corpse of Forrestal, speared by one of the temple’s many security traps. They continue on, skirting the temple’s traps, until they come to the final room. Indy attempts to remove the idol without triggering anything, but fails, and the pair flee for their lives as a massive boulder is released to crush them. Satipo — afterattempting to take the idol for himself — is killed by the same trap that got Forrestal. Indy recovers the idol and exits the temple just as the massive boulder seals it shut. He is immediately confronted by a group of Hovitos, brandishing the body of Barranca, and holding Indy at spearpoint. They are in the service of Rene Belloq, who promptly takes the idol from Indy. Indy runs for his chartered seaplane, piloted by Jock Stewart, narrowly escaping the Hovitos’ spears and blow-darts. He gets out alive, but empty-handed.[10,1] Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 3 — The Young Archaeologist

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

June 1925 — The newly-minted “Professor Jones” gets his first job after graduating — teaching a summer course on Britain’s megalithic monuments at the University of London. 

He discovers he has a brilliant but difficult student, Deirdre Campbell, who is the daughter of his department head, Dr. Joanna Campbell.[1]

IndianaJonesAndTheDanceOfTheGiantsMid-August, 1925 — At the conclusion of his summer course, Indy is invited by Dr. Campbell to join her and Deirdre on an excavation of St. Ninian’s Cave on the southwest coast of Scotland to look for a golden scroll that proves the legend of Merlin the wizard had basis in historical fact. After a series of violent run-ins with unknown assailants, Indy, with the help of Deirdre and Jack Shannon, gradually uncovers a plot by a modern day druidic cult, the Hyperboreans. The leader of the Hyperboreans, Albert Powell (wealthy member of Parliament and, it turns out, Deirdre’s half-brother) plans on using the scroll in a ceremony to unleash the power of the Omphalos, which he recently arranged to have stolen from the museum in Chicago. The scroll is not at St. Ninian’s Cave, but they find a clue as to where it actually is — in an old convent near Stonehenge. Powell heads out to recover it, leaving Indy, Shannon, and the Campbells to die in the cave he has filled with toxic gas. Three of them escape, but Joanna Campbell succumbs. They actually find the scroll in the convent ahead of Powell, but are captured by him not long after, and discover that the midnight ceremony Powell is planning includes a human sacrifice in the form of Deirdre. It turns out the Omphalos that Powell stole is a replica, and the ceremony fails. Powell perishes by falling into a massive bonfire.

Under the pressure of these few weeks, Indy and Deirdre find themselves in a passionate romance.

In Scotland, Indy is presented by the townspeople with a Webley .455 revolver. In freeing Deirdre from the cult ceremony, Indy makes his first peacetime self-defense kill with the Webley, and it “sickens” him, but from this point on, he rarely ventures out on his expeditions without a handgun.[1]

Fall 1925 — Indy begins teaching full-time at University of London, mostly courses in Celtic archaeology. He admits it’s not his favorite area, and he struggles with the Celtic language despite his facility with other languages. (Perhaps it’s all too closely associated with his father’s Holy Grail obsession.) He spends his off hours rambling around the English countryside, for which he develops a deep affection.[2] It is around this time, in the New Forest, that Indy meets Gale Parker, an academic and adventurer, basically a female version of himself (except she can fly a plane.)[3]

January 1926 — Indy finds out he is not scheduled to teach any classes for the upcoming semester, but will instead assist on a major University of London expedition to Tikal, Guatemala.[4]

February 21, 1926 — Under the leadership of the new head of the archaeology department, Dr. Victor Bernard, the expedition begins moving from the coast to the Guatemalan interior. Deirdre Campbell, whose relationship with Indy has cooled in the aftermath of the previous summer, is also on the expedition.[4]

March 7, 1926 — After some exciting initial discoveries in a Mayan pyramid, the expedition is disrupted by graverobbers, and they are lucky to escape alive.[4]

March 8-14, 1926 — Indy receives treatment for a gunshot wound suffered in the robbery attempt (it wouldn’t be his last), and the failed expedition makes its way back to New York via train.[4]

Mid-March, 1926 — Indy, arm still in a sling, attends the opening night of Marcus Brody’s highly controversial National Museum exhibition displaying evidence that ancient Old World civilizations had been to the Americas long before Columbus. Brody shows Indy several pages from a journal written by his old friend, noted explorer Jack Fawcett, who has gone missing in the midst of searching for a lost city, Ceiba (popularly known as “El Dorado”), deep in the Amazon jungle. Fawcett believed it was inhabited by fair-skinned people of Celtic origin. Indy and Deirdre decide to go in search of Fawcett.[4]

Late March, 1926 — On the eight-day ocean voyage that takes them to Brazil, Indy and Deirdre rekindle their romance. As the ship arrives in the bay at Rio de Janeiro, Indy and Deirdre are married by the ship’s captain.

Various clues and encounters with practitioners of the mysterious Candomble religion indicate that Fawcett is being held captive as “breeding stock” in the lost city of Ceiba. The inhabitants of the city have the ability to “veil” — to become like shadows, effectively invisible. High-ranking members of their society (which does appear to have Celtic origins) also have the ability to veil the city itself from outsiders.[4]

Early April, 1926 — After days of traveling by seaplane and on foot deep into the Amazon IndianaJonesAndTheSevenVeilsjungle, Indy and Deidre are taken captive by Ceiba’s inhabitants. The veiling causes everyone in Ceiba to exist in a semi-dream state. While their fate is being decided in shared dream with the Ceiban High Council, their physical bodies are busy escaping, plunging off a cliff into the river below. Pursued by the Ceibans, Indy, Deidre, and Fawcett make it back to the lake with the plane. After taking off, they discover the fuel tanks have been drained by a hostile tribe, the Morcegos — the plane plunges into the jungle, killing Fawcett and Deirdre. Indy is rescued from the jungle after several days, suffering from multiple injuries and typhus. He has no memory of his time in Ceiba or the crash that killed his wife of only a few weeks.[4]

Summer 1926 — Indy is still grieving for Deirdre. At some point during time away from his university duties, he examines the work of the ancient American Mound Builders along the Missouri River.[5]

He also pays an extended visit to his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood in Chicago, perhaps assisting Abner in his work. During one of their discussions, Abner cautions Indy that in the overlapping areas of mythology, occult, and archaeology that they both specialize in, it is important to remain skeptical and rational in front others, no matter what one may witness with his own eyes. Under the circumstances, Indy is grateful to have to distraction of working with Abner, and basks in the hero worship Abner’s teenage daughter, Marion, lavishes on him. In a complete lapse of judgement, Indy seduces Marion. Abner finds out, and this leads to a permanent break in their friendship.[6]

January 1927 — Indy travels to a conference in Dublin to present a paper on Celtic influences in New England.[7]

May 1927 — Depressed over recent events, and still feeling that Celtic archaeology is a bad fit for him, Indy resigns from the University of London and returns to Chicago to investigate possible employment at his alma mater. He finds his old friend Jack Shannon running a jazz club, and reluctantly involved in the organized crime that comes with the territory.[8]

IndianaJonesAndTheGenesisDelugeJune 1927 — Jack Shannon, due to the pressures of his new lifestyle, has found religion and invites Indy to his church to hear a lecturer, Dr. Zobolotsky, who claims to have discovered Noah’s Ark, and is still in possession of a small piece of it. After the job possibility at the University of Chicago falls through, Indy finds himself agreeing to join Zobolotsky and his daughter, Katrina on an expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey to document the existence of the Ark. After Shannon’s brothers are murdered in a mob hit, he decides to go on the expedition as well.[7]

June 21, 1927 — Indy and Shannon leave Chicago by train to join the Zobolotsky expedition. They are trailed the whole time by Bolshevik agents, who feel that proving the Ark’s existence would undermine the anti-religion Bolshevik government.[7]

Early July, 1927 — The expedition arrives in Istanbul and heads for and heads for Mount Ararat.[7]

Mid-July, 1927 — Partway up the mountain, the two tailing Bolsheviks shoot and kill Zobolotsky, and are themselves killed by the local Kurds. Indy, Shannon, and Katrina continue up the mountain, and finds the Ark — and a bunch of Janissaries, a fanatical Turkish religious group who believe finding the Ark will trigger the apocalypse. Gunfire ensues, causing an avalanche which buries the Janissaries and the Ark, probably forever. [7]

August 1927 — Shannon and Katrina become engaged and head off to California. Indy is hired by a small, unnamed college in New England.[7]

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 2 — Risks and Rewards

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.


Early 1915 — Professor Henry Jones, Sr. returns to teaching at Princeton full-time, and Indiana completes his sophomore year of high school.

Indy, who as a youth never met an odd job he didn’t like, hires himself out as an errand boy for busy Princeton students.[1] Indy probably loathed asking his father for spending money, and liked to be out of the house as much as possible.

Summer 1915 — There is likely a round of summer school for Indy after missing his entire fall semester last year, and hopefully a trip to the New Mexico ranch he has grown attached to. His Uncle Fred and Aunt Grace provide the emotional stability his father does not, his similarly-aged cousin Fred, Jr. is one of his best friends, and ranch work agrees with him.

At some point this summer, Indy works shoveling coal at a train depot, either in Princeton or New Mexico. [2]

Autumn 1915 — Indy begins his junior year of high school. He gets a job as a soda jerk at the drugstore downtown. He also begins dating Nancy, the daughter of famous author Edward Stratemeyer, creator of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Stratemeyer bases a lot of Nancy Drew on his daughter, who is independent and intelligent and loves mysteries.[3]  

February 1916 — Indy begins spring training for his high school baseball team.[3,4]

SpringBreakAdventureLate February, 1916 —  Indy is desperate to borrow Mr. Stratemeyer’s electric Bugatti car to take Nancy to the prom, but it needs a new generator. Indy takes the generator to an acquaintance of his father’s at Edison Laboratories in West Orange, N.J. Important plans for a long-lasting, powerful battery are stolen (along with, accidentally, the Bugatti generator). At first, German spies are suspected, but Indy and Nancy discover that a big oil company is behind the theft.[3]

February 26, 1916 —  Indy and Nancy attend the prom in triumph, much to the consternation of Indy’s rival, Butch.[3]

March 5, 1916 — Indy arrives at the New Mexico ranch for his spring break, accompanied by his father.[3]

March 8, 1916 — Indy and Fred, Jr. leave for a camping trip, promising to be back in time for Indy’s departure for Princeton on Sunday the 12th. What they actually intend to do is hitch a ride to the border town of Columbus, N.M., and visit the brothels. They arrive to find Columbus seemingly abandoned, but really just anticipating a violent raid by Pancho Villa and his Mexican revolutionaries. Indy and Fred get caught in the crossfire when the raid actually happens. Fred escapes, but Indy is taken by Villa’s men.[3]

Mid – Late March, 1916 — Inspired by Villa’s dedication for fighting for “the people,” Indy 2004c800-6554-11e4-871e-1b62bfda1b3c_young-indiana-jones-chronicles-sean-patrickquickly goes from hostage to participant. He meets Remy Baudouin, a hedonistic and temperamental Belgian ship’s cook several years his senior, who had jumped ship and settled in Mexico. Remy joined Villa after the federales raided his cantina and killed his wife. Indy also notices that one of the people Villa is trading with for weapons looks vaguely familiar and speaks Arabic. After spending a few days with Villa and his men, and observing their tactics which include theft and looting, Indy decides the revolution is hurting the people as much as helping. Upon seeing newsreel footage of the ongoing Great War, Remy decides to return to his homeland and fight for Belgium. Indy agrees to join him, but before he can do that, he finally recognizes Villa’s arms dealer as Dimitrios, the man who stole the jewel from the Egyptian tomb back in 1908. Indy recovers the jewel and rides to meet up with Remy in Veracruz and find a ship going to Europe.[3]

Early April 1916 — On the ship steaming from Mexico to Ireland, Indy and Remy have hidden themselves as stowaways. They are found out and put to work in the engine room. Indy gets them back in the captain’s good graces by overhearing a German saboteur attempting to induce the Mexican crew to mutiny. He tips off the captain, but not before nearly being tossed overboard.[5]

Indiana the dog dies in Princeton of old age as Indy is on his way to Ireland.[6]


Remy Baudouin

April 1916  Upon arrival in Dublin, Indy and Remy go to work as barmen in the local pub to afford the remaining fare to London, where they intend to enlist with the Belgian army. Indy’s flirtation with a young Irish girl, Maggie Leamass, prolongs their stay as he keeps spending his money on outings with her rather than saving it. Her brother Sean, who gradually builds a friendship with Indy, is a militant Irish Republican.[7]

April 24, 1916 — Indy witnesses the Easter Rebellion, a failed attempt to end Britain’s rule of Ireland and establish a free Irish republic. Many of the people known to Indy from his work at the pub and friendship with Sean and Maggie Leamass are involved.[7]

May 13, 1916 — Indy and Remy leave for London as soon as the final executions of the Irish Rebellion ringleaders are complete. (They had stayed to offer the Leamasses moral support.)[7]

Mid-May, 1916 —  In London, Indy and Remy officially enlist in the Belgian Army. Indy gives his age as 22, and his name as “Henri Defense.” (Remy indicates they would have taken him no matter what.) While waiting to be called up for service, Indy begins a relationship with a well-educated, outspoken English suffragette, Vicky Prentiss.[7]

Late May, 1916 — Indy thinks enough of Vicky to invite her to Oxford to visit his old tutor, Helen Seymour. Miss Seymour does not approve of Indy’s recent life choices, and insists Indy write his father (who still thinks he is in Mexico) and update him. Miss Seymour invites Indy and Vicky to a dinner party with Winston Churchill, who has words with Vicky on the topic of votes for women. Back in London, Indy proposes marriage to Vicky, who declines. Indy and Remy’s call-up papers arrive, and they set off for the battlefield.[7]

June 1916 — “Henri Defense” and Remy are now privates in the 9th Belgian Infantry, and participate in basic training at Le Havre, France. During his downtime, Indy acquires an old soprano saxophone and teaches himself how to to play it.[8]


July – August 1916 — The 9th Belgian Infantry goes into combat in Flanders. Indy and Remy get their first taste of vicious trench warfare, seeing heavy action, witnessing the death of several comrades, and losing all of their company officers. Indy, at some point having been promoted to corporal, is in charge of the decimated unit when it is finally pulled from the front lines.[9]

Trenches_of_HellAugust 1916 — The much-reduced Belgian 9th are attached to the 14th French Infantry, and thrown into the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. Their first assault on the high ground ultimately fails in the face of heavy German machine guns, poison gas, and flamethrowers. The second assault (after a two-day break), initially succeeds, but they don’t have enough troops to hold the position, and the Germans counterattack. Remy is severely wounded, and Indy is taken prisoner. At the prison camp, he participates in a tunnel escape, which fails. Because he is caught wearing a coat with the ID of another soldier (a repeat escapee), Indy is sent to Dusterstadt, a fortress on an island in the Rhine River being used as a maximum security prison for “incorrigibles.” There he meets Charles De Gaulle, another incorrigible repeat escapee. They devise an escape plan (leaving the prison inside the coffins of two dead prisoners). DeGaulle is re-captured, but Indy makes it to freedom.[9]

September 1916 —  Indy has returned to the Belgian Army, and is now working as a f1fa00ce56d3ea54aeef369d8e02882c--indiana-jones-sean-patrick-flanerymotorcycle courier, taking messages from the trenches to the high command in their palatial estates far from the front lines near Verdun. He witnesses yet another failed frontal assault across no man’s land. The French generals are growing increasingly desperate. Indy, who speaks fluent German, volunteers for a dangerous mission — sneaking over to the German lines under cover of night, and eavesdropping to see what intelligence he can glean from conversations in the command bunker. He discovers that two massive railway howitzers (“Big Berthas”) are being brought to this position in advance of another French attack. When the French high command are informed of this, they fall to squabbling among themselves, ordering, cancelling, and re-ordering the attack. Indy finally “loses” the written orders in a staged motorcycle accident. He is sent back to the trenches, where he reunites with a recovered Remy.[10]

October 1916 — Indy and Remy are granted a two-week furlough in Paris. Indy stays with a colleague of his father’s and, out of politeness, is forced to attend a high society dinner party rather than carouse in the bars and brothels with Remy. There he meets the exotic dancer Mata Hari, and he begins a passionate affair with the older woman. They are clandestinely followed wherever they go. Indy struggles with the fact that she is obviously seeing other men. He is finally confronted by British and French authorities, and warned to stay away from her. His two-week furlough is cancelled. (Mata Hari is later revealed to be a spy for Germany, and is executed the following year.)[11]


Leading a charge on the African front

November 1916 — Indy and Remy are promoted to lieutenants and transferred to the African front. They get lost on their way to their new posting near Nairobi, and stumble onto an Allied camp in the middle of the savannah. They are the 25th Royal Fusiliers, made up mostly of older veteran soldiers, and they have been tasked with destroying a massive German railroad gun that seems to be able to disappear at will. Reconnaissance by Indy and the Fusiliers uncovers a tunnel hidden behind an artificial cliff face. After a complicated hijacking of the train, they succeed in their mission. The Fusiliers then agree to escort Indy and Remy to back their unit. They are captured and get taken to the German camp commanded by the legendary General Von Letow-Vorbeck. Indy and the Fusiliers manage to turn the tables on Von Letow-Vorbevk, and take him hostage. Indy, Remy, and their hostage accidentally take flight in a hot air balloon. After traveling many miles, the balloon crashes in the wilderness. They escape an encounter with hostile tribesmen, and facing a rapidly approaching German unit, Indy and Remy let their prisoner go in order to make a quick escape. They are soon picked up by the Fusiliers.[2]

PhantomTrainOfDoomLate November, 1916 — Back with his unit, Lt. “Defense” leads his mixed Belgian-African unit against an entrenched position under heavy fire. When Indy notices the enemy’s machine gun has jammed, he goes against Major Boucher’s withdrawal orders and continues the attack, which succeeds. Indy earns a promotion to captain, and the enmity of Major Boucher. Indy and the major are then ordered to lead a large expedition 2000 miles through the Congo region to retrieve a shipment of heavy machine guns that has foundered on the west coast of Africa, near Port Lopez. [11]

December 3, 1916 — The expedition across the Congo begins.[11]

Mid-December, 1916 — The trans-Congo expedition encounters a village wiped out by smallpox, except for one small boy, who seems healthy. Major Boucher orders the boy be left behind to die, but the company defies his orders.[11]

December 24, 1916 — Most of the company has perished from disease, and those that remain alive are very ill.[11] Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology Part 1 — Childhood

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.


Dr. Henry W. Jones and Anna Mary Jones, wedding day, 1898

July 1, 1899 — Henry Walton Jones, Jr. is born in Princeton, New Jersey, to Henry Walton Jones, Sr., a Scottish-born Oxford graduate and professor of medieval studies at Princeton University, and Anna Mary Jones, who comes from a respected Virginia family. [1,2] 


c.1900 — The Jones family acquires an Alaskan malamute dog, and names him Indiana. Young Henry Jr. is already demonstrating a penchant for risk-taking behavior. [1,3]

c.1901-1904 — At some point during this time, Henry and Anna Jones have a second child, a daughter Susie, who dies in infancy. [4]

Summer 1905 — Henry Jr. spends the first of many summers on his Uncle Fred and Aunt Grace’s ranch in New Mexico. [5]


1906 — Henry Jr. first sees a bullwhip in action at a traveling circus, and is fascinated by it. [6]

1906 – 1907 — By now insisting on being called “Indiana” or “Indy” out of his love for the family dog, Indy develops a restless streak. He is frequently getting into trouble or being truant from school. He becomes a baseball fan and passionate baseball card collector. He begins receiving tutoring in foreign languages, becoming conversant in French, German, and Spanish, at the insistence of his father, whose mantra is “language is the key to understanding mankind.” [1,4,7].

He continues to spend summers in New Mexico. [8]

1907 — Henry Jones, Sr. publishes a book on medieval chivalry that is a huge success. He is invited by universities and lecture halls around the world to come and speak. [1]


May 1908 — Henry and Anna Jones announce to Indy their plans for a two-year world tour, beginning that summer. Henry will be giving lectures, meeting foreign scholars and donors, and gathering various manuscripts and translations relating to the Holy Grail legend, which is his passion.[1]


Helen Seymour

Early July 1908 — The Jones family arrives in London just after Indy’s ninth birthday. Henry catches up with several of his Oxford friends, and engages the services of his former tutor Miss Helen Seymour (“the best there is”) to accompany them on the tour and provide tutoring for Indy. The now elderly Miss Seymour is initially resistant to the idea, saying she is used to tutoring university students, and is not a “governess,” but is ultimately convinced. On the tour, in lieu of fourth and fifth grades, Indy is expected to observe and record as much as he can, complete a lengthy reading list, write essays, and learn ancient Greek and Latin. [1,9]

Late July 1908 — After nine days’ sail from London, the Jones party arrives in Alexandria, and then travels to Cairo. Henry kicks off his lecture series at Cairo University, leaving Indy and Miss Seymour to their studies and explorations. While investigating the pyramids of Giza, they meet up with another former pupil of Miss Seymour’s, T.E. Lawrence, who invites them to observe famous archaeologist Howard Carter’s excavation of a tomb in the Valley of the Kings further down the Nile. The day after the tomb is opened, it becomes clear that a jewel has been stolen overnight from among the artifacts, and the man guarding the tomb’s entrance is killed. Investigation by Lawrence and Indy lead them to Dimitrios, the camp’s demolition expert, as the thief. Dimitrios manipulated the local crew’s superstition about a “mummy’s curse” to aid him in his theft. Despite Indy and Lawrence’s solving of the mystery, Dimitrios manages to escape with the jewel. [1]


It is in Egypt that Indy first expresses interest in being an archaeologist. Lawrence supports his ambition, but suggests studying languages to begin with. Indy is torn between archaeology (his true passion) and linguistics (a more practical skill, and a path supported by his father) for the next fourteen years. T.E. Lawrence becomes a close friend and frequent correspondent until his death in 1935. [1,10]


Indy and T.E. Lawrence

August 1908 — Indy and family leave Egypt for Morocco, where they will be staying with former Oxford classmate of Indy’s father, Walter Harris, a prominent journalist for the London Times. Indy befriends a household slave boy, and, taking a cue from Harris, disguises himself as an Arab to freely explore the city with his new friend. They are captured by slave traders and brought to the market, where they are rescued by the timely arrival of Harris, who buys their freedom, and Indy is returned to his family. [1]

September 1908 – May 1909 — The activities of the world-touring family group during this lengthy period is unknown, although it seems they remained in the North Africa/Middle East area. Indy may have actually buckled down and studied, as his facility with languages continues to grow. [11]

June 1909 — When the touring party visits Jerusalem, Indy meets another noted archaeologist, Abner Ravenwood of the University of Chicago, who is looking for clues to the location of the lost Ark of the Covenant around the Temple Mount. It is not known whether Ravenwood mentions having an infant daughter back in Chicago. [12, 13]

August 1909 — Indy, now ten years old, and family join up with the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition, led by former president Theodore Roosevelt, in British East Africa. Roosevelt professes himself a great admirer of Henry’s book on medieval armor. The expedition’s purpose is to gather specimens for the Smithsonian Institute, but they are having trouble finding a certain sub-species of oryx. Indy meets up with a young Maasai boy named Meto. As they learn to communicate with each other, Meto tells him where to find the onyx. Indy guides the expedition to where the onyx can now be found, but is disturbed by how many have to be killed to ensure a proper supply of specimens. [14,15]


Indy and Theodore Roosevelt

September 1909 — The touring party sail from Africa to Nice, in southern France, and from there by rail to Paris. Henry has full calendar of academic and social obligations, and Indy is supposed to stay busy studying and visiting museums, but he can’t help sneaking away and investigating slightly seedy artists’ cafes, where he interacts with Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso, who is beginning to experiment with cubism. [14]

November 1909 — Indy attends horse riding school while his family stays at the U.S. embassy in Vienna. At the school, he meets Princess Sophie of Austria and develops his first romantic feelings for her. They slip out from under their governess’ supervision to ice-skate. This nearly causes an international incident, and Indy is sternly reprimanded. He later tries to give her a snow globe, but is rebuffed at the gate by the palace guards. Indy and his parents attend a dinner thrown by the US ambassador to celebrate the “First Psychoanalytic Conference,” with Sigmund Freud, Karl Jung, and Alfred Adler as the guests of honor. Spurred by some of Indy’s remarks at the table, the three eminent psychiatrists get into a debate — and criticize the notion of romantic love as a human construct. But they agree that repressing one’s feelings is bad. Taking them at their word, Indy returns to the royal palace and is actually granted a brief audience with Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The duke patiently but firmly declines Indy’s offer to marry his daughter (when he is old enough), and denies him an opportunity to say good-bye, saying she is already in bed. After leaving, Indy sneaks back into the royal quarters, where he presents Princess Sophie with the snow globe, and she gives him a locket with her portrait. Indy wears the locket for many years thereafter. [2,16]

During a brief stay in Florence, Indy attends his first opera, La Bohemie, composed by Giacomo Puccini. Puccini dines with the Joneses and their host family after the performance, and is attracted to Indy’s mother. While Indy’s father is away for a week in Rome, Anna begins an intense flirtation with Puccini. She feels neglected by Henry, Sr., who is single-mindedly focused on his lectures. (He does not send a single letter when in Rome.) Puccini invites her to meet him at the train station and go away with him. She goes to the station…but only to walk by him and welcome her returning husband home instead. [2]

December 1909 — The touring party returns to Paris for a second visit. [2]


Henry Jones, Sr. c. 1910

Winter – Early Spring 1910 — The Jones party travels through Murmansk and St.Petersburg, Russia. After causing mayhem at a wedding held on a large Russian estate, Indy is rebuked more fiercely than he’s ever been before and banished to his room. He decides to run away, and as he is making his way through the Russian countryside, he encounters the elderly Leo Tolstoy, who has also run away from his materialistic and aristocratic family. After encountering a brutal round-up of gypsies by the Cossack military, Indy and Tolstoy decide to head further east, but Tolstoy’s health clearly is not up to it. They convince each other to return to their respective families. [17]

The family travels from Moscow to Greece. Anna Jones, fearing that Henry is too distant and distracted to spend as much time with Indy as he should, leaves them to have a weekend together. Henry teaches Indy about various schools of Greek philosophy, and a narrow escape from a damaged cliffside elevator at the “hanging monastery” of Kalabaka creates a bonding moment between Indy and the normally stern and reserved Henry. [17]

Spring 1910 — While in the city of Benares, along the Ganges River in India, the toruing party is lodged at the Hindu National College. There they encounter members of the Theosophical Society who are in the process of grooming a new “world teacher” — a young boy named Jiddu Krishnamurti. Miss Seymour, a typical Victorian Christian, is suspicious of the “free love/socialist” theosophists and their claims, but comes to realize that faith is faith. Indy gains a deeper understanding of philosophy and different approaches to religion. The family’s stay in India is a fairly lengthy one. [4]


Anna Jones, c. 1910

On the train trip from India to China, Anna Jones falls seriously ill, but has recovered by the time the touring party arrives in Peking. Henry is looking forward to meeting with a famous Chinese scholar (who has completed Chinese translations of the Grail legend). The rest of the group decide to explore the Chinese countryside with the help of their guide, Mr. Li. There is some concern about Anna’s health, but it’s Indy who comes down with typhoid fever in a remote Chinese village. With the nearest American doctor three days away, Anna reluctantly agrees to allow a local Chinese doctor to treat Indy with traditional methods. He recovers. [14] 

The Jones party also spends some time in Vietnam, where Indy picks up some of the Vietnamese language. [18]

June 1910 — The epic Jones world tour concludes in Australia, where Indy meets Harry Houdini and gets the opportunity to fly in an early airplane. [19] Continue reading

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