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Headscratchers / Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

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  • Can someone please explain why, during the mine cart chase, Indy knocks down a hanging lantern and the camera even cuts away from the action to show a shot of the lantern falling to the ground and breaking while the flame from it flickers? This lantern is never shown again, nor is its presence and/or the focus on it explained. In a movie with very deliberate shots and expert cinematography/editing, this has always stood out to me ever since I was a teenager. The best I can figure is it's some vague allusion to the impending danger of WATER — i.e., a fake-out of sorts, as the shot gives the impression that the fire might spread.
    • I think the shot was intended to reference the knife that the Thuggee attacking him with was dropped: it's a quick shot, but you can see it under the lantern.
  • Speaking of the mine cart chase, who builds their mine cart tracks like a roller coaster ride?
    • Villains in a Steven Spielberg movie, apparently.
  • So, why didn't Mola Ram pull Willie's heart out of her chest anyway? Is it an every-fifth-person-we-pull-the-heart-out-of thing? Do they not do that to female sacrifices? (Of course, it's simply too easy to joke that it's because she doesn't have a heart, but seriously.)
    • My interpretation is that Mola Ram never actually pulled anybody's heart out of anybody's body —It was all mass suggestion. Mass hypnosis, if you want to call it that. During the first sacrifice, we are shown what those present think they are seeing. During the second (attempted) sacrifice, we see what really happens (Mola Ram doing as if he is holding aloft a beating heart, when in fact he isn't). At the end of the movie, I interpret what Mola Ram tries to do to Indy on the remains of the rope bridge as an attempt at suggestion, perhaps inducing a heart attack or something.
      • I think that theory's pretty strongly tested by the fact that Mola Ram thinks he can tear Indy's heart out on the bridge scene at the end and Indy's legitimately worried about it to the point where he's taking Short Round's advice to cover up his heart. How do you explain that?
      • I don't know. A mass hallucination makes sense, considering the cultists are drugged and brainwashed and the whole sequence is nonsensical... except Indy and co. also witness it, are appropriately horrified by the heart-ripping, and they're not brainwashed. There's really no reason to believe Indy would see a beating heart unless there really was one.
      • And no reason for Mola Ram to try the same trick on Indy when they were hanging over the river, if it was just an illusion. Trying to physically pull him off the bridge would've been more effective that using a scare-tactic on a man who'd just had the balls to cut the bridge he, himself, was standing on.
      • Perhaps to induce a heart attack to make him fall?
      • Indy has just come out of a prolonged period of drug-induced brainwashing at that point. He might be more susceptible to suggestion and inclined to believe the illusion at that point.
      • He's also recently experienced what it's like to be on the wrong end of a fucking voodoo doll. At this point, he was taking no chances.
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    • James Kahn's excellent novelization of Temple Of Doom says that Mola Ram was just messing with Willie's head in that scene (I guess just to torture her further before the actual sacrifice).
    • Possibly they only removed the hearts of people who were believers in the Hindu faith? A non-believer's heart might not be considered worthy to be offered up separately, and the man that Mola Ram did play Beat Still, My Heart with was praying to Shiva during the sacrifice.
    • Also worth considering is that the followers (and possibly the victim) were all drugged with opiates and hallucinagenics, so if we're seeing it from their perspective, they may think Mola Ram ripped out his heart.
      • The way I see it, the reason Team Indy saw the heart ripping, there were drugs in the air makng them see it. And besides, the whole heart ripping things makes no sense, Mola Ram would have to break through the victim's ribcage, ribs aren't exactly easy to break through.
      • I think you are forgetting that the films have all sorts of supernatural things going on.
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    • I always thought it was because Willie wasn't a sacrifice; she was being killed for expediency. Chattar Lal says to Indy, "Your friend has seen, and she has heard. Now she will not talk." So, they're putting her in the pit to keep her from telling anyone about what she saw - and they won't even need to hide the body, the lava gets rid of all the evidence.
    • Well, the real reason is because if Mola Ram ripped her heart out, there'd be no last-minute rescuing her, unless Indy gets the heart back from Mola Ram then takes a crash course in Psychic Surgery to put it back (also probably because it would be a lot trickier to show a female getting her heart pulled out of her chest than a male). As for an in-universe reason. . . they hadn't done up the last shackle on their cute little sacrificial rig yet, and Willie did have her hand over her chest, though I find it hard to believe that would be an insurmountable obstacle. It was probably a sort of ultimate test for Indy. . . if he not only goes along with the sacrifice, but actively participates, then they know they've got him. And making him most directly responsible for Willie's death by doing the last locks holding her in the rig accomplishes that.

  • Why didn't Indy have a panic attack when "snake surprise" was being served?
    • I got the impression that he was so busy chatting with the others at the table that he didn't notice any of the Foreign Queasine.
      • Another possibility is his fear of snakes is prevalent only in his "action" mode. During the Temple of Doom dinner scene, Indy was in full "academic/teacher" mode. In Last Crusade, when young Indy was being chased, he fell into a crate full of snakes, and he was freaking out, as opposed to brushing off a snake before being chased.
      • I thought the whole point of the snake-crate was to show the origin of Indy's phobia. He brushed off the snake (and even said "it's just a snake") because it preceded the traumatic, phobia-inducing event.
    • The python that was served as "snake surprise" was quite obviously dead, hence wouldn't intimidate Indy, who isn't even freaked out by human corpses. The squirmy live critters inside it were eels, not snakes.
      • Which proves the writers Did Not Do The Research, as uncooked eel blood is poisonous to humans and other mammals.
    • What are Indy and Blumburt supposed to be eating at the dinner scene anyway? We never see them eating.
      • When Blumburt flicks an eel away, there's some kind of food on his plate, but I can't tell what it is. Nothing like bugs and monkey brains, though - it looks like regular food.
    • He's afraid of live snakes that can bite and poison and squeeze him to death, not obviously dead snakes that have been cooked.

  • The man Indiana is talking with about the airplane arrangements in the beginning of the film. What is it with him sounding like c3po and enunciating every word in a deliberately obnoxious manner and nasal voice? "as You Will Be Riding On A Car-go-plane-full-of-live Poultry". Really now? If it's supposed to be an accent I am at a complete loss as to which one, and why such an irritating one was chosen.
    • Um, it's obviously supposed to be a humorously exaggerated British accent. What's not to get?
    • Plus he's played by Dan Aykroyd, so it Rule of Fun applies...
      • Or bad acting.
    • Whenever British people appeared in the 1930s American pulp films that the Indiana Jones movies homage, they tended to talk in that exaggeratedly posh "Terry-Thomas" style. It's probably a homage to that.

  • At the beginning of the film, Indy spends a good portion of the club scene desperately looking for the antidote to his poisoned drink. Willie, spotting the antidote, does the most helpful thing by sliding it down the front of her dress, and is angry when he reaches in and grabs it in the car. Did she mistake it for the diamond from the club scene, or was she actively trying to kill him?
    • I think her being angry was just on the principle of a guy she barely knows—and who had threatened her earlier—reaching into her dress. She was probably planning to just give him the antidote—possibly in return for something, who knows—but wasn't expecting him to basically molest her to get it.
      • She sings at a club frequented by gangsters. Many of the men she's met there probably would have copped a feel along with the antidote, and possibly done worse than that after they'd chugged it. Of course it freaked her out!
    • She was probably planning to use it as a bargaining chip. "Give me the diamond, I give you the antidote." And she just forgot that she had it when things really went to Hell.

  • Why did Willie get on the plane with Indy and Short Round?
    • It never exactly came up in dialogue, but she was really just dragged along without resistance once things turned bad at the club. Note that she's not in any way an Action Girl like Marion; she's a total diva, and would need someone streetwise and tough like Indy to protect her from the gangsters. If they weren't intending to kill Willie, she probably thought they were, and in any event they were so reckless and trigger-happy she probably figured running away with Jones was the safest option. The whole group made things up as they went once the deal went sour; no time to think or plan ahead, just roll.
    • Because Indy had ordered three airline tickets: for himself, Short Round, and Wu Han. Even though Wu Han died, Indy's not going to waste that third seat, dammit!
    • Indy may not have wanted to leave her behind, knowing she'd blab to their pursuers about where he was going.
      • He might also be afraid of what Lao Che would do to her if she was left behind. He might kill her just to work out his frustrations.
      • Or to punish her for having chased after the diamond, which Lao certainly considered his property.
    • Considering she complains about everything else, why doesn't Willie accuse Dr. Jones of kidnapping her? She isn't exactly the most situationally aware woman, especially at the beginning of the movie, and she WAS just pulled out of a car and basically dumped onto a plane by two people she doesn't know for reasons they probably aren't even sure of. How is she not more upset about this?

  • If the movie is supposed to be set before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark did it never occur to the writers that it messed up continuity? Where are Willie and Short Round after this movie? Why did Indy scoff at the suggestion of magic at the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark when he has clear evidence of its existence in this movie?
    • Lucas and Spielberg were influenced by James Bond when they created the Indiana Jones series and it's inferred Bond and his love interest break off the romance between each movie. In Indiana Jones IV gives some meat to this issue by having Indy marry one of his leading ladies. Short Round might have just grown up.
    • They really should've set this film after Raiders. After all, they didn't bother explaining Marion's absence in Last Crusade.
    • Some fans do prefer to think of this as a sequel, and the date subtitle at the beginning is merely a "continuity error".
    • Who's to say Indy doesn't have a girl in every port?
    • I've always thought that Indy's skepticism of magic and the occult is a facade, something he adopts so that people won't think him a flake. (He does the same thing early in Last Crusade, which takes place after both Raiders and Temple.) Secretly he knows better, but he thinks it safer to pretend otherwise. Besides, just because one supernatural thing turns out to be true doesn't mean every such claim is valid.
    • Willie and Indy just kissed at the end because they had that special experience together. It seems unlikely they're compatible in a longer term relationship. She's very squeamish about adventuring
    • About the first question; where same can be ask about The Last Crusade, he clearly changes love interest from one movie to another and he probably can't just go around with an orphan boy everywhere he goes (I'm pretty sure he at least had to sign some papers) and for the second question Scully Syndrome.
  • Why did Willie go with Indy and Short Round to the palace? I understand how they all ended up in the river on that raft but I don't think they ever made it clear to her that they were her ticket back to Delhi.
    • Vanity and greed. Willie was overjoyed with the idea of visiting a maharajah's palace and it only went up when she was told that the maharajah was single.

  • Where exactly did the archers come from and is there any possible explanation for them missing so many shots. Archery's not that hard.
    • They were there the whole time, and yes, archery is hard, especially at the range they were firing. Given the range and rate, they're lucky they even got that close.
  • Soon after the kids are released, we see them streaming out of the palace. How did they bypass the lava moat as well as the death traps that nearly snared Willie, Indy, and Short Round?
    • The novelization and deleted scenes explain how the kids get by the lava pit; Indy sets up a couple of long wooden planks as a makeshift bridge that the slave children use to cross the chasm, but before Indy, Willie and Shorty can cross, heat from the pit causes the planks to catch fire and fall apart. It's not too unreasonable to assume that the children were able to find another route out of the palace, avoiding the traps.

  • How exactly do the Shankara Stones work? Do they need to be "activated" by a mortal before they can function? Indy tells Mola Ram that he's betrayed Shiva after claiming the Stones for himself, and then the Stones promptly burn his flesh. Why then and there? Why not previously? What with him being the leader of a brutal cult that's twisted the valid worship of a God into something monstrous, it kind of seems like Mola Ram betrayed Shiva way before that.

  • What exactly is the Thugee plan in sending an assassin to Indy's room? Were they going to Make It Look Like an Accident to fool Colonel Blubmert? Why only one assassin, with no back up? And did no one check up to see if he had done the job? Indy and co. seem to have plenty of time to wander off exploring secret passages without being missed.
    • It's also convenient that the assassin used strangulation as his method. He caught Indy completely by surprise. A simple stab with a knife would've done the trick. There's a lot of potential for failure in trying to strangle a big muscular man.

  • What puzzles me is this Black Blood stuff. How does drinking a substance convert someone to a religion?
    • It doesn't. It's some kind of magical brainwashing drug.

  • Wow, nice dance number there, but if it took place in a massive auditorium behind the club's stage, and there was no way to televise it back in 1935, who in the club was even able to watch the performance?
    • It might be Willie's Imagine Spot. This is actually suggested in James Kahn's novelization.
    • Or just a joke (at the fourth wall's expense) about how they used to shoot extra material (or use recycled material from earlier films) and splice it into movies to make them longer. The obvious break and different quality in video would play into that sort of meta-humor. Remember that these films are send-ups of old pulp serials.
    • Or a more mundane explanation, there's a movie screen in there and they basically cut to a much bigger pre-filmed dance number that was being projected on the screen.
      • In colour in 1935?
      • Kinemacolor was invented in 1908 and Technicolor was invented in 1916. So yeah, maybe.
      • That Willie interacts with?
  • Lao-Che, Lao-Che... after you brilliantly got Indy to drink poison, why tell him? If you'd just kept him talking for a few minutes you could have simply taken the diamond off his corpse.
    • He would have, but he caught the Villain Ball offscreen and decided that simply letting the poison do its thing wouldn't be diabolical enough.
    • Also, Indy embarrassed the family by injuring and nearly killing Kao Kan the previous night, which probably left them furious. Lao doesn't just want keep the diamond, he wants to pay back Indy by beating him, making sure he knows he beat him, and gloating about it to his face. Doesn't end well for him, of course.
  • As annoying as Willie's constant shrieking can get, remember that she's just an average woman who until recently was living a very pampered life caught up in what at many times is an utterly terrifying situation, and suddenly her reactions are a lot more understandable.


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