trumpet of doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a 1984 period adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the second film in the Indiana Jones franchise, and prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). After arriving in India, Indiana Jones is asked by a desperate village to find a mystical stone. He agrees, stumbling upon a Kālī Thuggee religious cult plotting child slavery, black magic and ritual human sacrifice.

Producer and co-writer George Lucas decided to make the film a prequel as he did not want the Nazis to be the villains once more. The original idea was to set the film in China, with a hidden valley inhabited by dinosaurs. More cancelled plot devices included the Monkey King and a haunted castle in Scotland. Lucas then wrote a film treatment that resembled the final storyline of the film, with Lawrence Kasdan turning down the offer to write the script.

Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz wrote the script, while the filmmakers were denied permission to film in North India because the government found the script racist. Most of Temple of Doom was shot using sound stages at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. Harrison Ford suffered a severe spinal disc herniation during filming. Despite other problems, Spielberg finished principal photography on schedule. The film was originally released with mixed reviews, and helped spawn the creation of the PG-13 rating. Nonetheless Temple of Doom was a financial success and has received generally positive feedback since 1984.


Set in 1935, a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones narrowly escapes the clutches of a Shanghai crime boss. At the nearby Nang Tao airport, with nightclub singer Willie Scott and his ten-year-old sidekick Short Round, Indiana escapes Shanghai. En route to India, their plane crashes in the mountains. After a dangerous ride down the Himalayan mountains and a raging river, the trio eventually come to a desolate village in India. The poor villagers enlist their help in retrieving a sacred Shiva lingam stone, as well as the community's kidnapped children from the evil forces of nearby Pankot Palace. During the journey to Pankot, Indy hypothesizes that the stone may be one of the fabled Adi Shankara Stones.

The residents at Pankot Palace are insulted by Indiana's questions about the villagers' claims. Later that night Indy is attacked in his room by a would-be assassin, which leads him, Willie and Short Round discover an underground temple beneath Pankot. They find a Kālī Thuggee religious cult plotting child slavery, black magic, and ritual human sacrifice. Thuggee have enslaved the village's children to dig for two last stones within the mines of the palace. Mola Ram, the cult's villainous high priest, hopes to use the power of five united stones to rule the world. The protagonists witness ritual in which Mola Ram bare-handedly digs a man's heart out of his chest. The man survives, his heart beating in Mola Ram's hand, until he is lowered slowly into a lava pit, causing the beating heart to burst into flame.

Indy, Willie, and Short Round are captured by the Thuggee and separated. Indy is forced to drink the "Blood of Kali", a mind-control potion which puts him into a trance called the "Black Sleep of Kali Ma," and begins to serve Mola Ram. Willie is kept as a human sacrifice, while Short Round is put in the mines alongside the village children as a slave laborer. Short Round frees himself and escapes back into the temple, where Willie is about to be sacrificed to Kali. He burns Indy with a torch, shocking him out of the trance. Although Mola Ram escapes through a trap door, Indy and Short Round manage to save Willie, take the three Sankara Stones, and free the village children. In the fight to escape the palace, the three jump into a mine cart and are closely pursued by two Thuggee-filled carts.

The climax leads to Indy, Willie and Short Round on a narrow ledge of a canyon. They try to cross a rope bridge, but become boxed in with Mola Ram and the Thuggee from both ends. Indy prepares his friends to brace themselves. He uses a machete to cut the bridge in half, sending Mola Ram and many of the Thuggee plummeting into the crocodile-infested river where they are eaten, while Blumburtt and his Indian riflemen help defeat Thuggee reinforcements. Indy, Willie, and Short Round return to the village with their sacred stone and the missing children.


  • Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones: An archaeologist adventurer who is asked by a desperate Indian village to retrieve a mysterious stone. Ford undertook a strict physical exercise regime headed by Jake Steinfeld to gain more muscular tone for the part.
  • Kate Capshaw as Wilhelmina "Willie" Scott: An American nightclub singer working in Shanghai. Willie is unprepared for her adventure with Indy and Short Round, and appears to be a damsel in distress. She also forms a romantic relationship with Indy. Over 120 actresses auditioned for the role, including Sharon Stone. Capshaw watched The African Queen and A Guy Named Joe for inspiration. Spielberg wanted Willie to be a complete contrast to Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark, so Capshaw dyed her brown hair blonde for the part. Costume designer Anthony Powell wanted the character to have red hair.
  • Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round: Indiana's ten-year old Chinese sidekick, who drives the taxi which allows Indiana to escape during the opening sequence. Quan was chosen as part of a casting call in Los Angeles, California. Around 6000 actors auditioned worldwide for the part: Quan was cast after his brother auditioned for the role. Spielberg liked his personality, so he and Ford improvised the scene where Short Round accuses Indiana of cheating during a card game. He was credited by his birthname, Ke Huy Quan.
  • Amrish Puri as Mola Ram: A demonic Thuggee priest who performs rituals of human sacrifices. The character is named after a 17th century Indian painter. Lucas wanted Mola Ram to be terrifying, so the screenwriters added elements of Aztec and Hawaiian human sacrificers, and European devil worship to the character. To create his headdress, make-up artist Tom Smith based the skull on a cow, and used a latex shrunken head.
  • Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal: An aristocrat living in Pankot Palace. Chattar is enchanted by Indy, Willie and Short Round's arrival, but becomes dubious of Indy's questioning of the palace's history and the archaeologist's own dubious past.
  • Philip Stone as Captain Phillip Blumburtt: A Captain in the British Army called to Pankot Palace for "exercises". Alongside a group of Indian riflemen, Blumburtt assists Indiana towards the end of fighting off Thuggee reinforcements.
  • Roy Chiao as Lao Che: A Shanghai crime boss.
  • David Yip as Wu Han: A friend of Indiana. He is killed by one of Lao Che's henchman.

Stunt actor Pat Roach has three cameo appearances. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Dan Aykroyd cameo at the airport scene.



When George Lucas first approached Steven Spielberg for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg recalled, "George said if I directed the first one then I would have to direct a trilogy. He had three stories in mind. It turned out George did not have three stories in mind and we had to make up subsequent stories." Spielberg and Lucas attributed the film's tone, which was darker than Raiders of the Lost Ark, to their personal moods following the breakups of their relationships (Spielberg with Amy Irving, Lucas with Marcia). In addition Lucas felt "it had to have been a dark film. The way Empire Strikes Back was the dark second act of the Star Wars trilogy."

Lucas made the film a prequel as he did not want the Nazis to be the villains once more. Spielberg originally wanted to bring Marion Ravenwood back, with Abner Ravenwood being considered as a possible character. Lucas created an opening chase scene that had Indiana Jones on a motorcycle on the Great Wall of China. In addition Indiana discovered a "Lost World pastiche with a hidden valley inhabited by dinosaurs". China authorities refused to house filming, and Lucas considered the Monkey King as the plot device. Lucas wrote a film treatment that included a haunted castle in Scotland, but Spielberg felt it was too similar to Poltergeist. The haunted castle in Scotland slowly transformed into a demonic temple in India.

Lucas came up with ideas that involved a religious cult devoted to child slavery, black magic and ritual human sacrifice. Lawrence Kasdan of Raiders of the Lost Ark was asked to write the script. Kasdan reflected, "I didn't want to be associated with Temple of Doom. I just thought it was horrible. It's so mean. There's nothing pleasant about it. I think Temple of Doom represents a chaotic period in both their [Lucas and Spielberg] lives, and the movie is very ugly and mean-spirited." Lucas hired Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz to write the script because of their knowledge of Indian Culture. Gunga Din served as an influence for the film.

Huyck and Katz spent four days at Skywalker Ranch for story discussions with Lucas and Spielberg in early-1982. Lucas's initial idea for Indiana's sidekick was a virginal young princess, but Huyck, Katz and Spielberg disliked the idea. Just as Indiana Jones was named after Lucas's Alaskan Malamute, Willie was named after Spielberg's Cocker Spaniel, and Short Round was named after Huyck's dog, which itself derives the film The Steel Helmet. Lucas handed Huyck and Katz a 20-page treatment in May 1982 titled Indiana Jones and the Temple of Death to adapt into a screenplay. Scenes such as the fight scene in Shanghai, escape from the airplane and the mine cart chase came from original scripts of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Lucas, Huyck and Katz had been developing Radioland Murders (1994) since the early 1970s. The opening music number was taken from that script and applied to Temple of Doom. Spielberg reflected, "George's idea was to start the movie with a musical number. He wanted to do a Busby Berkeley dance number. At all our story meetings he would say, 'Hey, Steven, you always said you wanted to shoot musicals.' I thought, 'Yeah, that could be fun.'" The first draft was delivered in early-August 1982 with a second draft in September. Captain Blumburtt, Chattar Lai and the boy Maharaja originally had more crucial roles. A dogfight was deleted, while those who drank the Kālī blood turned into zombies with physical superhuman abilities. During pre-production the Temple of Death title was replaced with Temple of Doom. From March—April 1983 Huyck and Katz simultaneously performed rewrites for a final shooting script.


The filmmakers were denied permission to film in North India and Amber Fort because the government found the script racist. The government demanded script changes and final cut privilege. As a result, location work went to Kandy, Sri Lanka, with matte paintings and scale models applied for the village, temple, and Pankot Palace. Budgetary inflation caused Temple of Doom to cost $28.17 million, $8 million more than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Principal photography began on April 18, 1983 in Kandy, and moved to Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England on May 5. Producer Frank Marshall recalled, "when filming the bug scenes, crew members would go home and find bugs in their hair, clothes and shoes." Eight out of the nine sound stages at Elstree housed the filming of Temple of Doom. Lucas biographer Marcus Hearn observed, "Douglas Slocombe's skillful lighting helped disguise the fact that about 80 percent of the film was shot with sound stages."

Danny Daniels choreographed the opening music number "Anything Goes". Capshaw learned to sing in Standard Mandarin and took tap dance lessons. However, when wearing her dress, which was too tight, Capshaw was not able to tap dance. One of her red dresses was eaten by an elephant during filming; a second was made by costume designer Anthony Powell. Production designer Norman Reynolds could not return for Temple of Doom because of his commitment to Return of the Jedi. Elliot Scott (Labyrinth, Who Framed Roger Rabbit), Reynolds' mentor, was hired. To build the rope bridge the filmmakers found a group of British engineers working on the nearby Balfour Beatty dam. Harrison Ford suffered a severe spinal disc herniation riding elephants. A hospital bed was brought on set for Ford to rest between takes. Lucas stated, "He could barely stand up, yet he was there every day so shooting would not stop. He was in comprehensible pain, but he was still trying to make it happen." With no alternatives, Lucas shut down production while Ford was flown to Centinela Hospital on June 21 for recovery. Stunt double Vic Armstrong spent five weeks as a stand-in for various shots. Wendy Leach, Armstrong's wife, served as Capshaw's stunt double.

Macau was used to double for Shanghai, while cinematographer Douglas Slocombe caught fever through June 24—July 7 and could not work. Ford returned on August 8. Despite the problems during filming, Spielberg was able to complete Temple of Doom on schedule and on budget, finishing on principal photography on August 26. Various pick-ups took place afterwards. This included Snake River Canyon in Idaho, Mammoth Mountain, Tuolumne and American River, Yosemite National Park, San Joaquin Valley, Hamilton Air Force Base and Arizona. Producer Frank Marshall directed a second unit in Florida in January 1984, using alligators to double as crocodiles. The mine chase was a combination of a roller coaster and scale models with dolls doubling for the actors. Minor stop motion was also used for the sequence. Visual effects supervisors Dennis Muren, Joe Johnston and a crew at Industrial Light & Magic provided the visual effects work, while Skywalker Sound, headed by Ben Burtt, commissioned the sound design. Burtt recorded roller coasters at Anaheim Disneyland Park for the mine cart scene.


"After I showed the film to George [Lucas], at an hour and 55 minutes, we looked at each other," Spielberg remembered. "The first thing that we said was, 'Too fast'. We needed to decelerate the action. I did a few more matte shots to slow it down. We made it a little bit slower, by putting breathing room back in so there'd be a two-hour oxygen supply for the audience." Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released on May 23, 1984 in America, accumulating a record-breaking $45.7 million in its first week. The film went on to gross $180 million in North America and $153.11 million in foreign countries, totaling $333.11 million. Temple of Doom had the highest opening weekend of 1984, and was the third highest grossing film in North America of that year, behind Beverly Hills Cop and Ghostbusters. It was also the tenth highest grossing film of all time during its release.

LucasArts and Atari Games promoted the film by releasing an arcade game. Hasbro will release a toy line based on the film in September 2008.


The film received mixed reviews at the time of its release. Based on 58 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 84% of the critics enjoyed the film, with an average score of 7.2/10 for each review. Roger Ebert called Temple of Doom "the most cheerfully exciting, bizarre, goofy, romantic adventure movie since Raiders, and it is high praise to say that it's not so much a sequel as an equal. It's quite an experience. You stagger out with a silly grin, and a bruised forearm of course. Vincent Canby felt the film was "too shapeless to be the fun that Raiders is, but shape may be beside the point. Old-time, 15-part movie serials didn't have shape. They just went on and on and on, which is what Temple of Doom does with humor and technical invention. Colin Covert of the Star Tribune called the film "sillier, darkly violent and a bit dumbed down, but still great fun.

Dave Kehr gave a largely negative review. "The film betrays no human impulse higher than that of a ten-year-old boy trying to gross out his baby sister by dangling a dead worm in her face. Ralph Novak of People complained "The ads that say 'this film may be too intense for younger children' are fraudulent. No parent should allow a young child to see this traumatizing movie; it would be a cinematic form of child abuse. Even Harrison Ford is required to slap Quan and abuse Capshaw. There are no heroes connected with the film, only two villains; their names are Steven Spielberg and George Lucas."

The film's depiction of Hindus caused some controversy in India, and brought it to the attention of the country's censors who placed a temporary ban on it. Yvette Rosser has criticized the film for contributing to racist stereotypes of Indians in Western Society, writing "[it] seems to have been taken as a valid portrayal of India by many teachers, since a large number of students surveyed complained that teachers referred to the eating of monkey brains.


Dennis Muren and the visual effects department at Industrial Light & Magic won the Academy Award for Visual Effects at the 57th Academy Awards. John Williams was nominated for Original Music Score. The visual effects crew won the same category at the 38th British Academy Film Awards. Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, editor Michael Kahn, Ben Burtt and other sound designers as Skywalker Sound received nominations. Spielberg, the writers, Harrison Ford, Jonathan Ke Quan, Anthony Powell and makeup designer Tom Smith were nominated for their work at the Saturn Awards. Temple of Doom was nominated for Best Fantasy Film but lost to Ghostbusters.

Alongside Gremlins, Temple of Doom inspired the Motion Picture Association of America to create the PG-13 rating. "I wasn't happy with Temple of Doom at all," Spielberg said in 1989. "It was too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific. I thought it out-poltered Poltergeist. There's not an ounce of my own personal feeling in Temple of Doom." Capshaw called her character "not much more than a dumb screaming blonde." Capshaw, who is a feminist, was annoyed by the criticism she received of her portrayal. "Temple of Doom is my least favorite of the trilogy," Spielberg stated. "I look back and I say, 'Well the greatest thing that I got out of that was I met Kate Capshaw. We married years later and that to me was the reason I was fated to make Temple of Doom."


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