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Perhaps undisputedly the greatest action hero of all time, Indiana Jones has finally made it on to DVD, some fifteen years after the theatrical release of the first movie. Set in the 1930's, these films follow archeologist Indiana Jones as he attempts to track down the Lost Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the sacred Hindu Stones of Siva in Temple of Doom and the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade. This third film saw not only River but also Sean Connery joining the cast to make the third film by far the funniest of the three.
Besides a link to the official Indiana Jones web-site, and the usual 'Set Up' and 'Scene Selection' options, the three movie disks each contain just the movie, and nothing else. A chapter selection card is present in all the movie cases, with a picture of the movie front cover on one side and the chapters themselves on the other but as per the inexplicable custom with the other DVD's featured in this section, purchasers in DVD Region 4 will not find these cards in their box sets.
On a more general note, Indiana Jones fans will also be disappointed to learn that the included special features fall far short of what they might have hoped for, so there are no galleries, no story boards, no director/cast commentaries and no deleted scenes. The three films themselves however, have at least been digitally re-mastered and re-worked.
So, what about fans of River? Can they expect to find anything of notable worth in this huge box set?
There have been several documentaries about the Indiana Jones films over the years, all of varying quality, that have tried to explore the many aspects of what makes this particular movie franchise so popular. Surprisingly, and frustratingly, River's small but important contribution to the third movie is often overlooked, to the point where one particular video documentary, shown on the left, actually manages to create an entire hour-long documentary about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and yet not mention River even once! The question therefore was, would River be treated any better, and would his work be more appropriately acknowledged by this official DVD release?
Thankfully, the answer is yes. Previously unseen footage of River is becoming rarer and rarer now, so the inclusion of several minutes worth of new material here will be greatfully welcomed and received. Here, River talks of Indiana Jones' idiosyncrasies and how events that took place as a child shaped the man his character became. There are also a few seconds showing River learning to use a whip, while director Steven Spielberg looks on, observing the young actor's techniques.
"I felt close to it, I felt I could do it," describes River somewhat diplomatically given that he was warned by spineless studio executives never to express an interest in playing the role of Indiana Jones on a more permanent basis. "The movie has chosen to pick young Indy up at a certain point in his life," continues River, "where he experiences many different things which are very significant and forever change him. For instance, we see how he gets this phobia for snakes, and how he learns how to use a whip and he cracks that whip, and in the process of doing so he goes WALA-POO and the very end cuts him and there you have the scar!"
"I love River's work, especially when he was in Stand By Me," says Spielberg. "I think Harrison was the one that suggested River. He said to me, 'The guy that looks most like me when I was that age is this actor named River Phoenix.' I believe that's a Harrison Ford idea because he played Harrison's son on Mosquito Coast. I met River, thought he was great, and cast him."
Fans will also be pleased to learn that making Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a happy and enlightening experience for River. When talking about fellow actor Harrison Ford, whom River had previously starred alongside in The Mosquito Coast, he said, "I was interested in playing young Indy, and kind of had some insight on Harrison's 'way' about him, being that I worked with him on Mosquito Coast, and while doing Mosquito Coast I kept a close eye on Harrison and I noticed some of his traits and y'know, when he would turn around I would sometimes mimic him and get a few laughs.