Study Guide

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Foreignness and the Other

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Foreignness and the Other

[The guides encounter scary statues in the jungle and run away.]

For the viewers, everything in this movie so far has been foreign. We're in the 1930's. We were in a Shanghai nightclub. Now we're in the jungles of India. But when we see the way the native guide reacts to the statue in the jungle, we know we are entering territory that is foreign for the characters. And they're scared of it.

CHATTAR LAL: Captain Blumburtt and his troops are on a routine inspection tour. The British find it amusing to inspect us at their convenience.

India didn't achieve independence from Great Britain until 1947. During Temple of Doom, it was still a British colony. Lal's comments show us his distaste for being colonized—and who on earth can blame him?

CHATTAR LAL: The British worry so about their empire. Makes us all feel like well-cared-for children.

Here we have another barb from Chattar Lal toward the British. However, we will later learn he's a villain. Putting these lines in the mouths of a bad guy make it seem like only bad people would want independence from Great Britain.

BLUMBERTT: The Thuggee was an obscenity that worshipped Kali with human sacrifices. The British army nicely did away with them.

The word "thug," a word which is a loaded word for the "other" in modern society, comes from the Thuggee Cult, a group of brutish killers who performed thousands of sacrificial killings in the 1800's. That's one way to scare people from a foreign land – tell them that a dangerous cult is back.

INDY: The peasants there told us Pankot palace was growing powerful again because of some ancient evil.

CHATTAR LAL: Village stories, Dr. Jones. They're just fear and folklore.

Once again, the idea that Pankot Palace, and whatever is happening within its walls, is also foreign to Indiana Jones is reinforced.

DINNER GUEST: Chilled monkey brains.

The entire dinner scene is hilarious, as more and more grotesque food is brought out. But it's also rooted in a general fear of foreign cuisine.

INDY: It's a Thuggee ceremony. They're worshipping Kali. […] Nobody's seen this for a hundred years.

Well, except the people who are doing the worshipping. But since they're non-white, it doesn't seem Indiana Jones counts them. He's definitely an ethnocentrist. If a ritual happens in the jungle, and a white man isn't there to witness it, did it happen at all? Indiana Jones would say no.

WILLIE: I'm going home to Missouri where they never feed you snakes, before ripping your heart out and lowering you into hot pits! This is not my idea of a swell time!

Sweet home, Missouri. Wonder how Indians feel about such Missouri delicacies as the St. Paul sandwich?

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