Aug 30, 2010

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Library Scene

image credit: © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM

I was at Pier 1 in Brooklyn for their summer night outdoor showing of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. You know, the one with Sean Connery as Daddy Jones and Harrison Ford as Junior? This 1989 installment has it perks: we get to meet the knight who guards the vestibule of the holy grail (kinda of like the wandering jew, but not) and we get to see the beautiful walled city of Petra in current day Jordan. Well, amidst the hijinks and Holy Grail seriousness, not at all like Monty Python, there is a brief moment of library silliness that I should add to my post, Libraries and Librarians in Film. 

The scene spoofs two hallowed librarian stereotypes: silence and stamping books - as if that is all librarians do all day: shush people and stamp books.

The film pays a clever homage to this trope by having Indy clobber his way through a tile in a library in Venice, Italy (X marks the spot) that will eventually take him through a sewer tunnel, and eventually (way-in-the-future-eventually) to the holy grail.

image credit: © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM
Careful not to disturb the silence of the library, Indy takes a library guardrail and pile drives the thing into the floor quick enough not to be noticed! Not very believable, right? The comic relief, though, and the link to our sustained suspension of disbelief is while simultaneously, in clever cut-to-shot, the librarian is quietly stamping books. Every time Indy drives a hit into the marble Venetian tile, the clamoring thud is synchronized with the librarian's rubber book stamping. It's a hilarious sound gag.

After a few deafening blows, the librarian retires the stamp for a new one. Obviously he illogically thinks his rubber stamp carries a huge sound effect. How is that for post hoc propter hoc? Sometimes a cause of X is not always Y. And X does not always mark the spot.

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