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DVD Review

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones
Volume One


Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Corey Carrier, Lloyd Owen, Ruth de Sosa and Margaret Tyzack
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: £44.99
Certificate: 12
Available 25 February 2008

Join the amazing journeys of young Indy as he crosses paths with Picasso, Freud, Edison and other larger-than-life luminaries on his travels around the world. Then dig deeper into the real-life events and people who made history with more than three dozen fascinating, in-depth documentaries included in this exclusive DVD collection. Experience history as never before when you and your family explore special interactive features, including a timeline that makes the past come alive...

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume One is the first of three DVD collections that sees the '90s The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series finally collected together. The first 12-disc set includes seven feature-length episodes as well as 38 in-depth companion documentaries, an historical overview, an interactive game and an interactive timeline. The 38 historical companion films are original works from the Lucasfilm documentary unit. The documentaries complement the episodes with insights from scholars, historians and luminaries from a wide range of disciplines, bringing fresh insight into The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.

The episodes as released here are not in the same order as they were originally broadcast. Instead, the DVD producers have attempted to join together episodes into feature-length offerings that show the young Indiana Jones growing up in chronological order. The original TV episodes skipped backwards and forwards throughout Indy's life, but this DVD release makes it much easier to follow his upbringing. But there are problems with the new edits. Firstly, Indy's trek around the world as a ten-year-old is a little out of sequence, and in one episode he talks about preparing to travel to a place he's already been.

When originally broadcast the episodes opened and closed with a segment that featured 93-year-old Indy. These sections have been removed from the episode on this DVD collection.

One interesting aspect is how Sean Patrick Flanery has studied the movements of Harrison Ford from the original movies. A lot of the scenes in this collection pay homage to scenes from the movies, and Flanery really does move like Ford.

Disc one features the episode My First Adventure. While on an archaeological dig in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, Indy uncovers an ancient mummy and fresh corpse. With the help of T.E. Lawrence, the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, Indy solves an intriguing murder mystery only to find himself thrust right back into danger when he is kidnapped by slave-trading brigands. Dragged on a terrifying journey across the burning sands of North Africa to the slave markets of Marrakech, Indy finds that he must rely on his courage and wits to survive the brutal ordeal. This episode also sees Tony Robinson (Blackadder) appear in a blink-and-you'll miss him guest appearance.

Extras include four companion historical documentaries: Archaeology: Unearthing Our Past (19 min 17 sec feature that examines the history of archeology and how it's only recently that the profession has become about preserving and discovering the past - previously people were in it mainly for profit); Howard Carter and the Tomb of Tutankhamun (22 min 36 sec feature that examines the life of Howard Carter and his most famous discovery, the tomb of Tutankhamun); Colonel Lawrence’s War: T.E. Lawrence and Arabia (36 min 09 sec feature that examines the legendary Lawrence of Arabia and attempts to sort fact from fiction. Interestingly enough it's pointed out that all of the troubles in the Middle East had their origins in the British's involvement in that area after the Second World War); From Slavery to Freedom (30 min 10 sec feature that examines the history of slavery and how it originally had nothing to do with race. The first slaves could be anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time. This then progressed to religion - where Christians and Muslims would capture each other's land and use their prisoners for slavery. And finally it progressed to colour thanks in part to an interpretation of the Bible that was used to justify the slavery of Africans. Apparently, it was claimed, that in the Bible Noah punished one of his sons and decreed that all of his descendents would be born into slavery. It was then claimed that this son moved to Africa and that is why it was okay to take African's from their homeland and sell them as slaves).

Disc two contains the episode Passion For Life: The beautiful Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya is the locale as Indy goes on safari with former President Teddy Roosevelt. When he becomes lost in the savage African bush, Indy finds that he must fight for his life against all manner of exotic and dangerous wildlife. Exotic wildlife of another kind awaits him in Paris when he accompanies a young Norman Rockwell on a rollicking tour through the bohemian world of Parisian fine art. Wild parties, wilder women and artist temperament are on full display as Pablo Picasso and Edgar Degas clash over their contrasting styles of painting, while painting the town red at a gaudy late-night soiree.

Paul Freeman (who played Dr. Rene Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark) turns up as a nice homage to the original movie series. It's just a shame he didn't have more to do.

Disc three includes the extras for the Passion For Life disc. These include: Theodore Roosevelt and The American Century (30 min 55 sec examination of Roosevelt's place in history); Ecology: Pulse of the Planet (24 min 16 sec examination of how mankind is destroying the environment and a few of the environmental schemes that have been set up to try and help save our disappearing wildlife); American Dreams: Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post (24 min 20 sec look back at the life and work of Norman Rockwell); Art Rebellion: The Making of the Modern (26 min 10 sec exploration of the art movement in France as it moved from traditional painting to Impressionism); Edgar Degas: Reluctant Rebel (22 min 56 sec look at the life of Degas and the role he played in changing the face of modern painting); Braque + Picasso: A Collaboration Cubed (23 min 18 sec look at the relationship between Braque and Picasso. This featurette shows that Braque was clearly the leader of cubism and Picasso simply followed in Braque's footsteps).

Disc four includes the episode The Perils of Cupid: In beautiful Vienna, Indy falls for the lovely young daughter of soon-to-be assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. But the course of true love does not run smoothly and he must seek advice from two of the founding fathers of psychology, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Romantic complications of another kind turn up in Florence, Italy, when Indy and his mother meet the great opera composer Giacomo Puccini.

This episode is interesting in as much as it shows what a womaniser Puccini was as he makes his move on Indy's mum. While we know that Indy's mum won't leave Henry for Puccini (for starters Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade reveals that she died of an illness that she kept hidden until it was too late; also the history books don't (obviously) reflect that Puccini fell in love with her) this episode still plays out well.

Disc five (The Perils of Cupid bonus disc) includes features that are relevant to the historical elements of disc four. These include: Giacomo Puccini - Music of the Heart (25 min 36 sec look at Puccini's work and how he wasn't always well received by the public - in fact he had to spend two years rewriting Madam Butterfly after a disastrous opening night. This feature mainly concentrates on La Bohème (1896), which is not surprising as it's arguably his most famous opera); It’s Opera! (29 min examination of what makes an opera an opera. This interviews singers as they prepare for a production of The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart); The Archduke’s Last Journey - End of an Era (21 min feature that looks at how the bizarre assassination of Franz Ferdinand led to the start of the First World War); Powder Keg - Europe 1900 to 1914 (26 min feature that examines the start of the First World War. This documentary tells a very different account of how Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. This was probably down to simplifying everything so as not to take up too much time, but when you have two conflicting versions it makes you wonder what else the researchers have got wrong); Sigmund Freud - Exploring the Unconscious (22 min that charts Freud's history, including two theories that almost ruined his career - that of cocaine as a local anaesthetic and that all hysteria was caused by traumatic events from our childhood); Carl Jung and the Journey of Self Discovery (19 min 31 sec look at Jung's work. Jung was mentored by Freud until the two had a disagreement over sex being the sole driver in humanity. Jung believed that other factors (like religion, power and the desire to please) were also factors); Psychology - Charting the Human Mind (26 min 35 sec look at the rise of psychology. It also examines Stanley Milgram's famous experiments (which would become known as The Milgram Experiment) to discover if ordinary people would blindly follow orders, even if their actions were causing discomfort to someone else. This was conducted to see what could possibly cause normal men to blindly follow orders (as had been seen under Hitler's regime) to cause suffering to other humans).

Disc six contains the episode Travels with Father: A trip to Russia takes Indy from the opulent palaces of the aristocracy to the fetid villages of the peasant class when he runs away from home after an argument with his parents. Joining up with novelist Leo Tolstoy, the two go on the road, engaging in philosophical discussions and clashing with colourful Gypsies and ferocious Cossacks. Realising that there’s no place like home, Indy rejoins his mum and dad and travels with his father to an isolated Greek monastery perched high on the peak of a mountain. The arduous journey, including a harrowing trip in a tiny cage up a thousand-foot mountainside, brings father and son closer together.

Extras include Seeking Truth - The Life of Leo Tolstoy (31 min 15 sec examination of the history of Tolstoy and why he is so important in the history of Russia); Unquiet Voices - Russian Writers and the State (26 min exploration of the history of writing in Russia, looking at the origins right up until modern day); Aristotle - Creating Foundations (21 min 37 sec look at the part Aristotle played in Greek philosophy); and Ancient Questions - Philosophy and Our Search for Meaning (23 min 51 sec feature that looks at the birth of philosophy and how it is used today).

Disc seven features the episode Journey of Radiance: A jaunt through the mystical Far East takes Indy to the Holy City of Benares where he befriends the lonely and isolated young leader of the Theosophy movement, Jiddu Krishnamurti. Surrounded by supplicants and hangers-on, Krishnamurti struggles to have faith in himself and to fulfil the destiny decreed for him by his worshippers. In the process he shows Indy just how strong the power of faith can be. Indy’s mother also learns a lesson in faith and trust when she must rely on some poor Chinese villagers and their traditional medical techniques to save the life of her son who lies perilously close to death with typhoid fever.

Extras include Jiddu Krishnamurti - The Reluctant Messiah (26 min 51 sec documentary on the life and teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti, who Indy meets as a young boy in this episode. This also features photographs of Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater and it's impressive to see that the actors in the episode look incredibly like the real people); Annie Besant - An Unlikely Rebel (27 min documentary on the life of Annie Besant); Medicine in the Middle Kingdom (26 min 50 sec look at the history of Chinese medicine and whether it really works); and Eastern Spirituality - The Road to Enlightenment (29 min 08 sec feature that looks at the differences between the religions around the world. One thing is common - that life is not ideal. In Christianity it's sin; Hinduism it's the fact that we are not aware of our true selves; and in Buddhism it is that we need to get away from desire. This feature also explains the origins of Buddhism).

Disc eight includes the episode Spring Break Adventure: Indy and his girlfriend Nancy Stratemeyer, whose father created the Nancy Drew mystery series, visit the fascinating laboratory of inventor Thomas Edison. The two must contend with dangerous German spies as they struggle to keep Edison’s top secret new invention out of the hands of hostile enemy agents. To keep him from getting into any more trouble, Indy is sent to visit his Aunt in New Mexico. While there, he is kidnapped by Pancho Villa and swept up into the Mexican Revolution. Chaotic, free-wheeling border towns, a Wild Bunch style train robbery and a colourful barroom encounter with a young George Patton make for thrilling entertainment in this action-packed movie. This episode has the first appearance, in this collection, of Sean Patrick Flanery as Indy.

Disc nine includes the features for the previous episode. These include Thomas Alva Edison - Lighting up the World (26 min 54 sec look at the career and inventions of Edison. Of interest is his lighting up of a square mile of Manhattan and the AC/DC wars that cost him dearly); Invention and Innovation - What’s Behind a Good Idea? (23 min feature that looks at the work of modern inventor Dean Kamen. Kamen has some pretty impressive inventions under his belt, including the balancing wheelchair that allows users to go up and down stairs, as well as be raised to a normal walking height); The Mystery of Edward Stratemeyer (26 min 18 sec examination of the Hardy Boy's author whose work is famous, but whose name hardly anyone remembers); Wanted: Dead or Alive - Pancho Villa and the American Invasion of Mexico (28 min 13 sec look at the life of Pancho Villa and how the American's perception of him changed almost over night); General John J. Pershing and his American Army (28 min 28 sec examination of Pershing and his role in World War I. It's still debated whether he was a great general, or just lucky. American's argue that without him the Allies would have lost the war, but they would have probably won it sooner if Pershing had actually got his army to join in earlier); George S. Patton - American Achilles (29 min 48 sec feature that looks at the strange life of Patton. It's obvious that he loved war and that he was eager to have his moment of glory).

Disc ten features the episode: Love’s Sweet Song: Landing in Ireland right before the Easter Rebellion, Indy mixes romance and revolutionary politics when he falls for a beautiful young colleen whose brother is mixed up in the Irish resistance movement. Across the waters in England he encounters a similar problem when his love affair with a strong-willed young woman is derailed by her fervent belief in the women’s suffrage movement and her need for independence. Violent street brawls, a terrifying Zeppelin raid and a seriocomic dinner party with Winston Churchill provide plenty of thrills in this exciting, romantic adventure. Elizabeth Hurley guest stars as Vicky Prentiss in this episode.

Disc eleven (Love’s Sweet Song bonus disc) includes: Easter Rising – The Poets’ Rebellion (25 min 57 sec look the Easter 1916 stand-off that would eventually see the Irish back the freedom fighters. It was interesting to hear that if the British hadn't executed the protesters, then they would have been forgotten as troublemakers); The Passions of William Butler Yeats (27 min 47 sec feature that looks at the life and work of Yeats); Sean O’Casey vs. Ireland (25 min 21 sec examination of the famous playwright); Ireland - The Power of the Poets (27 min look at the history of Irish poets. It was interesting to hear that Irish poetry had to be rescued twice: once from the British and again from Yeats); Winston Churchill - The Lion’s Roar (33 min 51 sec look at the life and political making of Churchill); Demanding the Vote - The Pankhursts and British Suffrage (27 min 09 sec examination of the suffragette movement in the UK); Fighting for the Vote - Women’s Suffrage in America (31 min 31 sec look at the women's movement to get the vote).

Disc twelve includes two PC interactive features as well as the The Promise of Progress feature (a 41 min 27 sec lecture by H.W. Brands, professor of History at the University by which examines the people and events of the Industrial Revolution, spanning the late 19th century to the early 20th century).

The PC-based interactive features are pretty impressive. We get the Revolution interactive game, based on Spring Break Adventure this game allows players to become Indy and make their own decisions based on Indy’s adventures. As well as entertaining, this game has educational elements. There's also an Extensive Interactive Timeline that details the history and locations of Indy’s adventures and previews footage of the companion documentaries. This allows the user to flick through Indy's diary, or the world map, and revisit his adventures, but with additional Internet links, historical images and numerous other extras.

For fans of Indiana Jones, this is an essential purchase. It's entertaining as well as being incredibly informative on events that shaped the world we live in today. Paramount has really pulled out all the stops to ensure that fans of the series get one of the best value for money releases on the market.


Darren Rea

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