THE REAL STORY: INDIANA JONES
Just who was the real Indiana Jones? Indyís creators George Lucas and
Steven Spielberg say the inspiration for the whip-cracking adventurer came
from the explorer characters featured in the 1930s and 40s movie serials.
In turn, many writers of these serials say their inspiration came from the
real life adventures of Roy Chapman Andrews. Another source for the Indy
legend is the German scholar and Grail-hunter, Otto Rahn. Both embody the
spirit of Indiana Jones, and lived real lives of scholarship, exploration
ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS
Roy Chapman Andrews made it his lifeís work to collect and discover rare
specimens from the natural world. His most famous expedition was in Outer
Mongolia in search of fossils of early man. Lost in the desert, he and his
photographer J.B. Shackleford, stumbled upon one of the most significant
finds of the millennium. As they climbed a ridge in search of a route out of
the desert, they made the first ever discovery of dinosaur eggs.
When Chapman Andrews returned to America his discovery launched him on to
the celebrity scene. His image as a man of action, single-handedly holding
off bandits with just a pistol, gained him much favor among the ladies. He
was featured on the cover of Time Magazine and made headlines all over the
world. By the time he became the Director of the American Museum of Natural
History in New York he was the most respected explorer of his generation.
Chapman Andrews was also a prolific magazine writer. These articles inspired
screenwriters such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, and James
Irving Crump, the creator of "Og The Prehistoric Boy."
The lead characters of these films, played by the likes of Charlton Heston
and Humphrey Bogart, would influence the young Lucas and Spielberg.
Religious relics and ancient artifacts are often the center point of Indiana
Jones films. Some movie mavens have speculated that the German historian
Otto Rahn might have inspired this part of the Indiana Jones legend. Rahn
spent much of his adult life in pursuit of the Holy Grail, a quest that
would bring him into direct conflict with the Nazis.
Rahn believed a Christian sect known as the Cathars possessed the Grail at
one time but hid it in caves around Montsegur, near Carcassonne, in the
French Pyrenees. In the 1930s he began a meticulous search of these caves
and recounted one of his adventures in a radio interview.
Rahn's gripping account included crawling into a tunnel in the hope of
finding a new route into another cave - perhaps the one that housed
the Grail. From nowhere a flood of water burst through the passageway. As
the water rose his assistant pulled him to safety at the last moment.
Rahnís Grail obsession soon attracted the attention of the Nazis,
particularly Heinrich Himmler the head of the SS, who had a fascination with
the occult and ancient artifacts. Supposedly, Himmler forced Rahn to become
a member of the SS as a condition for continuing the search for the Grail.
Himmler believed if Nazis owned the Grail and other sacred relics they would
possess supernatural powers.
Rahn deplored the work of the Nazis and when it emerged that he was a
homosexual he was discharged from the SS. On a cold day in 1939, he was
found dead on a mountainside in the Alps. Though officially ruled a suicide,
some saw the nefarious hand of the SS in his death.