Patrick Schoenmaker revealed a long-awaited project to the public last Friday. The animator, along with several collaborators, has produced a short animated feature titled The Adventures of Indiana Jones which serves as both a tribute to the Lucasfilm franchise and a tantalising glimpse at what a cartoon series based on the adventures of our favourite archeologist might look like. With less than a two minute runtime, the animation is of incredibly high quality and represents the culmination of five years of work.
The inspiration for this short that seems to embrace everything to do with the classic Indiana Jones films comes from a seemingly unlikely place. In a celebratory post on his blog, Schoenmaker writes, “After Crystal Skull was released, my love for the character was once again fully ignited and with no new movies on the horizon back then, I decided to set up an Indiana Jones project of my own to keep the fire burning a little bit longer.” So there is, apparently, one good thing to come out of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull after all.
Would I have watched this as a kid? You know I would have! Mysticism, historical world travel, and nazis? This could have been the best thing ever. The best part about this is how willingly it seems to embrace the strangeness of each of the Indiana Jones films. Every series gets inherently weirder as soon as it becomes a cartoon, and it’s completely in the spirit for this short to embrace that. The fact that Short Round is clearly at Jones’ side is perfect. Gotta have that kid sidekick!
Forget the doubts you might have about this looking like a fan film. There’s no doubt in my mind that The Adventures of Indiana Jones is the quality of animation you could expect from a Disney animated series, although expecting something at this level of quality from their television department back then is asking for a bit much. Those backgrounds are downright gorgeous. There’s a very strong design philosophy visible within The Adventures of Indiana Jones, which makes sense with Schoenmaker’s background in character design and the short film’s secondary purpose of acting as a promotional film for his abilities.
Where I’m really impressed is the music. The score, provided by Alexander Reumers and Jorrit Kleijnen, keeps the themes of John Williams that make Indiana Jones leap instantly to mind, but adds more to capture the spirit of saturday morning. It’s orchestra, energetic, and action-packed. There are flavours of Danny Elfman here that remind me of Batman: The Animated Series, Beetlejuice, and just a little bit of TinTin. Though it may be the globetrotting adventure that brings that last one to mind. It just fits perfectly for the tone of the short and deserves more praise than I’ve seen it getting so far.
I honestly wouldn’t hate if Disney took Indiana Jones franchise in this direction in the future theatrically. Although there’s no voice acting in The Adventures of Indiana Jones, you could put Harrison Ford’s voice on there and it would easily feel like the real thing. It wouldn’t be a bad way of keeping Harrison Ford in the role without making him the grandad of the franchise. In animation, Ford can still be the charming vagabond that charmed us all during the heydey of the VHS era. He can still have that physique. In a franchise that Ford actively wants to continue being involved in, this is pretty much the perfect fit.
Watch It. Clocking in at just under two minutes, it doesn’t take much of a commitment to watch The Adventures of Indiana Jones. I mean, it’s free! It’s right here! Why are you even questioning why you want to watch this? It feels like some lost relic from a parallel dimension that got all the coolest TV shows. It belongs in a museum.