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INDIANA JONES AND THE POWER OF NOSTALGIA defines the term “nostalgia” as…noun

  1. a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

The very first words you hear in the first Dial of Destiny teaser is Sallah saying “I miss the desert. I miss the sea. And I miss waking up every morning wondering what wonderful adventure the new day will bring us.”


This week, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens in theaters worldwide, the fifth and final installment of a movie and television franchise that is 42 years old this year.

I would argue much of the premise of Indiana Jones as a franchise is steeped in nostalgia. Director Steven Spielberg sought to make a movie quickly, on budget and with set pieces that recalled action flicks of the 1930s. The three original films were all set in the 1930s, more than 40 years before they were made. The musical cue Marion’s Theme by John Williams was particularly meant to evoke grand, sweeping love themes from films of the 1930s and 1940s.

Spielberg, George Lucas, Frank Marshall and their wonderful collaborators all made the ultimate modern-day nostalgic film with Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.

In the lead up to Dial of Destiny, I have been thinking about that word “nostalgia” a lot.

Nostalgia is undoubtedly powerful, a powder keg and frustratingly elusive to capture.

I was fortunate enough to see Raiders in the theaters as an 8-year-old boy living in Farmington Hills, Michigan. It was my first introduction to Steven Spielberg. When my parents told me he was a friend of George Lucas, and they made the movie together, and it starred the guy who played Han Solo, I was sold.

Was nostalgia working even inside my 8-year-old mind when I showed instant interest in Raiders based only on information from the past? I was recalling people who made me happy in the past with the promise I would see them again in the future. Sounds a lot like nostalgia to me.

In the many years since then, the visuals and music that defines Indiana Jones has been with me through good times and bad. The films represent turning points for me in my life, but their timelessness has allowed them to live on in the recesses of my heart that remain pure and judgment-free.

Fast forward to 2023. The world has changed a lot since Raiders premiered in June 1981. My view is that the world has become substantially more cynical over the past few decades. We can debate the reasons for “why” but I am more concerned with the “what” of it.

Nostalgia is like the Force. There’s a light side and a dark side. Nostalgia can be used negatively, rather easily. Browsing YouTube or social media commentary confirms this. Maybe the harder thing is allowing oneself to be swept away by the positive side of nostalgia.

Nothing in our lives can be now what it was in 1981, 1984 or 1989. Father Time, as they say, is undefeated. Time marches on whether we want it to or not. That can often be a curse. But what if it was a blessing? What if hearing the Raiders March, newly recorded in 2023, pushes an instinctive smile and natural tears of joy through our faces, in spite of ourselves? And what exactly, is so bad about feeling those things?

When it comes to Dial of Destiny, how big of a factor will nostalgia play in it? That can cut two ways - nostalgia in the storytelling or nostalgia put into effect by the audience and how it reacts to the film.

Dial of Destiny is not going to make you feel like you’re 8, 11 or 16 years old again. It won’t. And that’s not an indictment of the film in any way. But to expect this film will take you back in time is just unrealistic, in my opinion. We all change with age and the passage of time. Our perceptions, our sensibilities, our viewpoint is, and honestly should be, far different from when you could measure our ages with a single digit.

Feeling nostalgia, on its own, is a very good and healthy thing. Utilizing nostalgia, or the lack of it, as a cudgel carries little value for the self or anyone, as I see it.

My expectations are to just sit back and feel gratitude that Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and John Williams are still with us in 2023 and are still providing unparalleled entertainment for us. All of them could have said “see ya later” years ago. But they didn’t, and are still exploring their creative impulses, to the benefit of all of us.

To them, I just say thank you. For the memories, the good times, and yes, the nostalgia.

by Brad Monastiere
The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams and a whole lot more.


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