Orientalism in Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones is an iconic movie series with the premise of a professor with a duty to find and preserve ancient relics found all over the world. Most of the relics are found around the middle east, and some are in India as well. This is not about the relics, however, rather its about the surrounding environment and how the locals of the countries that Jones visits are portrayed. There is in fact a high contrast within the movies; from the “civilized” western universities to the “Exotic” middle eastern palaces, which is also the case for the people that Jones encounters.

In the movies, there are two things that stand out about the locals that Jones meets.: Their stereotyped personality and the poor choice of cuisine that the directors choose to represent them. In “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, almost every single non-British person that Jones encounters always seems to be senseless in their actions, whether it be a crippling addiction towards acquiring wealth/power, or extremely predatory behavior towards Jones’ lover. It seems that the producers almost had this as the main instructions for the actors, because it became noticeable how repetitive this behavior was. As for the food, you can see people eating some of the most gut-wrenching and unappetizing things to ever lay your eyes on. The dinner scene in the same movie featured many snakes and insects, as well as monkey brains, which the server claimed as “traditional Indian cuisine”. These things were done mainly in order to dehumanize the unfamiliar so that Jones would seem like more of a liberator of the relics he acquires.

One thought on “Orientalism in Indiana Jones

  1. Fatima S

    This is a good point! I watched the movies a few times but never saw it from this perspective. I think the way it was portrayed as a joke at the expense of non-westerners speak volumes as well.


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