Good and Evil are supposed to be absolutes. Light and Dark, Day and Night, God and the Devil.
In a child’s mind, this is how things work. It’s a simple approach, one that’s easy to understand. The good guy tries to stop the bad guy. The good guy does the right thing, the bad guy does bad things. It’s a child’s perception.
It was my perception–until I saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
When I saw this movie for the first time, I thought good guys were good guys and that was that. Luke Skywalker, James Bond, MacGyver, Indiana Jones–good guys. The people they fought, bad guys.
Except, in Temple of Doom, Mola Ram can do more than pull out a man’s heart where they live through the experience. He also has the Blood of Kali, which makes anyone who drinks it “a true believer.” It’s doctrinal tyranny at its worst since, it can be argued that most of Mola Ram’s followers were loyal only because of the Blood of Kali.
I didn’t realize that for many years. I was too shocked by something else Mola Ram does with the Blood: he makes a good guy become a bad guy.
In that ten to twelve minutes where Indy has drank the Blood, to my eyes, he was a bad guy. Mola Ram is a bad guy, Willie and Short Round are good, so Indy must be… whoa.
The notion broke my little mind.
Sure, they get him back. After all, Indy is the hero, not just a hero in the movie. Nevertheless, the damage was done.
From that point forward, I was always a little curious about mind control, as well as the corridor of gray that would allow a good guy to become a bad guy.
I think that’s one of the main reasons why I’ll always gravitate toward Temple of Doom more than the other Indiana Jones movies. Temple of Doom opened the notion of there being a gray middle ground between good and evil.
Things weren’t so absolute after that.