Steven Spielberg doesn’t look back on his career with too many regrets, but there is one film from the Indiana Jones franchise that he wishes he had taken in a different direction, later admitting that it was “too dark”.
Surprisingly, it’s not Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and instead is 1984’s Temple Of Doom, which was a box office smash but a disappointment according to the critics. Spielberg felt as though he didn’t stamp any of his personality on the film, and it wasn’t up to the high standards that he sets for himself. On the contrary, George Lucas loved the tonal shift in the franchise and proudly proclaimed: “I love the movie, it’s just slightly darker in tone and not as fun as the first.”
Seemingly, everything Lucas liked about the project was what Spielberg despised, and it was the director’s job to make his vision come to life. However, with the benefit of hindsight, the director would have compromised by making considerable changes to the film.
Explaining his issue with the film, Spielberg told the Sun Sentinel: “I wasn’t happy with Temple of Doom at all. It was too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific. I thought it out-poltered Poltergeist. There’s not an ounce of my own personal feeling in Temple of Doom. The danger in making a sequel is that you can never satisfy everyone.”
Making Temple Of Doom was a new challenge for Spielberg, and it was the first time he made a sequel in his career. It was uncharted territory, and in the process of trying to please everybody else, he forgot to make a film which was an attractive proposition to himself.
Spielberg continued: “If you give people the same movie with different scenes, they say: ‘Why weren’t you more original?’ But if you give them the same character in another fantastic adventure, but with a different tone, you risk disappointing the other half of the audience who just wanted a carbon copy of the first film with a different girl and a different bad guy. So you win, and you lose both ways.”
However, there isn’t a single bone in his body that regrets agreeing to take on the project, and it was a decision that changed his life forever. In the Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom documentary, he told viewers: “Temple of Doom is my least favourite of the trilogy. I look back and I say, ‘Well the greatest thing that I got out of that was I met Kate Capshaw.’ We married years later and that to me was the reason I was fated to make Temple of Doom.”
The couple have been happily married since 1991, and if it wasn’t for them both meeting on the set of Temple of Doom, then their lives would be a lot less full. While Spielberg isn’t a fan of the film, he’s forever grateful for it being the catalyst for meeting the love of his life.