Indiana Jones (Sean Patrick Flanery) finds himself immersed in the Great War, and at the battle of the Somme in this week’s instalment of the young hero’s adventures. It was put together from two episodes as a film and released on 24 October, 1999.
Somme, Early August 1916
Originally airing on 28 September, 1992 this episode was written by Jonathan Hensleigh from a story by series creator George Lucas.
Serving in the Belgian army under the name Henri Defense, Indy, now a corporal, arrives with the 9th Belgian Infantry Unit at the Somme, with all of their commanding officers dead. Assigned to a French lieutenant, Indy and his friend Remy (Ronny Coutteure) witness first hand the slaughter and the horror that was this terrifying battle field, where inches were won and lost daily.
After a terrible assault, they are given a two day leave, which allows them to shower, clean up, and allow Indy a brush with another slice of history, encountering fellow soldiers and poets Siegfried Sasson (Stevan Rimkus) and Robert Graves (Jamie Glover) who put thought and words to the things Indy and by extension, the viewer are feeling.
It’s a pretty strong realisation of the war, and give a pretty unflinching look at war, at least as it could be broadcast on prime time television at the time.
Actor/director Jason Flemyng makes an appearance as one of the soldier’s in Indy’s unit, who at the end of the episode is captured alongside Indiana when both are taken prisoner. Which leads us directly into the next episode composing the second half of the film.
Germany, Mid-August 1916
This portion of the film originally aired as an episode on 5 October, 1992. It was also written by Hensleigh, and both episodes were directed by Simon Wincer.
Indy and Emile (Flemyng), having been captured tries to escape a number of times, but is constantly recaptured. For his efforts he ends up in a high-security POW prison on the Danube, Dusterstadt, the same prison that holds Charles de Gaulle (Herve Pauchon).
Working together, the pair end up coming with an escape plan.
There are some nice moments throughout, even as the story grounds itself in reality, that seem very recognisable for those of us who know their war movies. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less enjoyable, and it also portrays a number of things that actually happened.
It’s a fairly entertaining episode, and makes for an exciting story, especially following the horrors that were seen at the Somme. Happily, Indiana is a kind of superhero, this series grounds him in a reality, that allows for the occasional misadventure and fortuitous moment, but it’s all about the things that shaped the early 20th century, events Indiana Jones grew up during. And of course he would have been involved in them.
Watch for Sean Pertwee in an appearance as one of the German officers, and James Nesbitt as a Russian POW.
Next week, the drama of The Great War continues with Demons of Deception.