the mystery of a rare planetary confluence that may unleash an unimaginable power. Wrapped around this global quest like a shroud is the another mystery. that of Lara's father‘s death.
Casting Jolie‘s real father was a risky strategy. but Jolie believes that Lara‘s search for the truth about her father adds emotional depth to her adventures. ‘The characters suited us.’ she says. ‘Lara follows in her father's footsteps. as I have in my own life. At the end of the day. Lara wants to know that he's proud of her. and he wants to know that she understands him. And I think that‘s what a lot of us have with our parents.‘
West also emphasises this emotional undertow. while taking a sideswipe at some recent adventure movies for relying on tired post-Raiders cliches. He‘s too polite to name names. but the vacuous Egyptian tomb-raiding tosh. The Mummy. springs to mind. ‘The whole genre was getting a little bit camper and jokier.‘ West says. ‘Most of the films were set in the 20s and 30s. which was just an excuse for everyone to dress up in old clothes and crack a lot of cheesy old jokes. These ﬁlms are always about a quest. for the Holy Grail. fora secret document or whatever; but you‘ve got to find some way to hang an emotion on it. So while Tomb Raider
is a quest movie. it’s not just about making a lot of
‘All the things I find attractive about Lara are the same things I find attractive about women.’
money or saving the world. For Lara it‘s really an emotional quest. What she's seeking is an answer to the question. “What happened to my father?" So we're not trying to reproduce the game. we‘re trying to take it to a whole new level.‘
While ﬁlming the action scenes on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Jolie amazed everyone. including the ﬁlm‘s safety-conscious stunt co-ordinator. Simon Crane. and West. 'We have a log that ﬂies across the set on huge. computer-controlled winches. about 40 feet in the air. above the concrete floor.‘ says West. 'We had two stunt doubles for Angelina: we put one of them up there and she couldn't even get on it; the second one got on and could just about crawl along it. But Angelina just got on it. stood up and surfed it.‘
But Jolie acknowledges. there were times when even she had her doubts. ‘So many times my heart was racing because there were things I wasn't sure I could actually do.‘ she says. ‘But it was a good kind of fear. There‘s always that part of you that‘s thinking. “What the hell am I doing?“ But that’s when 1 had to just quit being an actor and become Lara Croft for a while.‘
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, general release from Fri 6 Jul. See review, page 33.
12 THE LIST 5—19 Jul 2001
25 hours with the game boats 90 minutes with the movie
Lara Croft made a groundbreaking computer game, but sticking her on the big screen is a retrograde step.
Words: Catherine Bromley
verybody loves Tomb Raider. The
game that is. The ﬁlm is another
matter entirely and judging by previous examples of computer games being made into movies, this summer’s most hotly anticipated blockbuster was ill-advised from the very beginning.
To be fair, Hollywood cannot be blamed for cashing in on the world-wide phenomena that is Lara Croft. Having generated £500m in games sales and related merchandise since her inception by Eidos ﬁve years ago, it really was only a matter of time before the three-dimensional goddess was made flesh in ﬁlm history. And while director Simon West has done an able task of fleshing out Lara in the fine form of Angelina Jolie, a live action version of a computer game can never hope to achieve the ground-breaking success of the original format.
To realise this we must recognise that one and a half hours of passive entertainment is a sorry match for the 25 hours (approximate) it takes to complete any one of the ﬁve Tomb Raider games. Far from passive, these hours are spent sweating and cursing while you duck, crawl, jump, swing and shoot your way to success amid terrifying environments made ‘real’ by stunning graphics and the canny artiﬁcial intelligence of the game’s participants.
By transforming Lara into a live- action hero we are selling short those that made her a heroine in the first place.
By transforming Lara Croft into a live- action hero we are disempowering the very audience that made her a heroine in the ﬁrst place. On this score, we wonder if any lessons have been learnt from previous examples of computer games being turned into movies. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and — heaven preserve us — Super Mario Brothers were all great games that became monumentally bad movies. In addition to disempowering their former fans, they were a grave disappointment because they reverted to an established form of entertainment.
Lest we forget, Tomb Raider was based on the ﬁlm adventures of Indiana Jones. It was only at a late stage in the original game’s development that the decision was taken to make the protagonist a woman to prevent being sued by the Spielberg foundation. Lara Croft went on to establish an identity in her own right only because she was realised in an entirely different medium. For this reason, Tomb Raider: The Game was as good as Indiana Jones: The Movie but Tomb Raider: The Movie will always come across as a poor man’s Indiana Jones.
The only way we can break free from this endless repetition of established narratives in by pushing forward the mediums in which we present them. Thankfully the creators of Final Fantasy have got the right idea. Unlike Tomb Raider and the forthcoming ﬁlm version of Resident Evil, Final Fantasy will break new ground in becoming the ﬁrst realistic CG movie that, although inspired by a computer game, establishes a brave new world in entertainment.