One of my favorite Indiana Jones moments comes in the opening sequence of Temple of Doom. In the scene (which you can see here), a valuable pouch of diamonds gets confused with the contents of an ice bucket. A dramatic fight scene ensues, all while the gold-digging songstress dives into the melee, attempting to procure the jewels for herself. It sets the tone of the movie as one that mixes danger and humor, and lets us in on the fact that the character of Indiana cares less about walking away with the valuables, than making sure the bad guys don’t either.
The ice/diamond confusion serves to hint at another theme of the movie: that things are often not what they seem. Like in a mystery, what we, as readers, think we know, might not be what we know. And often the truth is hiding in plain sight. Red herrings and clues coexist like ice cubes and diamonds. As a detective or amateur sleuth turns up the heat on the investigation, the false leads melt away, leaving us with the real culprits, the real clues, and the real conclusion.
I enjoy the process of trudging through the melting slush to determine which clues will run down the drain and which will prove to be something of value. In a mystery, it’s important for the sleuth to at times feel like the trail has gone cold. It’s important for her to realize that she might have missed something that’s been hiding in plain sight. And it’s important for her to eventually be hot on the trail of the bad guy.
Ice is like a plot device that keeps our protagonist in the dark while a criminal gets away with murder. Whether it’s in cold blood or the heat of the moment is the subject for a different blog!