“Winds of Change”: Some of the best, most relevant television ever produced

As I spoke yesterday about the importance that Joseph Campbell played in my personal education, one of the people who most helped the JCF get off the ground and become that resolute organization was George Lucas.   Of course he is  known for the Star Wars films and was the creator of Indiana Jones—but I think George’s best  work as a filmmaker was a little known television project that was shown on ABC by Bob Igor, today’s CEO of Disney way back in 1992 to 1996.  That project was called The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and was considered “edutainment.”  Just prior to the release of the last Indiana Jones feature film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Lucasfilm released all of the Young Indy television shows on DVD, which of course I snagged up the moment they were released.  I literally pulled them off the delivery truck at Best Buy.  The DVD set was released in three gigantic collections and feature what I think is some of the best television ever done—not just because I enjoy the Indiana Jones character, but because the production quality, and content of each of the shows was impeccable.  Lucas used the character of Indiana Jones to essentially tell the history of the start of the 20th century and it was a remarkable undertaking.  For instance—one of my favorite episodes is the one shown below in several parts.  It is called “Winds of Change” and is about the Treaty of Versailles and covers nothing less than the modern troubles in the Middle East, the cause of the Vietnam War, and the reason for World War II all in a one hour episode.  It is really quite brilliant and if you want your child to know anything about history—or you want to fill the gaps of your own understanding, this is a great place to start.  Because of the modern pertinence to the trouble in the Middle East, watch the “Winds of Change” now through the clips below.  If you enjoy it, consider picking up the entire DVD set. They are tremendous treasures.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is an American television series that aired on ABC from March 4, 1992, to July 24, 1993. Filming took place in various locations around Wilmington, North Carolina and on the campus of UNCW. The series was an Amblin Entertainment/Lucasfilm production in association with Paramount Network Television.

The series explores the childhood and youth of the fictional character Indiana Jones and primarily stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Corey Carrier as the title character, with George Hall playing an elderly version of Jones for the bookends of most episodes, though Harrison Ford bookended one episode. The show was created and executively produced by George Lucas, who also created, co-wrote and executively produced the Indiana Jones feature films.

Most episodes of the series depicted famous and not-so-famous historical figures, for example T.E. LawrenceLeo TolstoyWinston ChurchillErnest HemingwayAl CaponePablo PicassoFrederick Selous and Mata Hari.

Notable guest stars (playing either fictional or historical characters) include: Catherine Zeta-JonesDaniel CraigChristopher LeePeter FirthVanessa Redgrave,Beata PozniakJennifer EhleElizabeth HurleyTimothy SpallAnne HecheJeffrey WrightJeroen KrabbéJason FlemyngMichael KitchenKevin McNallyFrancisco QuinnIan McDiarmidMax von SydowDouglas HenshallSean PertweeTerry JonesKeith DavidLukas HaasJay UnderwoodMichael GoughMaria Charles, and Haluk Bilginer.

Due to its enormous budget, the series was canceled in 1993. However, following the series’ cancellation, four made-for-television films were produced from 1994 to 1996 in an attempt to continue the series. In 1999, the series was re-edited into 22 television films under the title The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.

Between 1992 and 1997, the series was nominated for 27 Emmy Awards and won 12.[25] In 1993, Corey Carrier was nominated for the Young Artist Award in the category of “Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series”. In 1994, David Tattersall was nominated for the ASC Award in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series”. At the 1994 Golden Globes, the series was nominated for “Best TV-Series — Drama”.[26]

In 2002, series producer Rick McCallum confirmed in an interview with Variety that DVDs of the series were in development, but would not be released for “about three or four years”.[8] At the October 2005 press conference for the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith DVD, McCallum explained that he expected the release to consist of 22 DVDs, which would include around 100 documentaries which would explore the real-life historical aspects that are fictionalized in the show. For the DVDs, Lucasfilm upgraded the picture quality of the original 16 mm prints and remastered the soundtracks. This, along with efforts to get best quality masters and bonus materials on the sets, delayed the release.[9] It was ultimately decided that the release would tie into the release of the fourth Indiana Jones feature film.

Two variations of Volume 1 were released by CBS DVD, one simply as “Volume One”, and the other as “Volume One — The Early Years” in order to match the subtitle of Volume 2.

The History Channel acquired television rights to all 94 of the DVD historical documentaries.[10][11] The airing of the documentaries was meant to bring in ratings for the History Channel and serve as marketing for the DVD release and the theatrical release ofIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[12] The History Channel and History International began airing the series every Saturday morning at 7AM/6C on The History Channel, and every Sunday morning at 8AM ET/PT on History International. A new division of History.com was created devoted to the show. As Paramount and Lucasfilm had already reserved IndianaJones.com solely for news and updates related to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, StarWars.com temporarily served as the official site for the DVDs—providing regular updates, insider looks and promotions related to them.[13] However, Lucasfilm and Paramount soon set up an official website proper for the series—YoungIndy.com.[14] Paramount released a press kit for the media promoting the DVDs, which consists of a .pdf file[15] and several videos with interviews with Lucas and McCallum, and footage from the DVDs.[16] A trailer for the DVDs was also published on YoungIndy.com, with a shorter version being shown on The History Channel and History International.

Lucas and McCallum hoped that the DVDs would be helpful to schools, as they believed the series was a good way to aid in teaching history. Lucas explained that the series’ DVD release will be shopped as “films for a modern day high school history class.”[17] He believes the series is a good way to teach high school students 20th Century history.[18] The plan was always to tie the DVD release of the series to the theatrical release of the fourth Indiana Jones feature film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was released on May 22, 2008.[8][19][20][21]


After watching the Lawrence of Arabia recently I had to go back and watch the Young Indy episode “Winds of Change.”   It was after all through Young Indy that I was introduced to T.E. Lawrence who was a personal friend to Indiana Jones on the show.  Jones met T.E. Lawrence in Cairo at the pyramids when he was a very young child being homeschooled by a private tutor.  The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is an answer to the education void found today.  The work has been done by producers like Lucas and is available for a relatively cheap price.  The series is television at its absolute best—it was entertaining, fun, but best of all—educational.  After watching all those episodes so many years ago, then again with my family when the DVDs hit the market once again with their 90 one hour long documentaries produced exclusively by Lucasfilm what is found is a phenomenal effort not even surpassed by the National Geographic Society or the Smithsonian.

Often I would read more about the characters in the Young Indy episodes after seeing them for the first time during the broadcasts and would marvel at how accurate the writers for the show were at capturing their historical significance with precision.  In the cynical world that we see today in most entertainment formats, do yourself a favor that will help directly in understanding the modern world—watch the DVDs of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles with your family and learn together about history.  Because I can’t think of a better way to tell about the events that have shaped our lives better than through the character of Indiana Jones as he become the kind of action hero so well known to motion pictures presently.  The character became the kind of person he was due to his vast education with the most significant figures of the past who shaped the world for good and bad—but none-the-less—shaped it all the same.

If you care about the education of your family, click the link below to start an unforgettable journey.


Rich Hoffman