Indiana Jones - the charm or the curse

As the History Channel says “Indiana Jones makes history sexy.”   There is no doubt that Indiana Jones ( Harrison Ford) still does, even after a 19 year absence.  Just as the other three have been, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is exciting and full of adventures, mishap and romance.  This time, however, instead of having his father, Indy finds out that he is a father to rebellious Mutt Williams ( Shia LaBeouf) who turns out to be the son of Marion Ravenswood ( Karen Allen) – Indy’s ex-lover.   Cast by Debbie Zane, we now have more characters to love and hate as well as some of the old ones back.  

Indiana: Irina threatens Indy

Unlike before we are not fighting the Germans here but the Russians. The Cold War is at its height and Mac ( Ray Winstone) Indy’s sidekick turns out to be a double agent helping the steely Russian scientist, Irina Spalko ( Cate Blanchett) who is seeking alien remains.  

Indiana: Irina (Cate Blanchett) and her Russians confront Indy

Specifically she wants the crystal skull which is reported to bestow power and wealth upon the possessor.  She wouldn’t mind finding the lost Mayan city of Akator, rumored to be all of gold.    Accompanying the evil agent is her muscle man, Col. Dovchenko ( Igor Jijikine.)

Indiana: Mac (Ray Winstone) accompanies Indy and Mutt to the lost city

For his involvement with Mac, the FBI doubts Indy’s loyalty and is keeping tabs on him, forcing the dean of Marshall College ( Jim Broadbent) to fire him.  Just as he is about to leave town, Indy meets up with Mutt who presses him to help rescue his mother, Marion,  and an old friend, Professor Oxley ( John Hurt) who went in search of the Lost City and now has been driven mad.  After finding him, they must find the lost city well hidden in the Peruvian rainforest.  (This whole town scene was shot on the Universal back lot and thanks to Guy Hendrix Dyas looks very much like Peru.)

Indiana: Indy and Marion stuck in dry sand

Fresh from Transformers, it is clear that if another Indy movie is made, Henry Jones, the 3rd (aka Mutt, aka Shia LaBeouf) will be taking first billing since like father like son; he seems to be an adventurous sort.  Shia’s come a long way from Brookwell McNamara’s Even Stevens.  Very much a boy of the 50’s, Mutt is constantly combing his hair ala historical characters as The Fonz and Kookie Burns.  

Indiana: Mutt investigates on his own

Based on well known legends, speculation has it that the skulls –the first found in 1924 by Mitchell-Hedges -- belong to aliens, perhaps the ones who developed the civilization at Atlantis and were later worshiped by the Mayans as gods.  

Indiana: Marion Ravenswood (Kate Allen) greets Indy and her son Mutt

Courageous, yet feminine Marion holds much of the action and of course gets her guy in the end.  Costume supervisor Bob Morgan and Tony Novak had to make clothes with enough padding for them all to perform their stunts.  

Indiana: Steven Spielberg directing

It was Harrison who called Lucas and Spielberg to do another Indiana picture.  The story by Jeff Nathanson and the script by David Koepp has all the adventure and comedy of the first few.  Yes, the bit about Indy’s fear of snakes gets a bit tiring as well as some of the scrapes he gets into but it’s all in the name of fun and once that music starts you get sucked into the movie and the time of the 50’s. 

Indiana: Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf) and Marion flee from the Russians

Part of that magic was due to the costuming of Mary Zophres, Jenny Eagen, and Bernie Pollack who had to emulate the early Jones but still keep it now in the 50’s and prop master, Doug Harlocker who found everything from mummies to snakes. Industrial Light and Magic created many of the other special effects as the walls lifting away and the light force of the 13 hitting Irina.  Overseen by Visual Effects Supervisor Pablo  Helman, these were photographed by J anusz Kaminski.

Indiana: George Lucas with Karen Allen

Executive Produced by George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy and directed by Spielberg, the film is produced by Frank Marshall and Denis L Stewart.   It wasn’t easy to find untouched jungle but eventually they came to Hawaii where the Peru sequences are shot.  Interior shots of Indy’s home were done at Universal Stage 29 and fixed by Larry Dias, the set decorator, while the disappearing stone staircase was built at Sony Studios in Culver City.  Special effects coordinator Dan Sudick had to make sure the steps disappeared at just the right moment.  Because there was so much action and so many scenes that had to be replicated from prior movies, the film had to be done on many different studio lots as well as other locations.  The actions, of course, would not have been as nearly effective if not for the talents of composer John Williams or editor Michael Kahn (who did the other three Indy films, too.)

Indiana: Frank Marshall with Spielberg, Ford and Blanchett

Yes the look and feel of Indiana Jones is back. 
More about the movie can be seen at

If this interests you, the book Starchild Skull by Lloyd Pye will keep you fascinated as well. Skulls.html.
The movie debuts worldwide May 22, 2008.

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