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May 6, 2008

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull

Filed under: Uncategorized — nazalea @ 11:40 am

Theatrical poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Frank Marshall
Denis L. Stewart
George Lucas
Kathleen Kennedy
Written by Screenplay:
David Koepp
Story:
George Lucas
Jeff Nathanson
Starring Harrison Ford
Shia LaBeouf
Cate Blanchett
Karen Allen
Ray Winstone
John Hurt
Jim Broadbent
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Janusz Kamiński
Editing by Michael Kahn
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) May 22, 2008
Running time 123 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$185 million
Preceded by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a 2008 adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. Set in 1957, this fourth film in the Indiana Jones film series pits an older and wiser Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) against agents of the Soviet Union—led by Spalko (Cate Blanchett)—for a crystal skull. Indy is aided by his former lover Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the greaser Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) and fellow archaeologist Mac (Ray Winstone). John Hurt and Jim Broadbent also play fellow academics.

The film was in development hell since the 1989 release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, because Spielberg and Ford initially disagreed over Lucas’s choice of the skull as the plot device. Screenwriters Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, M. Night Shyamalan, Frank Darabont and Jeff Nathanson wrote drafts, before David Koepp’s script satisfied all three men. Shooting finally commenced on June 18, 2007, and took place in New Mexico; New Haven, Connecticut; Hawaii; Fresno, California; and soundstages in Los Angeles. In order to keep aesthetic continuity with the previous films, the crew relied on traditional stuntwork instead of computer-generated stunt doubles, and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński studied Douglas Slocombe’s style from the previous films.

Marketing relies heavily on the public’s nostalgia for the series, with products taking inspiration from all four films. Anticipation for the film has been heightened by secrecy, which resulted in a legal dispute over an extra violating his non-disclosure agreement, and another man was arrested for stealing a computer containing various documents related to the production. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is scheduled for a worldwide release on May 22, 2008.

Premise

Producer Frank Marshall has confirmed that the film is set in 1957, making it nineteen years since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, thus acknowledging the real-life passing of years between films. Indiana Jones is having a quiet life teaching before being thrust back into his old adventuring. He battles agents of the Soviet Union for the crystal skull. “The theory is they are shaped by higher powers or alien powers or came from another world, or an ancient Mayan civilization had the powers,” Marshall explained. Indy’s journey takes him across New Mexico, Connecticut, Mexico City, and the jungles of Peru, as well as the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.[2] There will be mild humor regarding Indiana’s age.[3]

Some plot details have since been released on the official website of the film and in a new trailer also to be found on the site. The film opens with an action sequence pitting Jones and his new sidekick Mac (Ray Winstone) against Soviet Agents in the Southwestern desert. They escape and return to Marshall College where Indy encounters young renegade Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) who needs Dr. Jones’s help in finding the mysterious Crystal Skull of Akator. Legend supposes the skull was stolen from a mysterious City of Gold guarded by the living dead in the Amazon. Whoever returns it to the city’s temple will become master of the Skull’s powers. Together they travel to Peru where they find themselves battling the Soviets under nefarious Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) again, who wants the power of the skull as an advantage in the Cold War.[4]

 

Cast

Harrison Ford plays Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. To prepare for the role, the 64-year-old Ford spent three hours a day at a gym, and relied on a high-protein diet of fish and vegetables.[5] Ford had kept fit during the series’ hiatus anyway, as he hoped for another film.[6] He performed many of his own stunts because stunt technology had become safer since 1989, and he also felt it improved his performance.[7] He argued, “The appeal of Indiana Jones isn’t his youth but his imagination, his resourcefulness. His physicality is a big part of it, especially the way he gets out of tight situations. But it’s not all hitting people and falling from high places. My ambition in action is to have the audience look straight in the face of character and not at the back of a capable stuntman’s head. I hope to continue that no matter how old I get.”[8]

Ford felt his reprisal would also help American culture be less “paranoid” about aging (he refused to dye his hair for the role), because of the film’s family appeal: “This is a movie which is geared not to [the young] segment of the demographic, an age-defined segment […] We’ve got a great shot at breaking the movie demographic constraints.”[7] He told Koepp to add more references to his age in the script.[9] Spielberg said Ford was not too old to play Indiana: “When a guy gets to be that age and he still packs the same punch, and he still runs just as fast and climbs just as high, he’s gonna be breathing a little heavier at the end of the set piece. And I felt, ‘Let’s have some fun with that. Let’s not hide that.'”[10] Spielberg recalled the line in Raiders, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage”,[10] and felt he could not tell the difference between Ford during the shoots for Last Crusade and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[11]

Shia LaBeouf plays a motorcycle-riding greaser and Indiana’s sidekick, Mutt Williams.[12] Frank Marshall said Mutt brings humor to the story because of his youthful arrogance, causing banter with the older and wiser Jones.[13] Koepp credited the character’s creation to Jeff Nathanson and Lucas.[9] LaBeouf was Spielberg’s first and only choice for the role.[14] Excited at the prospect of being in an Indiana Jones film, LaBeouf signed on without reading the script and did not know what character he would play.[15] He worked out and gained fifteen pounds of muscle for the role,[16] and also repeatedly watched the other films to get into character.[17] LaBeouf also watched Blackboard Jungle and The Wild One to get into his character’s mindset, copying mannerisms and words from characters in those films, such as the use of a switchblade as a weapon.[18] Lucas also consulted on the greaser look, joking that LaBeouf was “sent to the American Graffiti school of greaserland”.[10] LaBeouf pulled his hip’s rotator cuff when filming his duel with Spalko, which was his first injury in his career. The injury got worse throughout filming until it pulled his groin.[19] Though it is rumored Mutt is Indiana’s son,[20] Spielberg laughed off the idea: “I wouldn’t say it’s a father-son story. The new Indy movie is about a great quest, an amazing quest — and that’s all I’m gonna say.”[21]

Cate Blanchett plays the villainous Soviet agent Irina Spalko.[12] Frank Marshall said Spalko continued the tradition of Indiana having a love-hate relationship “with every woman he ever comes in contact with”.[3] Blanchett had wanted to play a villain for a “couple of years”, and enjoyed being part of the Indiana Jones legacy as she loved the previous films.[22] Spielberg praised Blanchett as a “master of disguise”, and considers her his favorite Indiana Jones villain for coming up with much of Spalko’s characteristics.[10] Spalko’s bob cut was her idea, with the character’s stern looks and behaviour recalling Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love.[23] Blanchett learned to fence for the character, but during filming, Spielberg decided to give Spalko “karate chop” skills.[24] LaBeouf recalled Blanchett was elusive on set, and Ford was surprised when he met her on set outside of costume. He noted, “There’s no aspect of her behavior that was not[sic] consistent with this bizarre person she’s playing.”[7] Screenwriter David Koepp created the character.[9]

Karen Allen reprises the role of Marion Ravenwood, who appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Allen was not aware her character was in the script until Spielberg called her in January 2007, saying, “It’s been announced! We’re gonna make Indiana Jones 4! And guess what? You’re in it!”[25] Ford found Allen “one of the easiest people to work with I’ve ever known. She’s a completely self-sufficient woman, and that’s part of the character she plays. A lot of her charm and the charm of the character is there. And again, it’s not an age-dependent thing. It has to do with her spirit and her nature.”[7] Allen found Ford easier to work with on this film, in contrast to the first film, where she slowly befriended the private actor.[26]

Ray Winstone plays George “Mac” McHale,[27] both a friend of and competitor with Jones. The character acts as a spin on Sallah and Rene Belloq — Jones’ friend and nemesis, respectively, in Raiders of the Lost Ark.[28] According to Winstone, Mac worked with Indiana during World War II, and remains a source of suspicion because the Russians have spies in the British government.[23] Spielberg felt Winstone was “one of the most brilliant actors around” when he saw Sexy Beast.[24] Winstone tore his hamstring during filming. “I keep getting these action parts as I’m getting older,” he remarked.[29]

John Hurt plays Harold Oxley,[30] a colleague of Jones who disappeared in 1937 while searching for the skulls.[24] Frank Darabont had suggested Hurt when he was writing the screenplay.[31] The character is inspired by Ben Gunn from Treasure Island.[24] Hurt wanted to read the script before signing on, unlike other cast members who came on “because Steven — you know, ‘God’ — was doing it. And I said, ‘Well, I need to have a little bit of previous knowledge even if God is doing it.’ So they sent a courier over with the script from Los Angeles, gave it to me at three o’clock in the afternoon in London, collected it again at eight o’clock in the evening, and he returned the next day to Los Angeles.” Hurt only appears in the film’s second half.[32]

Jim Broadbent plays Dean Charles Stanforth, an academic colleague and friend of Jones at Yale University. Broadbent’s character stands in for Marcus Brody, as actor Denholm Elliott died in 1992.[24] As a tribute to Elliott, the filmmakers put a portrait of the character in the film on the Marshall College set.[33]

Igor Jijikine plays the Russian Colonel Dovchenko. His character stands in for the heavily-built henchmen Pat Roach played in the previous films (Roach died in 2004).[24]

Alan Dale has an unnamed role.[34] Andrew Divoff and Pavel Lychnikoff play Russian soldiers.[13] Spielberg cast Russian-speaking actors as Russian soldiers so their accents would be authentic.[11] Dimitri Diatchenko plays Spalko’s right hand man who battles Indiana at Marshall College. Diatchenko bulked up to 250 pounds to look menacing, and his role was originally minor with ten days of filming. When shooting the fight, Ford accidentally hit his chin, and Spielberg liked Diatchenko’s humorous looking reaction, so he expanded his role to three months of filming.[35]

Sean Connery turned down a cameo appearance as Henry Jones, Sr. as he found retirement too enjoyable.[36] Lucas stated that in hindsight it was good that Connery did not briefly appear, as it would disappoint the audience when his character would not come along for the film’s adventure.[37] Ford joked, “I’m old enough to play my own father in this one.”[7]

 

Production

 

[edit] Development

Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars script by Jeb Stuart, dated February 20, 1995:The original script’s prologue is set in Borneo in 1949, with Indiana proposing to Dr. Elaine McGregor after defeating pirates. She abandons him at the altar, because the government requests her aid in decoding an alien cylinder (covered in Egyptian, Mayan and Sanskrit symbols) in New Mexico. Indiana pursues her, and battles Russians agents and aliens for the cylinder.

The script featured army ants, a rocket sled fight, Indiana surviving an atomic explosion by sealing himself in a fridge, and a climactic battle between the US military and flying saucers. Henry Jones, Sr., Short Round, Sallah, Marion and Willie cameo at Indiana and Elaine’s wedding(s). Indiana is also a former Colonel of the OSS.
[38]

During the late 1970s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made a deal with Paramount Pictures for five Indiana Jones films.[39] Following the theatrical release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, Lucas let the series end as he felt he could not think of a good plot device to drive the next installment.[40] However, he declared that if he ever found a new plot device that all three men liked, he would consider a fourth film.[41]

The film’s long gestation coincided with Harrison Ford growing older, and this meant the filmmakers had to give a new approach and setting. Instead of tributing Republic Pictures’s 1930s serials, the film needed to be more like a 1950s B-movie.[20] Lucas’s favorite film of that era was Forbidden Planet.[42] In 1992, Jeb Stuart was writing the screenplay,[43] and Last Crusade writer Jeffrey Boam was set to pen another draft three years later.[44] However, Spielberg and Ford were not interested in the unsubtle depiction of alien invaders, and development halted when Lucas made the Star Wars prequels.[20] “No way am I being in a Steve Spielberg movie like that”, Ford told Lucas.[25]

Lucas also became interested in the crystal skulls while producing The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,[20] and he attempted to feature it in an episode of the show’s canceled third season.[45] He found them as fascinating as the Ark of the Covenant.[20] Author Max McCoy later incorporated the crystal skull mythology into his four Indiana Jones novels,[46][47][48][49] and the Tokyo Disney theme park attraction Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull opened in 2001. Some of the folklore surrounding the skulls suggest they were created by aliens (a quartz skull found in 1906 in Mexico resembled one), or by those living in Atlantis or the Hollow Earth (both legendary civilizations were depicted in an Indiana Jones video game and a McCoy novel respectively).[50]

By 2000, Spielberg’s personal interest was ignited as his son asked when the next Indiana Jones film would be released.[51] The same year, Ford, Lucas, Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy met during the American Film Institute’s tribute to Ford, and decided they wanted to enjoy the experience of making an Indiana Jones film again: Spielberg also found returning to the series a respite from his many dark films during this period.[26] M. Night Shyamalan was hired to write for an intended 2002 shoot,[51] but he was overwhelmed writing a sequel to a film he loved like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and claimed it was difficult to get Ford, Spielberg, and Lucas to focus.[52] Shyamalan did not produce an actual script.[25] Afterwards, Stephen Gaghan and Tom Stoppard were approached to write a new screenplay.[51] With a title already planned,[53] Frank Darabont, who wrote several The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episodes, was hired in May 2002 to write.[54]

Darabont’s screenplay was set in the 1950s, with surviving Nazis pursuing Jones.[21] Darabont came up with reintroducing Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen),[55] but he did not include Indy’s son, as rumored.[56] In December 2002, Spielberg said he planned to shoot two films before filming Indiana Jones 4 in 2004 for a 2005 release.[57] Although Spielberg loved the script,[21] Lucas rejected it in February 2004.[58] He and Spielberg acknowledged the 1950s setting could not ignore the Cold War, and the Russians were more plausible villains. Spielberg felt he could not satirize the Nazis after directing Schindler’s List,[10] while Ford felt “We plum wore the Nazis out.”[25] Lucas also heard that Joseph Stalin was interested in the crystal skulls.[9]

Jeff Nathanson was hired in October 2004 to write a new draft,[59] which was set around 1949.[60] Completed a year later, the script was handed over to David Koepp.[51] As 2006 began, Harrison Ford declared if the film was not made by 2008, then the filmmakers should drop the idea altogether.[61] Spielberg confirmed Indiana Jones 4 as his next film, calling it “the sweet dessert I give those who had to chow down on the bitter herbs that I’ve used in Munich“.[62] Koepp looked at all previous scripts, and kept what he felt were good ideas (such as Mutt, which he felt was an interesting role reversal from Last Crusade).[9] The crystal skull was already the plot device.[26] He tried not to make his work a “fan script”, in that he hoped to avoid any trivial references to the previous films.[63] He also aimed to make it less dark than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom yet less comic than Last Crusade, aiming for the balance from the first film.[64] Frank Marshall disagreed, feeling the film’s banter made it tonally closer to Last Crusade.[13] Koepp advised with Raiders of the Lost Ark screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan on some of the film’s “love dialogue”.[9]

 

Filming

The production crew converts a storefront in downtown New Haven, Connecticut to be used in a scene set to take place in the 1950s.

The production crew converts a storefront in downtown New Haven, Connecticut to be used in a scene set to take place in the 1950s.

Unlike the previous Indiana Jones films, Spielberg only shot the film in the United States as he did not want to be away from his family.[42] Shooting began on June 18, 2007[17] at Deming, New Mexico.[65] An extensive chase scene set at Indiana Jones’ fictional Marshall College was filmed between June 28 and July 7 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.[66][65] They moved to Hawaii, shooting twenty percent of the film for three weeks[67] on private property, keeping production secretive.[65] Scenes set in the jungles of Peru were shot in Hawaii: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the biggest film shot there since Waterworld, and was estimated to generate $22 million to $45 million in the local economy.[68]

Half the film was scheduled to shoot on sound stages at Los Angeles.[67] The five studios used were the Downey, Sony, Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal lots.[32] Filming moved to Chandler Field in Fresno, California, substituting for Mexico City International Airport, on October 11, 2007.[69] After shooting aerial shots of Chandler Airport and a DC-3 on the morning of October 12, 2007, filming wrapped.[70][71] Although he originally found no need for re-shoots after viewing his first cut of the film,[21] Spielberg decided to add an establishing shot, which was filmed on February 29, 2008 at Pasadena, California.[72]

Spielberg and Janusz Kamiński, who has shot all of the director’s films since 1993’s Schindler’s List, rewatched the previous films to study Douglas Slocombe’s style. “I didn’t want Janusz to modernize and bring us into the 21st century,” Spielberg explained. “I still wanted the film to have a lighting style not dissimilar to the work Doug Slocombe had achieved, which meant that both Janusz and I had to swallow our pride. Janusz had to approximate another cinematographer’s look, and I had to approximate this younger director’s look that I thought I had moved away from after almost two decades.”[20] Spielberg also did not want to fast cut action scenes, relying on his script instead for a fast pace,[20] and had confirmed in 2002 that he would not shoot the film digitally, a format Lucas had adopted.[57] Lucas felt “it looks like it was shot three years after Last Crusade. The people, the look of it, everything. You’d never know there was 20 years between shooting.”[42]

 

Effects

While shooting War of the Worlds in late 2004, Spielberg met with stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong, who doubled for Ford in the previous films, to discuss three action sequences he had envisioned.[40] However, Armstrong was filming The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor during shooting of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so Dan Bradley was hired instead.[73] Bradley and Spielberg used previsualization for all the action scenes, except the motorcycle chase at Marshall College, because that idea was conceived after the animators had left. Bradley drew traditional storyboards instead, and was given free rein to create dramatic moments, just as Raiders of the Lost Ark second unit director Michael D. Moore did when filming the truck chase.[23]

Producer Frank Marshall stated in 2003 that the film would not rely on CGI; it would instead use traditional special effects and stuntwork so as to be consistent with the previous films.[74] He reiterated this in 2006.[40] During filming, Steven Spielberg said CGI would primarily used for matte paintings, amounting to thirty percent of the film’s shots.[71] The movie only contains “a couple of hundred” effects shots.[13] Spielberg initially wanted brushstrokes to be visible on the matte paintings for consistency with the effects of the previous films, but decided against it.[25] CGI was also used to remove the visible safety wires on the actors when they did their stunts (such as when Indiana whips on to a lamp).[23] Timed explosives were used for a scene where Indiana drives a truck through a wall, which was dangerous because one explosive did not set off and landed in the chair beside Ford.[75]

Ben Burtt, the sound designer on the previous films and an editor and director on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, left Lucasfilm in 2005.[76] But he returned to work on the new film because “I love the character and the series so much, I just had to be part of Crystal Skull.”[14]

 

Music

John Williams began composing the score in October 2007;[13] ten days of recording sessions wrapped on March 6, 2008 at Sony Pictures Studios.[77] The soundtrack features a continuum, an instrument often used for sound effects instead of music.[78] The Concord Music Group will release the soundtrack on May 20, 2008.[79]

 

Release

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2008, ahead of its worldwide May 22 release date. It will be the first Spielberg film since 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to premiere at Cannes.[80] The film will be released in approximately 4000 theaters in the United States, and will be dubbed into 25 languages for its worldwide release.[20] More than 12,000 release prints will be distributed, which is the largest in Paramount Pictures’ history.[81] Although Spielberg insisted his films only be watched traditionally at theaters, Paramount chose to release the film in digital cinemas as part of a scheme to convert 10,000 US cinemas to the format.[82]

The film will need to gross at least US$400 million to make a profit for Paramount. Unlike other film franchises, they are only the distributor of Indiana Jones, who is copyrighted by Lucasfilm, and their original deal entailed they would only earn 12.5 percent of the film’s revenue. As the $185 million budget was larger than expected (it was originally estimated at $125 million)[83] Lucas, Spielberg and Ford turned down large upfront salaries so Paramount can cover the film’s cost. Only after the film grosses $400 million will other participants in the picture earn a profit.[84]

 

Marketing

Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing, has stated the film will have a large marketing campaign. He attributed the massive marketing push to the fact that “It’s been nineteen years since the last film, and we are sensing a huge pent-up demand for everything Indy.”[85] From October 2007 to April 2008, the reedited episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles were released in three DVD box sets.[86] The Boston-based design studio Creative Pilot created the packaging style for the film’s merchandise, which merges Drew Struzan’s original illustrations “with a fresh new look, which showcases the whip, a map, and exotic hieroglyphic patterns”.[87] Hasbro, Lego, Sideshow Collectibles, Topps, Diamond Select, Hallmark Cards,[88] Burger King,[89] and Cartamundi will all sell products.[90]

Random House, Dark Horse Comics, Diamond Comic Distributors, Scholastic, and DK will publish books,[85] including James Rollins’ novelization of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,[91] a two-issue comic book adaptation written by John Jackson Miller and drawn by Luke Ross (Samurai: Heaven and Earth), children’s novelizations of all four films,[92] the Indiana Jones Adventures comic book series aimed at children,[93] and the official Indiana Jones Magazine.[94] A Lego video game based on the past films will be released,[95][96] while THQ will also release a mobile game based on the new film.[97] Stern Pinball will release a new Indiana Jones pinball machine, designed by John Borg, which will feature all four movies and many interactive toys.[98]

 

[edit] Secrecy

Frank Marshall remarked, “In today’s information age, secrecy has been a real challenge. […] People actually said, ‘No, we’re going to respect Steven’s vision.” Fans on the internet have scrutinized numerous photos and the film’s Lego sets in hope of understanding plot details; Spielberg biographer Ian Freer wrote, “What Indy IV is actually about has been the great cultural guessing game of 2007/08. Yet, it has to be said, there is something refreshing about being ten weeks away from a giant blockbuster and knowing next to nothing about it.”[23] To distract investigative fans from the film’s title during filming,[99] five fake titles were registered with the Motion Picture Association of America; The City of Gods, The Destroyer of Worlds, The Fourth Corner of the Earth, The Lost City of Gold and The Quest for the Covenant.[83] Lucas and Spielberg had also wanted to keep Karen Allen’s return a secret until the film’s release, but decided to confirm it at the 2007 Comic-Con.[100]

An extra in the film, Tyler Nelson, violated his nondisclosure agreement in an interview with The Edmond Sun on September 17, 2007, which was then picked up by the mainstream media. Spielberg has yet to decide if he will cut Nelson’s scene.[101] At Nelson’s request, The Edmond Sun subsequently pulled the story from its website.[102] On October 2, 2007, a Superior Court order was filed finding that Nelson knowingly violated the agreement. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[103] A number of production photos and sensitive documents pertaining to the film’s production budget were also stolen from Steven Spielberg’s production office. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department set up a sting operation after being alerted by a webmaster the thief might try to sell the photos. On October 4, 2007, the seller, 37-year old Roderick Eric Davis, was arrested. He pled guilty to two felony counts and will serve two years and four months in jail.

Photos

 
wikipedia and imdb
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