In 1981 a movie was released that shook up the academic world; archaeologists, anthropologists and other scholars found their decades of discipline potentially rewarded with a secret life of excitement and adventure! The film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, introduced Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr.: a university professor who spends his free time stealing sacred artefacts from ancient burial sites. The excuse: that he was outwitting more malevolent rivals, including Nazis, Stalinists or the terrifying Monkey King.
INDIANA JONES AND…
George Lucas created Indiana Jones in the 1970s. He took the idea to director Steven Spielberg, who wanted actor Harrison Ford (Han Solo in 1977 movie Star Wars) in the role. Lucas and Spielberg signed a five-movie deal with Paramount Pictures. After Raiders of the Lost Ark came a prequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, in 1984. In 1989, a sequel was made called Last Crusade. It was followed by a fourth film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in 2008.
DUST OFF THE HAT
Fifteen years on, and the fifth and final film in the Indiana Jones franchise is on release. Unlike the previous movies, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is directed by James Mangold and co-produced by Disney, the studio that bought Lucasfilm in 2012. Seventy-nine while filming, Ford reprises his role as the fedora-wearing, whip-cracking Indy.
HONORARY PALME D’OR
Dial of Destiny received a standing ovation at its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Ford received an honorary Palme D’Or. As Mangold explained later, he was well aware of the immense responsibility he had taken on, and was in continual contact with executive producer Steven Spielberg. But Mangold was also determined to make the film unique.
James Mangold (American accent): It’s an awesome responsibility. Everyone has their own version of Indiana Jones. There’s a massive amount of emotional attachment and expectation. Making movies is not unlike being on a sports team: you can’t get on the field thinking about what you did last year, you have to be on the field with your team and moving toward the goal in that game. You have to live inside this picture and you make your decisions based on what the movie starts to tell you…
THE WEIGHT OF LIFE
Eighty-one this July, Ford says he is delighted to be alive, let alone play Indy again. In the first scene of the new film he is featured in a flashback to 1944, with technology reducing his age by thirty-five years. When Ford was asked how he felt to see himself young again on screen, he said that it was vital that the film do justice to actual ageing.
Harrison Ford (American accent): It was used very skillfully and assiduously. The technology has evolved to the point where it, to me, seems very realistic. It’s not Photoshop magic: that’s what I looked like thirty-five years ago, because Lucasfilm has every frame of film that we’ve made together and this process is scientific mining of this library. It’s just a trick, unless it’s supported by story: if it’s not honest, it’s not emotionally real. So, I’m very happy with it, but I don’t look back and say, “I wish I was that guy again”, because I don’t. I’m real happy with age. I love being older. I wanted to see the weight of life on him [Indiana Jones]; I wanted to see him require reinvention.
THE ACTION ELEMENT
In the movie, Indiana teams up with his charming if unscrupulous godchild Helena Shaw. British actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays the role. She spoke about her admiration for the script and of her surprise discovery that she loved doing action sequences.
Phoebe Waller Bridge (English accent): It’s very nerve-wracking coming to something that is so adored and then there’s something very heartening once you’ve got a wonderful script and have an incredible team who care about the story and the characters so much. There was [were] so many places to visit physically and also in our imaginations and historically in this film, and it was so committed to the worlds that we went into. I loved the fighting. I loved the stunts and the action element. I was surprised at how freeing it can be as an actor to just throw yourself at something.
The youngest member of the central cast is sixteen-year-old French actor Ethann Isidore. The film also stars thirty-three-year-old Guyanese-born US actress Shaunette Renée Wilson. Wilson spoke about her relationship with American culture.
Shaunette Renée Wilson (American accent): This movie talks so much about time and how we deal with the passing of time. I’m an immigrant. I was born in another country, came to the States when I was two. Indiana Jones was before my time! But it was still a crucial part of my upbringing and my introduction to American culture.
THE DIAL OF DESTINY
It is 1944: young spy Indiana Jones and his friend Professor Basil Shaw are captured by the Nazis. But they get hold of something the Germans desperately want: the surviving half of the Dial of Destiny, an artefact created by ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. It allows its owner to control the forces of space and time; but Archimedes divided it in two and hid the other half. Back in present day 1969, and Dr. Jones is old and reluctantly retiring. However, he discovers that Jürgen Voller, one of the Nazis who chased him back in 1944, has reinvented himself as a NASA scientist, and is working on the Apollo 11 mission to land on the Moon! Voller’s intentions are as malevolent as they were during the Second World War. Can Indiana Jones stop him uniting the Dial’s halves and taking control of the universe?