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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

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  Summary  

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a 2008 American adventure science fiction film. It is the fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise, created by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg. Released nineteen years after the previous film, the film acknowledges its star Harrison Ford's age by being set in 1957. It pays tribute to the science fiction B-movies of the era, pitting Indiana Jones against Soviet agents—led by Irina Spalko —for a psychic alien crystal skull. Indiana is aided by his former lover Marion Ravenwood and Mutt Williams . Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Jim Broadbent are also part of the supporting cast.

Screenwriters Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, Frank Darabont and Jeff Nathanson wrote drafts before David Koepp's script satisfied the producers. Shooting began on June 18, 2007 and took place in various locations: New Mexico; New Haven, Connecticut; Hawaii; Fresno, California and on soundstages in Los Angeles. To keep aesthetic continuity with the previous films the crew relied on traditional stunt work instead of computer-generated stunt doubles and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński studied Douglas Slocombe's style from the previous films.

Marketing relied heavily on the public's nostalgia for the series, with products taking inspiration from all four films. Anticipation for the film was heightened by secrecy, which resulted in a legal dispute over an extra violating his non-disclosure agreement and the arrest of another man for stealing a computer containing various documents related to the production. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released worldwide on May 22, 2008, and was a financial success, grossing over $786 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of the franchise, the second highest-grossing film of 2008 and the third highest-grossing film ever produced by Lucasfilm when not adjusted for inflation, after Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

  Presentation  

 production
 Development


During the late 1970s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made a deal with Paramount Pictures for five Indiana Jones films. Following the 1989 release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lucas let the series end as he felt he could not think of a good plot device to drive the next installment, and chose instead to produce The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles for TV, which explored the character in his early years. Harrison Ford played Indiana in one episode, narrating his adventures in 1920 Chicago. When Lucas shot Ford's role in December 1992, he realized the scene opened up the possibility of a film with an older Indiana set in the 1950s. The film could reflect a science fiction 1950s B-movie, with aliens as the plot device. Meanwhile, Spielberg believed he was going to "mature" as a filmmaker after making the trilogy, and felt he would just produce any future installments.

Ford disliked the new angle, telling Lucas, "No way am I being in a Steven Spielberg movie like that." Spielberg himself, who depicted aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, resisted it. Lucas came up with a story, which Jeb Stuart turned into a script from October 1993 to May 1994. Lucas wanted Indiana to get married, which would allow Henry Jones, Sr. to return, expressing concern over whether his son is happy with what he has accomplished. After he learned that Joseph Stalin was interested in psychic warfare, he decided to have Russians as the villains and the aliens to have psychic powers. Following Stuart's next draft, Lucas hired Last Crusade writer Jeffrey Boam to write the next three versions, the last of which was completed in March 1996. Three months later, Independence Day was released, and Spielberg told Lucas he would not make another alien invasion film. Lucas decided to focus on the Star Wars prequels''.

In 2000, Spielberg's son asked when the next Indiana Jones film would be released, which made him interested in reviving the project. 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, such as A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, and Munich. Lucas convinced Spielberg to use aliens in the plot by saying they were not "extraterrestrials," but "interdimensional," with this concept taking inspiration in the superstring theory. Spielberg and Lucas discussed the central idea of a B-movie involving aliens, and Lucas suggested using the crystal skulls to ground the idea. Lucas found those artifacts as fascinating as the Ark of the Covenant, and had intended to feature them for a Young Indiana Jones episode before the show's cancellation. M. Night Shyamalan was hired to write for an intended 2002 shoot, 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. Stephen Gaghan and Tom Stoppard were also approached.

Frank Darabont, who wrote various Young Indiana Jones episodes, was hired to write in May 2002. His script, entitled Indiana Jones and the City of Gods, was set in the 1950s, with ex-Nazis pursuing Jones. Spielberg conceived the idea because of real life figures such as Juan Perón in Argentina, who protected Nazi war criminals. Darabont claimed Spielberg loved the script, but Lucas had issues with it, and decided to take over writing himself. Lucas and Spielberg acknowledged the 1950s setting could not ignore the Cold War, and the Russians were more plausible villains. Spielberg decided he could not satirize the Nazis after directing Schindler's List, while Ford noted, "We plum wore the Nazis out."

Jeff Nathanson met with Spielberg and Lucas in August 2004, and turned in the next drafts in October and November 2005, titled The Atomic Ants. David Koepp continued on from there, giving his script the subtitle Destroyer of Worlds, based on the J. Robert Oppenheimer quote. It was changed to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as Spielberg found it more inviting a title and actually named the plot device of the crystal skulls. Lucas insisted on the Kingdom part. Koepp's "bright idea" was Indiana Jones and the Son of Indiana Jones, and Spielberg had also considered having the title name the aliens as The Mysterians, but dropped that when he remembered that was the name of a film. Koepp collaborated with Raiders of the Lost Ark screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan on the film's "love dialogue."

 Filming

Unlike the previous Indiana Jones films, Spielberg shot the entire film in the United States, stating he did not want to be away from his family. Shooting began on June 18, 2007 at Deming, New Mexico. An extensive chase scene set at Indiana Jones's fictional Marshall College was filmed between June 28 and July 7 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut (where Spielberg's son Theo was studying). To keep in line with the fact the story takes place in the 1950s, several facades were changed, although signs were put up in between shots to tell the public what the store or restaurant actually was.


Afterwards, they filmed scenes set in the Peruvian jungles in Hilo, Hawaii until August. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the biggest film shot in Hawaii since Waterworld, and was estimated to generate $22 million to $45 million in the local economy. Because of an approaching hurricane, Spielberg was unable to shoot a fight at a waterfall, so he sent the second unit to film shots of Brazil's and Argentina's Iguazu Falls. These were digitally combined into the fight, which was shot at the Universal backlot.

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

 Design
Spielberg and Janusz Kamiński, who has shot all of the director's films since 1993's Schindler's List, reviewed 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." Spielberg also hired production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas after admiring his design work for Superman Returns. Spielberg did not want to fast cut action scenes, relying on his script instead for a fast pace, and had confirmed in 2002 that he would not shoot the film digitally, a format Lucas had adopted. 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." Kamiński commented upon watching the three films back-to-back, he was amazed how each of them advanced technologically, but were all nevertheless consistent, neither too brightly or darkly lit.

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. 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. 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. Spielberg improvised on set, changing the location of Mutt and Spalko's duel from the ground to on top of vehicles.

The Ark of the Covenant is seen in a broken crate during the Hangar 51 opening sequence. Lucasfilm used the same prop from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Guards were hired to protect the highly-sought after piece of film memorabilia during the day of its use. A replica of the staff carried by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments was also used to populate the set to illustrate the Hangar's history.

 Effects

Producer Frank Marshall stated in 2003 that the film would use traditional stunt work so as to be consistent with the previous films. CGI was used to remove the visible safety wires on the actors when they did their stunts . Timed explosives were used for a scene where Indiana drives a truck through crates. During the take, an explosive failed to detonate and landed in the seat beside Ford. However, it did not go off and he was not injured.

Steven Spielberg stated before production began that very few CGI effects would be used to maintain consistency with the other films. During filming however, significantly more CGI work was done than initially anticipated as in many cases it proved to be more practical. There ended up being a total of about 450 CGI shots in the film, with an estimated 30 percent of the film's shots containing CG matte paintings. Spielberg initially wanted brushstrokes to be visible on the paintings for added consistency with the previous films, but decided against it. The script also required a non-deforested jungle for a chase scene, but this would have been unsafe and much CGI work was done to create the jungle action sequence. Visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman (who worked on Lucas' Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones as well as Spielberg's War of the Worlds and Munich) traveled to Brazil and Argentina to photograph elements that were composited into the final images. Industrial Light and Magic then effectively created a virtual jungle with a geography like the real Amazon.

The appearance of a live alien and flying saucer was in flux. Spielberg wanted the alien to resemble a Gray alien, and also rejected early versions of the saucer that looked "too Close Encounters". Art director Christian Alzmann said the aesthetic was "looking at a lot of older B-movie designs – but trying to make that look more real and gritty to fit in with the Indy universe." Other reference for the visual effects work included government tapes of nuclear tests, and video reference of real prairie dogs shot in 1080p by Nathan Edward Denning.

 Music

John Williams began composing the score in October 2007; ten days of recording sessions wrapped on March 6, 2008 at Sony Pictures Studios. Williams described composing for the Indiana Jones universe again as "like sitting down and finishing a letter that you started 25 years ago". He reused Indiana's theme as well as Marion's from the first film, and also composed five new motifs for Mutt, Spalko and the skull. Williams gave Mutt's a swashbuckling feel, and homaged film noir and 1950s B-movies for Spalko and the crystal skull respectively. As an in-joke, Williams incorporated a measure and a half of Johannes Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture" when Indiana and Mutt crash into the library. The soundtrack features a Continuum, an instrument often used for sound effects instead of music. The Concord Music Group released the soundtrack on May 20, 2008.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Indiana Jones y el reino de la calavera de cristal", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.