Indiana Jones Masterminds George Lucas, Steven Spielberg Open Up About Supernatural ‘Crystal Skull’

'It's kind of like 'X-Files,' ' Lucas tells Vanity Fair.

George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf have all been tight-lipped about the forthcoming “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” — well, apart from Shia leaking the title at the VMAs . So those looking forward to the fourth installment of the series will be interested to know that Lucas, Spielberg and Ford shared some details about the film for the forthcoming February issue of Vanity Fair, which hits newsstands Tuesday.

The mysterious plot, we now know, is set in 1957, but don’t assume that means “Skull” will have a sharp, Hitchcock-inspired look. “This wasn’t that kind of a style,” Spielberg explained to the magazine. “We went right back to the blazing Technicolor style of the first three installments. … I didn’t want to update Indiana Jones to the 1950s beyond hair, makeup, costumes and cars. I wanted it to look very similar to the first three pictures. I never wanted to get away from the B-movie, pulp feeling of the entire cliffhangers era of the ’40s and ’50s, the old Republic serials.”

“You’d never know there was 20 years between shooting,” Lucas added. “And I think people will be amazed. It’s like sitting in a big old comfortable chair you sat in: ‘Gee, it’s just the same.’ ”

To get that look, Spielberg screened the first three Indy films with his longtime collaborator, Janusz Kaminski, who took over for original Indy cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, who, at 94, is retired. “His lighting style defined a genre of serialized action adventure,” Spielberg said. “I needed to show them to Janusz, because I didn’t want Janusz to modernize and bring us into the 21st century.”

The plot, however, is slightly modernized — no more Nazis (even though an earlier draft by Frank Darabont had included them), because by 1957, Indy has a new enemy to contend with, thanks to the Cold War: the Soviets — or, more specifically, Cate Blanchett , whose Agent Spalko is especially cold-blooded. Warming things up will be Karen Allen, returning as Marion Ravenwood, and LaBeouf, as Indy and Marion’s love child — or so the rumor goes. Not even Vanity Fair could get Lucas and Spielberg to confirm that one. When asked if this were a father/son story, Spielberg countered, “The new Indy movie is about a great quest, an amazing quest — and that’s all I’m gonna say.”

As for Ravenwood, Lucas did say that “Skull” is “continuing the story of their relationship, which is a lot of fun.”

Besides possibly giving Indy more of a family, the movie also gives our hero more supernatural material than ever before. “Indiana Jones [movies] aren’t action movies,” Lucas tells the mag. “They’re primarily mysteries with a supernatural object. So it’s kind of like ‘X-Files.’ ‘X-Files’ came out of this idea — instead of taking archaeological objects, they took Bigfoot and aliens and psychological mythology instead of the physical — but it amounts to the same thing.”

And there could be more overlap than ever before — especially when it comes to those pesky aliens. Combining the movie’s time frame (1957) with one of the flick’s shooting locations (New Mexico) seems to indicate an Area 51 theme. “It’s important for us that there’s a real supernatural mystery going on,” Lucas said. “Only Indiana Jones movies are supernatural-mystery movies. They’re always going after some supernatural object. It’s not a pretend object. It’s not something that we made up. It’s something that actually exists, or people believe exists — whether it does or not is in dispute. But for every person who says, ‘I don’t believe that,’ there’s another person who says, ‘Well, I believe it. I heard about it, and I saw it and there’s stories.’ ”

Spielberg doesn’t know if this story leaves room for more Indy flicks. Right now, he told Vanity Fair, he’s still in the cutting room and “can’t even think beyond the next cut.” “I usually do about five cuts as a director,” he said. “I’m in my second cut, which means I’ve put the movie together and I’ve seen it.” When he gets to the fifth cut, he’ll send it to composer John Williams and the sound-effects team.

“The best news is that, when I saw the movie myself the first time, there was nothing I wanted to go back and shoot, nothing I wanted to reshoot,” he said. “Nothing I wanted to add.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

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