For those who have kept themselves blissfully unaware of all “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” news, tread cautiously. There are light spoilers ahead.
Indiana Jones may go digging for the great lost treasures of the world, but if you really want to impress your friends, dig this: From George Lucas to Cate Blanchett to Harrison Ford to Ray Winstone, we went straight to the stars, writers and producers of the film to find out 10 things you should know before seeing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
1. “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” is now officially canon
Ever since Indiana Jones went the way of “M.A.S.H.” (which is to say, from the silver screen to the boob tube), fans have debated whether the series constituted “official” chapters in the life of the world’s greatest archaeologist or whether, like some “Star Wars” novels, they existed outside of the series’ established canon. Look for a brief mention of adventures with Pancho Villa when Dr. Jones is talking to Mutt as the pair travel through an old town in South America, firmly recalling the plot of the series’ first episode, “The Curse of the Jackal.”
2. Like Karen Allen’s or John Hurt’s appearances in the film? Thank Frank Darabont
Although ultimately rejected by George Lucas, “Shawshank Redemption” writer/director Frank Darabont was hired to write a draft of “Indy 4” some years before David Koepp. While he ultimately wasn’t given credit for the story that wound up on the screen, which is why he anticipated a legal battle back in November, Darabont’s two most important contributions might be some of the biggest. “[The return of] Marion! That was my idea,” he told MTV News in August, referring to what made its way in from his script. “[And] I did suggest to Steven that he cast John Hurt in this movie. It’s not entirely the role I suggested him for, but I did suggest him.” Speaking of screenwriters …
3. “Indiana Jones and the Quest Not to Be Awful”
He was the last man standing in an informal screenwriting contest that lasted 15 years, so what was Koepp’s ultimate goal for “Indy 4”? “Just hope to God you don’t screw up,” he laughed when MTV News caught up with him in December.
4. Indiana Jones will continue … without so much Indiana Jones
Following Lucas’ recent proclamation that he already had an idea for a fifth “Indy,” but with Shia LaBeouf in the main role, both Harrison Ford and LaBeouf told MTV News that they’re more than game. “I just work here. I’m glad to work here,” Ford told MTV News at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday. “Till they tell me otherwise, I will continue to be Indiana Jones.” LaBeouf chimed in: “If [’Crystal Skull’ is] received well, I don’t imagine they would stop making them. I don’t think a Mutt-spinoff would be as big as Indiana Jones. [But] fingers crossed!”
5. Harvard lecturer Marc Zender is a friggin’ genius
For more than a year, Internet fans and journalists alike have been trying to divine the secrets of “Indy 4.” Instead of hitting up various Web sites, maybe we should’ve spent more time in class. Nearly eight months ago, archaeologist Marc Zender told MTV News how the film would play out based on his knowledge of crystal skulls — and the result is eerily accurate. Is there a scene in which “people are able to gaze into the eyes of the crystal skull and … either read the past with great clarity or predict the future”? Check! Was there confirmation that “this skull has stored all of the lost knowledge of the Mayans or Atlantians, or E.T.”? Check! How about a climax that has someone “bringing them all together, [making] all those abilities available to everybody all at once”? Check! And a direct reference to the infamous real-life “discoverer” of a crystal skull Frederick Mitchell-Hedges? By now, you already know the answer, don’t you?
6. The son wishes he was a daughter instead
Fedoras off to LaBeouf, the talented young actor put between a rock and a hard place, cast in the most-anticipated movie of the last decade — and unable to talk about it. But now that the cat’s officially out of the bag and everybody knows he’s Henry Jones III, would it surprise you to know he actually wishes there was a Henrietta instead? “As a fan, yeah, I thought it would have been cool to see Natalie Portman in this movie as the daughter, but that didn’t happen,” he told MTV News , being a bit coy about his own role. “But I was on that bandwagon. I was in the Natalie Portman fan club. I have a strange attraction to Natalie Portman.”
7. The crystal skulls in the movie are props, but they didn’t have to be
Unlike, say, the Holy Grail, crystal skulls are real artifacts. While they don’t have the powers ascribed to them in the movie, you can see them for yourself at various museums and homes across the world. Producers Frank Marshall and George Lucas did. “The skulls themselves are real, and a lot of the stuff in the movie is real, just like in the other movies,” Lucas said. “We don’t base it on a lot of phony-baloney stuff.” But did they transfer any of their powers to these superproducers to help make a better movie? “No,” Marshall chuckled to MTV. “I don’t feel any wiser after being in its presence.” (If you live in London, check out a skull at the British Museum.)
8. Pain is temporary, Indiana Jones is forever
When word leaked out that 65-year-old star Harrison Ford was returning for another Indiana Jones film, some wondered whether he was too old. The answer, of course, is a resounding no. In fact, there was one major injury on set — and it happened to the 21-year-old LaBeouf. “I pulled a rotator cuff in my hip,” LaBeouf told MTV News in April, gesturing to his waist. “It’s the only time in my career I’ve ever been injured. What happened was, because the injury got worse and worse as the movie went on, I pulled my groin also. [The groin] is not a good thing to have anything happen to.” It’s actually pretty easy to surmise the exact scene in which the injury happens too. Look for Shia to put on a few moves during a thrilling jungle sword fight against Cate Blanchett, a scene Shia called his “favorite” in the whole movie.
9. There’s more than one way to whip a Nazi
They all look the same to viewers, but Harrison Ford actually swings a total of 10 different whips throughout the films, each woven and sized differently for different kinds of stunts.
10. The stars themselves are Indy’s biggest fans
“It’s a film I never thought I’d ever be making. Then you get a little bit [more] excited, because it’s something your kids are going to be able to watch. And working with Steven Spielberg and [George Lucas] — they’re geniuses,” Ray Winstone told MTV News in November. “I can remember [’Raiders’] was a big [movie] for me,” Blanchett told us. “I thought, ’Ooh, gosh, when I grow up I’d like to marry a man like [Indy], even if he does fall asleep after I kiss him.’ ” LaBeouf was equally stoked: “Crazy! I don’t know what else to say. It’s crazy and unbelievable. It’s almost like you’re reflecting while you’re in the middle of it, because you know you’re gonna be telling your kids this, so you’re in the middle of it going, ’Oh my God, let me get every detail. How many buttons are on that shirt?’ ”
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