LOS ANGELES — Ever since Shia LaBeouf announced the title of the next "Indiana Jones" adventure at the MTV Video Music Awards, everyone from ordinary movie fans to Harvard archeologists have obsessed themselves with the meaning behind crystal skulls, the legendary artifacts Indy will search for in his fourth big-screen journey.
But that's nothing compared to how long George Lucas himself has been obsessed with these antique crystals, the legendary director recently admitted to MTV News.
"We did 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' [TV show in 1992], and in the process of that, one of the scripts we were working on was about a crystal skull. I became fascinated with it there," Lucas revealed Wednesday on the red carpet for the American Film Institute's 40th anniversary at the ArcLight. "We've been through lots of different versions [of 'Indy 4'] the last 14 years, with five different writers. [But with crystal skulls] there's just a lot of aspects that seem to fit into our kind of a movie."
While Indy's Holy Grail "Crusade" gave him a taste of immortality, and his "Temple" quest for Sankara Stones brought him a glimpse of "fortune and glory," those relics are stuffy museum pieces compared to the power of the crystal skulls, Lucas asserted.
"I think this is actually better, it's up there with the Ark of the Covenant," he declared of the fourth film's "McGuffin" (a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock to describe an object which drives a film's plot). "Sankara Stones and the Holy Grail were a little tough, but I think this time we've really got a great one.
"The skulls themselves are real and a lot of the stuff in the movie is real, just like in the other movies," Lucas continued. "We don't base it on a lot of phony-baloney stuff. It's all based on at least true mythology that exists today that ... a certain amount of the population actually believes in."
Lucas emphasized that "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is shaping up to be the best Indy flick since the first one, even going so far as to call "Skulls" tonally most like "Raiders." But whereas the Ark of the Covenant has very few historically ascribed powers, true believers attribute all sorts of abilities to the crystal skulls, ranging from the skulls being psychic amplifiers to tools of death to repositories of ancient knowledge (something like an Atlantian supercomputer).
So which theory will be in the film?
"There's several different kinds of skulls, several different kinds of theories, several myths that are surrounding them," Lucas said, clearly delighted by his secret knowledge. "So, you just have to put all the pieces together, look it up and figure out which one it is. Or just wait until the movie comes out, which is so much easier."
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" opens May 22.
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