By Josh Stern
Are you up for an adventure? Meet Indiana Jones. His latest movie, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, might not hit theatres until May 22nd, but if you plan to keep up with this daring archaeologist, you had better prepare yourself with a bit of digging…
IT ALL BEGAN BACK IN 1973
Before STAR WARS made George Lucas a household name, he had written a script entitled, THE ADVENTURES OF INDIANA SMITH. The idea was to follow the model of the serials of the 1930s and ‘40s, which were low budget films that were released in weekly chapters at the local theatre. Work was done on the script and a director was hired, but when that director left to pursue another project, INDIANA SMITH was put on the backburner.
THE NAME’S JONES
As STAR WARS was hitting theatres in 1977, Lucas decided he needed a vacation. His close friend, Steven Spielberg, joined him. As the famous story goes, Lucas and Spielberg were building a sandcastle on the beach when Lucas asked him what his next project would be. Before this, Spielberg had approached the producers of the JAMES BOND movies for a chance to direct, but was turned down. He planned to ask again. But Lucas just turned to him and said, “I’ve got something better than that. It’s called Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Spielberg agreed as long as they changed Indy’s last name from Smith to Jones.
AND SO IT BEGAN
In 1978, Lucas, Spielberg and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan sat down for 5 days straight and discussed possible plot ideas. Kasdan then took everything they said and wrote the script. There were a few production issues and the original Indy, Tom Selleck, had to drop out, forcing the filmmakers to recast with Harrison Ford. Finally, in 1980, they began a shoot that lasted for 73 days with a budget of only $20 million (USD). When it was released a year later, INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was a huge success and made over $384 million (USD) worldwide.
After the success of RAIDERS, work soon began on a second film. Both Lucas and Spielberg were having relationship troubles at the time, and as a result, the second film took on a much darker tone; originally, it was even titled INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DEATH. This film had many more troubles than the first. Nonetheless, it was completed in 80 days with a budget of only $28 million (USD). With a worldwide gross of $333 million (USD), INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM was a hit.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
Despite its success, many felt that DOOM was an inferior sequel, Spielberg included, so the team set out to make a third to make up for it. Sean Connery was cast as Indy’s father, and the script employed more humour than its predecessor, bringing it back to the feel of RAIDERS. In the end, it paid off. Made with $36 million (USD), INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE made more than both of the previous installments with over $474 (USD) million worldwide.
THE ADVENTURE RETURNS
Even though the original deal with Paramount called for 5 Indy films, after the third, development on any further sequels stalled. Lucas, Spielberg and Ford just couldn’t come up with an idea that they all could agree on. Many, many screenwriters and 18 years later, writer David Koepp (SPIDER-MAN) came up with INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. It remains to be seen if this fourth installment will be as successful as the first three, but the fact that the trailer has been viewed online over 200 million times is a good sign.
INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
In 1936, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is teaching his archaeology class when he is approached with the mission to help find the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was said to contain the pieces of the Ten Commandments and was supposed to make its possessor invincible. Naturally, the Nazis wanted it very badly and Indy is charged with finding it before they did. Along the way, he teams up with his former flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), and expert digger Sallah in order to fight the Nazis and his enemy Belloq. Fun, fast and adventurous, RAIDERS succeeded in firmly establishing this popular franchise.
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984)
Set a year before RAIDERS, this prequel was a darker movie that veered away from the supernatural bend of the first film. After a deal goes bad, Indy flees with singer Wilhelmina "Willie" Scott and his friend Short Round to a village in India. The locals plead with the trio to help them free their kidnapped children and to retrieve the sacred Sankara Stone. Unfortunately, Indy gets more than he bargained for when he comes across an evil cult called the Thuggee who are after the Sankara Stones to gain enormous power.
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)
The biggest find for any archaeologist is the Holy Grail and Indy’s father, Henry, had been trying to locate it. When he goes missing, Indy steps in and tries to hunt down both his father and the Grail. In the process, he has to work out his father issues and go up against a very mysterious cult called The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, the group charged with protecting the Grail. This film brought the tone back to that of the original.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)
The filmmakers have gone the extra mile to ensure that the film’s plot stays a secret until the release date, but we’ve gotten a few details. Set 19 years after the original, Indy has given up on adventure and enjoys his quiet teaching job. Unfortunately, he soon finds himself in search of the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with Marion Ravenwood, who returns for the first time since the original film, as well as his new sidekick, Mutt (Shia LaBeouf). And of course, things wouldn’t be right without a dastardly villain, who this time around comes in the form of evil Russian agent Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett).
INDY’S GREATEST FOES
While Indy has had to battle the Nazis, an evil cult and Russian spies, his greatest foes have sometimes been less than human!
SNAKES (INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK)
If there’s one thing that Indiana Jones is best known for, it’s his fear of snakes. There was nothing scarier for him than that pit of thousands of snakes, not to mention the fact that he came face-to-face with a cobra!
BUGS (INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM)
In one of the creepiest scenes from the movie, Indy, Short Round and Willie Scott get trapped in a room full of every insect imaginable. Needless to say, Indy would take the Thuggee over these creepy crawlies any day!
ANTS (INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL)
While we won’t know for sure until the movie comes out, early photos of movie tie-in toys seem to indicate that Indy will be facing off against giant ants.
THE STORY BEHIND THE ARTIFACTS
Indiana Jones has sought out some of the world’s most extraordinary treasures in the movies. Did you know that these artifacts are also based on real-life objects with legends of their own?
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT (INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK)
During the time of the First Temple, the Ark was built by the Jewish people to house the two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments. Many years later, when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem, the Second Temple was destroyed and the Ark disappeared. There are many different theories as to what became of the Ark, but it has yet to reappear.
SANKARA STONES (INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM)
A Sankara Stone or a Siva Lingam stone is a stone bearing the mark of the Hindu god Shiva. In ancient India, the stones were seen as a physical manifestation of their god, which they would worship. While there are only five in the movie, there are actually many, many more and they don’t actually have any magical powers.
THE HOLY GRAIL (INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE)
The search for the Holy Grail has become so famous that it has come to mean any hard-to-find object. While there are many interpretations as to what the Grail actually is, according to Christian mythology, it was dish or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper that supposedly had magical healing powers. While it has never been officially found, many believe it to be in the possession of the current incarnation of the Knights Templar.
CRYSTAL SKULLS (INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL)
According to legend, crystal skulls were used in ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations by their respective high priestesses in various rituals. The skulls were said to bring good luck or the ability to see the future. While many do exist and can be seen in museums, further research has proven that they were created fairly recently and had in fact no connection to the Mayan or Aztec people.