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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Entry updated 13 September 2021. Tagged: Film.

Film (2008). Lucasfilm Ltd/Paramount Pictures. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by David Koepp, based on a story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson. Cast includes Karen Allen, Harrison Ford and Shia LeBoef. 122 minutes. Colour.

The first three instalments of this much-loved modern Pulp series – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – are Fantasy films that hinge on the acquisition of secret artefacts from the Mythology of Religion in the run-up to World War Two. The first and third episodes of the series won Hugo awards as best dramatic presentation. After a long hiatus, the swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones created by Lucas and Spielberg returned in this fourth film. While its reception was decidedly mixed, it is markedly better than Lucas's Star Wars prequels which similarly appeared two decades after the original films.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the first of the series to be set in the Atomic Age (see Nuclear Energy), a fact signalled early on by a widely mocked scene in which Jones (Ford) escapes from a ground zero blast by hiding in a fridge. This new era also means that the Nazis have been replaced by the Russians and religion has been replaced by crackpot sf mysticism and Pseudoscience of the type practiced by Erich von Däniken. The object of all the chasing and adventure in this instance is a crystal skull believed to be the creation of Aliens and imbued with mysterious powers (see Psionics; Psi Powers). This good-natured guff is comprehensively confirmed at the film's conclusion, by the appearance of an enormous Spaceship.

Novelizations are Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) by Campbell Black (1944-2013); Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) by James Kahn; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) by Rob MacGregor; and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) by James Rollins (1961-    ). Authors who have contributed further Ties to the Indiana Jones Shared World include Martin Caidin, Andrew Helfer, Chiaki Kawamata, Max McCoy, Rob MacGregor, Les Martin and Steve Perry.

The popularity of the franchise itself has now grown far beyond the Cinema, encompassing a Television series, Steven Spielberg'a The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-1996), multiple Videogames, Comics, novels and even theme park attractions. Of these, the games in particular dabble in similar mystic sf territory to the fourth film, such as Atlantis and ancient Power Sources. [ML]

see also: Basilisks; Area 51; Lost Worlds; F A Mitchell-Hedges; Retro-Pulp.

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