Stepping into Spielberg's shoes, James Mangold takes Indiana Jones on one last adventure

Streaming HUBMay 21, 2023

Cannes, France (AP) – When the lights went up after a screening of Walt Disney’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” Steven Spielberg was incredulous.

“well damn!” He said. “I thought I was the only one who knew how to make one of these!”

“Dial of Destiny,” which premiered Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival, is the first Indiana Jones film without Spielberg behind the camera. After years of development, Spielberg and Lucasfilm decided to hand the reigns over to “Ford vs. Ferrari” filmmaker James Mangold, who was 18 when he saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on opening day at the Hudson Valley Theater . 1981.

“That’s when I got over my initial hesitation: holy s– stepping into these very big shoes that Steven Spielberg is leaving is a huge challenge, on a very selfish level, an opportunity to collaborate and learn and have the tools and It was hard to resist the resources to play on,” Mangold said.

Mangold was tasked not only with restoring the luster of one of the most beloved film series after a disappointing fourth film in 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull,” but also with Harrison Ford in his final performance as the character. A touching farewell was given. ,

While no one is saying that “Dial of Destiny” matches up to “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the general consensus at Cannes was that it outperforms “Crystal Skull” by a wide margin. Mangold certainly has the backing of Ford.

“He did more than fill shoes,” Ford told reporters. “He made, to me, a beautiful film.”

Before “Dial of Destiny” opens in theaters June 30, Mangold talks about the challenges of capturing the “Indiana Jones” tradition and taking it forward. The ’60s finds the aged Jones fatigued and on the brink of retirement. The space race has made it a relic of a bygone era.

And the notion that Indiana — an Errol Flynn-like hero forged in the moral clarity of WWII — would be in more complicated times, without the quickness of youth, factors heavily into Mangold’s thinking on “Dial of Destiny.” Comments have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

AP: How did you react when the opportunity came up?

Mangold: When Harrison and Kathy (Kennedy) and Steven came up to me about this — you’re talking about the heroes of my life. George Lucas. John Williams, too. With a team like that the idea of ​​not only being invited to play in an All-Star game, but even the idea of ​​taking the mound and being the pitcher is beyond me. So you move on to the moment where I’m stepping into the director’s chair, and this is an opportunity for me to try and carry forward what I think I’ve been learning all my life from Steven’s work . And at the same time taking my own voice but wanting to work in the same kind of golden-age vernacular that he’s working in. There is pressure because you cannot play at a high level with a crowd of legends. You either have to rise to the occasion or you don’t.

AP: Were you surprised the job was open? During the film’s long development, it was long assumed that Spielberg would direct.

Mangold: I don’t think directing an Indiana Jones movie is a job. It is a lifetime commitment. There are too many veterans and too many are involved. He was very focused on me when he came to me. The idea for me was that I wanted to write a script that I could get behind. I really wanted to redo the existing script very aggressively, almost completely. But when did they first come to me? It was a complete shock. I was numb But I am not new to this either. There is a child in me who tickles and flatters – the romantic in me. And then there is the rational person who has survived these movies so far and knows how to make a picture like this.

AP: And much of what defines ‘Indiana Jones’ is the ingenuity of the filmmaking: clever reveals, ingenious incarcerations.

Mangold: This is a love letter to Golden Age cinema. You’re making a story and you’re making a movie about characters that have to feel real, but you’re also making a movie that’s all about enjoying the sheer spectacle of filmmaking itself. . The way the shots go together, the way the scenes are constructed, the way you open the onion of a revelation in the film. These are all things where you are taking your guidance from the classics.

AP: You’ve described wanting to make “Dial of Destiny” about “a hero at sunset.” How does age relate to your intentions for the film?

Mangold: When they approached me, I immediately confronted myself with making Indiana Jones in the late ’70s with a hero. There’s no way around the fact that audiences will have to face Harrison’s age. They are about to see a man they grew up with in the late 70s. For me, it’s not about what I’m doing, it’s about what I’m not doing. I will not allow myself to deny that this is going to be a huge factor in the minds of the viewers.

AP: So even though you start with an aging Indiana, you wanted to embrace the 80-year-old Ford that it is today.

Mangold: The film builds on what is undeniable. What is it like to be a hero, a no-nonsense kind, mischievous, demanding, fearless, but also fearful? What I also thought in regards to some of his conflicts with the “Crystal Skull” was that it’s very challenging to take a kind of Golden Age character beyond the dividing line after modernism has arrived. The optimism and clarity of purpose with which characters operate in their 30s or 40s are not the same environments they are operating in in their 50s, 60s and 70s. The advent of modernism has brought real politics and a kind of lack of clarity as to who are the enemies and who are our heroes. This has brought about a kind of craze in the world about easy heroes. Science has taken the place of mysticism, and we are landing on the Moon where nuclear weapons are all around us.

AP: Was it moving to shoot Ford’s last scene as Indiana?

Mangold: We shot his last shot and everyone applauded and we all drank champagne. And it’s going on a lot. But it’s been almost a year since you made this film together. To do a good job of making a film like this, you can never be completely immersed in that kind of thinking. Because if you did, you would be lost in the symbolism of each moment. Indiana Jones is a part of Harrison, so in a way, I don’t think he’s ever saying goodbye to the character as he plays this character. Very close to who he is.


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