CANNES, France — When the lights came on after the screening of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Doom at the Walt Disney Studios, Steven Spielberg was incredible.
“Damn!” he said. “I thought I was the only one who knew how to make one of these!”
The Dial of Destiny, which premiered Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival, was the first Indiana Jones film not to star in Spielberg. After years of development, Spielberg and Lucasfilm decided to hand over the reins to James Mangold, director of Ford v Ferrari, who was 18 when he saw Raiders of the Lost Ark at a Hudson Valley theater on opening day. in 1981
“When I got over my initial hesitation just: holy crap, it was a big challenge to step into these very big shoes that Steven Spielberg is leaving, an opportunity on a very selfish level to collaborate and learn and have tools. and the resources to play at that level were hard to resist,” said Mangold.
Mangold has been tasked with not only restoring the luster of one of the most beloved film series since 2008’s disappointing fourth film, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, but also giving Harrison Ford a sharp send-off in his latest performance as the character. .
While no one is saying Dial of Destiny matches Raiders of the Lost Ark, everyone at Cannes agrees that it beats The Crystal Skull by a wide margin. Mangold definitely has Ford’s support.
“He more than filled the shoes,” Ford told reporters. “He made a great film for me.”
Before Dial of Destiny premiered in theaters on June 30, Mangold spoke about the challenges of keeping the Indiana Jones tradition alive and moving forward. 60s and finds the aged Jones tired and on the verge of retirement. The space race has made it a relic of a bygone era.
And the idea of who Indiana would be — an Errol Flynn-like hero forged in the moral clarity of World War II — in a more difficult time, without the fluidity of youth, strongly influenced Mangold’s reflections on The Dial of Destiny. Notes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
AP: How did you react when the opportunity presented itself?
Mangold: When Harrison, Katie (Kennedy) and Steven approached me about this, you were just talking about the heroes of my life. George Lucas. John Williams too. The thought of being invited to not only play in an All-Star game with such a team, but also to take the mound and become a pitcher, is out of the box. So, you will be transported to the moment where I kind of step into the director’s chair, and this is a chance for me to simultaneously try and continue what I think I have learned all my life from Steven’s work. And at the same time carrying his own voice, but very willing to work in the same native language of the golden age in which he works. It’s pressure because you can’t play at a higher level with a more intoxicating crowd of luminaries around you. You either have to be on top of things or you’re not.
AP: Were you surprised the position was open at all? During the film’s long development, it was long speculated that Spielberg would direct it.
Mangold: I don’t think making an Indiana Jones movie is a job. This is a lifetime commitment. Too many luminaries and too many involved. When they came to me, they were very focused on me intervening. The idea for me was that I wanted to write a script that I could support. I wanted to remake the existing script really quite aggressively, almost completely. But when did they first come to me? It was a complete shock. I became numb. But I’m not new to this either. There is a child in me that is tickled and trembled – the romantic in me. And then there is a reasonable person who has experienced these films before and knows how to make such a picture.
AP: And a lot of what defines Indiana Jones is the ingenuity of filmmaking: clever reveals, ingenious lockdowns.
Mangold: These are love letters to Golden Age cinema. You’re creating a storytelling and making a movie about characters that are meant to feel real, but you’re also making a movie that’s meant to enjoy the beautiful spectacle of filmmaking in its own right. The way the shots move together, the way the sequences are built, the way you kind of spin the onion of revelation in the film. These are all things where you are guided by the classics.
AP: You said you wanted to make The Dial of Destiny about the “hero at sunset.” How does age relate to your intentions for the film?
Mangold: When they approached me, I immediately felt the need to do Indiana Jones with a hero in his late 70s. There’s no getting around the fact that viewers will be confronted with Harrison’s age. They will see the man they grew up with, he is over 70. What matters to me is not what I do, but what I do not do. I will not allow myself to deny that this will be a huge factor in the minds of the viewers.
AP: So although you’re starting with an older Indiana, you wanted to embrace who Ford, now 80, is today.
Mangold: The film tells what is undeniable. What is it like to be a hero, to be somehow daring, mischievous, demanding, fearless, but also timid? What I was thinking, even with some of the difficulties they had with The Crystal Skull, is that it’s very difficult to move a kind of golden age character forward beyond the dividing line after the advent of modernism. The optimism and clarity of purpose with which the characters operated in the 30s or 40s is not the environment in which they operate in the 50s, 60s and 70s. The advent of modernism brought with it realpolitik and some ambiguity as to who are our enemies and who are our heroes. This brought a kind of cynicism towards easy heroes into the world. Science has replaced mysticism, and we land on the moon, where we are surrounded by nuclear weapons.
AP: What was it like filming Ford’s last scene as Indiana?
Mangold: We shot his last shot, everyone was cheering and drinking champagne. And it’s very touching. But you worked together on this film for almost a year. To make a good film like this, you can never fully immerse yourself in that mindset. Because if you did, you would be lost in the symbolism of every moment. Indiana Jones is a part of Harrison, so in a way I don’t think he ever says goodbye to the character because he carries that character. It’s very close to who he is.
Follow AP Film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP