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View Full Version : KOTCS: The Origins of The Alien/Sci-FI Elements



IrishJedi
06-04-2008, 03:47 PM
Okay, so there seems to be a semi-debate brewing on who is responsible for coming up with the whole sci-fi B-movie/aliens element in "Crystal Skull". We have competing word-of-mouth hearsay versus quotes in publications.

What follows comes from "The Complete Making of Indiana Jones: The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films" by J.W. Rinzler. And unless you're into odd conspiracy theories as to Lucas, Spielberg, Ford and others making stuff up (for some unknown reason) I'd consider this the "final" word on the topic:

[Excerpts from Chapter 11: ATOMIC ANTS FROM SPACE pp230-237]

In December 1992, Lucas joined Ford for the two-day location shoot in snowy Jackson Hole, Wyoming. "Over the years I'd think about other MacGuffins and stories for Indy IV, but nothing really worked," Lucas says. "But when I was working on Young Indy with Harrison , the obvious suddenly dawned on me: If I did it when Indy was older, I could have it be in the 1950s. And if I did it in the 50s, maybe we could change that into a '50s movie -- and what is the equivalent of a 1930s Saturday matinee serial in the '50s? Science-fiction B-movies. I thought, Hey, that could be fun. The obvious thing was Earth versus the Flying Saucersm so I thought, That's the MacGuffin: aliens. For God's sake, it can't miss.

"So I went to Harrison, out in the snow, and said, 'I came up with a MacGuffin and I think I could come up with another Indiana Jones movie.' He said, 'Oh, I'd love to do that." I said, 'Well, wait until you hear what it is, because it's about aliens.' He then said, 'No, I don't want to do it.'"

"I didn't like it at all; I pitched it right back," Ford says.

"I said, 'But this is going to work. You've got to give me a chance,'" Lucas says. "Harrison said, 'Okay, you talk to Steven, see what he thinks about it.' I took it to Steven, and he said, 'I don't know. I've done a lot of these and I don't think we should mix genres.' I said, 'Steven, it's perfect. It's a B-science-fiction film. What could be more fun than that? And it fits Indy's age, because he'll be in his sixties.' But they were reluctant."

"All the Indiana Jones films have had paranormal concepts", Spielberg says. "So George came up with an idea that he wanted to do a paranormal story that would be a cross between pyschic phenomenon and the whole UFO craze. But I had done E.T., I had done Close Encounters; I'd had my fill of extraterrestrials, so I resisted that for many years."

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"It was a lot about Indiana Jones being involved in Roswell," Lucas says. "And the alien was the MacGuffin."

Cowriter on The Fugitive (1993, which starred Ford) and Die Hard (1988), Stuart combined all these elements in the first draft titled Indiana Jones and The Saucermen From Mars, which he finished on May 24, 1994. In this version, the story turns on the alien, whose life Indy tries to save, and Indy's relationship with a female archeaologist named Molly, whom he marries.

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Then in July 1996 another movie came along that dealt with "saucermen". "When Independence Day was released and was this huge hit, Steven said, 'That was such a success I don't think we should do another one,'" Lucas says. "We had a script that I was happy with, Indiana Jones and The Saucermen. But Steven said, 'We're not doing a flying saucer movie, and that's it.' So I said, 'Okay, fine. But we're not going to do an Indiana Jones movies without aliens in it, because there's no point.' So I gave up and started doing Star Wars again."

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Over the next two years, Lucas pondered; he held a story conference with Spielberg in December 2001 and two others in June 2002. The upshot was a meeting of the minds on certain issues. "The compromise was, I won't have any flying saucers in this movie, but I'm going to have aliens," Lucas says. "That's when I came up with the Lost City of The Gods, with a crystal skull as the MacGuffin. That's really what the whole thing has evolved from.

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"George being George, he is tenacious, if not downright relentless, and ne never blinked," Spielberg says. "I blinked to the point where George thought there was something wrong with my right eye. But George said, absolutely and down the line, 'It's gotta be pyschic phenomenon and this craze about flying saucers since it takes place in the 1950s.' And in a sense it took David Koepp, who was the final writer, to make that palpatable for me."

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... And that's just a portion of it. Again, believe what you wish... but I'd say these quotes make it pretty damn definitive. And, for the record, even though I think Lucas is off his rock and grossly out-of-touch at times I actually think the whole B-movie/aliens/saucer thing worked overall with Indy IV. I think he in his stubbornness may have gotten it right this time. :lol

gatchatom
06-04-2008, 04:35 PM
Nice post Irish! The parts of the book dealing with KOTCS were so disappointing to read. I get the same feeling about George that I had about Reagan in his last years in office. The lights are on but no one's home. It's clear from some of the comments made in the book that Lucas has very little respect for his audience. Having said that, I still don't have a problem with Indiana Jones meeting aliens. As many have said before me, it's no more far fetched than the Ark, angels, or the power of the holy spirit. What was a complete and utter failure was they execution of incorporating Aliens into the world of Indiana Jones. If they were serious about mixing the genres I would have preferred the aliens were far more over the top than they were. Indiana Jones Vs. The Blob or the creatures from "Them". Imagine if Spielberg had been a able to unleash a true beast from another planet.

Viking28
06-04-2008, 05:21 PM
Hmmm maybe if they went a little more close encounters with the aliens, were you have mystery with them but not given the full monty like KOTC did.
And I for one love the ending of Ark, the power of God unleashed. That said why didn't the commies grab that while they were in the warehouse?

aussieinnyc
06-04-2008, 05:55 PM
It's been a long while since I studied the Russian communist party, but from memory they didn't believe in God so wouldn't care/believe it had any power.

Either that or they didn't see it...

Entropy
06-04-2008, 06:38 PM
For God's sake, it can't miss.



:rolleyes: :lol

Deak Starkiller
06-04-2008, 06:45 PM
Hmmm maybe if they went a little more close encounters with the aliens, were you have mystery with them but not given the full monty like KOTC did.
And I for one love the ending of Ark, the power of God unleashed. That said why didn't the commies grab that while they were in the warehouse?

You sir have nailed it. This is the biggest problem(s) I had with KOTCS.

Khev
06-04-2008, 07:40 PM
Thanks for posting that Irish, but now I'm a little bummed after reading that. I think a lot of the awkardness of the ending probably comes from so much "compromise" that had to be done to appease Spielberg and Ford. Apparently instead of approaching it from a standpoint of "What is the very BEST Indiana Jones/alien movie we can do Spielberg/Ford said, 'What's the best movie we can do that has just enough aliens to satisfy George?' Who cares if alien movies have been done before, if you're going to agree to do it *at all* then go all the way and make it the most badass movie you can.

And the ultimate irony after reading that is Spielberg's concerns over doing aliens/saucers because of Independence Day. Hello! Can anyone think of a certain 19th century novel that ID4 ripped off? I think Spielberg might know something about it....

LOTRFan
06-04-2008, 07:47 PM
:rolleyes: :lol

Cue Lucas' comments regarding Jar Jar Binks.

:gun

Agent0028
06-04-2008, 07:48 PM
I find it funny that they compromised by having aliens with no flying saucers. So what was that thing that disappeared at the end of the movie? Anyway it's interesting to read the way it all came about. And I agree that I'm glad they made it fit with the movies of the era. Although it seems kind of odd to me that they started thinking about doing it in the 50's so soon after TLC. Seems like Ford would have been too young.

Darth Waller
06-04-2008, 07:56 PM
It sounds like if it weren't for George's unstoppable alien idea, we could have had Indy IV back in the 90s. Thanks, George. :banghead

Khev
06-04-2008, 08:05 PM
It sounds like if it weren't for George's unstoppable alien idea, we could have had Indy IV back in the 90s. Thanks, George. :banghead

Count your blessings. If it was made in the 90's that would have meant it might have been no better than "Hook" or "The Lost World." ;)

superado
06-04-2008, 09:06 PM
Yes, I was shocked to discover the same thing from the "Making" book. When I son and I first talked about the plot and the source for the alien influence, I argued that though sci-fi practically makes up the totality of George Lucas' resume, it must have come more from Spielberg based on the recurring alien visitation on Earth theme of Close Encounters, ET, A.I. and War of the Worlds. I was surprised that it was the total opposite in that Spielberg was against mixing genres and actually resisted Lucas on that point.

Captain Britain
06-05-2008, 02:19 AM
I'm sure Lucas came up with the idea of the aliens - the 50's sci-fi homage fits his personal backstory, which was shaped by the 1950's, and a movie with aliens on earth is, ironically, one of the few things he hadn't done yet at the time. I also think for its time - 1992, pre X-files, pre ID4 - it was quite an original idea.

But I'm confused why Irish should suggest that Lucas 'making stuff up' could only be plausible as part of an 'odd conspiracy theory'. Lucas rewrites history all the time - Star Wars was never 'mapped out' from the beginning, he made it up as he went along and only came up with the idea of Vader being Luke's father several drafts into Empire (as can be seen in the book 'Star Wars, The Annotated Screenplays' one of the top two books about SW ever written). Then later Lucas claimed he had a grand plan.

Anyone here like Tintin? KOTCS is very influenced by two Tintin stories, Flight 714 and Prisoners of the Sun.

IrishJedi
06-05-2008, 05:38 AM
But I'm confused why Irish should suggest that Lucas 'making stuff up' could only be plausible as part of an 'odd conspiracy theory'.
Because it would mean that Spielberg, Ford and others are making that all up as well.

Believe me, I take Lucas' word about as seriously as a spec of salt in the cosmos. :lol

The Josh
06-05-2008, 06:29 AM
Some very interesting stuff in the making book. I'm glad they made Lucas give a little because it worked out pretty well. Though, in the next I'd like to see Lucas give in a little more and go back to something more inline with the religious aspect of the previous three.

Captain Britain
06-05-2008, 10:13 AM
I'd like to see them go back to China and explore more of the country - maybe the deserts. Like South America was only seen at the beginning of Raiders, then ended up being the focus of KOTCS, I'd love it if the next movie took Indy into the Orient, which we only saw in the opening of TOD.

spekerol
06-08-2008, 05:01 PM
AFRO NINJA!!!! hahahahah i remember that i laughed for days thinking about that little clip

Khev
06-12-2008, 07:23 AM
If they were serious about mixing the genres I would have preferred the aliens were far more over the top than they were. Indiana Jones Vs. The Blob or the creatures from "Them".

Actually the oversized army/driver ants were a deliberate reference to "Them".