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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the fourth and final featurette on the bonus disc of the 2003
Indiana Jones boxed set (though obviously you could watch them in any
order you prefer) In it we get some insight into the work done by the
guys at Industrial Light and Magic on the three (at the time) Indiana
Jones features. The effects work on Raiders of the Lost Ark was
relatively minor: we jump right into some on set footage of the finale
being shot in which you clearly the light-bulbs on poles stuck to the
chests and backs of the actors playing Nazis while Steven Spielberg
instructs them on how to move throughout the sequence. Storyboards,
animatics and the shooting of the models playing ghosts from the ark
(flesh and blood and miniature) are shown in quick succession. Richard
Edlund then explains what happened to the heads of the tree baddies as
they face the wrath of God. He even brought along Toth's skull for show
and tell. Spielberg reveals that the explosion Belloq's head had to be
covered up a bit with superimposed flames in order to get a PG rating.
Dennis Muren talks about his little bit part as a Nazi spy in Raiders, then moves on to Temple of Doom in which he was much more involved. Black and white animatics done with Raiders action figures in preparation of the iconic mine car chase are great to get a look at (and would not be out of place on Youtube). Notice that all the Thugees in this version are played by Sallah action figures. Amazingly, Muren and co managed to convert a Nikon photo camera into a makeshift film camera, because the smaller the camera, the smaller/more expanded the sets could be. Half sized models were also made of Kate Capshaw and the slave who got his heart ripped out in order to be lowered into the lava pit.
The use of matte paintings is mentioned. We already knew from the Making the Trilogy documentary that the Mahraja's palace was mostly matte, now we find out that the wide shot of the poor Indian village (starving at first, prosperous near the end were also painted in (and shot with body doubles from the back). The spectacular sight of water spurting out of the rock wall is also explained, after which we go right into the Last Crusade's airplane in a tunnel stunt. However the single most challenging concept in that installment had to be the 'leap of faith' challenge Indy has to pass in the grail temple. Nobody knew how to figure it out, until it was finally done as a combination of matte paintings and miniatures. Finally they show the decaying of Donovan, done with several different puppets and some early use of morphing. No use of Computer Generated Images at all. Ah, those were the days.
9 out of 10
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