The Communist Party of the Russian Federation called for the film to be banned, accusing the production team of demonizing the Soviet Union. Party official Andrei Andreyev said: "It is very disturbing if talented directors want to provoke a new Cold War." Another party official commented, "(I)n 1957 the USSR was not sending terrorists to America but sending the Sputnik satellite into space!" Spielberg responded that he is not unfamiliar with Russia. He explained: "When we decided the fourth installment would take place in 1957, we had no choice but to make the Russians the enemies. World War II had just ended and the Cold War had begun. The U.S. didn't have any other enemies at the time."
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
At the beginning of the film, I thought to myself. 'Why 1957?' With Indy the subject of a barely-credible FBI investigation of Reds Under the Bed, and the author of a barely-credible escape from a nearby H-bomb test in a lead-lined Fridgidaire, I wondered why the film wasn't set earlier in the 50s (despite Ford's apparent superannuation). In the hallowed phrase of Toy Story 2's Stinky Pete: 'Two words: Sput Nik.'
Where the original Raiders conjured with World War 2 films and adventure serials with the Nazis as villains, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull plays with an amusing series of Cold War science-fictional pop-mythologies: the so-called 'Area 51' at Groom Lake, Nevada (where it transpires that the Ark of the Covenant is stored, revealed in a visual aside); the Roswell crash; the Soviet experiments in parapsychology, ESP, psychokinesis and so on; von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods; and of course the 'Rooshians' as ubiquitous baddies and competitiors in the Space Race.
Of course, the Indiana Jones franchise has always played its colonial adventurism (cum archaeological investigations) against some kind of threat, the Nazis in films 1 and 3 or (more problematically) the Thuggees in Temple of Doom. What's interesting about the fourth film isn't its father/ son dynamic (mirroring that between Indy and his own father in The Last Crusade), or rather creaky chase structure, or Cate Blanchett's campy, black-bobbed turn as the over-reaching and amoral Soviet scientist Irina Spalko: it's that the film stitches Close Encounters onto the Indiana Jones franchise by way of George Lucas, who co-wrote the film. It's a 'sci-fi' Indy, complete with real flying saucer at the end, but this film insists on the perils of seeking knowledge of the transcendental, rather than the wonderment experienced by Roy Neary in Close Encounters.
The ending, which reveals that the aliens aren't tourists or invaders but inter-dimensional archaeologists, collecting artefacts from ancient Terran cultures, is the ultimate validation of Indiana's expeditions in search of 'lost civilizations' and their artefacts. It's not exploitation, but the pursuit of 'knowledge' that is key, disinterested, benign, and NOT imperial. Indiana is not only set against Blanchett's hubristic desire to 'know everything', but also against the venality of former friend and double-agent Mac (Ray Winstone). Both antagonists come to an inevitably sticky end while Indy is rewarded with marriage, a son and the restoration of his fortunes.
Science fiction is used in the film as an ideological alibi for the archaeological/ ethnographic discourses of the First World scientists abroad (the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, South America). While we have the old chestnut that Blanchett would use the parapsychological power of the alien crystal skulls as the ultimate weapon in order to differentiate her from Indy, in fact very little seems to separate them: they both place the acquisition of knowledge above material or political concerns. Indy knows when to look (or run) away, however.
The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is, in many ways, a very silly film, full of narrative non sequiturs. What happens to the FBI investigation? There is no-one to tell the story of the defeat of Spalko except Indy, his son, wife-to-be Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and fellow archaeologist Oxley (John Hurt), and all evidence is destroyed in a flood. What puts Indy back in good odour with the FBI and the University of Chicago? Who knows. The ending is sealed with a marriage, and the suggestion that the son will follow in the footsteps of the father, just as we saw in the third film. The really transformative knowledge in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that 'Mutt Williams' is really Henry Jones III, and the son's aspirational, conservative path is beginning to be mapped out in his change from biker garb to preppy slacks and sports jacket. The quiff stays in place: but it's probably held there with hair pomade rather than Coca-Cola.
Sputnik 1 (Russian: "Спутник-1" Russian pronunciation: [ˈsputnʲɪk], "Satellite-1", ПС-1 (PS-1, i.e. "Простейший Спутник-1", or Elementary Satellite-1)) was the first artificial Earth satellite. It was a 585 mm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It was visible all around the Earth and its radio pulses detectable. The surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis, began the Space Age and triggered the Space Race, a part of the larger Cold War. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments.
Indeed, Sputnik itself provided scientists with valuable information. The density of the upper atmosphere could be deduced from its drag on the orbit, and the propagation of its radio signals gave information about the ionosphere.
Sputnik 1 was launched during the International Geophysical Year from Site No.1/5, at the 5th Tyuratam range, in Kazakh SSR (now at the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi) per hour, taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit. It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz which were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world. The signals continued for 22 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957. Sputnik 1 burned up on 4 January 1958, as it fell from orbit upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, after travelling about 70 million km (43.5 million miles) and spending 3 months in orbit.
Our movies and television programs in the fifties were full of the idea of going into space. What came as a surprise was that it was the Soviet Union that launched the first satellite. It is hard to recall the atmosphere of the time.
On Friday, October 4, 1957, the Soviets had orbited the world's first artificial satellite. Anyone who doubted its existence could walk into the backyard just after sunset and see it.
Even if it HAD to be set in the 1950s, why the "Rock '50s"? Why the late '50s? Why not for example 1954 or somewhere around there?
Does anyone else feel that Indy should've stayed in the '30s, or the most, the 40s? It's just the 50s, particularly the late 50s, were socially, politically and otherwise an almost entirely different world from the romantic innocence of the '30s...