The newest installment of the Indiana Jones franchise is set to release this year, and a few details have been revealed to prepare audiences for what to expect. Set in 1969, Indiana Jones will have to fight to prevent the re-emergence of the German Party all while getting involved in an abundance of the kind of action-packed antics that audiences love of their favorite world-saving archaeologist. However, a lengthy flashback in the film promises to bring back the old Harrison Ford by “de-aging” him.
Ford was ‘agile’ in a 25-minute action scene
James Mangold, the director of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, took over after Steven Spielberg’s step away from the franchise. He revealed new information surrounding the upcoming film in an interview with Total Film magazine. One of the revelations included how it will open to audiences.
Mangold said a 25-minute action scene, set in the year 1944, will take place right at the very beginning. That means that Ford (and Indiana Jones) are supposed to be around the same age he was during Raiders of the Lost Ark. To make this believable, they needed to “de-age” the actor. Remarkably, Mangold said that Ford, despite being in his 80s now, was surprisingly agile during the filming of the scene. “I just shot him, and he just pretended that he was 35,” Mangold explained. “But the technology involved is a whole other thing.”
The VFX made de-aging his face possible
The ability to de-age Ford was made possible with improvements in VFX (visual effects) technology and because the filmmakers also have access to a plethora of footage of Ford over the course of the several movies he’s done with Lucasfilm production company. By placing dots all over Ford’s face during filming, VFX technology could replace his current face with a younger version.
“We had hundreds of hours of footage of him in close-ups, in mediums, in wides, in every kind of lighting, night and day,” Mangold explained. “I could shoot Harrison on a Monday as, you know, a [then] 79-year-old playing a 35-year-old, and I could see dailies by Wednesday with his head already replaced.” Mangold called the technology incredible, and said it allowed him to perfect the opening scene.
“I just focused on shooting what’s [approximately] a 25-minute opening extravaganza that was my chance to just let it rip,” he said. “The goal was to give the audience a full-bodied taste of what they missed so much. Because then when the movie lands in 1969, they’re going to have to make an adjustment to what it is now, which is different from what it was.”
One of the longtime producers involved in the Indiana Jones franchise, Kathleen Kennedy, said she just wants audiences to believe in the computer-generated version of Ford: “My hope is that, although it will be talked about in terms of technology, you just watch it and go, ‘Oh my God, they just found footage. This was a thing they shot 40 years ago.’ We’re dropping you into an adventure, something Indy is looking for, and instantly you have that feeling, ‘I’m in an Indiana Jones movie.'”
Ford was unsure until he saw it himself
Technology has gone through a lot of ups and downs to get to the point that replacing someone’s face could actually be believable. In the process, Hollywood has churned out a lot of movies with bad CGI (computer-generated imagery). This may be why Ford was nervous about having his face replaced and de-aged with a younger, computer-generated version.
He previously revealed, “I never loved the idea until I saw how it was accomplished in this case — which is very different than the way it’s been done in other films I’ve seen. They’ve got every frame of film, either printed or unprinted, of me during 40 years of working with Lucasfilm on various stuff. I can act the scene and they sort through with AI every [expletive] foot of film to find me in that same angle and light. It’s bizarre and it works.”
“This is the first time I’ve seen it where I believe it… I don’t think I even want to know how it works, but it works,” he said. However, having his face replaced with a younger version of himself does not make him want to turn back time. “It doesn’t make me want to be young, though,” Ford explained. “I’m glad to have earned my age.”
He’s set to retire his iconic character
Harrison Ford says he’s officially retiring the Indiana Jones character after 40 years. stating his need to take a break and rest. During a press conference at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, he joked, “I need to sit down and rest a little bit.”
About wrapping up the fifth film in the franchise, Ford said, “I wanted to see the weight of life on him. I wanted to see him require reinvention. I wanted him to have a relationship that wasn’t a flirty movie relationship.” He received a tribute award at Cannes, which he called “indescribable.” “It’s just extraordinary to see a relic of your life as it passes by. With the warmth of this place and sense of community, the welcome is unimaginable. It makes me feel good.”
During the film screening, a journalist playfully complimented Ford and expressed that he’s still very attractive, especially during the scene where he goes without a shirt. “Look,” he said as he pretended to be taken aback. “I’ve been blessed with this body. Thanks for noticing.”
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