An old title this I know but I wanted to tackle it despite all those other edits. Edited a while back and this is a cut and paste of my project notes with details of edits and changes so it contains story Spoilers…
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Fan Edit
1920 x 808 – 23.97fps - H264 MP4 5.1 TrueHD Audio
Overview of Changes
This represents changes by scene/shot/sequence rather than time code entries for hundreds of individual actions. This edit aims to eradicate the paternal cause of some questionable narrative that essentially removed the viewer from the fantasy of adventure and various other complaints. It also aims to strike a balance for those that didn’t mind certain things like cgi bugs or iconic atomic silhouettes… Cutting the best part of twenty minutes was as far as I’d like to go to try to keep a feature length feel. There be aliens ahead, but differently presented…
1 No prairie dogs. The Paramount logo gives way to the dirt mound which is then ran over -
Using matte stills and some pretty rough and ready masking, the hot rod comes out
of far left as usual. The masking was very crude, using separate .png mattes of the mound and utilising feathered transition wipes and animating the wipe motion through the angles needed to cover the scampering lil’ bastard with the same unspoiled landscape sampled a few frames previous as the A/B coverage for the filter. This got rid of the offending mascot and left a type of distortion via a type of artefact rippling between the two not quite matching image layers, but several visits to the original intro for comparison and detail sampling for some diligent frame by frame Photoshop painting fixed up the approaching car’s fender and light features reasonably well in subsequent frames to fill in the gaps. There was a little ripple left over which would be messy and inaccurate to try to paint it out but it looks a little like heat haze so I decided it was about 95% good to go. Some vague flashes of prairie dogs may be spotted in a blurred scattering, but they are essentially out of sight and the soundtrack bears none of their squeaking.
2 No shoe lace tying or muzzle flare inconsistencies. Also couldn’t be doing with the stubborn symmetry from the storyboarding.
3 Indy acknowledges the “Russians” but makes no reply to Mac about how it used to be easier. They make no wager and Indy does not comment about Mac putting his arms down. Indy simply turns to look grimly at the car’s arrival.
4 Indy’s comment to Spalko about “not being from around here” is cut short so as to seem
just sarcastic rather than a question too. He does not mention “wubellyoos” and
confirms with simply “Eastern Ukraine”
5 Spalko’s unrequited handshake is now followed nicely by a sardonic soft slap for Indy to
then comment “ouch” with more sarcasm. So there’s no awkward mind reading attempt subverting her villainy.
6 No Socialist hero intro.
7 No mind powers and the warehouse doors don’t spark on the outside. Even later on Spalko comments on how the skull doesn’t talk to everybody so why does she need to keep trying to push the spookshow. The doors just open as you would expect with a jump cut after Spalko signals with her arm as though instructing a soldier to operate them ect.
8 No uncovered alien close-up. It is somewhat teased for tension before the lens focuses on the hand/claw from the soldiers faces as they look on with excitement as the reveal is about drop. It then cuts away to Indy’s escape attempt.
9 Tighter edit when Mac betrays Indy, with a simpler reveal that simply shows all guns
lowering and then lifting again after Indy’s close-up. Plus Indy shoots first in this version
rather than benefiting from an accidental discharge. Skipping his liking “Ike” pop culture sarcasm he instead starts to lower the rifle and it goes off into someone’s foot. I added a muzzle flash and an extra reversed action using the previous frame for the suggestion of recoil.
10 After the failed bull whip swing, Indy does not say “thought that was closer” - Instead it cuts
straight to classic off-screen punch sounds.
11 There are no instances of “You don’t know ‘im” from Mac as he and Boris play chicken
with Indy in the truck. In fact you wouldn’t even know Mac is in the car now, which is just as well
considering he is already out of the car and standing by the wreck very quickly after Indy
climbs the rafters…which uses an overhead shot from the trailer.
12 There’s a much shorter delay to breaking through the glass for the fall onto the rocket sled.
13 LED countdown digits have been replaced with Nixie tube digits (Using After Effects camera motion tracking and frame by frame placement. 1957 was a little too early for tech like LED’s as they didn’t really start to feature until 1960’s as far as I’ve read). Also there are no prairie dogs during the shortened rocket sled run
14 The atomic siren now starts just as Indy rests his hand on the mannequin’s head. Indy’s kerfuffle with the kids bike and figure seems a little less clumsy this way as though he was surprised by his hand seemingly activating an alarm that startles him. There are less instances of the flying fridge as I took out the long arcing hail Mary over the Russian car with a bit of patchwork overlay using sampled sky with an additional bright lens flare styled point of light which then emanates toward the viewer as the car nears. Also put in some stock fire/explosions/smoke footage and tinted transitional colour mattes to all 3 shots of the car leading up to and augmenting a transition between the car catching the blast wave and Indy’s fridge bouncing through the frame from a lower angle after the blast - Hoping to suggest more of a scuffing tumble that a person could arguably survive in a fridge - The thin lead lining and unavoidable head trauma will just have to stand for those 'Raiders fans who love supernatural shit but not scientifically inaccurate scenes 😉 Besides: Atomic cloud + Indy silhouette = KEEP! The prairie dog is cut and the score is faded in a little sooner and swells to segue the passage of time he’d use to get to his feet. If I had the time and the skill/resources I’d put in a few more fridges and other household lead type constructions…
15 No shower scene for the ladies and the dialogue with CIA segues visuals of air force base.
16 No Indy military service testimonial but left in discussion about the “Air Force fiasco” 10yrs
earlier to match Spalko’s assertions in the warehouse.
17 Changed the editing of Marcus and Henry snr’s photographs on the desk. The push zoom is chopped in two to distil the overly literal hand gestures in close-up. And took out the dialogue reference to each character being honoured as it didn’t feel necessary.
18 No commie protest.
19 No Marcus statue decapitation – Dr Jones’ disapproving face notwithstanding this was all just stupid. Even Zemekis wouldn’t have done it…Well ok he would have but Speilberg shouldn’t.
20 Slightly shorter slide under tables in library as Indy’s and Mutt’s inertia was unrealistic. Tried to keep the start of the chair push seen from above, but the flow was better cutting straight to the last few feet.
21 No comment by Mutt about about Indy being 80, but did leave in the “good in a fight for
an old man” line. Balance is possible.
22 No “This way up” comment from Indy in Catacombs after Mutt makes a “This way down”
comment. Mutt does not grunt like he’s injured after the fall and the poison dart death of the crypt keeper having sucked one back is now shortened to him just left choking.
23 The skull journey/history/exposition once inside the burial chamber is trimmed slightly but not by much. Exposition in itself is not against any Indy “traditions”…At all, but one or two of the comments were too leading. Left in the “(Ox) takes it (the skull) away”, took out “maybe to Akator” and took out Mutt’s reference to “retourno” on Ox’s cell walls and cuts straight to Indy stating Ox put it back where he found it and asking why.
24 Used the trailer version of “Part time”
25A There’s minimal commie bitching in Spalko’s tent. There’s not a whole lot in general - Only when contextually necessary or to allow a believable scene to play out. For example the knee jerk use of “comrade” after a punch in the face or a personal betrayal sparking a political proxy insult for the sake of a demonised comparison. He doesn’t have to like the Russians acting as agents of political or governmental domination but there’s no real president in these films for nationalist soap-boxing about reds or “good” American men. Hating Nazis was always his thing. Reflecting on 1950’s communist witch hunts – which we now know they mostly were, doesn’t fit Indy so well as he would always have seen through it. Besides, Indy didn’t experience communist Russia like Nazi Germany so he just wouldn’t be quite so dogmatic even while being defensive of his countrymen – He would know most angles without wasting much emotion. The discussion with Mac is therefore slightly shorter as a result - where I re-used a clip in reverse to have mac sit down without the ”how many good men died” stars n stripes/Patton moment. Indy can then get on and threaten to break his nose. The reverse playback section is zoomed in on Mac towards the end of the shot and the cigar smokes’ direction with the rolling of the tape reel behind Mac needed to be reversed. Their relative position was animated/floated to match the camera frame and movement of the original footage in reverse. Tricky, but managed it in Premiere frame by frame using transitional masks.
25B So then I felt I had to fix the position of mac’s head as the next cut had both of them facing different ways than in the previous frame - Which also had the frame zoomed in on the reverse playback clip for Mac sitting back down. This had allowed Indy’s head to go out of frame, so arguably only Mac’s head needed to be reoriented for the next cut.
I took the first few seconds of Indy talking about getting out of the chair and split the frame down the middle, using a transition wipe to divide Indy and Mac. Mac is turning back from the table here so this part was taken out and in it’s place, again using a transition wipe filter on a separate layer, I put the reverse playback footage of Mac, but using the upcoming few seconds as he lifts his cigar to his mouth and he stops before it meets his lips as Indy finishes saying his piece. So we now have Mac already facing Indy, his arm continuing a motion suggested before the cut, and realized with his cigar movement. He then appears to react to Indy’s words at the point the frames resume their correct direction and his hand lowers and the split screen ends and all footage is intact from there on. Only trouble is that the footage was not shot as steady as it first seemed. Indy’s environment from one portion of the scene and Mac’s from a little later were moving and hovering slightly toward each other as the opposite frame rate of Mac’s footage equalled to opposite directions with Indy’s. Mac’s cigar smoke was also moving the wrong way. Couldn’t get Premiere to work so well this time as pixel nudging with the cursor keys doesn’t happen in cs6 so had to go to After Effects and map every clip using the hanging lamp above Macs’ head as a registration point for all masked pieces of footage. This involved frame by frame positioning of 1 half of a frame and a masked portion of some cigar smoke to render all movement constant with each other within the frame. Then just a little zoom to cover off the slight reduction in frame size due to the composition’s end position.
25C Also there was no Berlin comment and the Indy skull trance now has added visual FX to better
exaggerate his life threatening head shakes - Which was all Premiere time-echo filters set to exploit the movement within the frame on close-ups and using split screen feathered transition filters again to isolate the long shot of Indy from the unfiltered frame rate of the other characters.
26 Marion is introduced as Mutt’s mother and Indy grins and acts a little haplessly confused
still, but the bitching reunion is cut way shorter by Spalko’s interruption.
27 Ox’s ideogram scene is cleft in two with a fade to suggest time spent drawing and by the re-use of his line “Henry jones jnr…” stretched slightly slower, I was able to omit the “3 times it drops” line as it will be superfluous later. Afterwards the scene cuts on Indy’s map request straight to the forest the next day. Therefore no quicksand or rubber snakes. Ffs that scene felt like intentional sabotage on Speilbergs’ part. Just awful.
28 The whole forest plateau chase scene is shortened somewhat and without a
so much as a monkey with a quiff surviving the cull - Starting with the same editing principle
first used by TMBTM (thanks to him for showing the way to cut around marion’s gag in the truck - very nice). Indy is not Mutt’s father and the argument about Marion’s marriage through her gag being fitted carries the narrative through to the knocking out of their guard. No knife sounds tear
Indy’s pants and his line to marion ”They weren’t you” is kept, but “honey” is cut as Mutt
catches his knife (Allowing another of Marion’s grins - Cutting literally everything questionable would be a slaughter to the light hearted moments, of which there needs to be some and considering how much is already being cut, a running time suitable for a feature is preferred if possible). There is no “scootch over son” line or any Berlin commentary with Mac in the jeep. No vegetation in the groin while fencing - Just enough swashbuckling to get the job done. Decided to keep the cliff edge jeep banger race despite the continuity error in the position of each jeep relative to each other at the cut from the previous scene. It just worked well otherwise by running all clips as one sequence without any intercutting monkeys. I isolated The Schwimmwagen Indy is driving with a little zoom and it cuts to the medium shot of Spalko changing seats with her subordinate from there in an attempt at visual narrative subterfuge. Mutt swings in out of the blue as usual and the frame is then cropped to avoid showing the monkeys as we follow Mutt jumping to the next jeep and getting the Skull into Ox’s lap in time to hit the ant hill. After Indy says “woah” - Mutt half laughs a grunt briefly but essentially says nothing and Indy repeats himself for the jump.
28A I’m not a particular fan of the big damn ants scene, but the fist fight is very Indy and cutting it down or out seemed over zealous. Trimming it brought too much attention to the edit .
29 Only one time it drops down the waterfall – The tree fall is complete, followed by parts of the first and third waterfall drop footage. Added to this are portions of the score from “Airplane Fight” from the “Indiana Jones Trilogy OST” to compliment the shortened sequence with epic peril. After re-watching the first twenty minutes of Temple of Doom I felt totally ok with the whole waterfall premise once it was shortened and in fact mirrors the Temple of Doom parachute dinghy skit as a punchline to the tree-ramp/fall preceding it. It belongs, as part of a tradition for almost farcical adventure perils of unlikely survival, exaggerating the conscious notion of endearing implausibility - performances notwithstanding. Indiana Jones is not a cerebral piece of literature no matter how much the corny stuff is rose tinted to the man-child – Raiders happened to have some of the best supernatural fireside storytelling, captivating dialogue, visual narrative, performances and art production committed to film. It is up there with Close Encounters of the Third Kind as an untouchable great - Comparisons to the other films within the saga don’t stand up anyway so Crystal Skull can be afforded a little slack if you take the worst offences out.
30 Mutt pointing to the skull waterfall has been cut out including much of the dialogue after the waterfall-boat drop, e.g. Indy’s horrible and purposefully vacant “it told me to” line - Leaving Mutt to just finish Ox’s “tears” quote and simply show Indy set against the skull waterfall. This portends where they’re headed for the viewer all it needs to and keeps the pace moving etc.
31 No natives crawling from the walls of the temple - re-arranged the shot order of the
natives stalking the corridor. Kept the dialogue of an urgent Marion screaming “Indeeeeee!”
as per her job description - I cut the “Jonesy!, Oxley!” equivalent, as it was just not
32 Tightened up the sloppy obelisk key entry scene. And at the base of their descent I used
½ a shot from each camera for their drop at the bottom of the steps instead of the double take
they left in place to try to exaggerate the motion like a cubist editing trick.
33A Tightened up the (accidental?) double take cut as Indy and Mutt seemingly turn to look
twice once the UFO starts to spin up. There is no “I’m gonna be ok” from Mac
33B There is no multi-skeleton shunting together to form one alien shot. Instead clips were reused from elsewhere in the scene creating a very different montage used to suggest the appearance of the alien as seen through the vision state of Spalko as she stares into the skull that responded to it’s eventual return. As she is overloaded by the skull’s presence, it occurred that the spinning of the ship might be critical to the opening of the portal, which theoretically could bring her and then the viewer into line with the live dimension of the rejuvenated alien troupe - Thus the creature can appear to be in one place at one time. This is kept theoretically hindered by the film-makers with some bullshit shunt of 13 skeletons into 1 fleshed out being?! A somewhat specific visual that strangles possible interpretations by the viewer. So with a little visual stuttering of the edit using a time-echo filter to incrementally announce the appearance of the alien in her mind and then in her and the viewer’s’ presence, it now works a little more sequentially, though still theoretically ambiguous as there is only one alien and not 13 etc. My thoughts are that the recently reconnected alien, simply gave her what she asked for before it rejoined it’s dimensional hive who left it to do whatever it intended with it’s benefactors. The being need not be all that malevolent to me even if it is cold or neutral - This is the heat of the kitchen sister and this is what it takes to know what you wanted to know. Such things would be perilous for a limited physical specimen but perhaps there’s a transformation that happens to Spalko we don’t know about, after her “dissolving” into strands of energy and sucked up like cosmic ribbon.
To augment the sequence I added a vague, out of focus cymatic graphic animation to conjure a resonant frequency technology vibe – starting at the forehead of the crystal skull and then flickering here and there in amongst the lights behind the alien. I also added some voice samples and Tibetan monk chants to add a little authenticity to this idea of ancient sound as the major force behind their technology. Having layered the examples I pitch shifted to either compliment each other or indeed to make them stand out in the overall mix. They are used during 4 or 5 cuts revisiting the central chamber and the tone goes from low to a slightly higher pitch as the sequence plateaus. I ran all new audio additions through Audition to match the films’ depth of tone using multi-band compressors and selective amplifiers. EDIT: Ultimately the cymatic images got more blurred and vague as I went on. 1 or 2 are still in there, but the more I tried to show what they were with any detail, the less sense it made that frequency resonances would manifest psychically/visually. They would more likely be seen from the top down, physically within the structure of the ship, on a larger scale or across the plain of land above in the soil as it does at the end when the saucer breaches etc.
So there’s no explicit narrowed eyes grimace from a CGI cartoon at the point of Spalko’s
combustion/dispersal/transformation. The cgi version viewed from behind that leans in from
the right remains, but not the close-up. The alien image that features throughout is still a cgi example, but from earlier in the scene with more lighting fx and much less visual articulation. It is presented bleached in increasing brightness as though from Spalko’s burning perspective - I used some 1080p footage I shot of the sun flicking across the lens to intensify the lights in the portal craft. I aimed to make the creature seem more creepy and circa 1980’s than hostile console gaming fodder. Hopefully it doesn’t open itself to much debate by being too explicit. Overall there is much less alien, but that it is alien that happens to be cross dimensional is fine and dandy with me. They’re mostly obscured, acutely lit and lots of chopped about editing and flashing lights toboot.
33C The time/echo filter and stutter effects spillover in some amount to include Mac on the floor in a bid to make his struggles look a part of the space-time discontinuity rather than just rolling around the floor like an infirm thespian.
34 Augmented the score to help reveal the distorted alien visage to Spalko, the demise of Mac and to segue between Spalkos “death” scene and the next scene. No score featured during the escape up the flooding steps originally and for the worse I felt, as inserting some here provides inertia through the giant cog dangers by again using segments from “Airplane Fight” from the “Indiana Jones Trilogy OST” - Airing the Indiana Jones fanfare as they run to the top and I popped in the quiet xylophone that echoes the melody once more as they take stock of the dead end with a stab from the brass section as Indy looks up before the water rushes them and the usual soundtrack accompanies and resumes entirely as they near the surface.
35 Kept the UFO and cut the sit down and cuddle ending - The long shot of the four looking
at the water is chopped into two shorter snippets and re-used to pass comment on the treasure of knowledge as it segues into the music for the wedding scene without it feeling rushed. (For the record, alien craft shouldn’t really be referred to as ufo’s any more when you do actually know what they are. They are also as appropriate an artefact for an Indy film as anything built and gilded by religious slaves. If you can have supernatural spectres for the god botherers, you can have multi-dimensional travellers for the non theists out there. Besides, if it were not for the age of information and tired documentaries on the history channel, these beings would probably still be viewed with as equal religious vigour as their Peruvian trustees once did)
35 Took out the “Thanks ox” line. The wedding scene seemed entirely fitting now without it feeling like a retroactive shotgun wedding and the end credits have always intertwined quite nicely without a fan edit having to bolt something on after a hasty conclusion. Besides, Indy would be a cooler step dad/unofficial uncle than a literal father. He’d probably get annoying…like in the parts taken out of this film. But similar to his ultimately filtered relationship with Short Round or other characters in the saga I enjoyed seeing Mutt’s emotion in the sanitarium and Indy’s
sympathetic hand on shoulder. It helped Mutt’s otherwise glib character greatly and so, as long as you take out the “stay in school” bullshit and keep the “gotta get out of the library” motif, you retain the same ol’ Indy).
Cheers folks 😃
Running time - 105 mins