Indiana Jones and the Spinning of Tales
Jones is back, in the 2008 release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and in fine form for today’s evolution-saturated audiences. (Read on only if you don’t mind having the end of the movie revealed.)
In 1981 when Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, audiences were enthralled by the rugged, gung-ho Indy (played memorably by Harrison Ford) as he raced to prevent the Nazis from laying hold of the ‘Ark of the Covenant’. In the film, the Nazis believed the Ark held the power to make them invincible. Non-Christians might have been baffled by the ‘Ark’, but with a slightly more Christian-dominated culture (in the West) back then, Raiders sought to entertain the audience of its time. For those who didn’t know any better, the Ark was just some mythical artifact from ancient times.
Today’s audiences of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (KCS) are served up an equally trite interpretation of archaeological artifacts and a popular evolutionary theme. The movie features a crystal skull, which had been stolen from a Mayan temple by conquistadors who later died with it in their possession. An old friend of Jones, Harold Oxley found the skull in Peru and has since been driven mad by it and captured by Russians. With psychic properties, the quartz artifact compels Oxley to return it to where the conquistadors stole it from. The Russians force Jones to figure out where that is, believing it will lead them to the lost city of El Dorado, City of Gold.
In real-life archaeology, the origins of the crystal skulls are somewhat of a mystery. Though claimed by their original finders to be from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, some scientists today believe they were made in the 1800s in Europe.1 In KCS, the crystal skulls have a more out-of-this-world origin.
Many books, television shows and movies cast real history in a fantastical light and it is increasingly common for people to believe some of the wildest claims. No event has been ‘fictionalized’ more so than the building of ancient architecture. The Egyptian pyramids and the Mayan and Aztec Ziggurats feature widely in fiction, and in many cases we find the theme of alien-intervention. Eg. Stargate (Film and multiple TV series), The Fifth Element (Film), Alien vs. Predator (Film). Writer-researcher Erich von Däniken even released a book and a ‘documentary’ called Chariots of the Gods, which supposedly presents evidence from around that world indicating that aliens inspired much of mankind’s ‘evolution’ throughout the ages.
Evolutionists teach that human beings have ascended from lower life-forms. According to that worldview, our distant ancestors were ‘less evolved’ than we are. Some people therefore conclude that the best way to explain the brilliant architecture of the ancient world is alien-intervention.
This evolutionary perspective also takes root in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The first thing you notice about the crystal skull in the movie is that it has an elongated head. Indy explains that the Mayans used to ‘tie ropes around their infants’ heads’ to elongate the skull in honour of their gods. Twice we see the remains of a ‘grey’ alien in possession of the Russians. The supposition is that the ‘gods’ the Mayans worshipped were actually aliens.
Indy’s nemesis is a Russian2 femme-fatale named Irina Spalko (played by Cate Blanchett). Throughout the film, she uses Indy to unravel the clues and lead the way to El Dorado where the skull is meant to be returned. Not only do the Russians seek the ‘gold’ of the city, but they also desire knowledge of the aliens’ psychic powers. Spalko describes it as the ultimate power over enemies, to control their minds without them even knowing.
Towards the end of the film, Indiana Jones and his fellow adventurers find their way into the apex of a Mayan temple (presumably in the lost city). Inside is a ring of thrones with the crystal skeleton of an alien being on each one. One, however, is missing its head. With Russians holding Indy at gunpoint, Irina Spalko places the crystal skull onto the hunched skeleton. The skull vibrates and hums, the alien sits up and blocks of stone start moving in the temple.
The room spins slowly at first, building over time to an insane speed. Demanding to be given all knowledge, Spalko stares directly into the eyes of the crystal skull. Meanwhile, with the temple collapsing around them, Jones and fellows make their escape. Spalko remains behind, witnessing the skeletons of the aliens merging, in the spinning tower, to become one fully-fleshed ‘grey’. Then fire pours out her eyes and she vanishes.
Finally making it outside, Indy and fellows stand up on a cliff overlooking the collapsing city. An immense hurricane builds, shooting rubble in all directions (the adventurers are miraculously untouched by the wind and detritus). Out of the spinning debris emerges a silvery UFO, which takes off into an ‘alternative dimension’.
This twist at the end is typical of Indiana Jones adventures. The movies of the 1980s each had a surprise at the end, something which restored the upheaval and mystery of the film back to the ordinary, but leaving a few questions unanswered. What’s new about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the emphasis on aliens.
With so many people now being taught evolution, belief in aliens is growing. People naturally conclude that if life spontaneously evolved on earth, it should be possible for it to have done so elsewhere in the vast cosmos. Aliens and UFOs are a timely theme for Indiana Jones, though somewhat atypical.
Four young adults I saw KCS with commented that it was uncharacteristic for an Indiana Jones movie to feature aliens. ‘The paranormal aspects in the other films at least had some feasibility,’ said one. ‘There are many people who actually believe aliens built the pyramids,’ replied another. And the reason they believe that is because of their evolutionary worldview.
In contrast, the Bible teaches that mankind sprang from just two people, Adam and Eve, who were made in the image of God—they were not descendants of some ape-like creature (and nor are we). Man was created intelligent from the very first—Genesis refers to metalworkers, musicians and their musical instruments (Genesis 4:21–22). After the Flood (Genesis 6–9), the descendants of Noah (according to their clans and languages—Genesis 10–11) rapidly developed civilizations in various parts of the world.
One of those people groups were the Mayans. Their engineering and architectural skills are obvious from the legacy of their building work that survives to this day—massive pyramids and ziggurat-style structures. They had a complex calendar and incredibly accurate astronomical observations.
If people took the Bible as their authority on Earth history, it would not surprise them that ancient people were brilliant architects and engineers, and as intelligent as we are today. (Maybe even more so!) But increasing numbers of people, especially in the younger generation, are unaware of what the Bible actually says. Consequently the achievements of ancient man are, for many today, a mystery.
Perhaps that’s one reason that Indiana Jones has departed from themes that require at least some background knowledge of the Bible (e.g. Raiders of the Lost Ark), and is now thoroughly evolutionary in outlook. A sad reflection of the diminishing Christian influence in our modern culture.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_skulls. Return to text.
- Though in the film, Indy guesses from her accent that she is from the Eastern Ukraine. Return to text.