"Indiana Jones" illuminates dark Cannes film fest

Sun May 18, 2008 4:04pm EDT
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By Elizabeth Guider

CANNES (Hollywood Reporter) - The myriad makeshift signs said it all: "Me, Indi Jones tickets, please" as hundreds of fans amassed at the Cannes Film Festival Sunday in hopes of securing passage to the world premiere of the fourth installment of the Steven Spielberg franchise.

And if not to the movie, then at least a glimpse of the director, executive producer George Lucas, stars Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf and practically the entire (human) cast as they made their way to the chock-a-block press conference after the screening.

The film played to a packed house made up mostly of press at 1 p.m. There was the energy of anticipation in the room beforehand, and the applause at the end was polite, but then that's all the emotion journos tend to display no matter the movie.

Early word from exiting journalists was a general thumbs-up, though with a few strongly expressed cavils and qualifiers: "too long," "too many stunts," "too wooden," not enough time for any of the characters to catch their breath or interact. But such objections, however valid, will probably hardly matter in box office terms, judging from the general public enthusiasm that seemed to transform the mood of the Croisette.

Even among frazzled sleep-deprived festgoers, one could feel the shift: Enough of politically challenging, socially relevant competition pictures -- a la "Blindness," "Gomorra," "Linha de Passe" -- let's have some brightly lit fun to match the returning blue skies over the Mediterranean.

Spielberg, who hasn't been to the festival since he brought "ET" in 1982, put it best. He was the last among the creators to be convinced that Indy deserved to be brought back, and it took 17 years to free himself up enough from DreamWorks and his self-described "dark period" movies to tackle it.

"We did it as a celebration of the movies," he said at the news conference. "We wanted to reacquaint people with the pure joy of seeing something with others in a darkened room."

Interestingly, Spielberg also said that, yes, another Indiana Jones sequel was a possibility: "Only if you (the public) want it. We'll have our ear to the ground," meaning, presumably, attuned to the global wickets.   Continued...

<p>Director Steven Spielberg (2nd L), his wife Kate Capshaw (L), producer George Lucas (C), Melody Hobson (3rd R), Calista Flockhart (2nd R) and Harrison Ford (R) wave to the public before the world premiere screening of the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler</p>