Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull | 2008
Nearly 20 years after The Last Crusade, the world’s least professional archaeologist is back – ripping, smashing and generally destroying centuries of historic artefacts. Now that we’re into the Fifties, the threat changes from nasty Nazis to pesky aliens.
For the first time, an Indiana Jones movie is based in the US and not the UK.
The open grassland and red sandstone cliffs of 1957 ‘Nevada’, where the kids race with the military, is Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico. One-time home of painter Georgia O'Keeffe, it’s now an education and retreat centre, on US84 – and later to be visited by Harrison Ford and extraterrestrials again in Cowboys & Aliens.
The entrance gate to ‘Hangar 51’ was built on Corralitos Road (County Road C009), running north from Robert Larson Boulevard (I-10), just west of Las Cruces International Airport, New Mexico.
About 50 miles to the west, on I-10, Deming Municipal Airport, 310 Airport Road in the town of Deming, became ‘Hangar 51’ itself, where Indy meets Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). Not far from the airport, the sinister town populated entirely by dummies, in which Indy finds himself after escaping, was built.
It’s back to ‘Marshall College’ again, supposedly in ‘New Haven, Connecticut’, with a shot of the Conservatory of Music building of the University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Circle, Stockton, California, a shot repeated from Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
When it comes to comfy homes in the movies, you can’t beat Pasadena, and Indy’s residence is no exception. It too is a long way from Connecticut, at 476 Bradford Street between South Orange and South Grand Avenues in Pasadena.
The real Connecticut is featured, but there’s a lot of shuttling back and forth. ‘New Bedford Station’, where Indy is about to leave when Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) – in full Wild One gear – turns up, really is in Connecticut. It’s Essex Station, on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, 1 Railroad Avenue, a rail museum in Essex, about 25 miles east of New Haven.
‘Arnie’s’, though, the ‘New Haven’ diner, where Mutt tells Indy about the Crystal Skull, is on the Paramount backlot in Hollywood – with the real town added digitally to the exterior shot. Threatened by two Russian goons, Indy takes off on the back of Mutt’s motorbike, and they’re immediately in the real New Haven – home of the campus of Yale University, which now takes over as ‘Marshall College’.
They roar under the Gothic arch on High Street, New Haven, and left into Chapel Street, where Indy is dragged into the Russians’ car.
The road is stretched a bit in the editing, as it’s only a few yards before Indy is back on the bike and Mutt makes a smart turn left into Yale’s Vanderbilt Hall, opposite Sherman’s Alley.
They plough through the ‘Better Dead Than Red’ demo in Old Campus Courtyard, where the Russians demolish the statue of Marcus Brody.
The narrow double doors, where Indy and Mutt shake off the car, is the entrance to the university’s Sterling Memorial Library, but the imposing interior they crash into is not a library at all, but the University Commons dining room, at 168 Grove Street at College Street.
Indy and Mutt take off on one of those red-line-on-a-map flights to ‘Nazca, Peru’, home of the famous Nazca Lines. The lines are geometric line clearings in the Nazca Desert of southern Peru, and we do get the briefest glimpse of them.
Forget the alien fairy tales – the lines are geoglyphs, made by the Nazca people sometime between between 200 and 600AD. The Nazca is not a sandy desert – the lines are created where dark red surface stones and soil are cleared away, to expose the lighter subsoil underneath, to form geometric shapes, along with stylised animals and plants.
That’s all we get of the real Peru. There are no commercial flights to Nazca, which has only a small airport for light aircraft touring the lines. You'll need to travel the 275 miles from Lima by bus.
For the film, though, ‘Aeroporto de Nazca’ is is Eagle Field, now Eagle Field Historical Museum, 11100 Eagle Avenue, in Firebaugh, about 40 miles west of Fresno in central California. An Army Air Corps training field maintained as a historical landmark, it now houses an aircraft museum.
The ‘Peruvian’ village and the cemetery were both built in the studio, and the ‘Amazon’ jungle was filmed on private land in the lush rainforests of the Puna District, near to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Once Marion drives the amphibious truck over a cliff into the river, it gets a bit tricksy.
Previously seen onscreen in The Mission, in Michael Mann’s Miami Vice and (digitally enhanced) in Ryan Coogler's 2018 Black Panther, the falls can be reached from towns either side of the river, from Puerto Iguazú in Argentina, and from Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. They’re also accessible from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.
Fortunately for the cast, the foot of the waterfall looks slightly calmer, as it was filmed at Kulaniapia Falls on the Waiau Stream, in the grounds of The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls, 100 Kulaniapia Drive, Hilo back on Hawaii’s Big Island.
The adventure winds up safely back in Los Angeles, as Indy finally gets hitched to Marion – though Mutt doesn’t get the iconic hat yet – the First Christian Church of North Hollywood, 4390 Colfax Avenue, Studio City in the San Fernando Valley.