With Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny by James Mangold, screened in Cannes on Thursday, May 18, Harrison Ford, 80, has given the costume of the famous archaeologist-adventurer for the fifth time. It is striking to note that the American actor appeared quite belatedly in The world. Indeed, it was not until the edition published on September 15, 1981, when the actor already had 15 years of his career behind him, that his name was finally mentioned.
When the first IndianaJones movie – Raiders of the Lost Arkdirected by Steven Spielberg – was presented at the Deauville American Film Festival, Jacques Siclier remarked on this actor described as the heir to the stars of the golden age of Hollywood.
“Indiana Jones,” noted the newspaper’s film critic, “played by Harrison Ford – who reminds us of, at the same time, Gary Cooper, a young John Wayne and Charlton Heston – has once again become the quintessential American hero. A perfected product of the American film industry, Raiders of the Lost Ark brings down the Star Wars space mercenary and sends Superman and Flash Gordon back to the toy shelf. Human, virile, determined, sometimes defeated but always regaining the upper hand, Indiana Jones is a myth adapted to contemporary America.”
Overshadowed by the success of ‘Star Wars’
Why did The world take so long to take note of Ford’s importance in the American cinematic landscape? By 1981, he had already appeared in George Lucas’ American Graffiti and Star Warsin Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Apocalypse Now – all films that marked the 1970s – and in Irvin Kershner’s The Empire Strikes Back. Ford did play supporting roles in the Coppola films and in American Graffitihowever.
And, while he had top billing in Lucas’ space opera, it was the concept crafted by the American director – a combination of knights and science fiction – that won over audiences, more so than his cast.
With Raiders of the Lost Arkeven though Spielberg had initially chosen Tom Selleck – who could not make himself available for the film – to play his hero, Ford became the face of the adventurer for the next several decades.
Beyond the action-movie hero
On February 26, 1987, following the release of The Mosquito CoastFord’s second film by the Australian director Peter Weir after the remarkable Witness, Colette Godard rightly placed the American star on a pedestal, far beyond the simple action-movie hero. She saw in The Mosquito Coast “a Rousseau-esque parable that almost makes you want to campaign for concrete and all-nuclear,” which is very well summed up. The journalist pointed out the finesse of Ford’s acting: He was impressive as a brilliant and naive inventor who can no longer tolerate the consumerist way of life and prefers to leave the United States to settle with his family in Honduras and return to nature.
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