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Indy’s back — and in tears.
The time finally came for the Cannes Film Festival to host an old friend — a swashbuckling archaeologist named Indiana Jones — courtesy of the world premiere of James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Held Thursday evening at the Palais, the screening saw the filmmaker joined by beloved franchise star Harrison Ford alongside co-stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge (in Schiaparelli Haute Couture), Boyd Holbrook, Ethann Isidore (in custom AMI), Shaunette Renee Wilson and Mads Mikkelsen.
And after every last credit rolled for the Lucasfilm and Disney blockbuster, the black-tie audience responded by dialing up a rousing standing ovation to five minutes, a strong showing for the out-of-competition title on what turned out to be a very emotional night for its franchise star.
Ahead of the screening, festival director Thierry Fremaux surprised the audience by taking the stage and presenting a highlight reel of Ford’s legendary career. Scenes from Witness; Blade Runner (both installments); Working Girl, The Fugitive; Six Days, Seven Nights; and the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises along with many others made up the impactful sizzle reel that earned another rousing round of applause.
Fremaux then was joined by festival president Iris Knobloch to honor Ford with an unannounced Palme d’Or. Looking visibly emotional and on the verge of tears as he accepted, the veteran star said he was very moved by the spectacle.
“They say when you’re about to die you see your life flash before your eyes, and I just saw my life flash before my eyes — a great part of my life but not all of my life. My life has been enabled by my lovely wife, who has supported my passion and my dreams, and I’m grateful,” said Ford, then turning his attention to the audience. “I love you, too. Thank you. You’ve given my life purpose and meaning, and I’m grateful for that. So grateful to have the opportunity to work with artists like Jim, Phoebe, even Mads.”
The Mikkelsen quip landed to laughter and it was clear the audience would’ve let him go on much longer, but Ford was eager to get on with the show. “Now, but I got a movie you gotta see. It’s right behind me, so let me get out of the way.”
While the ovations are almost always noteworthy here in Cannes, the news out of tonight’s screening was also about reunions. The Dial of Destiny premiere brought 80-year-old Ford and the Lucasfilm team back to Cannes, where they also debuted the last installment, 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Steven Spielberg directed that entry and attended the Palais premiere with Ford, George Lucas and stars Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf and Karen Allen.
Ford was here more recently, turning up in 2014 to promote another high-octane franchise film, The Expendables 3, opposite Mel Gibson, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren and Ronda Rousey. But his first festival showing dates back to 1985, when he visited Cannes for the debut of Peter Weir’s crime thriller Witness.
For Mangold, 59, the showing marked his own festival reunion, coming back to Cannes 28 years after the Directors Fortnight debut of his first film, 1995’s indie drama Heavy, which starred Liv Tyler, Shelley Winters, Debbie Harry and Pruitt Taylor Vince. When the news was announced about Dial of Destiny coming to Cannes, Mangold commented, “I am proud to return with a slightly larger spectacle.”
He doubled down on that with his post-premiere comments, during which he was also teary-eyed.
“Twenty-five years ago I came here with a small film named Heavy that played in Director’s Fortnight, and it’s kind of amazing to be back here again with a slightly larger film. But one thing was true then and is true now: This film was made by friends. It’s hard for me to even say because it’s hard probably for you to believe that a movie this big can be made by friends, but it was,” he said, getting choked up. “It was made out of love. It was made out of devotion to what came before it. It was made with tremendous trust from all these people on both sides of me that let us play and let us make something strange, and hopefully something that you felt was wonderful that you could enjoy that would carry on the legacy of these great movies that preceded us.”
He thanked the festival for having him again, then closed with his original sentiment. “It can be a family that makes a movie, and it can come out of love, however hard that is to believe — even on this scale. I’m here to prove it and say it did happen.”
Something else that happened ahead of the premiere: Fremaux offered a series of shout-outs to those responsible for making the night happen, including the Disney team. “I especially would like to thank and to welcome the CEO or whatever, the legendary Bob Iger,” said Fremaux, in a rare shout to a studio chief. He also requested a round of applause for veteran producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, who were seated next to Iger.
Per the film’s official production notes, Dial of Destiny picks up in 1969 when Jones is ready to call it quits after having spent more than a decade teaching at New York’s Hunter College. As he prepares to retire in a modest apartment where he lives alone, he receives a surprise visit from estranged goddaughter Helena Shaw (Waller-Bridge). Her intentions are to track down a rare artifact that her father entrusted to Indy years earlier — the infamous Archimedes Dial, a device that purportedly holds the power to locate fissures in time.
A sneaky con artist, Helena steals the Dial and makes a break for it to sell the artifact to the highest bidder. Left with no choice but to go after her, “Indy dusts off his fedora and leather jacket for one final ride” while an old nemesis, Jürgen Voller, a former Nazi played by Mikkelsen, is hot on their trail and has his own plans for the Dial, a scheme that could change history.
John Rhys-Davies, Toby Jones, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann and Olivier Richters round out the cast. The film was written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp and Mangold, based on characters created by Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by Kennedy, Marshall and Simon Emanuel, with Spielberg and Lucas serving as executive producers. John Williams, who has scored every Indiana Jones adventure since the original Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, has once again composed the score.
The Cannes premiere is a signal in Lucasfilm and Disney’s belief in the blockbuster. It’s also receiving high-profile promotion on the ground here, with an oversized video display in front of the newly remodeled Carlton Hotel. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will open in theaters in France on June 28, followed by a U.S. bow June 30.
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