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<I>Indiana Jones</I> Set a Restored Jewel

17 Oct, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

For fans, it's a prize as highly sought after as the religious relics that lure Professor Henry Jones out of his classroom and into death-defying adventures, with one difference: The faithful on the trail of the four-disc boxed set know the date their quest will end.

Indiana Jones hacks his path to DVD for the first time Oct. 21, in a set that includes frame-by-frame restorations that give all three movies a depth of field not seen even in their original theatrical release. The colors are brighter, the 5.1 DTS sound is richer, and the fourth disc will tell fans almost everything they want to know about the series.

If fans have become accustomed to the way the movies look on TV or VHS, as Lucasfilm VP of marketing Jim Ward thinks, they should be thrilled at the results on DVD, painstakingly restored twice -- once for the widescreen edition and again for the pan-and-scan.

“The goal was to present the movies in the way they were originally seen,” said producer/executive producer Frank Marshall. That was a daunting task for the team working under restorer John Lowry and Paramount SVP of DVD production Jeff Radoycis, who started with the original mono soundtrack and the old film print with a scratch through the middle of 35,000 frames. Part of the process was removing half a million pieces of dust from the print.

Unlike most making-of documentaries, the two-hour Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy is made up not only of recent interviews with participants, but of documentary footage that director Steven Spielberg had the presence of mind to record when he was shooting each feature. That sent DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau, who did the bonus features, on his own quest to find materials that matched the participants' memories of making the movies.

“I was really surprised to find some of the screen tests,” he said, including one with the leading man originally cast as Jones: Tom Selleck. Fans will see that test along with those of actors who actually did the movies among the bonus features, along with separate segments on special effects, sound effects, stunts and music.

Because Spielberg was adamant about archiving the process, fans get not just fuzzy memories, but a peek inside the filmmakers' heads as they met the challenges of creating the films.

“This is the most comprehensive project I've ever been involved in on the DVD side,” said Marshall.

“I was shooting Seabiscuit at Santa Anita while this was getting made,” Marshall said. “Laurent would show up with a three-page list of people to track down” for the Jones project. For his part, Bouzereau was overjoyed to find so many of them and share in their memories, which he tried to make “educational and inspirational” for budding filmmakers. “I would be interviewing somebody, and they would go into a bag and pull out a [prop] head,” Bouzereau said.

To re-create the ambience of the era, the producers used painting-style illustrations reminiscent of old travel and movie posters for the navigation background. Chapter breaks are many, letting fans navigate directly to their favorite jams, confrontations and glory moments.

What fans won't get is much insight into the pending fourth installment -- a film Marshall, Spielberg and Lucas vowed not to make when they completed the trilogy. They relented at the American Film Institute's tribute to Harrison Ford, but have no timeline established for a fourth film, Ward said.

At retail, consumers can expect a few adventures of their own.

Consumers who buy the set at Best Buy will get a fifth disc containing 10 minutes of bonus archival material not available anywhere else. They can also get Indiana-themed gift cards.

Wal-Marts across the country will host a special event from Noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 25 that features interactive games for all ages, including a slimy snake pool and a hat toss. All participants get a free mini-poster while supplies last.

Target offers $3 off a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper to consumers who buy the boxed set. Other retailers, including Borders and Meijer, will offer their own discounts or themed gift cards with the set purchase.

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