Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny ending, explained

Like all Indiana Jones movies after 1984 cursed temple, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate is here to remind you The Raiders of the Lost Ark. He’s got all the hits: world-renowned archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) reluctantly confronts snakes and dutifully confronts Nazis. Plus: John Rhys-Davies playing an Egyptian! The film is so much about nostalgic thrills that it’s easy to forget that director James Mangold, alongside screenwriters David Koepp and Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, very consciously tells the story of an Indiana Jones in the end of his career, and have a genuine interest in taking him somewhere new for what is supposed to be his final arc.

This means dial of fateThe final act of might completely surprise viewers, even though the film teases it as a possibility throughout. This may be Indiana Jones’ most shocking moment since – well, the end of the previous Indiana Jones film, Crystal Skull Kingdom. If nothing else, it continues a rich tradition of unforgettable endings to Indy’s adventures. It also feels like it’s contrary to the spirit of every Indiana Jones movie that came before it. Let’s talk about it.

[Ed. note: Spoilers for the entirety of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny follow.]

How does Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate end?

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate follows Indy and many other less savory people as they race to find the Antikythera, the Greek name for the eponymous Dial of Fate. Also called the Archimedes Dial after its inventor, the Greek mathematician Archimedes, the dial is purportedly a kind of compass, which points to anomalies in space and time.

Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), the film’s villain, is a former Nazi scientist who got into the good graces of the US government by helping with the moon landing and pretending to be reformed. Secretly, he seeks the Dial in hopes that he can use it to travel back in time to World War II and lead the Nazis to victory. What actually happens is stranger than that.

Mads Mikkelsen as Doctor Jürgen Voller opens a crate while two Nazi soldiers overlook, shining a flashlight inside in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate.

Picture: Lucasfilm

The dial works as advertised, leading Voller to a break in time at the center of a storm. But Voller’s calculations are wrong – the portal doesn’t take his plane full of secret Nazis back to war, but to the Sicilian city of Syracuse around 212 BCE, when the city was besieged by the Romans. This is the battle where Archimedes dies.

The final battle in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate involves Indy and his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) defeating the Nazis while avoiding the Romans. In the end, the heroes are successful, but Indy suffers a serious injury. Helena wants to save him and bring him back to the present, but Indy is moved by the living history around him and, after meeting Archimedes himself, says he wants to die there in the past.

Helena cleverly knocks Indy out and brings him back to the present day of 1969, where he can be hospitalized and saved.

The case of the end of Dial of Destiny

In an interview with Uproxx, director James Mangold notes that the artifact in an Indiana Jones movie is like Chekhov’s pistol – the ancient object discussed in the first act is to explode in the third and show its power. . He also argues that it needs to tie into Indy’s personal journey and help him work through whatever he’s struggling with.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate takes place at a time in Indy’s life when he feels out of place. Mankind went to the moon, his son Mutt (Shia LaBeouf in Crystal Skull Kingdom) died off-screen in Vietnam, his marriage to Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is over, and he is about to retire from his long career as a teacher. There’s a strong thematic resonance to the idea of ​​Indiana Jones longing to hide in the past and wanting to stay there when he miraculously finds himself in a time when he’s dedicated his life to studying.

The problem is, it’s incongruous with the Indiana Jones movies that came before it.

The case against the ending of Dial of Destiny

Even though the same two people – Steven Spielberg and George Lucas – have helmed all previous Indiana Jones films, each film is a very different flavor of pulp. One thing is consistent, however: the artifact at the center of each story blurs the line between fact and fiction, standing on the threshold of history and myth.

“Archaeology is the search for facts, not truth“, Indy tells his class at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s a clever line that encapsulates both Indy’s biggest driving force and its biggest blind spot: it adamantly believes that history is discoverable and explainable, even as it continually encounters things that defy explanation and grows as a person because of it.

Indiana Jones crosses a bridge in the shadows in a still from the untitled Indiana Jones 5

Picture: Lucasfilm

In dial of fate, Indy is skeptical of the Dial’s abilities, but that ultimately doesn’t force him to confront something he doesn’t understand. In fact, it tempts him with a version of the world he already knows.

Although it is shocking and a bit silly to see Indiana Jones talking to Archimedes, dial of fateThe script defines the moment thematically, and a strong argument could be made within the logic of the film. Step back, however, and the ending becomes a metaphor for how a franchise empties as the sequel builds up, and the story drifts away from its center.

Indiana Jones movies have always been throwbacks to pulp adventure soap operas. It was in 1981 when The Raiders of the Lost Ark created, and they were in 2008 with Crystal Skull Kingdom – a film that, although derided, was designed to evoke 50s sci-fi in the same way that previous films in the franchise evoked films like the 1939 adventure Gunga Din. While dial of fate is all about a compass, it doesn’t lead its viewers anywhere other than to other Indiana Jones films. This turns the franchise into a navel-gazing ouroboros. Superficially, as Mangold says, it’s a story of moving on. But it doesn’t – it’s a throwback story of Indy choosing a world he knows and a history he knows. And it’s about the franchise itself retreating into self-parody. Much like Indiana itself, this series finale installation is stuck in the past – and shows no indication of what a problematic message is.

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