INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Complete Chronological Cue List and Analysis of the John Williams Score
By John Takis
To begin, I want to thank Ricard for publishing this article, and for continuing to maintain such a vibrant and up-to-date resource and gathering place for John Williams fans online. I also want to note that the content of this article is based on analysis of the original soundtrack CD and several careful viewings of the film, notepad in-hand. I do not have access to any music that has not been made publicly available, and any inquiries along those lines will be ignored.
This is not a “review” of the film or score to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, although my personal opinions do creep in from time to time. I have made no effort here to chronicle the history of the production, or to provide much scholarly analysis of the music. My work is, rather, intended as a resource for fans seeking a convenient and comprehensive guide to the score, both as presented on the album and in the film. In doing so, I have tried to draw attention to those points of interest which seemed most relevant. I apologize in advance for any errors or omissions, and will do my best to submit updates and/or corrections as necessary.
I. COMPLETE CHRONOLOGICAL CUE LIST
IMPORTANT NOTE: Not all album track titles correspond accurately to their contents with respect to the film! See section II for more details.
|A.||Raiders March||5:06||Track 1|
|B.||Call Of The Crystal||3:49||Track 2|
|C.||The Adventures Of Mutt||3:12||Track 3|
|D.||Irina’s Theme||2:26||Track 4|
|The Complete Film Score:|
|3.||The Spell Of The Skull||4:24||Track 6|
|9.||Photo Of Dad||1:37||Unreleased|
|10.||The Legend Of Akator||0:55||Unreleased|
|12.||A Whirl Through Academe||3:33||Track 8|
|13.||The Journey To Peru||3:07||Track 7|
|14.||Oxley’s Dilemma||2:15||Track 15, 0:00-2:15|
|15.||The Chauchilla Graveyard||1:16||Unreleased|
|16.||Grave Robbers||0:56||Track 12, 0:00-0:56|
|17.||Secret Doors And Scorpions||2:17||Track 14|
|18.||Into The Crypt||3:55||Unreleased|
|19.||Orellana’s Cradle||4:22||Track 11|
|23.||The Snake Pit||3:15||Track 5|
|24.||“They Weren’t You”||1:00||Unreleased|
|25.||Jungle Chase, Pt. 1||3:17||Unreleased|
|26.||Jungle Chase, Pt. 2||5:24||Track 10 / Unreleased|
|28.||Over The Cliff||0:37||Unreleased|
|29.||Three Drops Down||0:19||Unreleased|
|30.||The Temple Ruins||3:10||Unreleased / Track 15, 2:15-4:46|
|31.||Ugha Warriors||1:33||Track 12, 0:56-2:29|
|32.||The City Of Gold||2:43||Unreleased / Track 13, 2:40-5:14|
|33.||The Vanishing Stair||0:38||Unreleased|
|35.||The Throne Chamber||2:20||Track 17, 0:00-2:17|
|36.||Spalko’s Gift||2:40||Track 13, 0:00-2:40|
|37.||The Secret Revealed||3:34||Track 17, 2:17-5:51|
|38.||The Departure||2:27||Track 18|
|39.||“Knowledge Was Their Treasure”||1:54||Unreleased|
From the information we have available, the score as composed, including concert works and credits, totals approximately 113 minutes of music. Only 77 min. were released on the original soundtrack CD, meaning at least 36 min. — around 1/3 of what Williams recorded — remains unreleased.
Suggested CD sequence (without editing individual tracks):
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 7 – 15 – 12 – 14 – 11 – 9 – 5 – 10 – 16 – 13 – 17 – 18 – 19
II. COMPLETE SCORE ANALYSIS
A. Raiders March (5:06) [Track 1]
This is the standard concert version of the Raiders March, as it has been performed for decades all across the globe. It was originally written, of course, for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Despite having conducted this piece innumerable times, Williams infuses it with fresh energy and vitality for this, the newest and perhaps final adventure of Indiana Jones. Thematically, the “Raiders March” incorporates “A” and “B” themes for Indy (which Williams famously wrote separately, before he combined them at Spielberg’s behest), and Marion’s theme (a.k.a. the love theme).
B. Call Of The Crystal (3:49) [Track 2]
Williams’ first new theme is for the film’s eponymous McGuffin — the legendary Crystal Skull of Akator. Over a sequence of three rising notes — a tri-tone (the “devil in music”) splitting the octave — Williams begins his theme on a minor third, leaps up a full octave, then dips down before finally coming to rest on the tonic. It’s a striking theme, with lots of lonely spaces and harmonic complexity. In the score, Williams often surrounds this theme with atonal and dissonant material, and achieves moods that range from mysterious to bombastic. The Skull is also given its own “B” theme, a wandering melody that features prominently in several cues.
C. The Adventures Of Mutt (3:12) [Track 3]
Some controversy has already arisen among fans as to whether or not “The Adventures of Mutt” counts as “Mutt’s theme”, or if Mutt even has a “theme” in the sense that Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood do. There are certainly a number of distinct motifs in this track (at 0:23 and 0:56, for example) — but listening to the score in the film, it’s tough to simply categorize these as Mutt’s “A” and “B” themes; they aren’t that easily established. My own feeling is that this was part of Williams’ design for the character. Mutt, after all, is still in the process of defining himself; formative elements are still very much in play. I think Williams wanted a collection of material that was playful and high-energy (observe the continual racing up and down scales), that could rollick along in the shadow of Indiana Jones without feeling like a pale imitation. The material is constructed in such a way that the classic Indiana Jones theme seems to break through at odd angles, the way inherited features in the faces of our children can, at unexpected moments, become startlingly apparent. Eventually, as Mutt takes steps towards growing into his legacy, Williams does seem to assign him a variation of the Indy “A” theme — sharing the first three pitches (3, 4, 5) but dropping the fourth an octave (from 8 to 1). In the analysis I refer to this as Indy’s theme (Mutt variation).
D. Irina’s Theme (2:26) [Track 4]
Williams’ final major new theme for the score is a sinister and seductive minor-mode melody for the film’s main baddie, Soviet agent Irina Spalko. Like Indy’s theme, it’s a classic example of Williams’ ability to write a long melodic line that is both compelling and recognizable after only a few notes — in this case, a simple pattern of four rising and four falling tones, which upon repetition becomes more extended and elaborate, and finally modulates rather than arriving at a clear resolution. (As if that weren’t enough, Williams even weaves in his Russian theme, performed here by the brass section alone.) Ultimately, Irina’s theme is an uncanny match for the character: weirdly seductive, at once passionate and remote, climbing ambitiously — and dangerously — upward.
The Complete Film Score:
1. Opening Logo (0:15) [Unreleased]
Recalling the opening of Last Crusade, the orchestra swells ominously as the Paramount logo gives way to … a prairie dog mound. (The Elvis standard “Hound Dog” plays under the film’s opening titles.)
2. Nevada, 1957 (4:06) [Unreleased]
The score proper begins with a martial motif for the Russian convoy infiltrating the U.S. Army base. The music becomes subdued as we see two men dragged from the trunk of one of the cars. Then, as the iconic profile of Indiana Jones comes into view, we hear Indy’s theme (a.k.a. the “Raiders March”) for the first time. The Russian theme appears in an extended form for Col. Dovchenko’s entrance. This is followed by Irina’s theme for her arrival, in a form very similar to the saxophone-laced passage that opens the concert version. But the cue goes elsewhere as Spalko tries to read Indy’s mind, transitioning smoothly into…
3. The Spell Of The Skull (4:24) [Track 6]
The warehouse opens, and we hear the Ark theme and a reprise of the Map Room from Raiders. The music goes on to follow Indy and the Russians’ search for the highly magnetic Roswell crate, and ends with Indy mounting a huge stack of boxes while the crate is removed. This cue is presented intact on the album, although the fade-out overlaps with…
4. Warehouse Escape (6:07) [Unreleased]
Dissonant chords emerge as the crate is brought before Spalko and loaded onto a truck. Threatening brass and rising string figures play as the crate is opened; then, CE3K-type material as the alien corpse is revealed. There’s a brief flurry of action as Indy uses the distraction to seize a gun, then a sympathetic passage for Mac’s betrayal. When Indy finally throws down the gun and makes his move, his theme explodes from the action in a very specific reference to music from near the beginning ofRaiders of the Lost Ark (when he reaches Jock’s plane and they escape from the Hovitos). A destructive chase ensues, and we hear the Ark theme briefly in the low brass, as its crate is broken open. The music shifts gears to “fistfight tempo” as Indy and Dovchenko duke it out atop a rocket sled. The cue ends as the sled ignites and takes off into the desert.
5. Doom Town (1:02) [Unreleased]
The score takes a humorous turn, as a rubber-legged Indy staggers away from the stopped rocket, hiding behind a bluff. A variation on the Russian theme plays as Dovchenko regains his bearings and orders a search. The cue ends on an unsettling note as Indy crests a ridge and gets his first sight of Doom Town, the nuclear test site.
6. Mushroom Cloud (0:25) [Unreleased]
Following his improbable escape-by-refrigerator, Indy witnesses the mushroom cloud that rises over Doom Town. Williams scores the moment with one of his signature doom-laden fanfares.
7. Spalko’s Dossier (1:19) [Unreleased]
Irina’s theme plays as Indy is shown her dossier. The music soon segues to Indy’s theme, which flows into the warm colors of Barnett College — a reprise, in fact, of material from our first view of the school inRaiders.
8. Resignation (0:31) [Unreleased]
The calm tones of the university return, Indy’s theme intermingled, for the transition back to Indy’s home following the revelation of his forced “leave of absence”, and of Dean Stanforth’s resignation on his behalf.
9. Photo Of Dad (1:37) [Unreleased]
Melancholic reprises of the “Illumination” theme from Last Crusade accompany Indy’s ruminations of his deceased father. (Spielberg refers to this as the “Grail Knight Theme” in the liner notes for that album, but the theme can also be interpreted to apply to Henry Jones, Sr. and the quest for enlightenment. It is one of several themes that link father and son in that film — Spielberg’s Grail being a metaphor of sorts for “the father” — and its recurrence here is in this capacity.) The scene transitions to a train platform, and we hear a tender solo horn perform Indy’s theme. The music becomes briefly threatening for a pair of sinister agents who slip onto the train after Indy, leading into an ambiguous, almost jazzy passage for Mutt pulling alongside the train on his motorcycle.
10. The Legend Of Akator (0:55) [Unreleased]
As Indy lays out the legend of the Crystal Skulls and their related history, Williams lays a foundation for the cues to come regarding the search for Oxley and Orellana’s Cradle. The Crystal Skull theme makes its first, brief appearance in the score.
11. KGB Agents (0:41) [Unreleased]
The Russian theme returns in the low brass as KGB agents menace Indy and Mutt. Indy’s theme plays briefly as he formulates an impromptu plan. The music cuts off as Mutt throws the first punch.
12. A Whirl Through Academe (3:33) [Track 8]
Williams creates a new action motif for the chase through the university campus, with licks of Indy’s theme interspersed throughout. Towards the end, as the bike crashes through the library, Williams quotes several traditional German “student drinking songs” which were popularized by Johannes Brahms in his famous Academic Festival Overture. (Due to nips and tucks in the film, this cue is very slightly longer on the album.)
13. The Journey To Peru (3:07) [Track 7]
The first of the score’s two “map travel” cues, this is mistitled “Journey To Akator” on the album. This is the first cue where the respective material of Indy and Mutt truly begins to interact, with Mutt’s energetic scale runs dancing up the edges of Indy’s theme. This is also the film’s first appearance of the Indy “B” theme (the bridge portion of the “Raiders March”). The second portion of the cue is Latin American-flavored music for the streets of Cusco. It should be noted that the timing of the “journey” portion of this cue is slightly different in the finished film, with a longer opening but tightened middle portion. These alterations sound like they could have been made editorially, post-production.
14. Oxley’s Dilemma (2:15) [Track 15, 0:00-2:15]
Spooky bells and atmospheric chords accompany Indy and Mutt into Oxley’s abandoned cell at the local asylum. An unsettling clarinet solo precedes the eerie sense of mounting discovery as Indy pieces together the meaning of the strange symbols scrawled on the walls and floor. (This scene was apparently shortened, since a brief passage at 0:58 is not heard in the film.) In the movie, this cue transitions smoothly into…
15. The Chauchilla Graveyard (1:16) [Unreleased]
More haunted underscore plays as Indy and Mutt explore an ancient cemetery on the outskirts of town, in the dead of night. The atmosphere becomes increasingly skittery, then is abruptly interrupted by…
16. Grave Robbers (0:56) [Track 12, 0:00-0:56]
Indy and Mutt are attacked by Nazca warriors. The music is a rapid-fire assault of ethnic flutes and percussion.
17. Secret Doors And Scorpions (2:17) [Track 14]
The statement of Indy’s theme which opens this cue has been dialed out of the film, and was meant to underscore Mutt looking up at Indy and their brief exchange, “You’re a … teacher?” “Part time.” Classic Williams orchestration follows for the initial exploration of the crypt. Then, at 1:32, “Scorpions” kicks in, as Mutt is beset by the stinging arachnids.
18. Into The Crypt (3:55) [Unreleased]
This lengthy passage follows Mutt and Indy as they make their way past the tilting door, into the heart of the crypt. The cue is predominantly atmospheric until the moment when the pair compare dagger and switchblade. Here, we hear the first real quote of Indy’s theme (Mutt variation). There is a smooth transition to…
19. Orellana’s Cradle (4:22) [Track 11]
Examining the remains of Francisco de Orellana, Indy discovers the Crystal Skull. The Skull theme returns as an elegiac trumpet solo, leading into woodwind variations on the Skull’s “B” theme. The cue builds dramatically as the pair exits the crypt and are captured by the Russians. With what may be a reference to “Dies Irae” (the traditional plainsong chant for the dead) Williams moves back into “map travel” mode for the trip to the camp at Ilha Aramacá. (This cue is edited slightly in the film, meaning the album version is around 20 seconds longer.)
20. Saucer Men (1:23) [Unreleased]
Spalko and Indy dialogue about her mission and the true nature of the Skulls. The music is a mélange of mysterious sounds — high string chords, tinkling piano and bells. Irina’s theme finishes the cue.
21. “Return” (3:12) [Track 9]
Low, portentous movements in the strings and brass precede the most definitive statement yet of Crystal Skull material, as Indy is forced to stare into the Skull in an attempt to forge a connection with Oxley. Just before Indy reaches the breaking point, the Skull is covered and the crescendo ceases, giving way to soft menace.
22. Automatic Writing (2:30) [Unreleased]
After a tense passage for the discovery of Oxley’s “automatic writing”, the old archaeologist is given a notepad. As he scribbles his message, we hear eerie music hinting at the Skull theme. A sympathetic moment follows for Mutt attempting to get through to Oxley, then the score transitions into building energy for the examination of Spalko’s maps. Indy’s theme appears twice, and the cue leads directly into…
23. The Snake Pit (3:15) [Track 5]
The action explodes as Mutt makes his move and Indy & Co. escape in the ensuing chaos. Williams introduces a new comic-action motif for Indy and Marion’s struggles to escape a sand pit. Indy’s theme plays as he is hauled out using a snake for a rope. (Some “dead air” has been shortened on the album, while the film version also tracks in the Russian theme for the recapture of our heroes. It’s not immediately clear if this is a separately recorded insert, or if it was taken from an earlier cue.)
24. “They Weren’t You” (1:00) [Unreleased]
Another bit of comic Mickey-Mousing plays under Indy’s escape from the truck. His theme transitions smoothly into the score’s first, brief quote of Marion’s theme as the old romance rekindles.
25. Jungle Chase, Pt. 1 (3:17) [Unreleased]
One of the most significant unreleased cues kicks off with a bang as Indy takes over the truck. We hear Marion’s theme again as she climbs up to take the wheel. The action continues fast and furious, major themes interspersed. One distinctive variation on the Russian theme resembles that heard in the End Credits, during the bridge between Irina’s and Mutt’s themes. We also hear the Indy “B” theme during this cue, its second and last appearance in the film proper. The cue segues into…
26.Jungle Chase, Pt. 2 (5:24) [Track 10 / Unreleased]
Spalko draws her sword, to a grandiose statement of her theme. The brunt of this next sequence, although it involves all the players, is predominantly a struggle between Irina and Mutt for possession of the Skull, meaning their respective thematic materials take the lead in the ensuing musical duel. A little over a minute of this cue has been removed from the album (at 1:56), making the sudden shift in tempo seem more clunky and forced than it actually plays in the film. Notably, this is the cue where the Indy theme (Mutt variation) comes into its own, during several scenes of the youth swinging through the jungle canopy. The action builds to its climax as the vehicles crash into a giant ant colony.
27. Ants! (4:14) [Track 16]
Williams creates an unsettling swarming motif that sets the pace for this horrific cue involving deadly army ants. Eventually, the Skull theme is heard in full force as its power is shown to repel the horde, creating a space for Indy and Dovchenko to battle mano-a-mano. The violence intensifies, and a brutal rendering of the Russian theme plays before Dovchenko meets his gruesome end. The cue ends with a comic moment where Indy rescues his hat from the ants. On the album, this passage winds down to a quiet conclusion. In the film, however, Indy’s theme is tracked in from its first appearance in “Nevada, 1957”, and instead of winding down the music cuts directly to…
28. Over The Cliff (0:37) [Unreleased]
As Indy & Co. give chase, Spalko and her men toss ropes over the cliff. The Russian theme plays, briefly. But Marion, rather than slow down to fight, launches the amphibious vehicle over the precipice. Her theme sounds (for the last time in the score, until the finale) as she guns the accelerator.
29. Three Drops Down (0:19) [Unreleased]
A statement of Irina’s theme precedes a short section anticipating the plunge down the first of three waterfalls.
30. The Temple Ruins (3:10) [Unreleased / Track 15, 2:15-4:46]
Approximately the first 40 seconds of this cue, while the company recovers on the riverbank and begins to explore the gateway to Akator, are cut from the album. The rest of the cue is largely comprised of extended developments of the primary Skull theme, including the three-note rising pattern, which is ultimately taken up by rocking strings. Breathy, exotic wind lines creep in towards the end, and an unsettling, tinkling piano. (Note: The cue identified as “The Temple Ruins” on the album is actually the music for the entry into the throne chamber.)
31. Ugha Warriors (1:33) [Track 12, 0:56-2:29]
Low tones, pedaled timpani and skittering flutes underscore a small army of native Ugha warriors who emerge from the passage walls. Percussion- and brass-heavy chase music ensues, as Indy and his companions are first captured, then wield the Skull to escape. In the film, music from “Grave Robbers” is tracked into a portion of this scene. We may presume the cue plays as-written on the album.
32. The City Of Gold (2:43) [Unreleased / Track 13, 2:40-5:14]
A short variation on Irina’s theme, heard as she picks up the marker left by Mac, was left off the album. CD material resumes with a chilling crescendo for Indy’s band as they reach the temple summit. Then, as they discover how to activate the entrance, Williams begins a threatening ostinato — an near-organic pulse, which grows in intensity against rising brass declamations. The post-climax decrescendo gets somewhat lost in the film.
33. The Vanishing Stair (0:38) [Unreleased]
Almost before our heroes can take a breath, the steps beneath their feet begin receding into the walls. The music whisks them on their way with a new pulsing ostinato, and ends when they splash into the water below.
34. Hidden Treasure (1:23) [Unreleased]
A lighter statement of Indy’s theme underscores a brief moment between Indy and Mutt, then moves into darker territory for their exploration of the temple. The Crystal Skull’s primary theme sounds as they discover a treasure room filled with artifacts from every great civilization in Human history. (Note: The cue identified as “Hidden Treasure” on the album is actually music for the scene where Spalko restores the Crystal Skull and demands her “gift”.)
35. The Throne Chamber (2:20) [Track 17, 0:00-2:17]
The first half of this cue gives us variations on the Skull’s “B” theme, as Oxley is drawn to the giant door. The primary theme takes over as Indy uses the Skull to activate the opening mechanism. The music becomes hushed as they enter the throne chamber, but builds to another grand statement of the Skull theme as the crystal skeletons are revealed. (Only the fade-out of this cue is abridged on the album.)
36. Spalko’s Gift (2:40) [Track 13, 0:00-2:40]
Wordless female chorus and airy strings and percussion play as Spalko and her cadre intrude. The Skull theme emerges amidst the dissonance. As Spalko reunites the crystal head to its body and demands her “gift”, the Skull theme attains its full glory, in a passage reminiscent of the concert version of the theme. Since the music in the film is dialed out immediately after this grand statement, it’s impossible to determine precisely how long the cue was meant to continue … but it does continue for at least another 10 seconds on the album.
37. The Secret Revealed (3:34) [Track 17, 2:17-5:51]
Much of this cue, including the opening passage, was dialed out of the film — but it’s a reasonable guess that it’s presented intact on the album. For the terrible death of Spalko and the initial destruction of the Temple of Akator, Williams pulls out all the stops. An aggressive action motif is bent around terrifying low brass movements, wild dissonances, harp glissandi, and unearthly choral elements, with the Spalko and Skull themes interwoven throughout. There’s even a distorted suggestion of Indy’s theme at around 2:30, and again woven into the trumpet licks at 3:15 — all culminating in a final, warped reading of Spalko’s theme.
38. The Departure (2:27) [Track 18]
Narrowly escaping destruction, Indy and the other survivors are pushed up a stone shaft by a wave of water, to the relative safety of the surface. Indy’s theme breaks through the action as they emerge. Incredibly, a flying saucer rises from the ruins of the temple, only to vanish in a great whirlwind. Williams treats the alien craft with due majesty, stirring up tangible excitement and placing a heraldic final statement of the Skull theme into a bright, major-mode setting. This cue is slightly altered in the film, with the opening action passage severely abridged. There is also a pause (at 1:15 on the album) where the film employs wordless choral effects; and when the score does return, it jumps in at a slightly later point than what we have on the disc.
39. “Knowledge Was Their Treasure” (1:54) [Unreleased]
After a moment for Oxley’s return to sanity, the “Illumination” theme from Last Crusade appears again — this time for Indy, Mutt and Marion (and the invoked memory of Henry Jones, Sr.). Heartfelt music carries us back to the United States and Barnett College. Indy’s colleague Stanforth is in a hurry to get somewhere, and the music goes directly into…
40. Finale (9:20) [Track 19]
As would only be expected, Indy and Marion’s long-delayed wedding is scored with a lush, romantic quote of their love theme. The final note turns momentarily suspenseful, as Mutt picks up Indy’s windblown fedora … only to have it snatched back by the Old Man. The “Raiders March” kicks in, and the End Credits roll. The album version of the credits medley (it was cut down significantly in the film) includes Irina’s Theme, a variation on the Russian theme similar to that heard in the unreleased portion of “Jungle Chase” (but significantly extended, with a bravura flute passage similar to the one heard in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and a version of “The Adventures Of Mutt”, before returning us to Marion’s theme. Instead of closing with the “Raiders March” in its traditional guise, however, Williams provides a crystallization of the Indy/Mutt relationship, with the melody given a playful new structure that incorporates Mutt’s variation as an answering phrase. Surely reflecting the filmmakers’ hopes for their audience, the music seems to exit with a smile on its face.
The author of this article may be contacted via PM on the JWFan messageboards, or at “johntakis at hotmail dot com” (e-mail address written-out to help prevent SPAM).