May 27, 2008
Theosophy means “God Wisdom.” It is a New Age movement attributed to the late great Madame Blavatsky. God is said to be revealed through mystical insight, in other words, Gnosticism. Much of the occult is really offshoots of oppressed Gnostic Christianity. (Although Paganism does play a large role too.)
Theosophy has influenced George Lucas—at least according to a Wikipedia article. The article also lists L. Frank Baum who wrote the Oz series. Thus, it is also an influence on the television show Lost.
Madam Blavatsky wrote about Hyperboreans, Atlantis and Lemuria. Shirley McLaine’s vision in The Camino is very much in line with Madam Blavatsky’s own vision. Among other things, Blavatsky wrote about The Great White Brotherhood, Higher Selves and Reincarnation. She claimed to have a look at an ancient Tibetan book called the Book of Dzyan.
Shirley MacLaine wrote in Going Within (1990) about the Crystal Skull. It is indeed an actual artifact. No tool on earth, at least at the time, could have chiseled such a perfectly detailed skull out of quartz crystal and that is why many think it to be extraterrestrial in nature.
Steven Spielberg has explored the idea of alien life forms in Close Encounters, ET and the mini-series Taken. He once asked Shirley MacLaine to act in his horror movie-thriller Poltergeist. She turned him down because she felt the movie was too negative. It focused on fear instead of love.
Progressively, Indiana Jones has focused on Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity. New Age oriented Gnosticism seemed like the next natural step. Thus, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull deals with aliens. It also fits into the 1950s fascination with space, aliens and the Russian race to the moon. The Russians did indeed investigate into the world of ESP and the like. Roswell and Area 51 gave the movie an X-Files-like feel though—especially when the saucer came out of the ground at the end. It was like the saucer coming out the snow in Antarctica in Fight the Future. (Note: Also the Spy Genre and Alias)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull circled back upon itself by revisiting the Amazon and Peru. Although familiar territory in some ways, it was also addressed with a fresh perspective. Part of the enjoyment was being able to say, “I’ve been there!” I knew very little about the Ark of the Covenant, The Temple of Doom and the Holy Grail. The Crystal Skull was a different story. I knew the language Indiana Jones was referencing was Quetchua even before he named it. I also knew the legend of El Dorado before he mentioned it.
This Indiana Jones pulled together my interest in The Mysterious Cities of Gold along with everything else. The cartoon The Mysterious Cities of Gold dealt with the Atlantis, Lemuria and aliens. When Indy opened the door to El Dorado, it echoed a scene in the cartoon. (See also Wiñay Wayna or the “Forever Young Falls” in both Indy and the MCOG.) I wondered if Lucas had any knowledge of the cartoon. Had he seen it? It appeared as if he had. I also wondered if both the writers of MCOG and Lucas were familiar with the readings of Edgar Cayce. It certainly seems likely. Again, this connects to Shirley McLaine and Peru.
I’m not sure if Lucas has ever met McLaine (although she mentions Star Wars and the Force in Out on a Limb). Neither has mentioned a meeting in interviews or elsewhere. Regardless of that, they are connected by their interests. It makes perfect sense that both were early influences in my life. They are my guides through their work. I feel as if I know them and perhaps as if I once in them in a past life (or alternate life if all time is happening at once.)
In any case, it also ties into my story The Purple Rose. Indiana Jones inspired the archaeologist character of Alexandra/Anastasia. The Mysterious Cites of Gold and the X-Files the idea of the Atlantis/Cities of Gold connection to Tunguska. Interestingly, the last installment of Indiana Jones connects to The Purple Rose more so than other three previous ones.
While the opening of the film circles back to Lucas’s American Graffiti, the end circles back to George Bernard Shaw for me. Shaw spoke of how most stories, specifically plays, have to end with Birth, Death or Marriage; otherwise, they could go on indefinitely. Theatergoers would have to leave before the end to catch the train home. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ends with the marriage of Indiana Jones to Marion Ravenwood-Williams. Mutt or Henry Jones the Third nearly dons his father’s fedora as if to say, “I’m ready to carry on the franchise.” If there are more movies, surely Shia LaBeouf will be the star. I wasn’t too far off in creating California Jones back in 1989. Her adventures finding the Lost Testaments of the Bible connect to everything here. Gnosticism is the theme, the thread of this rich tapestry of theosophy.