Is Most Of Indiana Jones 4 A Radiation-Induced Hallucination?

As part of our series on mind-blowing movie fan theories, we’re changing the way you watch some of Hollywood’s most famous films. Today: ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’.

The theory

In order to escape the effects of a nuclear explosion, Indy seals himself inside a lead-lined fridge.

The theory posits that rather than survive the bomb intact, the good doctor actually suffers a massive dose of radiation and the rest of the film – from when he climbs out onwards – is actually the delusion of a dying man who never gets to leave the testing site, or his refrigerator tomb.

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The evidence

The film is about aliens. Indy may have survived the wrath of God killing all those Nazis, but aliens is a whole different kettle of fish. If the delirious doctor wanted to imagine something truly mind-blowing as his final adventure, then extra-terrestrials might well be it.

Then there’s Mutt. Played by Shia Labeouf, he is Indy’s son with the great lost love of his life, Marion Ravenwood. Mutt doesn’t meet his dad until after the nuke. In other words, if Indiana was making all his wishes come true in his dying moments, having a son as well as reuniting with Marion might well be at the top of his list. After all, ‘Kingdom Skull’ is set in 1957. Indy is a pretty old man by this point. Creating an heir – someone he can pass on his hat to as happens in the movie – makes sense for a guy who’s never truly had a family.

As to whether a fridge would even be lead-lined is another matter for debate (and as such, the cooling unit would have never provided the protection Indy thought it would). The fridge isn’t obviously designed by the military, so why would they put an ‘indestructible’ appliance on a testing site? On top of that, lead is actually a poor insulator and therefore is a poor substance to use in fridge construction.

According to producer George Lucas, who admitted to coming up with the sequence, the likelihood of survival according to “a lot of scientists” is about 50-50. So ignoring the fact that being blasted into the air and then landing would probably smash his body to pieces (hey, it’s a movie!), there’s apparently scientific validity in his avoidance of radiation.

There’s also the strength of the bomb. Modern audiences are used to megaton-level devices which can destroy cities in a single moment. But back in the Fifties, nuclear energy was in its infancy and bombs were much less powerful. While the mushroom cloud we see on-screen is relatively large, the actual size of the detonation could be less than we think. After all, people did survive Hiroshima.

Finally, this is Indiana Jones we’re talking about. He didn’t die in ‘Raiders’ because he closed his eyes when the Ark was opened. The baddie in ‘Temple Of Doom’ pulled a man’s heart out of his chest without cutting it open. And remember, ‘Last Crusade’? He drunk from the Holy Grail to make sure it wouldn’t kill his dad. The reason Walter Donovan wanted the Grail was because it supposedly grants those who sip from it eternal life. In other words, is Indy actually immortal..?

The verdict

Don’t think so. Taking into account all the evidence, the main thing to remember is that this is a romp, a big-screen incarnation of the Saturday morning serials of the 1930s. Heroes do things that are ridiculous and survive them. Alternatively, those of you who thought this installment of the franchise was an ugly stain on what is otherwise a magnificent journey might want to believe the theory. That way we can all pretend it never happened.

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Photos: Snap Stills/Rex/Paramount