Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny's Director Explains The 'Complex' Process Of Getting John Williams To Score The Film

Mention the name Indiana Jones, and the archaeologist’s signature theme song likely will begin playing in your head. The themes composed for Raiders of the Lost Ark and the subsequent Indiana Jones movies rank as the absolute best of composer John Williams. And even though Steven Spielberg isn’t returning to helm Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, it feels like getting Harrison Ford and Williams to return will provide enough of the magic to make the movie’s nostalgia factor kick in. 

During the recent Star Wars Celebration 2023 in London, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’s director, James Mangold, opened up about getting composer John Williams to return to the franchise. Williams initially said he planned to retire after scoring Mangold’s sequel. But as you can tell by this story, the drive to compose, and surround himself in music, might never go away. Mangold talked about the process of securing Williams, and said:

It's even more complex than that. I was thrilled beyond belief, but at first he was going to write some themes, you know, and then hire some people to help arrange it throughout the movie. And then he saw the movie. And then he started writing themes, and then he just didn't stop until he had written over two hours of music. In pencil!

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

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If the process isn’t broken, why try to fix it, right? James Mangold started talking about putting the finishing touches on the fifth Indiana Jones movie once John Williams started to share some of the original themes that he wrote for The Dial of Destiny. You can hear them in the trailer, as they blend some music of the 1960s (when the action takes place) with the original score. Pair that swelling Williams score with scenes of Harrison Ford in action, and it’s basically a time machine back to our childhoods, when the man in the leather jacket and fedora cracked his whip and took us all on globetrotting adventures. 

We are learning more and more what Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is going to be about. The “dial” of the title is an object that former Nazi Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) believes he can use to restore Hitler’s armies. Indy (Harrison Ford) has been chasing it his whole life, but abandoned the search until his goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) returns to his life and pulls him along on what we believe will be his final thrill ride. 

It’s still amazing to see a de-aged Harrison Ford in the trailers for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, because it shows how advanced the technology has gotten to make older actors look like versions of their younger selves. Mangold also spoke about that process when we talked at Celebration, as he told CinemaBlend: 

Technology is one of the few areas where our society continues to grow at an alarming rate. And so it wasn't hard to imagine that five or six years after The Irishman that we'd be at a new level. We also had specific advantages on this movie, one being that there's so much footage, (and) raw material of Harrison as a younger man – every side, every kind of lighting, night, day, high angle, low angle, close up, medium. There's so much negative, which our computers and our visual effects wizards can use to map that face. And also Harrison is exactly the same weight he was when he was 35 years old. So what's incredible is, you can just wrap that around him, and it's done.

I’m sure it was more complicated than that. And we will find out for ourselves when Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens on June 30. It’s one of many Upcoming 2023 movies we are keeping an eye on, so many sure that you get tickets once they go on sale.  

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.