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Steven Spielberg hasn't released a film since 2008's unpopular Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but this year he's back with two; first up with a release this week in the UK is The Adventures of Tintin, which comes to American theaters in December, just a week before his other film War Horse opens. And as he does press for Tintin in the UK, the conversation inevitably turns to his last movie, and the fact that, well, even the people who adore him didn't like it.
It's become popular to blame George Lucas, Spielberg's collaborator on all 4 Indy films, for the ridiculous alien twist and the goofier moments in the script. As it turns out, Spielberg blames him too-- well, at least partly. Here's what he told Empire Online, after that caveat that "I'm very happy with the movie. I always have been."
"I sympathize with people who didn't like the MacGuffin because I never liked the MacGuffin. George and I had big arguments about the MacGuffin. I didn't want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings. But I am loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story he believes in - even if I don't believe in it - I'm going to shoot the movie the way George envisaged it. I'll add my own touches, I'll bring my own cast in, I'll shoot the way I want to shoot it, but I will always defer to George as the storyteller of the Indy series. I will never fight him on that."
Of course, saying that George Lucas is the storyteller of the Indiana Jones series is patently ridiculous-- Indy is going to figure prominently in only one man's Oscar montage when he dies, and I think we all know that's Spielberg. It seems mighty disingenuous that he gives so much power to Lucas for the entire Indiana Jones franchise, but before you start thinking he's just shifting blame, he took full responsibility for what might be the most notorious Crystal Skull moment of all:
What people really jumped at was Indy climbing into a refrigerator and getting blown into the sky by an atom-bomb blast. Blame me. Don't blame George. That was my silly idea. People stopped saying "jump the shark". They now say, "nuked the fridge". I'm proud of that. I'm glad I was able to bring that into popular culture."
Given the incredible and important things Spielberg has brought into pop culture besides nuking the fridge, I think we can forgive him that one slip-up. And it's nice to see Spielberg have a sense of humor about his past foibles, especially since the word is that with Tintin, he's back on top of the game. We'll let this one slide for now, Mr. Spielberg.