Audiences everywhere have spent nearly 50 years watching and adoring Harrison Ford, and a new documentary on Disney+ takes that wonderful experience and condenses it down to 90 minutes.
With the fifth Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, finally hitting the streamer today, it also added a new documentary called Timeless Heroes: Indiana Jones & Harrison Ford. Directed by Laurent Bouzereau, it’s an ambitious film that aims to explain and explore the origins of Ford the actor, Jones the character, the legacy of each, and infuse it all with brand new interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. And it works. It’s more a love letter than an objective breakdown, but the fact it touches on any hints of negativity at all shows Bouzereau really wanted to explore his subjects as fully as possible, and the movie is better off for it.
Everything you’d expect from a documentary like this is in there. Interviews with basically every living person you’d want to hear from, from Ford himself to George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and John Williams, to start. Everyone who has been with the Indiana Jones franchise from the very beginning. Then the big stars from several of the other movies too, including Karen Allen, Ke Huy Quan, and Kate Capshaw, as well as archive interviews with late actors Sean Connery and River Phoenix.
In addition to the interviews, the film includes all manner of incredible footage, from vintage moments way back in the pre-production offices of Raiders of the Lost Ark, up through the premiere of Dial of Destiny. A few highlights include Ford in civilian clothes helping Phoenix shoot his Last Crusade scenes and Ford’s last day on the Dial of Destiny set. In this aim, Crystal Skull does get a tad undercut in comparison to the other four films, but that’s probably to be expected. A fact that’s more than made up for with a great little segment on Ford’s cameo in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
But that footage from production, development, and so much more isn’t only limited to Indiana Jones. Since the documentary is about that character as well as the actor inhabiting him, we see Ford all throughout his life. We learn about him going to college. See him in shows and movies you probably didn’t even realize he was in, and even dig deeper into some of his more famous work on films like Witness. Some of his lesser films from the last 20 years don’t get mentioned but, as we said, it’s a love letter.
Along the way, Ford’s friends and colleagues do their best to try and explain how this person became the legend and icon he is today. Lots of it is deserved, but expected, adoration and compliments, but there are also moments that offer new perspectives. One example is frequent collaborator director Peter Weir, who talks about the fact Ford didn’t find screen success until his 30s, and the fact that he lived a life before he became famous makes him unique from so many other celebrities.
Other perspectives come in the form of the admission, and brief discussion, of Ford’s more recent reputation as a curmudgeon. In addition to footage of Ford discussing it, the film shows assistants and below-the-line workers talking about his demeanor. It’s handled mostly tongue-in-cheek, but shining the actor in anything but a constant bright light elevates the film considerably. There’s no talk of crashing planes, breaking bones, or anything like that, but when we see footage of Ford screaming on set, playing jokes on crew, or being a bit of a diva, it’s a suitable substitute. It’s the film’s way of showing Ford as a more complete human being. Someone who grew considerably from the person you first meet in the documentary. It would’ve been great to hear to from some of his family too, but the film keeps things more focused on his professional career.
Fans of Harrison Ford, as I very much am, will enjoy not just the full portrait of the actor’s time as Indy, but the delightful bits of nostalgia throughout. Seeing Ford alongside Lucas and Spielberg on the set of Raiders or Temple of Doom, looking so young and happy, shooting water guns, being normal, it’s just delightful. And when the doc goes into his current TV work, as well as his upcoming role in Captain America: New World Order? You just really, truly feel the weight of that word “timeless.”
Ultimately, while Timeless Heroes doesn’t have a lot of new information in it, to have all of this incredible history presented in such a complete, enjoyable package, is completely worth celebrating. Fans of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford, or anything in between will love every second of it.
Timeless Heroes: Indiana Jones & Harrison Ford is now streaming on Disney+. Watch it here.
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