It’s no secret that one of the most important elements in Spielberg’s mise-en-scene is his use of the ‘God Light’, the brilliant white light that floods the camera at key moments of understanding or communication. The ‘God Light’ is usually used sincerely, but in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Spielberg turns it on its head.
Indy has been captured by the Russians and taken to their camp in the jungle. Spalko ties him up and subjects him to the power of the Crystal Skull. While he’s under its power, Spalko delivers the following monologue:
“We will place our thoughts into the minds of your leaders. We will make your teachers teach the true version of history and your soldiers attack on our command. Will we be everywhere at once, more powerful than a whisper, invading your dreams, thinking your thoughts for you while you sleep. We will change you, Doctor Jones. All of you. From the inside. We will turn you into us. And the best part: you won’t even know it’s happening.”
It’s a brilliant bit of satirical dialogue from David Koepp, the kind of thing US politicians were saying about Russia at the time, and Spielberg highlights its parodic use with the ‘God Light’. This isn’t knowledge, he’s saying. This is propaganda, fearmongering nonsense. It’s the kind of rubbish only a man under a trance would believe.