Cannes hit by Indy-mania

Indy-mania is taking over the Cannes Film Festival today, with Harrison Ford's hotly-anticipated new movie.

Steven Spielberg's 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' sees Ford back as the fedora-wearing adventurer for the first time in 19 years.

Excitement reaches fever-pitch with the film's world premiere, showing outside the competition, and a press conference at the 61st edition of the festival.

The fourth instalment in Steven Spielberg's blockbusting adventure series began to take shape in the 1990s, after the release of 'Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade', which saw Indiana and his cantankerous father, played by Sean Connery, wrest the Holy Grail from the clutches of the Nazis.

The third adventure became the highest grossing picture of 1989 and of the entire series.

This time around, the khaki-clad hero's newest adventure begins in 1957 during the Cold War.

"It had to be right," Spielberg recently told the Daily Telegraph, when speaking about the new film.

"I wanted to recapture the magic that we were able to achieve in three movies in the 80s.

"I wasn't trying to improve on Indiana Jones; I was just trying to reanimate the character.

"My goal was to make this movie a blood relative of the first three."

Ford told the newspaper: "It takes time to get Steven, George (Lucas) and me on the same page."

The new film sees Indy and his sidekick Mac (Ray Winstone) have just escaped a close scrape with nefarious Soviet agents on a remote airfield.

Indy returns home to Marshall College - only to find the situation has gone from bad to worse.

His close friend and dean of the college explains that he is under suspicion, and that the government has put pressure on the university to fire him.

On his way out of town, Indy meets rebellious young Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), who carries a grudge and a proposition for the archaeologist - if he will help her on a personal mission, he could make one of the most spectacular finds in history - the Crystal Skull of Akator.

The archaeological treasure is an object of fascination, superstition and fear.

As Indy and Mutt set out for the most remote corners of Peru, they realise they are not alone in their mission.

Soviet agents are also hot on the trail of the Crystal Skull.

Chief among them is ice maiden Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), whose elite military unit is scouring the globe.

They believe the find could help the Soviets dominate the world - if they can unlock its secrets.

Indy and Mutt must find a way to grapple with enemies and friends of questionable motives and stop the powerful Crystal Skull from falling into deadly hands.

Ford has already been spotted out and about in an overcast Cannes.

At the age of 65, the actor recently tied with another old favourite - Bruce Willis - for the top spot in a Pearl and Dean poll of 3,000 people to find the greatest ever action heroes.

If the new film is also a smash hit, it could spark a renewed interest in archaeology.

Ford has been elected to the board of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) after glamorising the subject on the silver screen.

AIA president Brian Rose recently said that Ford, in his role as Indiana, had played a major part in stimulating interest in archaeological exploration.

The group promotes archaeological excavation, research, education and preservation around the world.

Crystal skulls are intricately-carved artefacts which have been linked to the Aztec and Mayan civilisations.

Some people believe they have magical healing properties.

'Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull' is released in Ireland on Thursday, May 22.

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