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"The quest for the Grail is not archaeology. It's a race against evil! If it is captured by the Nazis, the armies of darkness will march all over the face of the earth!"
— Professor Henry Jones Sr.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the third film in the Indiana Jones series, released in 1989, directed by Steven Spielberg.Indiana always had a troubled history with his father, Henry Jones, also an archaeologist with a life long dream of finding the location of The Holy Grail. This obsession drove a wedge between father and son, and the two have hardly spoken to each other for years. But then, Henry mysteriously disappears while seemingly on the cusp of a major research breakthrough. Now, Indy has to find his father and the Grail, while keeping Nazi Germany from once again getting their hands on an artifact that could make them all-powerful.During the filming of the young Indy scenes, George Lucas saw the potential of a prequel series. He would soon develop and produce Young Indiana Jones.As for the movie series, though the original intent was five films, Spielberg and Lucas would decide to just end the series here - feeling it was best to go out on a high note and cap off a trilogy. Obviously, that didn't take and after a lengthyDevelopment Hell, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released nineteen years later.
Age Cut: The transition between young Indy receiving the Fedora to Indy on the boat.
The Ageless: Drinking from the Holy Grail grants this - so long as the Grail remain inside the tomb.
An Aesop: There's a running theme of unconventional solutions to problems, as embodied by Henry Jones. This kind of thinking does Indy well when he has to get the Grail alone - Donovan's terrible fate comes about from choosing an obvious flashy Grail rather than actually thinking it through. There's also a theme of self-reliance: Indy and Henry work hard for everything they get, while the bad guys' entire plan is basically "get the Joneses to do it, then steal the results". This again backfires on Donovan when he relies on Elsa to choose the Grail rather than thinking for himself.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Indy and Henry may have a strained relationship, but in the end they'd do anything to protect one and other. Indy went as far as nearly feeding a man, whom he thought killed his father to a boat propeller. Whilst Henry tried to save him from falling, when he tried to get the grail.
Alas, Poor Villain: Indy tries desperately to save Elsa when she falls into the chasm at the end of the film. And he's genuinely distraught when she falls to her death.
Many in power in Nazi Germany were interested in finding mythical Christian artifacts like the Holy Grail and in archaeology, but only as a means to validate their racial beliefsnote though there were some in power that desperately believed in the occult, they were strongly in the minority, and Hitler himself was only interested in the propaganda value of such artifacts.
Hatay was a real country in 1938. It disappeared in 1939 and is now part of Turkey.
Rolls-Royce Phantom two. 4.3 litre, 30 horsepower, six cylinder engine, with Stromberg downdraft carburetor, can go from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 12.5 seconds. And I even like the color.
For one, it's not a Phantom II, it's a smaller, cheaper 20/25 hp, and that description is wrong for either car (the Phantom II had a 7.7 L engine and a twin jet downdraft carb made by Rolls, the 20/25 hp a 3.7 L six cylinder with an SU type carb), the power rating is wrong for both (the 20/25 hp was rated at 25 for taxation purposes, but actual power output is closer to 70 HP, while the Phantom II was never given a power rating. The 20/25 went from 0-100 in 14.5 seconds. The description does match the 25/30, which did have a 4.3 L engine with a Stromberg downdraft carb rated at 30 HP.
The motorcycles used to chase Indy are 1977 Honda XL 500s. Just about nothing was done to make them resemble BMWs.
Though it stretches the definition of "car", the tank used by the Germans appears to be a mock-up of a Tank Mark VIII, an Anglo-American design that only saw service with the US Army. There's no clear reason why the Germans or anyone else would have one in the Middle East.
The tank is explained as being owned by the King of Hatay, who had it modified with a turret, and given to the Germans in exchange for the Rolls Royce, detailed above.
There were no Kübelwagens in 1938. Ferdinand Porsche wouldn't develop them unto 1940. Also, the two seen in the film are given to the Nazis by the Hatayan sultan along with the tank and trucks (they have the Hatayan symbol on them). This is likewise impossible, as Germany never exported the Kübelwagen.
Artistic License – Geography: Underground catacombs in Venice. Think about that for just a few moments. In case you couldn't figure it out, Venice is built on water.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: The driver of Kübelwagen that crashes into the tank. He's the only one in it, so how he expected to help is anyone's guess.
Bilingual Bonus: During the tank fight, one Nazi comments to Indy getting beat up by saying, "The American, he fights like a woman!" Then Indy hits him in the head with the periscope he was looking through.
Blatant Lies: While trying to to shoot the fighter planes, Jones Senior machine-guns the tail off their own aircraft.
Indiana/Henry Jr.: Dad! Are we hit? Henry Sr.: More or less... (fake gravitas) Son I'm sorry, they got us.
Bowel Breaking Bricks: Near the end of the climactic tank fight sequence, almost everyone, including Donovan, Elsa, Brody, Henry Jones, Sr., and (probably) a handful of Nazis have abandoned the tank, which is now careening towards the edge of a very, very steep cliff. The only two people who are still oblivious to this fact are Indy and SS Colonel Vogel, who are locked in a rather vicious, back-and-forth fistfight. When they do manage to realize it (with seconds to spare), Indy's trademark fedora is whipped off the back of his head by a strong and sudden gust of wind as the camera focuses on his Oh, Crap face.
California Doubling: Most of the movie was filmed in England and Spain, where precisely none of it takes place. The biggest exception is Venice and even then most of the Venice boat chase was filmed in England. Also, Petra is apparently where the Grail resides.
Call Back: Henry Sr. muses while perusing his Grail diary, "May he who illuminated this... illuminate me." He later states he was seeking "illumination" at the end.
Calling the Old Man Out: Indy gives two very hard-hitting examples. First, as he argues with his father about traveling to Berlin to get the Grail diary.
Indy: This is an obsession, Dad. I never understood it. Never. Neither did Mom.
And later, aboard the zeppelin:
Henry Sr.: Actually, I was a wonderful father.
Indy: (incredulously) When?
Henry Sr.: Did I ever tell you to eat up, go to bed, wash your ears, do your homework? No, I respected your privacy and I taught you self-reliance.
Indy: What you taught me, was that I was less important to you than people that have been dead for several hundred years and in other countries. And I learned it so well, that we've hardly spoken for twenty years.
Cassandra Truth: During a tense confrontation, Indy is told to surrender or else Elsa dies. Henry tells him its a bluff, as Elsa's a Nazi herself.
Elsa: You should have listened to your father.
Donovan warns Indy to not trust anybody. Including himself, it seems.
Casting Gag: Sean Connery was cast because Steven Spielberg and George Lucas thought the only man who could play Indy's father was James Bond, and because the whole franchise was born out of Spielberg's desire to direct a James Bond movie — so in every sense of the word, James Bond is the father of Indiana Jones.
Several actors in the film were in Bond films before. Julian Glover (Donovan) was Bond villain Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only; John-Rhys Davies (Sallah, who had been in the first film, granted) was KGB General Pushkin in The Living Daylights, and Alison Doody (Elsa) was Jenny Flex in A View to a Kill. Michael Byrne was cast much later in a small role in Tomorrow Never Dies (the Navy commander).
Not a gag, but Julian Glover (Donovan) and Michael Sheard (Hitler) were both in The Empire Strikes Back (also Lucasfilm, of course). Glover was General Veers, commander of the ground forces assigned to Vader's Super Star Destroyer Executor, who led the assault on Hoth. Sheard played Admiral "You Have Failed Me For The Last Time" Ozzel. The General tried to talk Vader out of killing him, so this is the second time that Glover had tried to prolong Sheard's life (well, save that Donovan wants the Grail for himself).
This isn't the first crusade that Julian Glover's character was involved in. He appeared in the Doctor Who episode aptly titled "The Crusade"
Cool Train: A young Indy fights mooks aboard a circus train, complete with wild animals.
Correlation Causation Gag: In the library scene, Indy tries to break into a secret passage, causing loud echoes...coincidentally in time with a librarian stamping books. At one point, the librarian sets the stamp down and just looks at it.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Donovan appears to be the savviest person in the series, right up until he trusts a double-agent — as though he didn't have a small army of people on hand to test it for him.
Disappeared Dad: Well, it's the motivation for Indy to chase after the Grail, but even when they were in the same house, they had no relationship. Especially after Indy's mother and Henry's wife passed away.
Disney Villain Death: Averted with SS Colonel Vogel; we see his corpse hitting the ground and the tank rolling on him.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Much of his teaching scene revolves around discouraging his fellow students from going on the same adventures he did.
Elderly Immortal: The Knight guarding the Grail. He is clearly into old age and admits to being past his prime, but drinking from it has kept him alive for centuries.
Establishing Character Moment: Two for Henry. The opening sees him so invested in his Grail diary that he ignores the fact that Indy has the Cross of Coronado. When Indy is rescuing him from Castle Brunwald, he brains Indy over the head with a vase, thinking him to be a Nazi (who came in through the window), and is immediately more concerned about the vase than Indy's head.
Even Evil Has Standards: Elsa may be working for the bad guys, but she definitely does not approve of book burning and anti-intellectualism.
Indy: You stood up to be counted with the enemy of everything the Grail stands for; who gives a damn what you think!?
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Donovan only cares about finding the Grail for the promise of immortal life, which is why he deserves his Karmic Death. Elsa only cares about the Grail as an archaeological find, which is why she ignores the Knight's warning that the cup cannot leave the temple.
Flashback to Catchphrase: After Indiana loses during his first attempt to retrieve an artifact Fedora tells him "You lost today kid. That doesn't mean you have to like it", a catchphrase Indiana used in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
When young Indy comes home, there's a shot held on the dog seeing him arrive, which seems to be a pointless reaction shot. It's later revealed the dog is Indiana, whom Henry nicknamed himself after.
There is also a subtle yet noticeable length in which the camera focuses on Donovan pouring a drink toasting to Long-Life for Indy and himself, foreshadowing with cruel irony the nature of his final demise.
When Indy meets Donovan, he's told "We're only one step away" from finding the Grail, to which Indy says "That's usually where the ground falls out underneath you.". Towards the end, when Elsa attempts to take the Grail out of the temple, it makes the whole temple collapse, and ground fell beneath her.
There is also the pitfall trap in which stepping on the wrong letter while spelling God's name will cause the ground to fall out from beneath you.
"Archeology is the search for fact, not truth. If it's Truth you're interested in, Dr. Tyree's philosophy class is just down the hall. So forget any ideas you have about lost cities, exotic travel, and digging up the world. We do not follow maps to buried treasure and X never, ever marks the spot. Seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library. Research and reading. We cannot afford to take mythology at face value." They spend about five minutes in a library (though Dr. Jones Sr. had spent most of his life researching the Grail) and spend the rest of the film doing the opposite of everything Dr. Jones said not to. Indy's own argument is subverted in a Venetian library when an X, the Roman numeral "10," does indeed mark "the spot." Then marked on Richard's grave. After a while, Indy gives a silent shrug every time an X appears, achieving Brick Joke status.
Elsa telling Indy he has his father's eyes. Initially, it can be taken as a casual remark on family resemblance, but then it's revealed just how well she knows Indy's dad's eyes...
He does, however, wisely tear a few pages out, making the diary useless without them.
He also misses a huge red flag when Elsa is taken hostage at gunpoint and urges Indy to surrender to her captor. No Damsel in Distress that's actually on the hero's side ever does that, and what's worse, his Genre Savvy dad is right there with him, warning Indy that it's a setup.
Giant Mook: Recurring supporting actor Pat "Bomber" Roach as an S.S. officer, though his fight scene was cut.
Gilligan Cut: Indy brags that Marcus Brody can blend into any crowd, no matter where he is. Immediately cut to Marcus wandering around the Very Proper British Man asking idiotic questions and standing out like a sore thumb.
Groupie Brigade: While in Berlin to retrieve the Grail diary, Indy gets tangled up in a mob of Nazis who are members of Hitler's fan club.
Hard Head: Indy knocks out quite a few Nazis with his bare hands, yet in the same movie getting hit with the (fake) Priceless Ming Vase only stuns him for a moment.
Healing Potion: Water placed in the Holy Grail will heal the wounds of and even grant immortality to anyone who drinks it.
Heel-Face Turn: Elsa. Indy's speech in Berlin seemed to influence her thinking. Unfortunately, she could not get rid of her Fatal Flaw, remaining obsessed with the Holy Grail until her demise.
Holy Is Not Safe: The Holy Grail is protected by a number of lethal traps, including dozens of Fake Grails. Drinking from a Fake Grail causes a horrible death by Rapid Aging.
Hollywood Torches: Indy created one from a bone, rags and petroleum while exploring the catacombs under Venice.
Indy Ploy: Lampshaded by Boy Scout Indiana as he descends to the excavation site.
Other scout: What, what are you gonna do?
Indy: I don't know. I'll think of something.
He says it again when he and Elsa are trying to figure out how to get into Brunwald Castle.
Hypocritical Humor: On a meta-level. Indy is stunned that his father actually slept with Elsa, saying "It's disgraceful. You're old enough to be her father—her grandfather!". Harrison Ford is 24 years older than Alison Doody, and as mentioned in Playing Gertrude, Sean Connery is only 12 years older than Ford, so they're both old enough to be her father.
Improvised Weapon: A flagpole, a fountain pen, and an umbrella are all used for dispatching various mooks.
Karmic Death: Both Walter Donovan and Dr. Elsa Schneider die because of their overwhelming desire for the Grail. Indy himself almost suffers the same fate for the same reason, but his father's intervention saves him.
Kick the Dog: The Nazis' attempted bribe to the ruler of Hatay of a large chest of gold and silver objects 'donated' by "some of the most prominent families in Germany". This being the Nazis, it's not hard to guess who they were taken from.
It was originally explicitly stated. A last-minute Bowdlerization removed the adjective "Jewish" from the description of said donors.
Henry:(checks his watch) What happens at eleven o'clock?
Indiana:(annoyed and points in the directions of his left) TWELVE! ELEVEN! TEN! ELEVEN O'CLOCK! FIRE!!!
The Load: Henry Jones, Sr. (originally). He gets better.
Love Interest Traitor: Elsa Schneider. She genuinely loved Indy (and...uh...Indy's dad too, apparently), but she's single-mindedly obsessed with getting her hands on the Holy Grail to the point of working with Nazis. It ultimately costs Elsa her life.
The Mole: Dr. Elsa Schneider and Walter Donovan, who are actually working with the Nazis. Word of God is that Donovan was a double mole and Elsa seems perfectly willing to be one as well once she's actually holding immortality.
Motorcycle Jousting: Indiana Jones charges a Nazi motorcyclist using a flagpole as an improvised lance.
No MacGuffin, No Winner: At the end neither Indy nor the Nazis have the Grail. It's left on the ledge inside the crack in the floor and presumably recovered by the Grail guardian and put back with the false Grails after the end of the movie.
Not in This for Your Revolution: Elsa Schneider states explicitly that she does not actually support or care for the Nazis' ideals, but rather only allied with them just to locate the Grail. Ditto with Walter Donovan.
Indy tells Elsa that she chose her allies willingly, so it doesn't matter what her ideals are - they're already corrupted by the Nazis. Of course, Indy says it more succinctly:
Elsa: Is that what you think of me? I believe in the Grail, not the swastika!
Indiana: Yet you stood up to be counted with the enemy of everything the Grail stands for. Who gives a damn what you think?!
Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying over You: The film has Indy apparently falling of a cliff with a tank, the group with him leans over to see the tank hit the ground and not notice him crawling up a set of vines a few feet down. Indy notices the group mourning him and leans over himself to see what they're looking at only for the group to notice him soon after.
Not So Different: While never spoken aloud it's definitely in the subtext that Indy may be closer to his father's mindset and personality than he may be willing to admit. The opening flashback shows a very young Indy chasing after the Cross of Coronado, and he would remain obsessed with finding it for years, and when he wasn't chasing after the Cross he was chasing after other important artifacts. Indy's pursuit of the Cross along with his pursuit of similar artifacts clearly mirrors his father's obsession with finding the Holy Grail, the difference being that Indy chased after multiple artifacts during his life while his father's obsession with the Holy Grail was more singular.
Oh, Crap: During the tank fight, Indy notices that the tank is about to go over a cliff — and his hat falls off for the first time in the series. After he reaches safety, the hat is deposited next to him by the wind. Indy is also stunned when he finds himself face-to-face with Adolf Hitler himself.
When Henry Jones Sr. attempts to use Indiana's zippo lighter to burn through the ropes tying them up, he accidentally drops it, setting the whole room on fire.
A really, really, really near tragic example when Henry Jones Sr. and co think that Indy has fallen to his death with the tank as it went over the cliff. As the crushing realization sinks in that his only son is dead (or so he thinks) Henry Sr. is visibly devastated and laments that he never told his son "anything" (presumably that he loved him). Fortunately, Indy turns up alive and well.
Older Than They Look: The knight guarding the Grail is more than 700 years old. He gained immortality by regularly drinking water from the Grail.
Omniglot: Jones tries to pretend that Marcus is also one of these... it's just that his familiarity is limited to dead languages.
One Steve Limit: Averted, as a few jokes come from the fact that both Indy and Henry can be referred to as "(Dr.) Jones".
Donovan: Colonel! Jones is getting away! Vogel: (having just captured Henry) I think not, Herr Donovan. Donovan: Not that Jones, the other Jones!
Only the Worthy May Pass: One way of interpreting how to get past the three trials to reach the Grail. It definitely applies to the fourth and final trial of figuring out which cup in the Grail room is the real one. Donovan, being neither a scholar nor a True Believer, is expecting a gaudy cup fit for a King of Kings, while both Indy and Elsa know the True Grail would be fit for a Carpenter's Son.
Orange/Blue Contrast: The Grail Knight just happens to always be sitting or standing in a pillar of pale blue light, while most of the environment around him is orangish-brown.
The Radio Dies First: Indy sabotages the zeppelin's radio to prevent Vogel from ordering it turned around. It's only partly successful, as the zeppelin eventually turns around because the radio is dead.
Refuge in Audacity: How could Indy get away with punching a Nazi officer on a zeppelin in the middle of Germany? "No ticket."
Indy gets caught up in a book burning ceremony with the diary the Nazis have been desperate to get their hands on, and then he bumps right into Adolf Hitler himself. What does he do? Hands over the diary so Hitler can autograph it.
Rule of Symbolism: While Indy reads the grail tablet at Donovan's place, Donovan pours some champagne into champagne glasses.
Rule of Three: Subverted. Henry has found clues to three tests guarding the Grail and recorded them in his diary, but when Indy gets past them all, he finds a previously-unmentioned fourth: finding the true Grail among a sea of copies.
Running Gag: After Indy says, "X never ever marks the spot", everything has X marking the spot.
Samus is a Girl: Indy and Marcus are a little surprised to see that Dr. Schneider is, in fact, Dr. Elsa Schneider. To their credit, not too surprised.
Self-Destructing Security: The Holy Grail is protected by many layers of secrets, guards and traps. The final resort, however, is that the Grail can never pass beyond "The Great Seal". Doing so results in the entire place self destructing and the Grail being lost forever.
Vogel: Tell me about the book, this miserable little diary of yours. We have the map; the book is useless. And yet you come all the way back to Berlin to get it. Why? (slaps Henry with his glove) What are you hiding? (slap!) What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?
(Henry catches Vogel's hand before he can slap him.)
Henry: It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them!
Stealth Pun: When Indy and Henry Sr. argue over traveling to Berlin to get the Grail diary or going to Iskenderun to save Marcus, they're at a literal crossroads, with the road sign shaped like a cross.
Water taken from the Holy Grail grants immortality and can heal wounds. Considering whose cup it used to belong to, it's probably safe to say that the cup is a way to make real holy water.
Take My Hand: At the end of the film, Indy says it to Elsa and later Indy's father says it to him.
Tank Goodness: The Germans use a tank to escort their convoy in Hatay. Unusually for this trope, the tank has multiple smaller guns, including a pair of sponson mounts on the sides, rather than a single turreted BFG. Amusingly, the tank in question appears to be a Tank Mark VIII, which served with the US Army and nobody else.
Tanks, but No Tanks: Although a WW1 model with the guns in side sponson mounts, the Hataian tank also has a turret because hey, that's what tanks have, right?
In the end, Elsa ignores the knight's warning about taking the Holy Grail beyond the crossed seal, when Indiana's demands her not to move across seal, she doesn't listen and triggers the collapse of the whole temple. Finally, when she is hanging over the fissure created, she tries to grab the grail, ignores Indiana's pleas to give him her other hand and winds up falling to her death for her greed. The trope image of Death by Materialism.
Took a Level in Badass: Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery) is initially portrayed as a Grumpy Old Man with discomfort and lack of experience in Indy's adventures (he sets the room on fire, he shoots the tail of his own plane with the machine gun, etc.). But moreover he reveals his hidden skills, becoming more like his son and evolving into a Badass Grandpa — he manages to crash a Nazi airplane by making a flock of seagulls fly into the air, he blinds a Nazi soldier with ink from his pen and he even blows away a whole truckload of enemies.
Wrestler in All of Us: Indy gets suplexed by a Nazi mook during the tank chase scene. Said mook uses a German suplex, which is quite fitting.
Written-In Infirmity: Harrison Ford's chin scar, originating from an auto accident, is explained as coming from Indy's first experience using a whip, slashing his chin accidentally.
You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: Indy believes he can reach the Grail if he just reaches a little further... and then his father, who spent Indy's whole life calling him "Junior", says "Indiana. Indiana. Let it go." And that convinces him.
You Dirty Rat: Swarms of these fill Venice's catacombs. Henry Jones Sr. fears them, just like his son fears snakes.
You Kill It, You Bought It: A milder version of the Trope. The Grail Knight assumed Indiana was there to take his place after "vanquishing" him in combat. Mildly tear jerking in that the poor Knight was exhausted and ready to die for some well-earned peace of mind.
Though considering that the grail ended up in the middle of a chasm, the knight won't be able to drink out of it anymore.
You Look Familiar: Ronald Lacey, who played Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark, appears uncredited as Heinrich Himmler at the book burning. Incidentally, Michael Sheard, who plays Hitler, was the runner-up to play Toht.
You Were Trying Too Hard: While Indy and Henry Sr. are escaping from Castle Brunwald, Indy looks everywhere in a room to find a switch to reveal some sort of exit.
Henry: I find that if I just sit down to think...
(he sits down on a chair, which leans back and opens a stairwell which Indy falls into)