Headscratchers: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
After Walter Donovan drinks the wrong grail, shouldn't he have just dropped dead from old age? Instead, he ages all the way to the point of decay, and is still trying to kill Elsa. The novelization even mentions his bony arms are still flailing when Indy kicks him across the room!
Evidently God went out of His way to make the punishment for drinking from the False Grail especially gruesome and painful.
It's probably more than just old age, too. It's probably the weight of all his sins being visited on him at once... a dress rehearsal for Hell, if you will. Considering who he was in bed with, he probably had a lot of sins to get smacked with.
Near the ending, Elsa (stupidly) tries to take the Grail away, and the place starts falling apart. Indy grabs her hand, and she greedily reaches for the Grail, not giving Indy her other hand and falling to her death as a result. So when Indy immediately finds himself in the same situation, his father seeking to pull him up? What does he do? He... reaches for the Grail too. What the hell?
It's meant to show that Indy was all too-human, and not exactly above everyone else to also be tempted to reach for the Grail.
Remember what Henry Sr. says after they've all escaped: "Elsa never really believed in the Grail. She just thought she'd found a prize." So extrapolate from that. Elsa was trying to reach the Grail because of her personal greed, and ended up paying the price when she refused to give Indy her other hand even though he was all but begging her to. Indy, on the other hand, wanted to save the Grail because it was the culmination of his father's lifetime of work, but he willingly abandoned it when his father proved that he at long last respected his son. While Indy and Elsa both made the same mistake, Indy at least made it for a noble reason, and therefore was spared. Consider also that the bond between Indy and his father was a lot stronger than the bond between himself and Elsa; Elsa may have loved Indy, but she loved the Grail more. Indy gave up the Grail because he realized that neither he nor his father needed it any longer; they'd finally found the bond that they'd been missing all of Indy's life. It's touches like this that turn a merely adequate scene into a truly beautiful one.
Furthermore, Elsa never realized her mistake; if she did, she didn't learn from it. As mentioned above, Indiana learned from the same situation, and - quite literally - pulled himself out of the hole they made for themselves. One perished, the other died. Ultimately, the Grail represents - among other things - the search for something even greater.
Wasn't it, kind of, THE POINT that people will do anything to get their hands on the Grail?
The LucasArts Adventure game even leaves you with multiple choices what to do with the Grail. If Elsa takes it she falls down the chasm, but then you can still recover the Grail with your whip!... why didn't Movie Indy think of that?
Grabbing something with a whip is exceedingly difficult. Grabbing something that's light and not held in place by stone or someone's hand, with only a couple inches of space if that much from the ground at any "grabbable" point becomes, more importantly than just implausible,visually implausible.
I think one thing everyone's overlooking was that this scene was very significant in closing the arc of Indy's relationship with his father. Throughout the film, Elsa and other people remark on how alike Indy and his dad are, particularly in their obsession with archeology and relics. By letting the grail go, they both turn away from their obsession (which symbolizes the past, and by extension, death) to each other (the present, life).
Elsa's choice in wearing those slippery leather gloves on her hands inside the temple was also perplexing. If she hadn't worn them, she might've had enough time to reach the grail (of course that wouldn't have set up the classic "let it go" moment, so it's understandable that she didn't make it).
What? They're part of her uniform. It's not like she went in knowing that she was going to end up hanging from Indy's hand while reaching for the grail.
When Jones Sr. is explaining why they need the diary, he says he found the clues they need in the The Chronicles of St. Anselm. If he remembers what book he found the clues in, why don't they just look it up again? Surely it would be a lot easier than going to all the trouble of getting the diary back from the Nazis.
That depends on the assumption that it would be easier to dig up a copy of a presumably rare medieval text. They may not have known where the nearest copy of the Chronicles was and, even if they did, there's no guarantee that they would be able to get their hands on it. Also, as long as the Nazis have the diary, there's the chance that somebody would have wised up and used it to get around the three booby traps after enough red shirts got their heads lopped off.
And while Henry found the clues in there, it never says where in the book he found them (plus he's probably translated them), so if they were to get their hands on a probably very rare medieval book, they don't really know where in the book it is.
Aren't "I" and "J" the same letter in Latin?
According to The Other Wiki, "I" and "J" represented the same sound in Latin, but "J" was only used to end words, not to start them.
You've, er, misunderstood. The development of an astonishing number of letters - including all of lower-case Greek and Latin - was the result of medieval scribes looking for faster ways to transcribe works accurately. In this case, "j" developed when scribes put a flourish on "i", originally at the end of Roman numerals. (Originally, neither of them had the crowning jot.) It slowly became the glyph of convenience when distinguishing the vowel use of "I" from its consonantal use - the flourish denoted the consonant. During the Renaissance, "J" separated from "I" entirely. However, all of that Expo Speak is for naught; "j" didn't really come into use, even as a flourish, until more than 200 years after the First Crusade, and while it made for good drama in the movie, it doesn't make sense (unless the Crusader snuck back out and re-carved one or more of the non-platform stones).
As stated in the movie there is no "J" in Latin, but came from Latin "I" (Jones Sr.)
In the challenges, one can see on the DVD that not only is there a blade that comes out from the wall, for the "kneel before the breath of god or lose your head" challenge, but also a blade that comes out of the floor, so that anyone who doesn't have the foresight to do a rolling flip and just kneels, possibly bowing, as the task implies, one would get his head chopped off anyway. And, less of a problem with the challenge and more of a problem with Indy's reaction to it: If it was an invisible bridge, leaving the handful of pebbles would have been justified. But it was painted to look exactly like the opposite wall, from the viewpoint of the first entrance to the cabin. If it was because the grail couldn't leave the room, and he did it so they could bring his father in to be healed, he didn't know that until after the bridge. So leaving the pebbles on the bridge would only sere to make it easier to slip and fall into the chasm, or let the nazis into the grail chamber.
Actually, the reason why he left pebbles on was SO that Elsa and Donovan can follow after him into the chamber.
Not going to deal the extra blade issue in the first task but he threw sand or dust over the walkway as I recall, that would hardly cause him to slip and help define the edges of the pit. Even if it wasn't matching the opposite wall on the other side it would have still have been hard to distinguish. Also how likely was it that the Nazis would make it through, they didn't know that he had disabled the traps nor that they would choose the right letters to step on, maybe they sent more men through and over-heard Jones Sr.
Being that they never show his return trip, it's possible and likely that he could have simply shuffled his feet to help kick away the pebbles and sand. And sand would not be the worse idea since the sand would scrape the surface making it less smooth and slippery. Besides, he didn't really have any other things handy to mark the path.
One possible explanation which has rather Unfortunate Implications: someone who mistakenly thinks they have to bow, as in a Muslim bowing towards Mecca, completely to the floor, is going to be weeded out as much as a nonbeliever. You have to kneel before God, not prostrate yourself.
I find this explanation a small win for the hive mind in the war against Fridge Logic, since the grail is an extremely Christian artifact and Muslims would have been part of the Them that the crusaders Did Not Like.
Except prostration is not an explicitly Muslim act. Plenty of Christians prostrated as an alternative to some other form of bowing or kneeling.
But did the Crusaders who built the traps know that?
Also, Indy only figures out he has to kneel before God at the last second, when presumably he's in the kill zone for the second — vertical — blade. The penitent man would have been on his knees shuffling along at a slower speed, and presumably wouldn't walk into the horizontal blade or the vertical one, since the vertical one would activate before the peintent man's body had crossed onto it.
Watch the scene again. If he had caught on quicker and knelt just as the breath started coming, he wouldn't have been in the path of the floor's back-up blade.
Why wasn't the Crusader bat crazy when Indy found him. What did he do from those few hundred years, what did he eat, use the toilet, why was he old?
He prayed, he drank from the Grail, which provided him with sustenance, and he peed into the chasm. And he was old because the Grail grants eternal life, but not eternal youth. As for being crazy, I'd say anyone who voluntarily spends a few hundred years in a tiny room is.
He knows exactly how many cracks there are in the walls of the Grail chamber, and has given each and every one of them a unique name.
According to the Novelization, the Grail knight occasionally had impure thoughts. On those days he refused to drink from the Grail, and hence his age did advance. As for going crazy ... A Wizard Did It. Not to mention that he's an ascetic monk now who has absolute proof that God exists and that he's likely going to Heaven when God gets around to calling him there.
The guy didn't seem extremely well adjusted to *me*.
Possibly, he also wandered back through the traps to tend to them as well as any number of possible activities from the profound to the mundane. And even without the impure thought justification, it would make sense for the Grail to grant life not youth. Old age usually is associated with wisdom; one begins to appreciate things beyond themselves much more. And it's also a matter of irony; those who seek eternal youth - for the sake of youth, for power, for whatever - clearly would not be the sort of people that would appreciate the Grail. Thus those that might take advantage of it would find that eventually, what they seek took away what they wanted and gave them what they were trying to avoid; all this even without the false Grail test.
Do we ever really figure out what the knight is? He's clearly not an ordinary person; it's not too implausible that he's more a ghostly than physical being at this point. The Crusader may no longer need to eat, sleep, or relieve himself anymore.
Moreover, how could a French knight of the Crusades speak perfect Modern English (with an English accent, no less)? At the time of the Crusades, the English spoken in Europe was most certainly not the Modern version of that language, but Old/Middle English, which is much more similar to German than to Modern English (just try reading Beowulf in the original).
Because Indiana probably doesn't speak the language the Knight would have spoken fluently, and while the movie getting derailed because no one could understand the Knight or make themselves understood to him would have pleased the very small group of people who praise accuracy over anything else, everyone else who just wanted to watch an entertaining movie would have been rather annoyed.
In the Bible, prophets and men of God can speak in many languages. Obviously, the guy was given that same ability.
What I want to know is, how does the knight falling over trying to lift his own sword count as being "vanquished" by Indy?
Because he was initiating a fight by trying to lift the sword, and losing that fight by demonstrating he couldn't.
He can't even lift his sword, let alone win a fight. If Indy breathed on him hard enough, it would probably break a couple of bones. Rather than get killed outright, he surrenders in hopes that either Indy is a bad person and will go *POOF* from the wrong Grail, or is a good person and will bring about the end of his eternal mission of guarding the Grail. Worst case, he could always tackle Indy off the bridge into the chasm.
Just how, exactly, is having a magical cup which heals wounds and grants immortality (without immunity to causes of death other than old age) going to win the war for Hitler? What, will they pass the Grail throughout the Wehrmacht and have everyone take a sip? I'm not sure having a soldier who will theoretically live forever is much use if you can still shoot and kill him. And if the cup is to be used for healing wounds, then I somehow doubt it's going to make much of an impact on a worldwide war featuring millions of combatants. I'm not seeing Henry Jones' 'Armies of Darkness marching all over the face of the Earth' in the event of the Nazis getting the grail.
Obviously it is supposed to grant much of the same invincibility-granting abilities for an army that bears it as the Spear of Destiny or, for that matter, the Ark. Remember what they said about Hitler's obsession with these things in "Raiders".
Loads of Nazi propaganda was used to brainwash generations of German boys into going out and getting themselves slaughtered in the name of the Fatherland. Being able to promise them instantaneous magical healing if they got wounded, even if they never actually used the Grail for anyone but themselves, could've been a morale-boosting coup for Hitler and his croneys.
Donovan seemed to think that the Nazis just wanted to claim they had found it, but weren't interested in keeping the Grail itself. He was probably way wrong on that. I could see Hitler wanting to keep the Grail for himself, to give himself eternal life, and become even more of a Godlike leader to his people.
That, or he was planning a double cross. He never actually states that Hitler doesn't personally want the Grail, just that "Hitler can have the world, but he can't take it with him."
Not to forget...what's the point of being the leader of Nazi Germany, a dictator at that, if there's any possible chance of dying before your work is completed? Forget seconds in command taking over - do it right, do it yourself. With that in mind, war is on the horizon, and the world doesn't exactly have a positive image of you. Not to mention the numbers of assassination attempts made on you. Add it up, and searching for anything to prolong your life, even (or especially) a Christian artifact, can only make sense.
Historically, Hitler was showing profound symptoms of some kind of degenerative neurological disease before his suicide. He may have noticed the early symptoms years before that, which would make him likely to seek an object that carried the promise of healing any injury and curing any illness.
In short, it's somewhat like the USA's motivation for beating the Soviets to the moon. Partially strategic, but mostly a status-improving scientific achievement.
There is also another part of the legend. It is said that in the hands of a just ruler, you can use the Grail to heal the land itself. They may have wanted it for that purpose, ill-defined though it may be.
Why exactly was Donovan working with the Nazis? What could they possibly contribute that he didn't already have? There's no indication that he supported their beliefs, and he outright said that he just wanted the Grail for himself. He had his own money and already had possession of the Friar's book and the first Grail tablet, as well as access to the world's leading Grail expert. He could have done everything on his own without the Nazis!
Donovan is rich sure, but he's not invigorated-industrial-nation rich. He can't command tanks, soldiers, castles as a side-job to running a country and still devote time to finding the Grail. His wife was complaining that he's neglecting the party guests just to show the archeology professor an old artifact. It's too easy to mistake "being rich" for "having the level of authority commanded by a dictator of an industrial nation."
Sure, he could have, but remember the Nazis are going to be looking for it anyway, and they're probably not going to be happy if someone else finds it first. If he pursues the Grail on his own, that makes him their enemy, and makes them try to kill him or worse. If he partners with the Nazis, then he gets to use their resources, gets their protection, and still gets what he wants. Sure, he could have done it on his own, but it would've been the easier, safer option to do it with them.
Well, the problem with that theory is that the Nazis didn't have any of the clues until Donovan joined up with them. Were the Nazis even looking for the Grail before Donovan joined them? If so, how would they know that Donovan was on it as well?
Didn't Donovan need Ilsa's help finding some of this stuff? She was a German, so he may have needed to let the Nazis in on some of it to get her help. Also, considering that some of the relics were in Italy, having Nazi contacts would be ideal for smuggling things in and out of it, as it was Fascist by that point.
Yeah, they were Fascist, not Nazi. At that time Mussolini hadn't yet been humiliated enough by defeat in war to feel like his only option was to genuflect to whatever Hitler asked him to do, and in fact Italy and Germany had plenty of areas they didn't see eye to eye. Would've been highly entertaining if the film had substituted Italian Fascists working for Mussolini in place of Nazis, but I guess they just weren't intimidating enough.
In 1938 Italy was cosy enough with Germany that the Nazi's would have had plenty of connections. Little more interested in how un-Fascist Italy seems to be...then again, Mussolini did admit that he wasn't putting much effort into the revolution anyway.
This is probably due to the (incorrect) tendency of modern viewers to use "fascist" and "Nazi" interchangeably, when the truth is Mussolini and Hitler had very little in common other than being comparatively moderate socialists who thought the communists went too far with the whole "class trumps nationality" thing. Jews were quite fond of the Italian Fascists, for instance.
They weren't socialists. They were military-authoritarians. Nor were Hitler or Mussolini moderate in anything, at all.
How on earth could the strap on Indy's bag get stuck on the tank's gun barrel during the desert fight? First, said barrel was blown wide open, so he would have had trouble getting the strp there if he tried. Second, the strap is under his jacket in all the other scenes.
Not only that, but it took me years to realize that Indy could have just slipped his arm through his bag's strap and escaped. Classic Plot-Induced Stupidity.
Actually, if you look carefully, in all of the original trilogy, Indy always wears his bag beneath his jacket. All slipping his arm through the strap would have done was trap him further.
He could have, but he at the least wanted to stick with the tank to rescue his father and the book. If he let go, he'd have to run to catch up, and be an easy target.
Wasn't the Diary in the bag? They would need that to get past the traps.
From the looks of it, there's no real way, outside actually trying to get it hooked on the ruptured barrel, for the strap to be hooked on the barrel, and when the part of the tank Indy is clinging to is no longer heading for a giant rock, Indy just hauls himself onto the roof of the tank, with the strap no longer caught on the barrel, so it looks like a some sort of plot contrivance-induced continuity error.
A bit of Hollywood Tactics on the part of those keepers of the Grail. They launch a hopelessly ineffective last ditch effort to stop the Donovan, the Nazi's and the local troops. This attack was foreshadowed when we saw the one agent with a speaking part in the palace, when the sultan agrees to help Donovan with their journey. And the sultan listed, right in front of him, everything he was giving them to help, including the tank. Yet they attacked anyway, hopelessly outmatched (although they really should have gotten a few more kills in, I don't remember seeing them kill a single exposed soldier from their close-range ambush), without a single anti-tank weapon. If they didn't care about dying, why didn't that agent kill Donovan right there in the palace? It would have been way easier, much more effective, and only required one sacrifice.
Attacking Donovan in the palace might have turned the sultan into an enemy. Would you be happy to learn that a covert organization of religious fanatics had infiltrated your personal residence and was not above murdering those they saw as a threat? The sultan has an entire fleet of cavalry, troops, and tanks at his beck and call and apparently has them trained well enough to mobilize them in a matter of days. NOT someone you want to piss off.
Also, assassination and murder isn't particular in tune with the religious aspect. They attacked at the time they did because before hand, they had no reason to believe that violence would be necessary; before then, the group, even if they knew they were not nice people, weren't armed and dangerous. Also, their greatest strength is secrecy; an expedition disappearing in the desert wouldn't be completely out of nowhere and serve to frighten any others that might follow.
They seemed perfectly willing to murder Indiana Jone and Elsa back in Venice. More probably, they reasoned that killing Donovan would have made a negligable difference- the Nazis had a battalion with them-, but they still had to take a shot at it. They were hopelessly outmatched, but they still had to try because this was their best and last chance.
"Jones" is a stereotypically Welsh last name. And yet Henry Jones Sr. is obviously Scottish (being played by Sean Connoery and all.) So, was it just that Indy's grandmother was Scottish and married a Welshman or what?
Stereotypically =/= exclusively. I had Scottish family named Jones.
The Jones family could have emigrated to Scotland at some point in the past, then emigrated again to the US more recently.
Considering that Wales and Scotland are separated from each other by what is — even at their most distant points — no more than a few hundred miles of land and have for two centuries been part of the same political entity, it's hardly a huge stretch to imagine that the name 'Jones' might have moved to Scotland in such a fashion at some point in the Jones family's lineage.
My grandmother's family is Scottish with a Welsh surname going back a number of generations. It happens.
This is a thing which I actually like in the Last Crusade, but it always kinda bugs me in a funny way. The movie is set in 1938, and it seems by the weather and surroundings that it is summer in Austria, when they infiltrate that castle. Austria was annexed by Germany in march of 1938. So why is there a cartoonish secret planning facility and base hidden in the castle? Who are theyu hiding it from and why. They could easily have an open garrison there, or have such facilities in Vienna or anywhere. Its just so funny that Those Wacky Nazis just want to have hidden lairs even if they don't have any need for them.
Just because people know you're there doesn't mean you want them knowing what you're doing. The Nazis might well have had an open garrison stationed at the castle, but whatever they were doing in that room was obviously something they wanted kept secret.
But that's funny in its own way. The castle is not really guarded or anything, they can just approach it without anyone knowing and the only one stopping them is the old servant. Think about it. If the CIA for example had a secret project which needed a headquarters with maps and movable pieces for the maps, surely you'd find a secure location and guard it from all intrusions and if on American soil, just use any of the prepared premises already existing, instead of going to a rundown mansion in the Ozarks and hiding out in one of the basements. Remember, they're in their own country. It just seems that Nazis have a natural instinct to burrow into secret HQ-bases in old castles.
Of course the American mansion secret base wouldn't be in the Ozarks... it was in West Virginia.
Sometimes, just letting people know you've got a base somewhere can be a bad thing. Likely, just as there's a reason for them to have the base, there's a reason to hide the true nature of what it is. It's possible even that the garrison was there as sort of a cover up; make the castle look just like any old supply station but in truth, more important.
Do also keep in mind that this is officially peace-time. There is NO reason to station a garrison there during that time. Besides holding Henry prisoner (which I'll get to in a moment), the rest of the base seems to be conducting covert operations. Holding Henry hostage is something Germany wants to keep VERY secret, because if the US found out that the German state was holding a US citizen hostage during times of peace for no real reason (in Raiders Indy is working for the O.S.S. and is technically a spy, so it doesn't apply) would be a very problematic situation politically and if the reason why the Nazis want the grail hint even more about their eventual war-plans, it could in the worst case lead to war. This is the reason Hitler are quick to order Henry and Indy be executed. As such, they want to keep it all very much under the radar and keep it hidden.
"Officially" peacetime...in Nazi Germany (or the Greater German Reich, to be specific). Its not a stretch that they would have set these up on the off-chance war broke out at any moment. In fact, they were in the middle of the Czech Crisis and Hitler was hoping for a war, even a continental war with France and Britain, so its not unreasonable that they would have something like that set up. Not to mention their long-term plans for Eastern Europe. It could even just be for training.
Also, it wasn't a "run down castle". It was in-use and belonged to a family of art collectors (who were probably held hostage, quietly evicted or were in on the whole thing. Or less likely, killed).
Yeah, about that letter...Hitler writes to kill 'the American conspirators'', or some such to maintain secrecy. So shouldn't Donovan...?
I'm pretty sure he means "the Americans conspiring against us", not "the American conspiring with us". They still kind of needed Donovan at that point.
They didn't have the Grail yet. Odds are, if Donovan had walked out carrying the Grail, he would have been shot and the Nazis would have taken it back to Berlin. You wait for them to outlive their usefulness before you off them.
When Indy is told that the Holy Grail exists (and that it grants eternal life), Indy is doubtful and pretty condescending to Donovan when talking about it. Yet in Raiders, he learns that the Ark of the Covenant not only exists, but contains the spirit of God Himself. A healthy amount of cynicism is a good thing, especially for an archaeologist, but when you have proof a divine being exists, shouldn't you take any Judeo-Christian relic that claims to have supernatural powers seriously?
Well, remember that the Grail was always his dad's thing, and at this point he still sort of resented it. Even if, rationally, he should be taking it seriously, he probably still thinks of it as, "That damned fool thing Dad obsessed over."
Just because the Ark of the Covenant really existed and really contained the power of God doesn't mean the Holy Grail was real. After all, the legend of the Ark stems from the actual text of the Hebrew Bible, whereas the Holy Grail legend has no known Biblical basis, doesn't appear in writing until the 12th century (IIRC), and could very well have started as an old pagan legend that was adopted and Christianized by medieval Europeans, much like All Hallow's Eve. It could very well be that while the Ark of the Covenant was real, the legend of the Holy Grail was simply a bit of fantasy dreamed up by the overactive imagination of some medieval parish priest to inspire his flock.
Note that when Donovan brings it up, Indy refers to it as "The Arthur legend." He clearly doesn't think it has any Biblical provenance and is a load of Chivalric hogwash.
He doesn't have proof that God exists. He has evidence that there's a mystical force out there. He would want/need more evidence and testing to pin it down to something more specific than that. He can't really say it was God without more than just face melting; all he could reasonably say is that something happened. Whether it was God, whether it was something else (which was then ascribed to God), he couldn't be sure. Also, even if he got to the point that he could say "God exists", that doesn't mean he shouldn't still be skeptical of any further claims. Heck, the Church requires 3 miracles in the process of becoming a saint; clearly, even they realize that simply assuming something isn't exactly the smartest idea. Remember too that while the Bible contains some historical fact, it's still heavily influenced by the beliefs of the writers (as is any other text). As for the Grail, it was made up (to really gloss over the matter) for Arthurian legend because it's a good MacGuffin; it wasn't really even a cup of any sort.
"He doesn't have proof that God exists. He has evidence that there's a mystical force out there." ...A mystical force that is sentient, responds to Hebrew prayer, inhabits a Hebrew religious artifact, and has been worshipped for generations by the Jewish and Christian people as their God. It's God. It may not be your god, but it is the entity Jews and Christians consider to be their god.
It's worth noting that the whole Ark affair supported the existence of the Jewish god. Yes, it inhabited an artifact from the Old Testament and responded to Hebrew prayer, but this only proves the Old Testament god of the Jews is real. The Grail, on the other hand, is a Christian myth (and, as noted above, one that surfaced only centuries after the New Testament was written). From what happened with Ark, Indy could deduce that at least one Jewish myth is true and the Jewish god possibly exists, but it doesn't follow from this that all Christian myths are true and that the Jewish god is the same as the Christian god.
Christianity is based heavily on Judaism, and one of Judaism's teachings is that there isn't a "Jewish god" and "Christain god", just God.
Indiana undoubtedly believes in God. He even probably believes in him in a quiet way before Raiders, but he has to maintain a certain amount of skepticism until things are proven to be true because he's a scientist.
Indy's seen similar evidence that the Hindu pantheon is real, but that doesn't mean he believes in them either. He knows there's something empowering the Ark, Shankara stones, and Grail, but that doesn't have to mean he buys into the underlying mythology that professes to explain that something. The Crystal Skull turned out to be an alien artifact, not the work of Meso-american mythic gods; the mere fact that other artifacts have power doesn't prove that power came from a divine source, either.
Indy probably believes in God, thanks in part of the Ark incident. He just doesn't broadcast that to a person he doesn't fully trust.
Another important point to make is that Indy has no idea whether this trail will lead to the Grail (it could just be an elaborate ruse for all he knows), and he wouldn't likely believe any evidence of the Grail's location even if he were Christian himself due to how unfathomably unlikely it is to find it.
True. He's an archaeologist, he's probably dealt with who knows how many dead ends. And even if it's legitimate, Indy has probably run into a number of artifacts claimed to have supernatural powers that didn't. He's probably taking them on a case-by-case basis at this point.
Where, exactly, did the people who set up the Grail temple get 20 fake, enchanted, solid gold grails that kill you if you drink from them?
Pillaging. They were Crusaders.
The old man had to pass the time somehow, didn't he?
Why does Indy have such a bad Scottish accent when his dad, y'know, is Scottish? Granted, they weren't on speaking terms, but surely the one's accent must have rubbed onto the other?
It doesn't always work that way. My dad has a very strong New Jersey accent that I have a hard time replicating - and I'm an actor (or maybe that just means I'm not very good at my job).
A minor one, but catacombs under Venice? Moreover, mostly dry catacombs?
And a more major one - I know that Venice is old and that not everyone knows exactly what's in it and where, but...they never thought to see where the drainage for that café went? They don't have any plumbers (NOT HIM!) who might get sent down every so often to check that nothing's blocked or about to collapse or anything?
This one actually comes from a book on game theory that I was assigned to read in a political science class. So, towards the film's end, Henry Sr. is at death's door and only the true Grail can save him, but a false one will kill any who drink it. Indiana thinks the wooden one is correct but can't know for sure until testing it, so he drinks from it. This book's author points out that Indiana was taking a pointless risk and should have just given it to his father — the worst case scenario (father dies) would be identical to the result of doing nothing, whereas the worst possible outcome of Indy's plan was that they both die (and the Nazis manage to get the true Grail, etc). Why did he drink it himself? Of course, I can answer this one myself: Most people in Indy's situation would have done the same thing because they wouldn't want to be directly responsible for killing their own father, whatever a cold strategic algorithm would say. This may be the (rare?) situation where a Straw Vulcan would make a better choice than an emotional human.
Assuming Indy even could have brought one of the false grails out of the cup room (if it gruesomely kills you for drinking from it, imagine what it does if you try to steal it) the bad guys probably would have shot Indy to death for failing to retrieve the right grail. Also, the point of that scene was faith and humility. Indy chose the humble cup (whereas Donovan chose the fancy gold cup and was killed) and he took a drink from it on faith. If he had tried to do any sort of scientific test on the cup it probably would have failed horribly.
It's Straw Vulcan for a reason. If you're going to be that cold about it, technically Indy should have refused to believe his father could be saved by any sort of force he hadn't already seen work anyway, and that the Nazis were likely to kill him and his father even if he did get the Grail. By pure, rational, unemotional logic Indy should have simply blown his own brains out or let the first trap kill him since it would have expedited the eventual outcome anyway. This is why no one, not even Vulcans, actually operates on pure logic: it can wind up telling you to do really stupid stuff at times.
Why did the defender of the Holy Grail at the end of the Venice set piece reveal the location of Indy's father in the presence of Elsa. What made him think that both of them were trustworthy. I think if he knew that Henry Sr. was trapped there, I don't see how he couldn't have known about Elsa?
Because there was no point in hiding it from her. Indy wouldn't have believed him if he said Elsa was a spy (assuming he already knew, which he probably didn't), and if he took Indy aside and told him privately, Indy would have still taken Elsa along with him anyway. So, yeah, zero point in not just telling them both.