Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a
1989 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg,
from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. It is the
third installment in the Indiana Jones franchise. Harrison Ford
reprises the title role and Sean Connery plays Indiana's father,
Henry Jones, Sr. Other cast members featured include Alison Doody,
Denholm Elliott, Julian Glover, River Phoenix, and John Rhys-Davies.
In the film, set largely in 1938, Indiana searches for his father, a
Holy Grail scholar, who has been kidnapped by Nazis.
After the mixed reaction to Indiana Jones
and the Temple of Doom, Spielberg chose to compensate with a film
that toned down the violence and gore. During the five years between
Temple of Doom and Last Crusade, he and executive producer Lucas
reviewed several scripts before accepting Jeffrey Boam's. Filming
locations included Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Jordan.
The film was released in North America on
May 24th, 1989, to mostly positive reviews. It was a financial
success, earning $474,171,806 at the worldwide box office totals. It
won an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.
Ford returns as Indiana Jones, the archaeologist and adventurer
seeking to rescue his father and find the Holy Grail.
Ford said he loved the idea of introducing
Indy's father because it allowed him to explore another side to
Indiana's personality: "These are men who have never made any
accommodation to each other. Indy behaves differently in his father's
presence. Who else would dare call Indy 'junior'?"
River Phoenix played the teenage Jones.
Phoenix had portrayed the son of Ford's character in The Mosquito
Coast (1986) and Ford recommended Phoenix for the part. He said that
of the young actors working at the time, Phoenix looked the most like
him when he was around that age.
Sean Connery is Professor Henry Jones,
Indiana's father, who as a professor of Medieval literature cared
more about looking for the Grail than raising his son. Spielberg had
Connery in mind when he suggested introducing Indiana's father,
though he did not tell Lucas at first. Consequently, Lucas wrote the
role as "a crazy, eccentric" professor resembling Laurence
Olivier, whose relationship with Indiana is "strict schoolmaster
and student rather than a father and son". Spielberg had been a
fan of Connery's work as James Bond and felt that no-one else could
perform the role as well. Spielberg biographer Joseph McBride wrote,
"Connery was already the father of Indiana Jones since the
series had sprung from the desire of Lucas and Spielberg to rival
(and outdo) Connery's James Bond movies." Connery initially
turned the role down as he is only twelve years older than Ford, but
he later relented. Connery, a student of history, began to reshape
the character, and revisions were made to the script to address his
concerns. "I wanted to play Henry Jones as a kind of Sir Richard
[Francis] Burton," Connery commented. "I was bound to have
fun with the role of a gruff, Victorian Scottish father."
Connery believed Henry should be a match
for his son, telling Spielberg that "whatever Indy'd done my
character has done and my character has done it better". That
apparently even included any love interest. At one point Indiana asks
his father how he knew that Elsa was collaborating with the Germans.
His father replies with, "She talks in her sleep." Connery
improvised the line and it was left in because it made everyone on
the set laugh.
Elsa Schneider was played by Alison Doody (right). She was an
Austrian art professor who is in league with the Nazis. She seduces
the Joneses to trick them. Doody was 21 when she auditioned and was
one of the first actresses who met for the part.
Michael Byrne appears as Colonel Vogel, a
brutal SS colonel. Byrne and Ford had previously starred in Force 10
from Navarone (1978), in which they also respectively played a German
and an American.
Julian Glover plays Walter Donovan, the
American businessman who sends the Joneses on their quest for the
Holy Grail. Donovan works for the Nazis and desires immortality.
Glover previously appeared as General Veers in Lucas's The Empire
Strikes Back and originally auditioned for the role of Vogel. Glover,
who is English, adopted an American accent for the film, but was
dissatisfied with the result.
Kevork Malikyan was Kazim, the leader of
the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, an organization that protects
the Holy Grail. Malikyan had impressed Spielberg with his performance
in Midnight Express (1978) and would have auditioned for the role of
Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark had a traffic jam not delayed his
meeting with the director.
Denholm Elliott (below right) returns Dr.
Marcus Brody, Indiana's bumbling English colleague and John
Rhys-Davies (below left) is also back as Sallah, who is a friend of
Indiana and a professional excavator living in Cairo. Both characters
returned after Spielberg sought to recapture the tone of Raiders of
the Lost Ark (1981).
Robert Eddison (below) plays the Grail
Knight, the guardian of the Grail who drank from the cup of Christ
during the Crusades and is immortal as long as he stays within the
temple. Eddison was a stage and television veteran who only appeared
once before in a film (a supporting role in Peter Ustinov's 1948
comedy Vice Versa). Glover recalled Eddison was excited and nervous
for his film debut, often asking if he had performed correctly. Sir
Laurence Olivier was originally considered to play the Grail Knight,
but he was too ill and died the same year in which the film was released.
Lucas and Spielberg had intended to make a
trilogy of Indiana Jones films since Lucas had first pitched Raiders
of the Lost Ark to Spielberg in 1977. After the mixed critical and
public reaction to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Spielberg
decided to complete the trilogy to fulfill his promise to Lucas and
"to apologize for the second one". The pair had the
intention of revitalizing the series by evoking the spirit and tone
of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Throughout the film's development and
pre-production, Spielberg admitted he was "consciously
regressing" in making the film. Due to his commitment to the
film, the director had to drop out of directing Big and Rain Man.
initially suggested making the film "a haunted mansion
movie", for which Romancing the Stone writer Diane Thomas wrote
a script. Spielberg rejected the idea because of the similarity to
Poltergeist, which he had co-written and produced. Lucas first
introduced the Holy Grail in an idea for the film's prologue, which
was to be set in Scotland. He intended the Grail to have a pagan
basis, with the rest of the film revolving around a separate
Christian artifact in Africa. Spielberg did not care for the Grail
idea, which he found too esoteric, even after Lucas suggested giving
it healing powers and the ability to grant immortality. In September
1984, Lucas completed an eight-page treatment titled Indiana Jones
and the Monkey King, which he soon followed with an 11-page outline.
The story saw Indiana battling a ghost in Scotland before finding the
Fountain of Youth in Africa.
Chris Columbus (who had written the
Spielberg-produced Gremlins, The Goonies, and Young Sherlock Holmes
and would go on to directed the first two Harry Potter films) was
hired to write the script. His first draft, dated May 3rd, 1985,
changed the main plot device to a Garden of Immortal Peaches. It
begins in 1937, with Indiana battling the murderous ghost of Baron
Seamus Seagrove III in Scotland. Indiana travels to Mozambique to aid
Dr. Clare Clarke (a Katharine Hepburn type according to Lucas), who
has found a 200-year-old pygmy. The pygmy is kidnapped by the Nazis
during a boat chase, and Indiana, Clare and Scraggy Brier, an old
friend of Indiana, travel up the Zambezi river to rescue him. Indiana
is killed in the climactic battle but is resurrected by the Monkey
King. Other characters include a cannibalistic African tribe; Nazi
Sergeant Gutterbuhg, who has a mechanical arm; Betsy, a stowaway
student who is suicidally in love with Indiana; and a pirate leader
named Kezure (described as a Toshiro Mifune type), who dies eating a
peach because he is not pure of heart.
(right) second draft, dated August 6th, 1985, removed Betsy and
featured Dash, an expatriate bar owner for whom the Nazis work, and
the Monkey King as villains. The Monkey King forces Indiana and Dash
to play chess with real people and disintegrates each person who is
captured. Indiana subsequently battles the undead, destroys the
Monkey King's rod, and marries Clare. Location scouting commenced in
Africa but Spielberg and Lucas abandoned Monkey King because of its
negative depiction of African natives, and because the script was too
unrealistic. Spielberg acknowledged that it made him "... feel
very old, too old to direct it." Columbus's script was leaked
onto the Internet in 1997, and many believed it was an early draft
for the fourth film because it was mistakenly dated to 1995.
Unsatisfied, Spielberg suggested
introducing Indiana's father, Henry Jones, Sr. Lucas was dubious,
believing the Grail should be the story's focus, but Spielberg
convinced him that the fatherson relationship would serve as a
great metaphor in Indiana's search for the artifact. Spielberg hired
Menno Meyjes, who had worked on Spielberg's The Color Purple and
Empire of the Sun, to begin a new script on January 1st, 1986. Meyjes
completed his script ten months later. It depicted Indiana searching
for his father in Montségur, where he meets a nun named
Chantal. Indiana travels to Venice, takes the Orient Express to
Istanbul, and continues by train to Petra, where he meets Sallah and
reunites with his father. Together they find the grail. At the
climax, a Nazi villain touches the Grail and explodes; when Henry
touches it, he ascends a stairway to Heaven. Chantal chooses to stay
on Earth because of her love for Indiana. In a revised draft dated
two months later, Indiana finds his father in Krak des Chevaliers,
the Nazi leader is a woman named Greta von Grimm, and Indiana battles
a demon at the Grail site, which he defeats with a dagger inscribed
with "God is King". The prologue in both drafts has Indiana
in Mexico battling for possession of Montezuma's death.
Spielberg suggested Innerspace writer
Jeffrey Boam perform the next rewrite. Boam spent two weeks reworking
the story with Lucas, which yielded a treatment that is largely
similar to the final film. Boam told Lucas that Indiana should find
his father in the middle of the story. "Given the fact that it's
the third film in the series, you couldn't just end with them
obtaining the object. That's how the first two films ended," he
said, "So I thought, let them lose the Grail, and let the
fatherson relationship be the main point. It's an
archaeological search for Indy's own identity and coming to accept
his father is more what it's about [than the quest for the
Grail]." Boam said he felt there was not enough character
development in the previous films. In Boam's first draft, dated
September 1987, the film is set in 1939. The prologue has adult
Indiana retrieving an Aztec relic for a museum curator in Mexico and
features the circus train. Henry and Elsa (who is described as having
dark hair) were searching for the Grail on behalf of the Chandler
Foundation, before Henry went missing. The character of Kazim is here
named Kemal, and is an agent of the Republic of Hatay, which seeks
the grail for its own. Kemal shoots Henry and dies drinking from the
wrong chalice. The Grail Knight battles Indiana on horseback, while
Vogel is crushed by a boulder when stealing the Grail.
Boam's February 23rd, 1988 rewrite
utilized many of Connery's comic suggestions. It included the
prologue that was eventually filmed; Lucas had to convince Spielberg
to show Indiana as a boy because of the mixed response to Empire of
the Sun, which was about a young boy. Spielberg, who was later
awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, had the idea of making
Indiana a Boy Scout. Indiana's mother, named Margaret in this
version, dismisses Indiana when he returns home with the Cross of
Coronado, while his father is on a long distance call. Walter
Chandler of the Chandler Foundation is featured, but is not the main
villain; he plunges to his death in the tank. Elsa introduces Indiana
and Brody to a large Venetian family that knows Henry. Leni
Riefenstahl appears at the Nazi rally in Berlin. Vogel is beheaded by
the traps guarding the Grail. Kemal tries to blow up the Grail Temple
during a comic fight in which gunpowder is repeatedly lit and
extinguished. Elsa shoots Henry, then dies drinking from the wrong
Grail, and Indiana rescues his father from falling into the chasm
while grasping for the Grail. Boam's revision on March 1st showed
Henry causing the seagulls to strike the plane, and has Henry saving
Indiana at the end.
Between an undated "Amblin"
revision and a rewrite by Tom Stoppard (under the pen name Barry
Watson) dated May 8th, 1988, further changes were made. Stoppard
polished most of the dialogue, and created the "Panama Hat"
character to link the prologue's segments featuring the young and
adult Indianas. The Venetian family is cut. Kemal is renamed Kazim
and now wants to protect the grail rather than find it. Chandler is
renamed Donovan. The scene of Brody being captured is added. Vogel
now dies in the tank, while Donovan shoots Henry and then drinks from
the false grail, and Elsa falls into the chasm. The Grail trials are
expanded to include the stone-stepping and leap of faith.
CLUB FEATURETTE DEPARTMENT
The third installment in the widely beloved Spielberg/Lucas Indiana Jones saga begins with an introduction to a younger Indy (played by the late River Phoenix), who, through a fast-paced prologue, gives the audience insight into the roots of his taste for adventure, fear of snakes, and dogged determination to take historical artifacts out of the hands of bad guys and into the museums in which they belong. A grown-up Indy (Harrison Ford) reveals himself shortly afterward in a familiar classroom scene, teaching archeology to a disproportionate number of starry-eyed female college students in 1938. Once again, however, Mr. Jones is drawn away from his day job after an art collector (Julian Glover) approaches him with a proposition to find the much sought after Holy Grail. Circumstances reveal that there was another avid archeologist in search of the famed cup, Indiana Jones' father, Dr. Henry Jones (Sean Connery) who had recently disappeared during his efforts.
Principal photography began on May 16th,
1988, in the Tabernas Desert in Spain's Almería province.
Spielberg originally had planned the chase to be a short sequence
shot over two days, but he drew up storyboards to make the scene an
action-packed centerpiece. Thinking he would not surpass the truck
chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark (because the truck was much faster
than the tank), he felt this sequence should be more story-based and
needed to show Indiana and Henry helping each other. He later said he
had more fun storyboarding the sequence than filming it. The second
unit had begun filming two weeks before. After approximately ten
days, the production moved to Bellas Artes to film the scenes set in
the Sultan of Hatay's palace. Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park
was used for the road, tunnel and beach sequence in which birds
strike the plane. The shoot's Spanish portion wrapped on June 2nd,
1988, in Guadix, Granada, with filming of Brody's capture at
Iskenderun train station. The filmmakers built a mosque near the
station for atmosphere, rather than adding it as a visual effect.
for the castle interiors took place in the United Kingdom from June
5th to 10th, 1988, at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England. On
June 16th Lawrence Hall, London, was used for the airport interiors.
Filming returned to Elstree the next day to capture the motorcycle
escape, continuing at the studio for interior scenes until July 18th.
One day was spent at North Weald Airfield on June 29th to film
Indiana leaving for Venice. Ford and Connery acted much of the
Zeppelin table conversation without trousers on because of the
Spielberg, Marshall and Kennedy
interrupted the shoot to make a plea to the Parliament of the United
Kingdom to support the economically "depressed" British
studios and July 20th to 22nd was spent filming the temple interiors.
The temple set, which took six weeks to build, was supported on 80
feet of hydraulics and ten gimbals for use during the earthquake
scene. Resetting between takes took twenty minutes while the
hydraulics were put to their starting positions and the cracks filled
with plaster. The shot of the Grail falling to the temple floor,
causing the first crack to appear, was attempted on the full-size
set, but proved too difficult. Instead, crews built a separate floor
section that incorporated a pre-scored crack sealed with plaster. It
took several takes to throw the Grail from six feet onto the right
part of the crack. July 25th to 26th was spent on night shoots at
Stowe School, Stowe, Buckinghamshire, for the Nazi rally.
Filming resumed two days later at Elstree,
where Spielberg swiftly filmed the library, Portuguese freighter, and
catacombs sequences. The steamship fight in the prologue's 1938
portion was filmed in three days on a sixty-by-forty-feet deck built
on gimbals at Elstree. A dozen dump tanks, each holding three hundred
imperial gallons (360 U.S. gallons; 3000 lb.) of water, were used in
Indiana and Kazim's fight in Venice in
front of a ship's propeller was filmed in a water tank at Elstree.
Spielberg used a long focus lens to make it appear the actors were
closer to the propeller than they really were. Two days later, on
August 4th, another portion of the boat chase using Hacker Craft
sport boats, was filmed at Tilbury Docks in Essex. The shot of the
boats passing between two ships was achieved by first cabling the
ships off so they would be safe. The ships were moved together while
the boats passed between, close enough that one of the boats scraped
the sides of the ships. An empty speedboat containing dummies was
launched from a floating platform between the ships amid fire and
smoke that helped obscure the platform. The stunt was performed twice
because the boat landed too short of the camera in the first attempt.
The following day, filming in England wrapped at the Royal Masonic
School in Rickmansworth, which doubled for Indiana's college (as it
had in Raiders of the Lost Ark).
Shooting in Venice took place on August
8th. For scenes such as Indiana and Brody greeting Elsa, shots of the
boat chase, and Kazim telling Indiana where his father is, Robert
Watts gained control of the Grand Canal from 7 am to 1 pm, sealing
off tourists for as long as possible. Cinematographer Douglas
Slocombe positioned the camera to ensure no satellite dishes would be
visible. San Barnaba di Venezia served as the library's exterior.
The next day, filming moved to the ancient
city of Petra, Jordan, where Al Khazneh (The Treasury) stood in for
the temple housing the Grail. Petra's use for the movie's climactic
scenes greatly contributed to its popularity as an international
tourist destination. Before the film's release, only a few thousand
visitors per year made the trip; since then it has grown to almost a
million annually. Shops and hotels near the site play up the
connection, and it is mentioned prominently in itineraries of
locations used in the film series. Jordan's tourism board mentions
the connection on its website. The cast and crew became guests of
King Hussein and Queen Noor. The Treasury had previously appeared in
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. The main cast completed their scenes
that week, after 63 days of filming.
second unit filmed part of the prologue's 1912 segment from August
29th to September 3rd. The main unit began two days later with the
circus train sequence at Alamosa, Colorado, on the Cumbres and Toltec
Scenic Railroad. They filmed at Pagosa Springs on September 7th, and
then at Cortez on September 10th From September 14th to 16th, filming
of Indiana falling into the train carriages took place in Los
Angeles. The production then moved to Utah's Arches National Park to
shoot more of the opening. A house in Antonito, Colorado was used for
the Jones family home. The production had intended to film at Mesa
Verde National Park, but Native American representatives had
religious objections to its use.
When Spielberg and editor Michael Kahn
viewed a rough cut of the film in late 1988, they felt it suffered
from a lack of action. The motorcycle chase was shot during post-production
at Mount Tamalpais and Fairfax near Skywalker Ranch. The closing
shot of Indiana, Henry, Sallah and Brody riding into the sunset was
filmed in Texas in early 1989.
Mechanical effects supervisor George Gibbs
said the film was the most difficult one of his career. He visited a
museum to negotiate renting a small French World War I tank, but
decided he wanted to make one. The tank was based on the Tank Mark
VIII, which was 36 feet (11 m) long and weighed 28 short tons (25 t).
Gibbs built the tank over the framework of a 28-short-ton (25 t)
excavator and added 7-short-ton (6.4 t) tracks that were driven by
two automatic hydraulic pumps, each connected to a Range Rover V8
engine. Gibbs built the tank from steel rather than aluminum or
fiberglass because it would allow the realistically suspensionless
vehicle to endure the rocky surfaces. Unlike its historical
counterpart, which had only the two side guns, the tank had a turret
gun added as well. It took four months to build and was transported
to Almería on a Short Belfast plane and then a low loader truck.
The tank broke down twice. The
distributor's rotor arm broke and a replacement had to be sourced
from Madrid. Then two of the device's valves used to cool the oil
exploded, due to solder melting and mixing with the oil. It was very
hot in the tank, despite the installation of ten fans, and the lack
of suspension meant the driver was unable to stop shaking during
filming breaks. The tank only moved at 10 to 12 miles per hour (16 to
19 km/h), which Vic Armstrong said made it difficult to film Indiana
riding a horse against the tank while making it appear faster. A
smaller section of the tank's top made from aluminum and which used
rubber tracks was used for close-ups. It was built from a searchlight
trailer, weighed eight tons, and was towed by a four-wheel drive
truck. It had safety nets on each end to prevent injury to those
falling off. A quarter-scale model by Gibbs was driven over a 50-foot
(15 m) cliff on location; Industrial Light & Magic created
further shots of the tank's destruction with models and miniatures.
Michael Lantieri, mechanical effects
supervisor for the 1912 scenes, noted the difficulty in shooting the
train sequence. "You can't just stop a train," he said,
"If it misses its mark, it takes blocks and blocks to stop it
and back up." Lantieri hid handles for the actors and stuntmen
to grab onto when leaping from carriage to carriage. The carriage
interiors shot at Universal Studios Hollywood were built on tubes
that inflated and deflated to create a rocking motion. For the
close-up of the rhinoceros that strikes at (and misses) Indiana, a
foam and fiberglass animatronic was made in London. When Spielberg
decided he wanted it to move, the prop was sent to John Carl Buechler
in Los Angeles, who resculpted it over three days to blink, snarl,
snort and wiggle its ears. The giraffes were also created in London.
Because steam locomotives are very loud, Lantieri's crew would
respond to first assistant director David Tomblin's radioed
directions by making the giraffes nod or shake their heads to his
questions, which amused the crew. For the villains' cars, Lantieri
selected a 1914 Ford Model T, a 1919 Ford Model T truck and a 1916
Saxon Model 14, fitting each with a Ford Pinto V6 engine. Sacks of
dust were hung under the cars to create a dustier environment.
Spielberg used doves for the seagulls that
Henry scares into striking the German plane because the real gulls
used in the first take did not fly. In December 1988, Lucasfilm
ordered 1,000 disease-free gray rats for the catacombs scenes from
the company that supplied the snakes and bugs for the previous films.
Within five months, 5,000 rats had been bred for the sequence; 1,000
mechanical rats stood in for those that were set on fire. Several
thousand snakes of five breeds, including a boa constrictor, were
used for the train scene, in addition to rubber ones onto which
Phoenix could fall. The snakes would slither from their crates,
requiring the crew to dig through sawdust after filming to find and
return them. Two lions were used, which became nervous because of the
rocking motion and flickering lights.
designer Anthony Powell found it a challenge to create Connery's
costume because the script required the character to wear the same
clothes throughout. Powell thought about his own grandfather and
incorporated tweed suits and fishing hats. Powell felt it necessary
for Henry to wear glasses, but did not want to hide Connery's eyes,
so chose rimless ones. He could not find any suitable, so he had them
specially made. The Nazi costumes were genuine and were found in
Eastern Europe by Powell's co-designer Joanna Johnston, to whom he
gave research pictures and drawings for reference. The motorcycles
used in the chase from the castle were a mixed bag: the scout model
with sidecar in which Indy and Henry escape was an original Dnepr,
complete with machine gun pintle on the sidecar, while the pursuing
vehicles were more modern machines dressed up with equipment and
logos to make them resemble German army models. Gibbs used Swiss
Pilatus P-2 army training planes standing in for Messerschmitt
Bf-109s. He built a device based on an internal combustion engine to
simulate gunfire, which was safer and less expensive than firing
blanks. Baking soda was applied to Connery to create Henry's bullet
wound. Vinegar was applied to create the foaming effect as the water
from the Grail washes it away. At least one reproduction Kubelwagen
was used during filming despite the film being set two years prior to
manufacture of said vehicles.
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) built
an eight-foot foam model of the Zeppelin to complement shots of Ford
and Connery climbing into the biplane. A biplane model with a
two-foot wingspan was used for the shot of the biplane detaching.
Stop motion animation was used for the shot of the German fighter's
wings breaking off as it crashes through the tunnel. The tunnel was a
210 feet model that occupied 14 of ILM's parking spaces for two
months. It was built in eight-foot sections, with hinges allowing
each section to be opened to film through. Ford and Connery were
filmed against bluescreen; the sequence required their car to have a
dirty windscreen, but to make the integration easier this was removed
and later composited into the shot. Dust and shadows were animated
onto shots of the plane miniature to make it appear as if it
disturbed rocks and dirt before it exploded. Several hundred
tim-birds were used in the background shots of the seagulls striking
the other plane; for the closer shots, ILM dropped feather-coated
crosses onto the camera. These only looked convincing because the
scene's quick cuts merely required shapes that suggested gulls. ILM's
Wes Takahashi supervised the film's effects sequences.
Spielberg wanted Donovan's death shown in
one shot, so it would not look like an actor having makeup applied
between takes. Inflatable pads were applied to Julian Glover's
forehead and cheeks that made his eyes seem to recede during the
character's initial decomposition, as well as a mechanical wig that
grew his hair. The shot of Donovan's death was created over three
months by morphing together three puppets of Donovan in separate
stages of decay, a technique ILM mastered on Willow (1988). A fourth
puppet was used for the decaying clothes, because the puppet's torso
mechanics had been exposed. Complications arose because Alison
Doody's double had not been filmed for the scene's latter two
elements, so the background and hair from the first shot had to be
used throughout, with the other faces mapped over it. Donovan's
skeleton was hung on wires like a marionette; it required several
takes to film it crashing against the wall because not all the pieces
released upon impact.
Spielberg devised the three trials that
guard the Grail. For the first, the blades under which Indiana ducks
like a penitent man were a mix of practical and miniature blades
created by Gibbs and ILM. For the second trial, in which Indiana
spells "Iehova" on stable stepping stones, it was intended
to have a tarantula crawl up Indiana after he mistakenly steps on
"J". This was filmed and deemed unsatisfactory, so ILM
filmed a stuntman hanging through a hole that appears in the floor,
30 feet above a cavern. As this was dark, it did not matter that the
matte painting and models were rushed late in production. The third
trial, the leap of faith that Indiana makes over an apparently
impassable ravine after discovering a bridge hidden by forced
perspective, was created with a model bridge and painted backgrounds.
This was cheaper than building a full-size set. A puppet of Ford was
used to create a shadow on the 9-foot-tall (2.7 m) by 13-foot-wide
(4.0 m) model because Ford had filmed the scene against bluescreen,
which did not incorporate the shaft of light from the entrance.
Burtt designed the sound effects. He recorded chickens for the
sounds of the rats, and digitally manipulated the noise made by a
Styrofoam cup for the castle fire. He rode in a biplane to record the
sounds for the dogfight sequence, and visited the demolition of a
wind turbine for the plane crashes. Burtt wanted an echoing gunshot
for Donovan wounding Henry, so he fired a .357 Magnum in Skywalker
Ranch's underground car park, just as Lucas drove in. A rubber
balloon was used for the earthquake tremors at the temple. The film
was released in selected theaters in the 70 mm Full-Field Sound
format, which allowed sounds to not only move from side to side, but
also from the theater's front to its rear.
Matte paintings of the Austrian castle and
German airport were based on real buildings; the Austrian castle was
a small West German castle that was made to look larger. Rain was
created by filming granulated Borax soap against black at high speed.
It was only lightly double exposed into the shots so it would not
resemble snow. The lightning was animated. The airport used was at
San Francisco's Treasure Island, which already had appropriate art
deco architecture. ILM added a control tower, Nazi banners, vintage
automobiles and a sign stating "Berlin Flughafen". The
establishing shot of the Hatayan city at dusk was created by filming
silhouetted cutouts that were backlit and obscured by smoke. Matte
paintings were used for the sky and to give the appearance of fill
light in the shadows and rim light on the edges of the buildings.
The film's exploration of fathers and sons
coupled with its use of religious imagery is comparable to two other
1989 films, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Field of Dreams.
Writing for The New York Times, Caryn James felt the combination in
these films reflected New Age concerns, where the worship of God was
equated to searching for fathers. James felt that neither Indiana or
his father is preoccupied with finding the Grail or defeating the
evil Nazis, but that, rather, both seek professional respect for one
another in their boys' own adventure. James contrasted the temple's
biblically epic destruction with the more effective and quiet
conversation between the Joneses at the film's end. James noted that
Indiana's mother does not appear in the prologue, being portrayed as
already having died before the film's events began. A son's
relationship with his estranged father is a common theme in
Spielberg's films, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Hook.
1912 prologue refers to events in the lives of Indiana's creators.
When Indiana cracks the bullwhip to defend himself against a lion, he
accidentally lashes and scars his chin. Ford gained this scar in a
car accident as a young man. Indiana taking his nickname from his pet
Alaskan Malamute is a reference to the character being named after
Lucas's dog. The train carriage Indiana enters is named "Doctor
Fantasy's Magic Caboose", which was the name producer Frank
Marshall used when performing magic tricks. Spielberg suggested the
idea, Marshall came up with the false-bottomed box through which
Indiana escapes, and production designer Elliott Scott suggested the
trick be done in a single, uninterrupted shot. Spielberg intended the
shot of Henry with his umbrella, after he causes the bird strike on
the German plane, to evoke Ryan's Daughter.
The film's teaser trailer debuted in
November 1988 with Scrooged and The Naked Gun. Rob MacGregor wrote
the tie-in novelization that was released in June 1989; it sold
enough copies to be included on the New York Times Best Seller list.
MacGregor went on to write the first six Indiana Jones prequel novels
during the 1990s. Following the film's release, Ford donated
Indiana's fedora and jacket to the Smithsonian Institution's National
Museum of American History.
toys were made to promote the film. Indiana Jones "never
happened on the toy level", said Larry Carlat, senior editor of
the journal Children's Business. Rather, Lucasfilm promoted Indiana
as a lifestyle symbol, selling tie-in fedoras, shirts, jackets and
watches. Two video games based on the film were released by LucasArts
in 1989: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure
and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game. A third game
was produced by Taito and released in 1991 for the Nintendo
Entertainment System. Ryder Windham wrote another novelization,
released in April 2008 by Scholastic, to coincide with the release of
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Hasbro released
toys based on The Last Crusade in July 2008.
The film was released in North America on
May 24th, 1989, in 2,327 theaters, earning $29,355,021 in its opening
weekend. This was the third-highest opening weekend of 1989, behind
Ghostbusters II and Batman. Its opening day gross of $11,181,429 was
the first time a film had made over $10 million on its first day. It
broke the record for the best six-day performance, with almost $47
million, added another record with $77 million after twelve days, and
$100 million in nineteen days. It grossed $195.7 million by the end
of the year and $475 million worldwide by March 1990. In France, the
film broke a record by selling a million admissions within two and a
The film eventually grossed $197,171,806
in North America and $277 million internationally, for a worldwide
total of $474,171,806. At the time of its release, the film was the
11th highest-grossing film of all time. Despite competition from
Batman, The Last Crusade became the highest-grossing film worldwide
in 1989. In North America, Batman took top position. Behind Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull and Raiders, The Last Crusade is the
third-highest grossing Indiana Jones film in North America, though it
is also behind Temple of Doom when adjusting for inflation.
The film opened to mostly positive
reviews. It was panned by Andrew Sarris in The New York Observer,
David Denby in New York magazine, Stanley Kauffmann in The New
Republic and Georgia Brown in The Village Voice.
The Washington Post reviewed the film
twice; Hal Hinson's review on the day of the film's release was
negative, describing it as "nearly all chases and dull
exposition". Although he praised Ford and Connery, he felt the
film's exploration of Indiana's character took away his mystery and
that Spielberg should not have tried to mature his storytelling. Two
days later, Desson Thomson published a positive review praising the
film's adventure and action, as well as the fatherson
relationship's thematic depth.
Joseph McBride of Variety observed the
"Cartoonlike Nazi villains of Raiders have been replaced by more
genuinely frightening Nazis led by Julian Glover and Michael
Byrne," and found the moment where Indiana meets Hitler
"chilling". In his biography of Spielberg, McBride added
the film was less "racist" than its predecessors.
Travers of Rolling Stone said the film was "the wildest and
wittiest Indy of them all". Richard Corliss of Time and David
Ansen of Newsweek praised it, as did Vincent Canby of The New York
Times. "Though it seems to have the manner of some magically
reconstituted B-movie of an earlier era, The Last Crusade is an
endearing original," Canby wrote, deeming the revelation Indiana
had a father he was not proud of to be a "comic surprise".
Canby believed that while the film did not match the previous two in
its pacing, it still had "hilariously off-the-wall
sequences" such as the circus train chase. He also said that
Spielberg was maturing by focusing on the fatherson
relationship, a call echoed by McBride in Variety.
Roger Ebert praised the scene depicting
Indiana as a Boy Scout with the Cross of Coronado; he compared it to
the "style of illustration that appeared in the boys' adventure
magazines of the 1940s", saying that Spielberg "must have
been paging through his old issues of Boys' Life magazine... the
feeling that you can stumble over astounding adventures just by going
on a hike with your Scout troop. Spielberg lights the scene in the
strong, basic colors of old pulp magazines."
The prologue depicting Indiana in his
youth inspired Lucas to create The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
television series, which featured Sean Patrick Flanery as the young
adult Indiana and Corey Carrier as the 8 to 10 year old Indiana. The 13-year-old
incarnation played by Phoenix in the film was the focus of a Young
Indiana Jones series of young adult novels that began in 1990. By the
ninth novel, the series had become a tie-in to the television series.
German author Wolfgang Hohlbein revisited the 1912 prologue in one of
his novels, in which Indiana encounters the lead grave robber, whom
Hohlbein christens Jake, in 1943. The film's ending begins the 1995
comic series Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny, which moves
forward to depict Indiana and his father searching for the Holy Lance
in Ireland in 1945.
The Hollywood Reporter felt Connery and
Ford deserved Academy Award nominations. The film did win the Academy
Award for Best Sound Editing; it also received nominations for Best
Original Score and Best Sound (Ben Burtt, Gary Summers, Shawn Murphy
and Tony Dawe), but lost to The Little Mermaid and Glory
respectively. Sean Connery did received a Golden Globe Award
nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Connery and the visual and
sound effects teams were also nominated at the 43rd British Academy
Film Awards. The film won the 1990 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic
Presentation, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama at the
Young Artist Awards. John Williams' score won a BMI Award, and was
nominated for a Grammy Award.
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