Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • Title:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Director:  Steven Spielburg
  • Date:  1989
  • Studio:  Paramount Pictures
  • Genre:  Adventure, Action
  • Cast:  Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • Format:  R1, NTSC
“That cross is a important artifact, it belongs in a museum!”  — Young Indy
 
“Nazis, I hate these guys.” — Indiana Jones
 
“I wrote it down in my diary so I wouldn’t have to remember!” — Henry Jones, Senior
 
“You call this archaeology?”  — Henry Jones, Senior

It’s always hard for me to say which is my favorite Indiana Jones movie — “Raiders” or “Last Crusade“.  “Raiders” introduces the great character, and Marion is a great, feisty, independent woman, and it has a good plot — but the snakes still gross me out.  On the other hand, “Last Crusade“, is, again, like “Raiders” a great adventure, set in relatively short “episodes” that span the world, from Indy’s childhood in Utah to his working as a college professor, to Venice, to Berlin, to Austria, to the hiding place of the Holy Grail. But “Last Crusade” also brings back the great secondary characters of Marcus Brody and Sallah who were missing from “Temple of Doom“.  And there’s the great relationship between Indiana Jones and Henry Jones, Sr.

Which is why, though it wouldn’t exist without “Raiders“, Last Crusade slightly edges out “Raiders” as my favorite.  “Last Crusade”, at its core is about a father and son journeying to discover each other as much as it is a great adventure tale about a search for the Holy Grail.  And the film, as I briefly mentioned before, brings back Marcus Brody and Sallah, both from “Raiders” and both sorely missed in “Temple of  Doom“. And neither character just appears just so they can be listed in the credits — both have important parts to play in the plot, especially Marcus. Sean Connery, is perfectly cast as Indiana Jones’ father.  I love the relationship between the two — prickly, yet fun. “Last Crusade” is a fun adventure-filled movie, with lots of great and quotable lines. But it also has heart — when Henry Jones Sr. thinks Indy has died he is truly crushed, and we feel his pain. When the Nazis shoot Indy’s father in front of him to force Indy to get the Grail, it’s a shocking moment, and we feel Indy’s shock and pain — not to mention he’s about to lose his father. Indiana ends up obtaining the Grail to save his father, not for his own aggrandizement, like Harry Potter with the Philosopher’s Stone in that film and book. In other words, he didn’t want it to keep it.  And like the Stone, the Grail heals Henry Sr.

And isn’t Julian Glover just a perfect villain?

River Phoenix really is well cast as young Indiana Jones.  The opening sequence is also great — not only is it full of adventure itself, but we see Indiana become our Indiana, the hero we love.  The transition from the treasure hunter putting the hat on Indiana to the shot of Harrison Ford in the rain, attempting to recover the same artifact, is perfect. And speaking of great shots – the first shot of Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr, as he steps into the light is also perfect.  And what can be a more satisfying a ending to a movie than our heroes, Indiana, Henry, Sallah, and Marcus, as riding off into the sunset?

The structure of the film, like Raiders, is again of short episodes, linked into a longer story, which keeps the film moving and the adventure level high. In some ways, the film is a chase film, as much as it is a Quest. And it’s also a Quest of characters of the Joneses coming to know each other as well as the Quest for the Holy Grail.

Recommendation:  See it!  And, again, a great film for kids and teenagers.
Rating:  5 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Indiscreet
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • Title:  Raiders of the Lost Ark  (Indiana Jones)
  • Director:  Steven Spielburg
  • Date:  1981
  • Studio:  Paramount Pictures
  • Genre:  Action, Adventure
  • Cast:  Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format;  R1, NTSC
“Asps, very dangerous. You go first.” — Sallah
 
“I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go.”  — Indiana Jones
 
“You’re not the man I knew ten years ago.”  — Marion
“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”  — Indiana Jones

One of my favorite movies from my childhood, right along side Star Wars (the original), Indiana Jones is a tour de force of  non-stop action and adventures. From the stirring music to the unforgettable characters, and stunning direction, it’s the movie that made me fascinated with movies. It should be noted that the title of the first Indiana Jones film is Raiders of  the Lost Ark, the “Indiana Jones and the…” was added to the DVD release — fortunately it’s only on the DVD case, the film itself  still has the original title in tact.

Indiana Jones, also like Star Wars, has it’s origin in the old movie serials of the 1930s — full of action and adventure, and continued from week to week with a cliffhanger at the end of each episode. And whereas Star Wars is partially based on the SF serials such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Indiana Jones is based on the adventure serials in spirit but brings an original twist to the idea with it’s characters. But it does follow the tradition of keeping the audience’s interest by having brief episodic stories within the main story. That is, the settings change frequently in the movie, from the jungles of South America, to an American University, to Nepal, to Egypt, as does the action. This definitely adds to the action and adventure of the film, or as one of the promos has it — “If Adventure has a name, it must be Jones.”

The film begins in the middle of an adventure, with Indiana Jones searching a jungle in South America for a golden idol. It fact, the first shot we see of Indiana Jones is as he steps into the light after using his bullwhip to disarm a native guide who was going to shoot him. Ford, as Jones, in leather jacket and fedora, with bull whip and revolver, steps into the light — and he is the character, this is all we need to know. In fact, for the entire first scene, we don’t even know this explorer’s name. Indiana manages to get the Idol, and escape the temple, only to have the idol stolen from him by a rival French treasure hunter named Rene Belloq.

Next we see mild-mannered Jones teaching archaeology at his university. He’s tracked down by government agents and sent on a race to get the Ark of  the Covenant before the Nazis do. This is the core of the film, the race to find and take the Ark. The film includes the famous “snake” scene, as well as the ultimate torching of the Nazis by the Ark’s power.

But one of the most chilling images in the film is the Ark being boxed up by US Army Intelligence and locked away in a mysterious warehouse, filled with other wooden crates. Makes me wonder every time I re-watch Raiders of  the Lost Ark, just what else is hidden away in that warehouse.

But the film is pure fun — action, adventure, romance (in the old-fashioned sense of the word), fiery women, real men, everything a young girl could want in a film. And the magic doesn’t wear off no matter how many times one watches it. Spielburg and Lucas created a timeless classic that just never gets old or looks dated.

Recommendation:  See it!  This is especially a great film for young teens and pre-teens to adults.
Rating:  5 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom