Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade A
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Robert Watts
Frank Marshall
Kathleen Kennedy
Written by Screenplay:
Jeffrey Boam
Tom Stoppard
George Lucas
Menno Meyjes
Starring Harrison Ford
Sean Connery
Denholm Elliott
Alison Doody
John Rhys-Davies
Julian Glover
River Phoenix
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Editing by Michael Kahn
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) May 24, 1989 (US)
June 8, 1989 (AUS)
June 30, 1989 (UK)
Running time 126 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $48,000,000
Gross revenue Domestic:
Preceded by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Followed by Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Official website
Allmovie profile
IMDb profile

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas and starring Harrison Ford in the title role. It co-stars Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott, Julian Glover, Alison Doody, River Phoenix, and John Rhys-Davies.

When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. (played by Connery) vanishes while pursuing a life-long search for the Holy Grail, Indiana must retrace his father's steps in the hopes of rescuing him – and the Grail – from the clutches of the Nazi military machine.[1] Worldwide, the film was the highest grossing movie of 1989.


File:Indiana Jones and the Cross of Coronado.jpg

The prologue depicts a young Indiana Jones in 1912 as a Boy Scout in Utah, battling grave robbers for the Cross of Coronado (an ornamental cross belonging to Francisco Vásquez de Coronado). As they give chase, Indiana hides in a circus train, in the process using a whip, scarring his chin, and gaining a fear of snakes. Although he rescues the cross, the robbers tell the Sheriff that Indiana was the thief, and he is forced to return it, while his oblivious father Henry is working on his research. The leader of the hired robbers, dressed very similarly to the future Indiana, gives him his fedora with some encouraging words. In 1938, an adult Indiana is on the robbers' ship, the Coronado, off the Portuguese coast, finally retrieving the Cross and donating it to Marcus Brody's museum.

Indiana meets the wealthy Walter Donovan, who informs him that Indy's father vanished while searching for a clue to the location of the Holy Grail, using an incomplete stone tablet as his guide. Indy receives a package which turns out to be his father's Grail diary in which he recorded all his findings and clues towards the Holy Grail. Understanding that his father would not have sent the Grail Diary, his father's life's work, to him unless he was in trouble, Indiana and Marcus travel to Venice. There they meet the beautiful and mysterious Dr. Elsa Schneider who had been working with Indiana's father. Using clues in Henry's diary, Indiana and Elsa search the ancient catacombs underneath the library where Henry was last seen. The catacombs are filled with oil slicked water several feet deep and infested with rats. Inside is the tomb of Sir Richard, a knight of the First Crusade, whose shield holds a complete version of the half-tablet which Henry Jones had found.

The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a secretive and fanatical religious cult that protects the Holy Grail, sets fire to the oil in the catacombs to kill Indiana and Elsa. Indiana overturns Richard's sarcophagus so that he and Elsa can take refuge underneath it from the flames, and emerge from a sewer grate in Venice outside the library. Indiana and Elsa commandeer a motorboat to escape, managing to fight off all but the cult's leader, Kazim, during the ensuing chase. Jones convinces Kazim that he is looking for his father, not the Grail, and Kazim reveals that his father is being held in a castle near the Austrian-German border. Indiana finds his father, but they are betrayed by Elsa and Donovan, who worked with the Nazis to stage Henry's kidnapping, so that Indiana would solve the mystery of the Grail for them. Meanwhile, in İskenderun, Hatay, the Nazis capture Brody, to whom Indiana had given the map for safekeeping.

Indiana and Henry are tied up, but escape and travel to Berlin to retrieve Henry's diary, which contains the clues to evade three booby traps guarding the Grail. At a Nazi book burning rally, a disguised Indiana corners Elsa and forces her to return the diary to him. Indiana and Henry travel on a Zeppelin, but Indy realizes the Nazis have caught up to them when the Zeppelin changes course. They escape the ship by taking an attached fighter plane, evading Nazi dogfighters. Henry accidentally shoots out the tailfin, and they crash land. They steal a car, causing one Nazi plane to be destroyed when it follows them through a tunnel. On a beach, Henry uses his umbrella to stir up a flock of seagulls, which strike the second plane, crashing it. The Joneses meet up with Sallah and confront the Nazis, who have captured Brody. The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword also appears, attacking the Nazi caravan, but are defeated. Henry attempts to rescue Brody from the tank wherein he is being held, but is himself captured. Indiana jumps onto the tank and rescues the captives before it drives off a cliff. The others believe Indiana is dead until he climbs back up the cliff, where he emotionally reunites with his father.

The Joneses, Sallah, and Brody reach the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, the site of the temple housing the Grail. The Nazis capture them in the temple, and Donovan shoots Henry, forcing Indiana to retrieve the Grail, so as to heal his father's fatal wounds. Guided by the diary, Indiana circumvents the deadly booby traps, reaching a room where a knight of the First Crusade, kept alive by the power of the Grail, has hidden it among many false cups, while Donovan and Elsa follow. The knight informs them that, if they wish for the Grail, they must choose wisely for it, for while drinking from the true Grail will bring them everlasting life, a false Grail will take it from them. Elsa identifies a golden, bejeweled cup as the Grail, and Donovan impatiently drinks from it. Realizing the Grail is false, Donovan dies, aging rapidly into dust.

Indiana picks out the true Grail, a plain cup with a gold interior, worthy of a humble carpenter (Jesus), and drinks from it, whereupon the knight advises him that he has chosen "wisely". Indiana fills the Grail with water and uses it to heal Henry. Despite a warning from the knight not to let the Grail go past the Great Seal in accordance with the Law of God, Elsa tries to leave with the Grail and the interior starts to collapse. She loses her balance at the edge of a newly-formed crevasse; despite Indiana's attempts to lift her, she greedily reaches for the Grail and falls into the abyss. Indiana loses his footing and finds himself in the same situation, with his father keeping him from following the same fate as Elsa. He also tries to get the Grail, until Henry says simply, "Indiana, let it go."

Realizing that this is the first time his father has properly referred to him as an individual (rather than condescendingly calling him Junior), and that his father valued his son over the Grail, Indiana reaches up and holds on. The Grail and the old knight are left in the ruins as the Joneses, Brody, and Sallah escape the crumbling temple. Afterward, Henry reveals that Indiana was the family dog's name, much to Sallah's amusement, and that Indiana's real name is Henry Jones Jr. All four then ride off into the sunset.



After the release of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Steven Spielberg decided to complete the trilogy in order to fulfill his promise to George Lucas and "to apologize for the second one".[2] He turned down Rain Man and Big to make the film.[3] The filmmakers returned to previously possible concepts of the Monkey King and a haunted castle. Chris Columbus wrote these into a script entitled Indiana Jones and the Monkey King (which used a haunted castle as its prologue).[4]

Then Lucas suggested the Holy Grail. Spielberg had previously rejected it as too ethereal,[5] and because he associated it too much with Monty Python and the Holy Grail.[3] Then he came up with telling a father-son story. He thought, "The Grail that everybody seeks could be a metaphor for a son seeking reconciliation with a father and a father seeking reconciliation with a son."[5] Harrison Ford concurred, "It outfoxes the sequel syndrome."[2] Lucas later acknowledged writing Jones's father into the story was good, because he realized the Holy Grail was not as strong a plot device as he first believed.[6]

Lucas came up with the opening flashback of Indiana as a teenager.[7] Menno Meyjes, who worked on The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun with Spielberg, co-wrote the story with Lucas while Jeffrey Boam wrote the script.[8] Tom Stoppard polished the dialogue.[5]


Filming began on May 16 1988, with a budget of $36 million, shooting in Venice, Almeria, Jordan, Austria, Germany, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Texas.[8] Filming began in Almeria, Spain,[9] where the tank fight was shot. Spielberg had originally planned the tank fight to be a short sequence shot over two days, but he drew up storyboards to make the scene an action-packed centerpiece of the film.[7] In Sean Connery's words, "The invention just went on and on." It took two weeks to film the entire ten-minute sequence. Two tanks were built for the scene.[2] A smaller version consisting only of the tank's upper half was used for close-ups of the fight.[7] The plane chase was shot in Majorca.[10] When filming the seagulls striking the plane, the birds did not fly. After a ruined take, Spielberg decided to use doves instead.[7] They went to Guadix, Granada to film Brody's capture.[9][10]

After a total of three weeks in Spain, filming was conducted at Elstree Studios for ten weeks for various interior scenes,[9] including the Venice catacombs, shots of Indiana battling Kazim near a propeller, the German airport and the Zeppelin.[9] 2000 rats were specially bred for the catacomb sequence, to keep out disease,[7] and mechanical rats were also used.[9] Locations in the UK included Tilbury Docks in Essex (for the boat chase); Royal Masonic School for Girls, Hertfordshire; Stowe School, Buckinghamshire (the Nazi rally); and the Royal Horticultural Society (the interiors of Tempelhof Berlin Airport).[10]

Shooting in Venice began on August 7, 1988.[9] The crew took over the Grand Canal for the boat sequences, and the San Barnaba di Venezia served as the exterior for the fictional Venetian church-turned-library.[7] They also shot at Piazza San Marco and Doge's Palace. They shot at Mayen, Germany, for the interiors of the castle,[10] before moving to the ancient city of Petra, which stood in for the temple of the Grail.[9] The crew and cast became guests of King Hussein and Queen Noor.[7]

River Phoenix shot his scenes in September, three weeks after main filming wrapped,[8] at Arches National Park in Utah and on railways in Colorado. The film's final shot was filmed at Clyde, Texas.[10] After viewing a rough cut, Spielberg added the motorbike chase which was shot at Mount Tamalpais,[10] near Lucas Valley.[7]


  • Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones: The intrepid archaeologist and adventurer who seeks to rescue his estranged father.
    • River Phoenix played the 13-year old Indiana. He had acted opposite Ford in The Mosquito Coast. Ford personally recommended Phoenix for the part, citing that of all the young actors working at the time, River Phoenix was the one who looked the most like him when he was around that age.[7]
  • Sean Connery as Professor Henry Jones: Indiana's father, who cared more for looking for the Grail than for raising his son. Spielberg suggested Connery as Henry Jones, feeling no one else but the first James Bond could pull off the role.[5] Connery initially turned it down, as he was only twelve years older than Ford, but he relented. Being a student of history himself, Connery began to reshape the character into somebody who was a match for his son. He told Spielberg, "Look, whatever Indy'd done my character done and my character has done it better."[7]
  • Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody: Indiana's bumbling colleague. Elliott reprised the role as Spielberg sought to recapture the tone of Raiders of the Lost Ark, following his absence in the darker Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[7] Having stayed in America in Raiders, Brody accompanies Indiana on the search for his father and is out of his depth, acting as comic relief.
  • Alison Doody as Dr. Elsa Schneider: An Austrian professor who is in league with the Nazis. She seduced both of the Joneses in order to trick them.
  • John Rhys-Davies as Sallah: A friend of Indiana and a professional excavator living in Cairo. Like Elliott, Rhys-Davies's return was another attempt to recapture the spirit of Raiders.[7]
  • Julian Glover as Walter Donovan: An American businessman who sent the Joneses on their quest for the Holy Grail. Donovan works for the Nazis and desires immortality.
  • Michael Byrne as Colonel Vogel: A brutal Nazi colonel.
  • Kevork Malikyan as Kazim: The leader of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, the organization that protects the Holy Grail.
  • Robert Eddison as the the Grail Knight who guards the Grail. He drank from the cup of Christ during the Crusades and is immortal as long as he stays away from the marked entrance.
  • Michael Sheard as Adolf Hitler: The Nazi leader bumps into Indiana during a book burning. Not realizing that he has encountered Indiana or that he is holding the Grail Diary, he casually opens the diary to a random page, autographs it, and gives it back to Jones.

Ronald Lacey, who played Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark, cameos as Heinrich Himmler.

Release and receptionEdit

The film opened in 2,327 theaters in North America.[9] The Last Crusade is estimated to have grossed over $197 million in North America and $474 million worldwide. These sales figures put the film second to Batman in North America and first globally for 1989.[11] The film was also well received by critics. It later earned a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[12]

The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing and also it received nominations for Original Score and Sound, but lost to The Little Mermaid by Alan Menken and Glory respectively. Sean Connery received a Golden Globe nomination.[13]

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released on laserdisc and VHS in 1990 and 1999, and on DVD in October 2003 where it was packaged with the previous two films in the series: Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was re-released in May 2008 with special features not seen in the previous 2003 DVD edition.


Hasbro will release toys based on the film in July 2008.[14]

Main article: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (soundtrack)

Video gamesEdit

In 1989, Lucasfilm Games released Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game, both based on the film. In its era, the adventure game is generally considered one of the best of its genre, right along with Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, which are all also produced by Lucasarts. There are also two completely different games for the NES called Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with no subtitle to differentiate the two versions. The newer game of that title is a port of the action game, while the older game was a different action game. There was also an Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade game released for Game Boy and Game Gear.

The last part of the video game Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures, released in 1994 by JVC for Nintendo's Super Nintendo Entertainment System, is based entirely on the film. Several sequences from the film are reproduced (the biplane dogfight and battle in the tank against Vogel for example). LucasArts and Factor 5 developed the game.

In 2008, LucasArts published Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, which features all three of the original films, and roughly follows the plot of each, but with some creative license to make it more family friendly and fit into discrete levels.


  1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade connects grail legend with Nazi occultism. See Rebecca A. Umland and Samuel J. Umland, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)," The Use of Arthurian Legend in Hollywood Film: From Connecticut Yankees to Fisher Kings (Contributions to the Study of Popular Culture) (Greenwood Press, 1996.), 167-171.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Nancy Griffin. "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", Premiere, June 1988. Retrieved on 2008-02-10. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gregory Kirschling, Jeff Labrecque. "Indiana Jones: 15 Fun Facts", 2008-03-12. Retrieved on 2008-03-15. 
  4. Steve Daly. "Steven Spielberg and George Lucas: The Titans Talk!", Entertainment Weekly, 2008-04-16. Retrieved on 2008-04-17. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: An Oral History", Empire, 2008-05-08. Retrieved on 2008-05-08. 
  6. Know Your MacGuffins. Empire Online: (2008-04-23). Retrieved on 2008-04-23.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 Template:Cite video
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Template:Cite book
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 Template:Cite book
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 The Indy Map. Empire Online: (2008-05-14). Retrieved on 2008-05-14.
  11. IMDb: Business Data for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  12. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2008-05-16.
  13. Tom O'Neil. "Will 'Indiana Jones,' Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford come swashbuckling back into the awards fight?", Los Angeles Times, 2008-05-08. Retrieved on 2008-05-08. 
  14. Edward Douglas. "Hasbro Previews G.I. Joe, Hulk, Iron Man, Indy & Clone Wars",, 2008-02-17. Retrieved on 2008-02-17. 

External linksEdit

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