Making the Grades
With his trademark bullwhip and fedora hat, Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones (Harrison Ford) has made archeology cool and his fictitious persona a household icon. Whether protecting the ancient Hebrew Ark of the Covenant (as seen in the prequel Raiders of the Lost Ark) or uncovering other antique artifacts, the indestructible hero does for dusty old relics and legends what Bill Nye did for science and lab coats.
His day job involves teaching archeology at a university. Still, the professor is lured away from his school responsibilities when the employees of a wealthy businessman, Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), unearth a portion of a stone carving at a building site. The partially broken tablet is engraved with clues leading to the location of the Holy Grail, the celebrated cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.
Initially Indiana refuses the private collector's invitation to search for the sacred item. But when the adventurer discovers his father, the senior Jones (Sean Connery), has gone missing while following the pointers on the tablet, Indy is drawn into the fray. With his dad's diary in hand, the archeologist flies to Europe where he meets Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody), who also works for Donovan. They, together with Indy's traveling companion Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot), follow the scribbles in the small leather-bound book to the rat-infested catacombs underneath an ancient cathedral.
There, they stumble upon the tombstone of a decaying knight whose shield holds the complete text from the rock engraving. But their efforts to recover the missing part of the message are hindered when the underground passage way is engulfed in flames.
Like the Indiana adventures before it, the Last Crusade is swarming with pistol-packing assailants, life-threatening ventures that result in a burgeoning body count and enough bad guys to outfit an entire army. In this case, it's the Nazis, under the direction of Adolf Hitler (Michael Sheard), who are in cahoots with other bounty hunters looking for the elixir of eternal life.
However, the prolific violence seems mitigated by the film's jaunty musical score playing in the background. A disturbing notion since the carnage includes characters being shot in the head, blown up, beheaded, run over by a tank and pushed from a hovering plane. Another man disintegrates into dust in front of his comrades after ingesting a liquid.
Interested in artifacts for their historic value rather than monetary worth, Indy's ambitions to protect the cup from the grasp of less-than-noble men is to be expected. Yet even he employs death-inflicting measures (and some profanity) to achieve his ends. Neither of which impresses his more scholarly father.
Fortunately this rousing cross-country journey gives the Jones men a chance to reevaluate and improve their relationship between their bouts with the German Gestapo. Still, the excess of violence, implied sexual activities and squeamish rat scenes may be more action than many parents will want their young crusaders to see.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Many of the characters in this film are seeking immortality. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of living forever? According to this script, what is the price a person would have to pay to have immortality?
The Nazis instituted book burning during their reign. Why were literate citizens seen as a danger? What other regimes have used similar tactics with their people?
What does the Holy Grail signify to the various characters in this movie? What is the difference between an interest and an obsession? At what point does one lead to the other?