Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Reel 25: INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE


“Don’t call me Junior.”


This month marks the 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.
 
The third installment of the INDIANA JONES franchise, which involved Indy and his father searching for the famed and legendary Holy Grail, was constructed to recapture the fun and whimsy of the first film, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK; elements which director Spielberg and creator Lucas felt were lost in the dark and gloomy second film, TEMPLE OF DOOM. After several abandoned story ideas (one of which involved a Monkey King), the duo settled on the Holy Grail, with Spielberg coming up with the idea to have Indy share the adventure with his father.
 
The decision to have Indy’s dad as his sidekick not only served as a great contrast to Indy’s character, but allowed for some long-awaited development for the main character. Indiana Jones, who up to that point was a bit of a one-dimensional character, suddenly had depth as his overall motivations were made clear. His life story, which was set in motion due to his strong contrast and differences with his father, was suddenly unspooled before us, and we got to know Indiana Jones better than ever.
 
Audiences welcomed Harrison Ford back as the swashbuckling archeologist, and equally welcomed Sean Connery in the role as Dr. Jones Sr. Old franchise favorites returned; Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies returned as Indy’s loyal friends, and newcomers Julian Glover (from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), Alison Doody (in her first major film role) played an important supporting cast. A  19 year-old River Phoenix appeared as a young Indiana Jones in a opening sequence which would eventually inspire the YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES  on television.
 
Utilizing film locations in Spain, Italy, England, Turkey, and Jordan, the film was shot on a budget of $48 million, and would earn over $474 million; it was the highest grossing film worldwide in 1989, despite heavy competition from Tim Burton’s BATMAN. The film would win an Oscar for Best Sound Editing, and was also nominated for Best Sound and Best Score (John Williams).
 
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By the time THE LAST CRUSADE reached theatres in 1989, the story of the search for the Holy Grail had been done in literally thousands of stories in TV, radio, film, and literature. The third cinematic adventure of Dr. Jones Jr. seemed like a clich├ęd one, but underneath that is an important story. The Holy Grail was really a metaphor for Indy’s search for his father, and consequently his father’s search for his son. There is a powerful and memorable theme of family underneath all of the action and adventure, which makes THE LAST CRUSADE the deepest out of all of Indy’s adventures. This Blogger fondly remembers wearing out the tape of THE LAST CRUSADE at home, as it was a family favorite then…and is to this day.
 
“The quest for the grail is not archeology…”
 

 
 
 
 

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