We all have issues with our dads; it’s a part of life. We never expect our heroes to have those same issues. And that’s what Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade gave us along with another thrilling adventure with our favorite archeologist. Having turned 30 this year, this is another anniversary post in a year with many anniversaries. So let’s dig in.
(Hey, that was an archeology pun!)
This was my first Indiana Jones movie. I remember the day my mother sat me down in front of the television to watch this movie. I was about six years old at the time, and I was transfixed by the action and adventure.
Indiana Jones, played by the great Harrison Ford, and his father Dr. Henry Jones, played by former James Bond SEAN CONNERY, are brought together for the adventure of a lifetime when Indy is summoned to meet Walter Donovan, played by former James Bond villain and former Grand Master Pycelle of Game of Thrones’ Julian Glover, who tells him that Indy’s father went missing in search of the Holy Grail. The Grail, told to bring eternal life to anyone who drank from it, was an obsession of Indy’s father since Indy was a kid, and it seems like his obsession has gotten him into some trouble. With only his father’s diary as his lead, Indy goes to hunt for his father, and along the way, discovers the Nazis are also on the hunt for the Grail. Together, father and son team up in a race where there is no prize for second place.
The father and son dynamic is the glue that holds this movie together, and resonated with someone like me who didn’t have the best relationship with his own father either. Of course, Indy and his father are distant, despite teaching at the same university (Indy: “Attila the Professor? He was never giddy, even as a schoolboy…”) and ending up in the same profession: archeology (Dr. Henry Jones: “You call this archeology?”). Indy felt like he didn’t have anything in common with his distant father (Dr. Henry Jones: “I taught you self-reliance!”) who seemed more interested in his books and research than he ever did in his own son. Even Indy’s first adventure where he gains his trademark chin scar, fear of snakes, skills with a whip, and trademark hat goes completely unnoticed by his father despite the town’s sheriff and a few gravediggers being in his own living room to confront his son over a stolen cross. He really loved that diary!
Also to note, I was a kid when I first saw this movie, so I didn’t really know what Nazis were yet, so that ONE SCENE didn’t have a lot of meaning to me until I started learning about World War II.
SPOILERS FOR A 30 YEAR OLD MOVIE: Indy comes face to face with Hitler when he and his father go into Nazi Germany to try and retrieve his father’s grail diary. While running through a Nazi rally, Indy bumps into Hitler. Luckily, Hitler didn’t recognize Indy, but unfortunately, he autographed the diary. Sadly, we never see Henry’s reaction.
Suffice to say, learning about that stuff changed this movie for me as a teenager (or whenever it was I started learning about World War II). Learning about World War II basically made Indiana Jones an even BIGGER hero to a young kid like myself.
And then there are jokes you don’t get because you’re a little kid:
Indy: "How did you know she was a Nazi?"
Dr. Jones: "She talks in her sleep."
Little Mario watching the movie: "Are Nazis known for talking in their sleep, mom?"
And of course, no action movie is without action, and like most Indiana Jones movies, the finale is subtler with its action than most action movies. There is never a big “fight to the death” between Indy and his villains in most cases. It’s usually a battle of wits that Indy overcomes and this is no different. The villain’s greed is his or her downfall, and Indy is able to exploit it and come out the hero.
In closing, out of all four (soon to be five), I rank this number two out of the four. Raiders of the Lost Ark is my all time favorite movie, but at the same time, this movie is much more quotable with all the back and forth between Indy and his father. There are so many hilarious moments between them (DR. Henry Jones: “JUNIOR?” Indy: “Don’t call me JUNIOR!”), as well as many heart-wrenching moments (Dr. Henry Jones: “Indiana… Indiana… let it go…”). There are too many great one-liners in this movie and visual gags to list that give this movie a slightly more comedic tone than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some I’ve listed already, but those are just the tip of the iceberg, you have to see the rest of the movie to get the best ones.