Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade begins when an art collector appeals to Indiana Jones to search for the Holy Grail. His previous hired archaeologist disappeared while searching for it, and that missing man is Indiana’s own father, Dr. Henry Jones. Along the way, the Jones men find artifact is much harder to retrieve than they expected, and its powers are too much for those with an impure heart.

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‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade begins in 1912 with a thirteen-year-old Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) on a cave exploring expedition with his Boy Scout troop in the Arches National Park in Utah. While scouting the caves, Indy comes across a group of treasure seekers who have found the Cross of Coronado, a golden crucifix. The looters plan to turn it into their employer (Paul Maxwell), but Indy steals the cross with the intent to donate it to a museum. The looters and their remarkably familiar leader (Richard Young) give chase to the young boy and pursue him across the desert and onto a circus train.

During the chase across the train, Indy receives a scar upon his chin when he uses a bullwhip for the first time and develops his fear of snakes after he falls into a reptile enclosure. Ultimately, Indy gets away from the thieves and returns to his home to tell his father what happened. After his father shows disinterest in the affair, the town’s sheriff arrives and takes possession of the cross. The sheriff is on the take, so he turns the cross over to greedy employer in a white suit. The leader of the looters tells Indy that he lost this one, but he doesn’t have to like it before giving Indy his fedora hat.

The film then jumps to 1938. An adult Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is once again trying to acquire the Cross of Coronado from the white suited employer who took it from him when he was a child. They are on a boat in a stormy sea. White suit tells his men to throw Indy overboard into the ocean. Indy breaks free from the goons and grabs the cross from White Suit. Indy climbs up onto a pile of cargo and swings himself into the ocean right before the ship explodes. Indy returns to Marshall College and turns the cross over to his friend and curator of the college’s museum, Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott).

While walking across campus, Indy is kidnapped and taken to see Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), a wealthy patron of the museum. Donovan is seeking Indy’s assistance in locating the Holy Grail, the cup that caught the blood of Jesus Christ during the crucifixion. Donovan tells Indy that he discovered a partial map to the Grail’s location, but his team leader has disappeared while attempting to find the second half of the map. When Indy initially declines his offer, Donovan reveals that Indy’s estranged father, Dr. Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), is the missing team leader. Having reconsidered, Indy and Marcus leave for Venice, Italy to find the elder Jones.

Once in Italy, they meet Henry’s colleague Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody). Elsa shows Indy the library where his father disappeared. Once inside, Indy figures out that his father was looking for an entrance to hidden catacombs where the last piece of the map was placed. Indy does this by using his father’s Grail diary, which his father sent to him shortly before his disappearance. Once inside the catacombs, Elsa and Indy find the second marker on the shield of an ancient knight of the First Crusade who went looking for the Grail centuries before. However, a secret organization called the Brotherhood of Cruciform Sword sets fire to the petroleum that the catacombs are filled with, and Elsa and Indy barely escape with a rubbing of the shield.

The Brotherhood pursue the couple through the streets and waterways of Venice. Indy subdues the men, whose leader, Kazim (Kevork Malikyan), reveals that each member of the Brotherhood have sworn to protect the Grail. When Indy tells him that he came looking for his father not the Grail, Kazim tells Indy that is father is being held in a castle in Austria. Once back at the hotel, Indy gives Marcus a map from his father’s diary and sends him to Iskenderun to begin the search for the Grail, while he keeps the remainder of the diary and heads north with Elsa to find his father.

After arriving at the castle in Austria, Indy discovers that his father has been kidnapped by Nazis. Once he finds his father in the castle, Henry explains to his son that the Nazis wanted him for his Grail diary and that is why he sent it to Indy, to get it away from him. Not realizing his intent, Indy has inadvertently brought the diary back to his father, and moments later, the Nazis take it from the younger Jones. It is revealed that Donovan is working with the Nazis to secure the Grail for Adolf Hitler. Even worse, Elsa is also working with the Nazis.

The Jones are tied up in an elaborate dining room which Henry accidentally sets fire to while trying to free himself from his bonds. The Jones free themselves from their ropes and escape the castle. They are pursued by the Nazis across Austria, but they make it to Hatay. Once there, they are told by Indy’s friend, Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), that Marcus was abducted by the Nazis shortly after arriving in Iskenderun. With the Nazis in possession of the map, Indy must pursue them across the desert in a race to reach the Grail first.

Indy, Henry, and Sallah find the Nazi expedition and attempt to free Marcus from his captors. However, Henry is captured himself, and Indy is forced to fight the Nazis and their tank on horseback. During the battle, Kazim reappears with the Brotherhood and tries to stop the Nazis from reaching the Grail, but the well supplied German soldiers make short work of the Brotherhood. Indy frees Marcus and Henry from the tank, but when the tank goes over a cliff, everyone believes that Indy has perished. When Indy reappears after having jumped to safety, Henry embraces his son like he has never done before.

With their quest not complete, Indy, Henry, Sallah, and Marcus follow the Nazis into the Canyon of the Crescent Moon where an ancient temple is hidden that allegedly contains the Holy Grail. They find the Germans perplexed by a serious of booby traps that continues to wipe out the German foot soldiers, preventing them from getting to the Grail. Once Indy’s group is discovered, Donovan orders Indy to retrieve the Grail for him. To give Indy proper incentive, Donovan shoots Henry in the stomach. Donovan tells Indy the only way to save his father is to use the healing power of the Grail. Using the information in his father’s diary, Indy makes it past the booby traps due largely to his rediscovered faith in his father.

Once in the chamber with the Grail, Indy discovers an ancient knight of the First Crusade (Robert Eddison). The knight tells Indy that he must choose the Grail from a series of chalices in the room, but he warns the archeologist that if he chooses the wrong cup, it will kill him. Donovan appears and chooses a chalice that Elsa picks for him. Having chosen the wrong cup, Donovan ages at an accelerated rate and dies. Indy makes his choice of a simple plain cup and drinks from it. The knight tells him that he has chosen wisely but warns Indy that the power of the Grail only works within the temple and that they should not try to remove the Grail from the temple’s boundaries.

Indy takes the Grail to his father and heals him with its mysterious powers. Elsa disregards the knight’s warning and tries to take the Grail with her. Once she crosses the Great Seal, the temple begins to collapse around them. When the Grail falls into a chasm in the floor, Elsa tries to retrieve it while Indy is barely able to hang onto her hand. Unwilling to take her eyes off the prize, Elsa falls into the chasm to her death. The temple continues to collapse, and Indy is hanging on for his life as his father barely has a hold of him. Indy tries to reach the Grail himself, and Henry, finally recognizing what is important to him, tells his son to let it go. Indy finally listens and gives his father his other hand so that he can be pulled to safety. Indy’s group runs out of the temple just as the entrance collapses.

Once outside, Indy and Henry finally are able to communicate with each other and find a new-found mutual respect. Henry reveals that Indy’s actual name is Henry Jones Jr. and that the family dog was named Indiana. The film ends with the foursome riding off into the sunset for new adventures.

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Paramount Pictures released Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on May 24, 1989. Steven Spielberg directed the film starring Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and Alison Doody.

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