2.1 THE SCRIPT
An early idea involved a ghost story, with children and a
haunted house but it was soon dropped because it reminded
Temple of Doom a lot. Another idea based on a quest for the
Holy Grail was explored for a while but was soon abandoned,
too. Spielberg didn't like the concept of a modern day quest
for the Holy Grail because he had always associated it with
Monty Python and he couldn't really relate it to any present
day myth. "The Grail legend was interesting to me symbolically
because it represented the search for one's self - but making
a movie about that seemed too esoteric for this genre."
Even George Lucas, who had proposed the Holy Grail storyline,
grappled with the problem of developing an action tale around
what was essentially a mythological object. "The Ark of the
Covenant was supposedly a real artifact," Lucas observed,
"whereas the Holy Grail, or at least the story surrounding
it, is more of a myth. The Grail was the cup that Christ drank
from at the Last Supper and was then used to catch his blood
and that was probably a real object. But the Arthur legend
that came out of that was completely mythological. As a result,
my initial ideas were very metaphysical and the Grail was
difficult to define."
adaptation of a Chinese legend involving the Monkey King in
Africa impressed Lucas so much as in early May 1985 he talked
with scriptwriter Chris Columbus (left picture) and producer
Robert Watts (middle). Lucas, with Frank Marshall (right) and
Kathleen Kennedy even flew to Africa for location scouting.
Columbus scriptwriting credits included
The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes and Gremlins, films that
Spielberg had developed as producer. "What attracted me to
doing Indiana Jones is that he may very well be the greatest
American hero of the 20th century," stated Columbus. "To write
this film is a bigger challenge than writing Sherlock Holmes.
I'm going about it the same way I did Holmes. I'm determined
to write the best Indiana Jones movie that anyone has ever
seen. I've no idea what the story will be, but I know it certainly
will be different than the last two." Unfortunately, the screenplay
he wrote during that summer failed to please either Lucas
or Spielberg. After several drafts, however, both Lucas and
Spielberg decided it was not the story they wanted to tell.
"Chris writes comedy brilliantly and his script was very humorous,"
Spielberg recalled. "It was upbeat and full of the same nostalgia
that we tapped into in Raiders of the Lost Ark, so in that
sense Chris was right on the money. But I don't think any
of us wanted to go to Africa for four months and try to get
Indy to ride a rhinoceros in a multi-vehicular chase, which
was one of the sequences Chris had written. I felt too old
to direct it, anyway." (Cick
here to sownload the script Indiana Jones and the Monkey King)
By the time Columbus' script was placed on the shelf, Lucas
had developed several new ideas, but not everything from the
Monkey King was abandoned. To bring the Holy Grail myth down
to earth a part of Columbus' script was taken over. Drinking
from the authentic Grail would insure immortality, while a
sip from the wrong one would age the partaker into dust. The
Nazis again would be after the Grail. Though intrigued by
these developments, Spielberg still pressed for more. Somewhere
at this point a new idea was born: "Why don't we give Indy
a father?" Coincidentally, Ford, Lucas and Spielberg had recently
become fathers. "I did not want Indy on a headlong pursuit
without a subplot that was almost stronger than the actual
quest itself," said Spielberg. "So we came up with the father-son
story because the Grail is symbolic of finding the truth in
one's life - the truth we are always looking for, consciously
or unconsciously. For me, that was represented by Indy and
Henry meeting. In this context, the Grail made sense to me.
They actually go after the Holy Grail, but their quest is
also symbolic of their search for each other. Once ? could
look upon the Grail twofold as a physical antiquity from religious
history and as a symbolic metaphor for self-illumination,
then it became interesting to me." The concept of introducing
Indy's father would give a new dimension to the series and
also provide the emotion missing from the second film.
After the basic parameters of the story were hammered out,
Menno Meyjes, who had worked with Spielberg on The Color Purple,
wrote the first draft, which Spielberg wasn't very fond of.
Meyjes went off to get involved in another project and the
two filmmakers started looking for a new scriptwriter.
Having previously worked with Steven Spielberg on "Inner
Space" (produced by Spielberg), screenplay writer Jeffrey
Boam enjoyed collaborating with Spielberg and Lucas by writing
the screenplay of the third Indiana Jones movie. "George Lucas
and Steven Spielberg have created a new genre out of a very
old one," Boam says. "George has the mind of a writer and
understands instantly when an idea is right or wrong and how
it affects the plot. George and I would paint in broad strokes
and Steven was great in coming up with how
to embellish them."
When Boam was brought in he expected a plot skeleton of some
kind to layer story muscle and tissue upon. "George Lucas
gave me nothing," was his remark of his early meeting. "I
was given a laundry list of elements, we would meet Indy's
father, Sallah and Brody would return, there would be a female
character to cross swords with Indy and there would be an
adventure. George told me what he wanted in the story and
then said, 'Give me a story'."
Boam had some very definitive ideas and was quite vocal in
how his story would differ from the preceding films: "For
me, the first two movies just didn't have enough character.
Indiana Jones has always been a great character, but he has
always been this being presented full-blown with his fedora
and bullwhip. I felt that, given the opportunity, I could
bring and added dimension to the Indy character and basically
get inside him and let the audience find out how Indiana Jones
becomes Indiana Jones... By the time the film is over, Indiana
Jones won't have too many secrets left."
Soon Boam found that things weren't as difficult as he thought.
"George Lucas made a conscious decision to keep the Indiana
Jones films similar. They're not that open-ended and I knew
going into the project that I couldn't just do anything I
think I managed it get some different things in, but I also
know that George vetoed a lot of my ideas. The Indiana Jones
movies use the cliffhanging serial as a role model. It's a
unique formula but, bottom line, it's a formula that means
the writer is faced with a confined structure and a series
of expectations that need to be met. Fortunately for everybody
involved, this formula is a highly entertaining one. The biggest
challenge was making something as exciting as the first two
Raiders films. Writing sequels is generally easier than starting
from scratch. But when you've got these two enormously successful
films in front of you that are considered classics, you don't
want to be one to drop the ball. Giving the audience something
new was the real challenge."
One of Boam's challenges was writing the film's opening sequence.
Actually, he wrote several openings, but the consensus was
that all of them were basically empty exercises. The big problem
was that the teasers in the first two films always told something
new about Indiana Jones, and what Boam discovered was that
he had nothing new to say. Finally, Lucas came up with the
idea of seeing Indiana Jones as a boy and working on an artifact
that would carry over into the body of the film. "Nothing
traumatic happens. The sequence doesn't reveal any terrible
dark secrets in Indy's past. What we will see is that Indiana
Jones, as a young teen, was always right on the verge of becoming
the adult he ultimately became. What we show is that moment
when he became Indiana Jones. All the elements, his style,
his cloths, it all comes together in this sequence", explained
Boam. "We find out many things about Indy's background. We
learn the origin of the bullwhip, the leather jacket and the
hat. We'll learn where the name Indiana Jones came from, where
he grew up and what his parents were like. We also learn how
he developed his fear of snakes." Spielberg didn't like the
idea of young Indy at all because he had recently made Empire
of the Sun, and after the reviews he received he didn't want
to make any movie with kids in it. Finally, under the persuasion
of Lucas he agreed.
One thing Spielberg definitely wanted was a three-part test
at the end of the film that Indy had to pass in order to get
to the Grail. "The nature of the individual tests was changed
several times," explained Lucas. "Various ones were developed
in the Menno Meyjes script. Then we took a bunch out and later
put them back in. The three tests that are in the movie now,
The Breath of God, The Word of God and The Path of God, were
essentially Steven's ideas."
2.2 THE CAST
For the casting of the supportive characters many prospective
performers were screen tested in London and their tapes were
sent to Spielberg in LA.
HENRY JONES SR.
the part of Professor Jones was to be a crotchety, aristocratic
type of English gentleman. The type of character one would envision
being played by John Houseman. However, Steven Spielberg came
up with a bold and inspiring idea. Since Indiana Jones was his
answer to James Bond, why not have the man who created 007 onscreen
play Indy's dad? The idea of getting Sean Connery for the role
was met with skepticism by George Lucas, who feared that in
the unlikely event Connery accepted the part, his presence would
be far too formidable
to be accepted as a bookish, eccentric professor. Spielberg
countered, "I figured Sean would give Harrison a run
for his money... I couldn't imagine anyone with less screen
power than Sean Connery to be the famous Indiana Jones's father.
Ford takes up a lot of screen, and I didn't want Harrison
diminishing any father in screen presence."
Having convined Lucas that approaching Connery was a worthwhile
endeavor, the next hurdle was to convince the actor himself
that the part was worth accepting. Spielberg admitted he felt
the chances were slim of succeeding: "I didn't think
Sean would want to play Indy's father. Obviously, Sean had
his trademark on the James Bond movies, and we were a kind
of James Bond movie ourselves." Spielberg's reservations
were wellfounded, as Connery's problems with the Bond films
were well-known. While they initially brought the struggling
young Scottish born actor fame and fortune, he soon discovered
that they also thrust him into a goldfish bowl of scrutiny
by the press and public.
Would the popular but moody actor really consider starring
in a film whose origins were so obviously inspired by the
Bond films? To relief of all, the answer was a resounding
yes. Provided that Connery could have considerable creative
input into the character of Professor Jones. He explained
his dissatisfaction with the role as originally written, which
presented Professor Jones as a "Yoda-like", gnomish,
wise old man: "It didn't add up in my book. I was after
something a bit more Victorian and flamboyant, like one of
the explorers Sir Richard Burton and Mungo Park, who went
off to the hinterlands and were missing for months... That's
what we got."
When Connery was offered the role he asked Spielberg in pure
Hollywood fashion, "Is this Indiana Jones meets James Bond?"
"No", said Spielberg, "It is Indiana Jones meets the strongest
Conery made a number of suggestions which were readily accepted
by the Indiana Jones filmmakers. When Jeffrey Boam was questioned
as to wether it really was in character for Professor Jones
to have slept with Indy's love interest, he replied, "No
way... But Sean Connery would!"
Connery contributed to the script's rewriting making it more
fun. "I always try to find the comedy in everything, because
it's much more revealing, much more enjoyable and harder.
There is something quite comedic and absurd about somebody
sitting in that sidecar! What we really got down to in the
Last Crusade was trying to find as many places as possible
where they would have problems relating to each other, which
always lends itself to the comedic elements. Right from the
very beginning Henry calls Indy 'junior!'"
"Henry is a scholar and a serious archaeologist, whereas
he thinks Indy is a bit of a rogue - even if he does give
the artifacts he finds to the museum," Frank Marshall says.
"It seems to Indy that he is never able to please his father
and, besides, Indy has a lot to live up to."
Once Ford was announced that Sean Connery was considered
for the role he was pleased, although, he had some reservations
because Connery was only twelve years older than he was. Ford
was an admirer of Connery's work. "When I got to be an actor,
I could see that Sean was one of the good ones."
Since Connery signed for the role, Lucas presented to Paramount
a budget of $ 44 million and a schedule same as before while
less than 20% of the cost would be given to the actors. The
studio bulked, at first, but finally they agreed.
are two men who have never made an accommodation for each other,"
Harrison Ford declares. "In this film you see another side of
Indiana's personality. He behaves differently in his father's
presence. Who else would call Indy 'junior' - which is something
that Indy hates?" Working with fairly basic tools, Indiana Jones
has no gimmicks or gadgets - just his own intelligence, dexterity
and wit as he travels to faraway places. Steven Spielberg describes
Indy as "a real throwback movie hero: a lover and a cad and
a two-fisted hellion. He doesn't
necessarily survive every cliffhanger unscathed."
"Indiana Jones is a romantic," Harrison Ford states. "He's
also a cynic. The interplay between these two aspects of his
character is what makes the role so interesting to play. His
bravery, indomitability and selflessness in certain situations
is what makes him attractive to audiences."
"Indiana Jones is an adventurer, but he has human frailties,
fears, money problems. He teaches, but I wouldn't call him
an intellectual. He does brave things, but I wouldn't call
him a hero. He's just there with a bullwhip to keep the world
Phoenix appears in the role of the young Indiana Jones. Phoenix
had played opposite Harrison Ford in 1987's Mosquito Coast and
was nominated for an Academy Award a year later for his performance
in Running on Empty. He was the hottest young actor in Hollywood
at the time and after many dramatic roles Phoenix wanted something
light, more entertaining. The casting of Phoenix as young Indy
was one of the production's best-kept secrets. The script never
referred to the character by name; he was simply "Boy On Train".
Once word leaked Lucasfilm announced a fallback rumor that
River Phoenix played Indy's younger brother. "Filming 'Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade' I had the opportunity to do a
few of my own stunts," Phoenix says. "It's exciting to see
how a dramatic and dangerous situation unfolds - it's fun
to witness it in a movie theatre and it's fun to make."
John Rhys-Davies would reprise his role from the first film
as Sallah, the best digger in Europe. According to Rhys-Davies
in the two years that followed Raiders Sallah has become more
prosperous as "He has left digging behind and has a small
antique business." Returning to familiar territory was a nice
feeling for the actor, who had been cast in similar roles
after Raiders' success and now he was returning to the real
McCoy. "Sallah is sort of a bravura figure. I suspect my cinema
life is destined to play these somewhat broader than-life
But they're a lot of fun. It's a wonderful part galloping
after a tank when you're on horseback and things like that,"
said Davies. Remembering his character's days since he was
one of the Raiders of the Lost Ark Davies said, "He has gotten
older and a little fatter. This time, we see him without the
appurtenances of his wife and children. He's a little more
resolute now, and he's more ready to have a physical go at
the Germans himself. But other than that, he's still the same
old Sallah." When asked about the way he sees the relationship
between Sallah and Indy Davies noted, "It's one of those relationships
that you know has evolved over a period of time and therefore
is unquestioned. It starts off with the premise that we are
friends, we will get into trouble, but somehow we will sort
things out. I think the Indiana/Sallah relationship is very
firm, very steady. The relationship between Sallah and Marcus
Brody is slightly more protective. Sallah is trying to look
after him because he's not awfully competent."
Also returning and with much more screen time was Denholm
Elliott as curator of antiquities Marcus Brody. Elliot described
his character as "a rather eccentric professor and reluctant
adventurer who is always saying the wrong thing at the right
time. He's Indiana's friend and boss at the university. When
Indy gets involved in these escapades, Brody sometimes accompanies
him and gets into all sorts of uncomfortable situations. I
quite enjoyed doing the first Raiders. I didn't have much
to do in it. But in the Last Crusade, Marcus was built up
and made to
be a figure of fun. Basically, he had two left feet! He was
totally out of place once he left his library. I did get quite
a few laughs in the picture. I love comedy, life is too boring
and sad without it. But Marcus is really the comedy relief
of the film. He's such an old fool. In the midst of terrifying
things, he does something so incredibly stupid. He's sort
of the absent-minded professor. Marcus isn't as boring in
the third film as he was in the first. He cared about Indy
but he was much more serious in the first film. There were
moments of seriousness in the Last Crusade when he was in
his own territory but once he got out of it, he was like a
duck out of water! And that was great fun to play!"
The Indiana Jones adventures are set in a period of high
adventure and exotic romance. In "Indiana Jones and the Last
Crusade," Indy encounters a woman very different from the
characters portrayed by Karen Allen and Kate Capshaw in the
first two movies.
In her first starring role in a motion picture, actress Alison
Doody plays Dr. Elsa Schneider. "She's an art historian, a
very strong-willed lady,"
Doody comments. "She is quite similar to Indy. Like him,
she goes out and gets what she wants. In this case, she wants
to find the Holy Grail."
Elsa Schneider was to be played by queenly blonde Irish unknown
Alison Doody. Doody had grown up in Ireland and went to school
at a convent. Finishing school she decided to enter the show
business. Her credits included only some television commercial
work and local theatrical credits when an Irish director recommended
her to an acting agent in London. With the agent's argue she
decided to go to London to pursue an acting career and she
moved to London at the age 19. "I was quite na´ve and I didn't
know one area of London from the next," she remembered laughing,
"so of course I ended up living in a red light district. Every
time I came out of the house, somebody would say 'How much,
love?' After a while it became normal. If I came out and somebody
didn't say 'How much, love?' then I worried whether I looked
One day Doody received a phone call from her agent telling
her that Spielberg was casting for his new film and that he
wanted to meet her. Although she wanted the part, she thought
she had a slight chance because she knew that Spielberg was
looking for a 28-year old Austrian lady, and she was 24 and
Irish. When they called her back she got quite excited and
she started to think that Spielberg was really interested.
When she went back to meet him again Spielberg gave her three
scenes and asked her to come back two days later with an accent
to tape her. She did so and a few weeks later she was contacted
to hear that she had got the part. "The nicest moment for
me was when I heard I had the part. I was just so delighted
and happy. It was such a buzz, as you can imagine, to find
out that you've got the part. I'm sitting there on my bed
and I'm thinking, 'Oh God, I'm going to be working with Harrison
Ford.' It was wonderful. It was a great feeling." Doody was
very please with her character. "She's between the two. She's
not a screamer; she's a very independent lady. They're actually
trying to go more towards the first film again, so I think
Elsa is like Karen Allen's character, but she's not as tomboyish
as Karen Allen was. She's quite like Indiana Jones in the
sense that she goes out and gets what she wants. I would say
she is definitely stronger than the second character. She's
quite a clever lady." While overwhelmed about her casting
Doody remained down to earth, "I'm not an actress for the
sake of becoming famous, but for the satisfaction of it. My
parents always told me I should come home the minute I stop
enjoying the business. But, there's all the adrenaline one
could wish for. There are those who go to drama school and
reap tremendous benefits, while others emerge after three
years with nothing. I didn't have that opinion; instead, I'm
going to the school of experience, and it's wonderful. I love
it; I've been very lucky. When I started Crusade, Harrison
Ford said to me, 'Just enjoy it all!' I look at it as an event
more terrific than mere words can express, not one that guarantees
me future work or will make me a superstar, but the chance
of a lifetime."
Harrison showed a great deal of chemistry with actress Alison
Doody. The two exuded a marvelous chemistry, with Doody's
performance helping to make the unrepentant Elsa the most
intriguing female character in the Indiana Jones trilogy.
Doody recalled Ford's thoughtfulness on the set: "If
there was a moment where I was tense or something, he would
joke around, which is very nice because he was doing it to
try and ease the tension. Working with Harrison was such a
pleasure. He is a great man to work with; he helped me a great
deal in my scenes. He would talk scenes through. And if I
had a problem at all, he was always there and willing to try
and sort it out and my life on the set was much easier."
One important sequence in which Ford's sense of humor played
a pivotal role involved a sequence in which Indy and Elsa
kis passionately. Doody was rather uncomfortable with the
pure sexuality of the scene, so Ford tried to ease her tension
by puckering his lips and make silly kissing noises off-camera,
cooing all the while, "Alison, I'm ready!" Ford
also advised her how to cope with the inevitable questions
the British press would ask about what it was like to do a
love scene with him. He told her, "Tell them that Harrison
Ford is so famous he doesn't even use his own tongue!"
the role of colonel Vogel Robert Watts, the film's producer,
suggested his London next-door neighbor Julian Glover. Glover
except from his experience in big budget movies, like The Empire
Strikes Back and For Your Eyes Only, had joined the Royal Shakespeare
Company. Spielberg decided Glover had the right genial menace
for Walter Donovan, American industrialist who employees the
Joneses to find the Grail. Glover describes Walter
Donovan as "a rich industrialist with a passion for ancient
artifacts. He's an extremely intelligent man who is prepared
to sacrifice everything for his ultimate goal." The role of
Vogel was given to Michael Byrne, with whom Ford had worked
before in Force Ten from Navarone. In that film Byrne played
a German General and Ford played the good American boy, again.
Kevork Malikyan impressed Spielberg with his performance
in Midnight Express and was given the role of Kazim, member
of a Brotherhood sworn to protect the grail. Actually, Malikyan
might have played Sallah in Raiders had he not arrived an
hour late for his interview with Spielberg because of a traffic
jam. Comic Alexei Sayle played a pasha with a taste for vintage
2.3 ART AND DESIGN
After locations for filming have been selected, recreating
the '30s-era settings of an Indiana Jones movie begins with
Steven Spielberg making storyboards of his visualization of
the screenplay. Sketch artists create more detailed drawings
from Spielberg's sketches, which production designer Elliot
Scott refers to in developing the film's sets.
Scott's main objective with each setting was to devise the
one that would best enhance the action of the scene: "The
background to all the films is logical and realistic. We go
to a great deal of trouble to make everything as real as we
can, using such details as authentic Latin inscriptions on
The craftsmen collaborating with the art directors include
carpenters, plasterers, scenic artists, and special effects
Three-time Oscar winning costume designer Anthony Powell
researches extensively for the apparel he creates, visiting
museums and studying in his own research library, which he
has been building for 30 years.
"What clothes go though on an action picture is phenomenal,"
Powell relates. "Every time Harrison falls down a ravine he
will need a change of costume. There are also stunt men and
doubles who have the same requirements. You need six of everything."