After filming in Spain for three weeks, the filmmakers traveled
to England for ten weeks of filming on sets constructed on
the enormous stages at Elstree Studios. Interiors created
by production designer Elliot Scott included Walter Donovan's
apartment overlooking Central Park, sinister Venetian catacombs,
and the interior of a zeppelin.
5.1 PORTUGUESE COAST
To facilitate the action onboard a steamship off the Portuguese
coast in a raging storm, a forty-foot-by-sixty-foot section
of deck was constructed on large gimbals to produce the requisite
rocking motion. "We also had wind machines blowing and a dozen
dump tanks filled with water," said George Gibbs. "On this
small piece of set, the actors and stunt people were trying
to act while tons of water fell on them. It was a pretty shattering
experience. One of our dump tanks held three hundred gallons
- three thousand pounds of water-and when we let two of them
go at once, it would knock people clear across the deck."
"The sequence on the boat seemed to be the toughest for everybody,"
George Lucas observed. "It was the scariest and the hardest
to do. Everyone was thrown back and forth on the deck. Scenes
like this are actually more difficult to do than dangerous
stunts, because on the stunts you take so many precautions
to make certain no one gets killed. But storm scenes like
those on the boat you cannot really control. Everyone was
getting battered around."
"Nobody likes to be wet," Spielberg elaborated. "Plus, it
was cold. We shot the sequence in what you could call wintertime
-it was the coldest summer in London's history-and we did
not have any water warmers, so the water was ice cold. Anyone
who was not up before the first shot was definitely wide-awake
afterwards. When we came to work in the morning, all of us
got into out raincoats - except Harrison who couldn't wear
anything but his fighting clothes. I just think it irritated
everyone. Nobody wanted to be underwater for three days-and
after Jaws, I hate water anyway."
5.2 GRAIL TEMPLE
The interior of the Grail Temple was filmed on an elaborate
80 feet into the air set designed once again by Elliot Scott.
Suddenly the whole temple begins to shake, the floor heaves
up and splits and the Grail slips out of Elsa's hands and
into the fissure. "The temple sequence was one of the reasons
I told George Lucas that this movie was the hardest I had
ever worked on," George Gibbs commented. "The set was about
the same size as the one in The Temple of Doom and we only
had about six weeks to build it. We had five main gimbals
to make the floor split open and heave up. Then we had more
gimbals to make columns fall down and open trapdoors - a total
of about ten gimbals in all. Fortunately, resetting took only
about twenty minutes. Since everything was hydraulic, we simply
put the set back to the start position and filled up the cracks
with plaster." One effect the filmmakers were unable to do
on the full-scale set was the moment when the Grail falls
out of Elsa's hands, strikes the temple floor and causes the
stone surface to crack open. "The shot was attempted on location,"
noted visual effects supervisor Michael McAlister, "but it
was a very difficult thing to accomplish. We did it about
a thousand times ourselves. It was one of those shots where
you say, 'Oh, yeah, cracking floor - that's easy,' and then
it takes two months, off and on, to get it right. We actually
built a full-size floor section about twenty feet square,
prescored a crack and sealed it up with plaster and sand.
Then we tossed an epoxy version of the Grail in from about
six feet away. That turned out to be the most difficult part
of the shot getting the Grail to land in precisely the right
spot. Once we did, we pulled levers hooked to each side of
the floor to literally separate the two halves of the set
and form the crack."
Continuing the grand horror tradition from the previous two
films the script featured a scene of Indy exploring catacombs
beneath the streets of Venice that contained mummified bodies,
channels filled with petroleum water and thousands upon thousands
of rats, the grossest of all vermin (a scene inspired by From
Russia With Love). The production team made an order of 1000
sewer rats to Animal Actors in December 1988. The animal expert
who had supplied the previous two Indiana Jones films with
vast numbers of snakes and insects suggested that they should
breed their own army of rodent extras. "Gray rats are hard
to find," noted Robert Watts, "but they breed fast and we
had plenty of lead time. It took us only about four or five
months to get all the rats we needed." At the end they came
up with 6000 rats. For the safety of cast and crew each of
the rats had been certified free of disease. When the time
came to film the scene every inch of the wonderful set created
by Elliot Scott was covered with them. No stone was left uncovered.
And as had happened on the proceeding two movies at least
half of the crew hated rats and had to wait outside the stage
until filming was completed. "Same thing happened with the
snakes. We lost half the crew on the first movie, and we lost
three-quarters of the crew with the bugs," recalled Spielberg.
Although in start it was not an easy alliance soon cast and
crew came to like to their fury co-stars. "That kind of stuff
doesn't bother me at all," said Ford, who was seen playing
with a rat during a break. "The rats didn't bother, the snakes
didn't bother me. It's the people I'm scared of." Doody, too,
appeared braver than Karen Allen and Kate Capshaw did opposite
their animal co-stars, "Most of the creatures, and bugs, or
whatever, that I was involved with I thought were more frightened
of me than I was of them."
Animal expert Mike Culling worked with wranglers and animal
trainers to provide the right horses, lions, rats, and snakes
for filming. "Harrison Ford is very good with animals and
carefully prepares for working with them and handling them,"
animal consultant Mike Culling said.
"I found the rats easier to work with than the snakes and
the bugs in the previous films," observed Frank Marshall,
who doubled as second unit director for many of the action
scenes. "Like the bugs, however, they had a tendency to go
where we didn't want them to. Snakes move so slowly that it's
easy to plunk them down in a place and then get a good shot.
But rats and bugs swim fast and they move fast, and once you
put them down on a set they immediately go away from the light.
Still, I think we got some great shots." Concerned about the
safety of several thousand four legged extras, the filmmakers
opted to mass-produce a thousand artificial rodents, including
a multitude of vermin mechanically articulated to swim, most
of which were come to fiery end as the catacomb erupts into
a subterranean inferno.
5.4 THE ZEPPELIN
The atmosphere on the set was constantly light thanks to
the production's two stars. One of the most serious scenes
in the film was the one inside the zeppelin where Indy and
his father discuss for the past trying to short things out.
The temperature was in the hundreds and very uncomfortable,
particularly for Connery, wearing a three-piece tweed suit,
and Ford, sporting his standard leather jacket. Because the
actors were only being shot from waist up Connery dropped
his trousers. At first, Ford didn't like this but soon his
face dripping with perspiration, he followed suit. They both
sat there for the remainder of the serious father and son
dialogue minus their trousers.