Story

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opens with a prologue set in 1912 that gives some of Indiana Jones’s backstory. While on a Boy Scout trail ride, young Indiana (River Phoenix) steals a priceless Spanish artefact from treasure hunters. The chase that follows tells us why he’s so afraid of snakes, how he got the cut on his chin, and why he likes certain kinds of hats and leather jackets.

The movie jumps to 1938, when art collector Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) approaches Indiana (Harrison Ford) to go on a quest for the Holy Grail. Donovan tells Indiana that a marker revealing the location of the Grail has been discovered by his project leader in Venice. The project leader, who turns out to be Indiana’s father, Henry Jones (Sean Connery), has gone missing. Greatly disturbed by the news of his father’s disappearance, Indiana and his friend Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot) head straight to Italy. They’re met by Dr Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody), the last person to have seen Henry.

Indiana manages to locate the Grail marker in the catacombs of a converted church. Along the way, he has to contend with rats, an oil fire and a group of gun-wielding Grail fanatics. He learns that his father is being held captive by Nazis in a castle on the Austrian-German border. So he sets out to rescue Henry before continuing to seek the Grail.

Themes

The supernatural; Nazism

Violence

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade contains intense action violence and danger, although much of the violence is unrealistic and cartoonish. There’s not very much blood and gore, and it’s shown only in a couple of scenes. For example:

  • During a pursuit, several violent things happen. A teenage boy attempts to stab the young Indiana, an angry rhinoceros nearly impales him on its horn, he’s covered from head to foot in slithering snakes when he falls into a train, and he’s attacked by a lion. All of this is presented in a funny way.
  • Indiana fights with a group of men on a ship in a storm. The fight includes men being punched in the face, a man going overboard, men being hit in the chest with a steel pipe, and the ship exploding in a giant ball of flames.
  • While searching catacombs flooded with liquid petroleum, Indiana and Elsa are forced to hide under a stone coffin when enemies deliberately ignite the petrol. This causes a firestorm.
  • During a speedboat chase between Indiana and Grail fanatics, men with machineguns in a speedboat fire at Indiana’s speedboat. A speedboat gets crushed between two giant tankers, and the boat explodes in flames. There’s a fight between Indiana and another man aboard a drifting speedboat. The fight includes kicks and punches to the face. The boat drifts towards a giant spinning ship’s propeller. The propeller cuts into the back of the drifting boat as the two men keep fighting. Indiana says he’ll let the propeller kill them both if the man doesn’t reveal information. Both men get away without being hurt.
  • In one conflict between Indiana and a group of Nazis, Indiana shoots and kills several Nazis with a machinegun. A Nazi holds a gun to a woman’s head and threatens to shoot her if Indiana doesn’t surrender. Indiana and his father are tied to a chair in a room engulfed in flames. They shuffle their chairs across the floor to avoid the flames and get away without being hurt.
  • In the longest battle scene in the movie, there’s a violent conflict between a small army of German soldiers with machineguns and rebels firing rifles. Several rebel fighters are shot and killed. One lies on the ground with his eyes open and blood on his face. A wounded man lies on the ground with some blood splattered across his clothes.
  • There’s an extended fight on top of a tank between Indiana and several German soldiers. One soldier tries to push Indiana’s face into the tank’s moving tracks. One German soldier gets caught on the tank’s tracks and is dragged under the tank to be crushed.
  • Henry Jones fires one of the tank’s weapons, and the shell hits a German truck full of soldiers. The truck explodes in flames, and German soldiers are thrown through the air.
  • A gun is fired inside the tank. The bullet ricochets and hits the driver in the forehead. A little bit of blood trickles down the driver’s head as he collapses. Indiana also repeatedly rams another soldier’s head into a tank hatch.
  • A man deliberately shoots Henry in the stomach at close range. There’s blood on the front of Henry’s shirt and a small bloody bullet wound in his stomach. He winces in pain.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • In catacombs under a church, there are gruesome skeletal remains in several alcoves. Hundreds of rats scurry across the floor. When a fire breaks out in the catacombs, the rats run for safety. They climb over a woman’s head and through her hair as she screams in horror.
  • In one scene, a man’s body lies on the ground with his severed head lying nearby. A second man walks through a tunnel covered in spider webs. There’s a whooshing sound, and the man’s severed head rolls across the ground. A short time later, the decapitated bodies of both men lie on the ground.
  • The most intense and frightening horror scene involves a man who drinks from the wrong Grail cup. As a result, he ages very fast. His hair instantly grows and falls out, his teeth pop out, and his eyes disappear into their sockets as his skin shrivels up to look like a mummified corpse. The man’s skin and flesh then disintegrate, leaving behind skeletal remains that explode. At the end, there’s nothing left. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie. 

Sexual references

This movie contains some occasional low-level sexual references. For example:

  • After a woman forcibly kisses Indiana on the lips, he says, ‘I don’t like fast women’.
  • A character talks about Henry having heard Elsa talking in her sleep. This suggests that both Indiana and Henry have slept with Elsa. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example, characters drink whisky and champagne socially. 

Nudity and sexual activity

Although the movie doesn’t have any nudity, it does have some low-level sexual activity. For example, Indiana forcefully kisses a woman on her lips. She kisses him back, and they fall to the ground. Later they lie on the ground and Indiana kisses her on the lips. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

This movie contains occasional low-level coarse language and put-downs.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is an action adventure movie. It’s a bit like Raiders of the Lost Ark and just as entertaining. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are great together. You should note that although The Last Crusade is the mildest of the Indiana Jones movies in terms of violence, it does contain frightening images likely to disturb younger children.

The main message from this movie is that family must come first. Although Indiana really wants to find the Grail, he puts saving his father’s life first. He also risks his own life several times to protect and save his father.

You might want to talk with your children about the stereotypical way that women are presented in this movie.

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