The Indiana Jones franchise mixed their religions quite a bit, from Judaism in Raiders of the Lost Ark, that misrepresented the Bible somewhat, to customary religion and cultic practices in India, to god-heads in South America. Far from being a tract for religion, the films are a lot like the Willard Price adventures or Hardy Boy mysteries where mystical customs cause problems for adventurers.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) is the common-sense choice Indiana Jones film for those people of a certain spiritual mould. That’s because Christianity is positively presented and although there’s a profanity it’s quickly rebuked. By the end, illumination, healing and life overcomes, done with a Christian bent, which is in stark contrast to the heavy ghostly images at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark which caused many Christians to think twice about supporting Raiders of the Lost Ark.
According to the DVD featurette, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was first conceived by George Lucas as the search for the legendary Holy Grail. Not good enough, chips in friend Steven Spielberg. So, George listened and brought in a search for eternal or everlasting life as well.
The grail is the cup Jesus used at his Last Supper. The cup represents Christ’s blood, the blood which, with his body, brought alienated people into God the Father’s presence.
The story goes that the Nazis want the grail’s youth restoring powers to keep them young and in power. Someone has got to save the day before and get to the grail before the Nazi’s do.
The romantic city of Venice is made into a backdrop for a fast-paced and complicated plot, which includes Indy’s foray down a rat-infested local sewer, a quickening, heart palpitating boat chase down a canal, and Indy gets to say the immortal “Ah, Venice” in the arms of a Nazi-affiliated doctor. But where is the beautiful city in its artistic palette?
One can’t forget the carefully-honed artistic possibilities in such a milieu as Venice. Curb the fast-pace and give it the evocative hum. However, it’s dirty work keeping at bay Julian Glover’s Nazi searching for eternal youth–what a dangerous Nazi, keep them young.
Although there’s less of artistic flow and more twang and swerve in this Jones film, Indy is after the cup of Jesus to save the day. As well, he seeks to reconcile the estrangement in his relationship with his father, Henry, which brings the father-son theme down to earth. And Henry seeks spiritual “illumination” in finding the grail.
This movie’s depiction of Christianity is emotive, tunefully reverent, noble and with a sense of consequence.
5.0 (for theme) + 2.0 (for Sean Connery) = 7.0/10.0