Chris Gelderd counts down to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny by revisiting 1989’s The Last Crusade…
In production for almost a decade, the final outing for everyone’s beloved professor and archaeologist Indiana Jones is now finally on the horizon. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be the fifth feature film for the man in the hat, and the first under the Disney studio banner.
Safe to say, it has been a production not without delays, controversy and rumour. From a global pandemic to cast injuries and shifting crew roles, bringing Indiana Jones back for one final adventure has been more challenging that recovering the Sankara Stones. But with Harrison Ford back as Indy, James Mangold in the directors chair and Steven Spielberg as executive producer, the franchise is set to go out with a bang.
But just where did it all begin for Henry Jones, Jr. on the big screen? As we countdown to the June 28th/30th general release of Dial of Destiny, let’s go back to where it all began and chart the journey taken so far…
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
This 1989 American adventure is directed by Steven Spielberg and the third instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise. The film stars Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Julian Glover, John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliott.
Indiana Jones (Ford) is introduced to history enthusiast Walter Donovan (Glover). Donovan is part of a team searching for the Holy Grail with several incomplete relics painting a picture of where it may be found. Upon learning his father, Henry Jones (Connery), was involved with the search but went missing, Indy and his friend Marcus Brody (Elliott) agree to take up where he left off. With the help of expedition leader Dr Elsa Schneider (Doody), Indy discovers his father is being held by the Nazis on the Austrian/German border. Only when Indy unites with his estranged father does he learn the truth about those he is up against, and they are soon thrust into a race against time to find the Grail before the forces of evil do, repairing their own estranged relationship in the process…
Returning to the themes and design that made Raiders of the Lost Ark something special, this adventure drops the darker, audience splitting tone of Temple of Doom and injects a lot more family-orientated fun and humour thanks to the partnership of Harrison Ford and Sean Connery as son and father; keeping up with the Jones’s has never been as much fun as it is here and makes this film something special. Clearly a more comical film thanks to the relationship between estranged father and son, the chemistry between Ford and Connery is second to none and you can’t imagine how the film would have been without them both verbally sparring and forging a believable bond as they traverse the globe to pretty much save humanity and battle the Nazis in their quest to hunt down the Holy Grail.
With such a well-known and fascinating relic to find, much like the Ark of the Covenant, we are thrust into dangerous catacombs and caverns, facing dastardly Nazi villains in impenetrable castles and as many vehicles as you can imagine delivering exciting action, practical stun work and a real continuation of the B-movie adventure theme on land, sea and air. We are even treated to a near-perfect interpretation of a young Indiana Jones thanks to the late River Phoenix in a rousing set-piece staged 25 years earlier, showing us how Indy came to bear his famous scar and how he obtained his fear of snakes, ability with a whip and that fedora. It is great fun, and again, so well staged and exciting to watch.
With a strong supporting cast including favourites John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliott keeping us on comfortable ground, we also have the alluring Alison Doody, the charming Julian Glover and the dastardly Michael Byrne who create such solid characters both good and bad, that they are just the sort of people you’d expect Indy to go up against in the era, with the overhanging threat of the Nazis ever present. Forget your voodoo magic and mystical stones; this returns Indy to save the world form a threat that we can relate to and understand the power behind it. It just cements the fact they do not make films like this anymore, especially when it comes to punching Nazi’s in the face.
While the action is exciting and well-staged, it is the humour that takes centre stage in this instalment and Ford plays his Indy a little less rugged and world-weary than we have seen before. He bares less flesh and wears a tie whilst battling the Nazis, evoking a sense of maturity to him alongside his father who also delivers just as much as his son when the going gets tough. Everyone is having fun here, and it shows in their performances. Thanks to the practical locations, sets and visual effects, there is so much atmosphere here that follows on from Raiders and Temple of Doom – it’s hard not to see why our heroes and villains are so swept up in the action and lore when it is so brilliantly displayed on the screen. From fortified German castles, the cobweb-riddled labyrinth of the Grail or the dark, dank catacombs of Venice – it’s real, and all the better for it.
But there’s plenty of sentiment and heart behind these performances that helps give the third outing a fresh twist when it takes so many already familiar elements. Spielberg explores the power of friendship and family, of faith and reconciliation. These underpin the story, and it’s almost as it Indy is on a quest for both of these things; the Grail, and lost relationships. Indy has always explored relationships – be them friends, lovers or even wards – but this time it’s that of the father/son dynamic that really triumphs. Ford and Connery have one of the best screen chemistry’s on film, and we can easily buy into their rocky relationship which makes the outcome more rewarding and effective.
The iconic stunt work from industry legend Vic Armstrong and team is just as dangerous and memorable here as it always has been in the Indiana Jones films, and with the perfect score to compliment the franchise, and some new motifs that really lift the action on screen, this makes for a very comfortable and familiar outing, but injects new takes on the character that gives us something we haven’t yet seen.
It’s just a shame the perfect ending of heroes riding off into the sunset didn’t quite close the trilogy as many wished it should have.
What are your thoughts on The Last Crusade? Let us know on our social channels @FlickeringMyth…
Starring along with Harrison Ford are Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”), Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), John Rhys-Davies (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Shaunette Renee Wilson (“Black Panther”), Thomas Kretschmann (“Das Boot”), Toby Jones (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”), Boyd Holbrook (“Logan”), Oliver Richters (“Black Widow”), Ethann Isidore (“Mortel”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”).
Directed by James Mangold, the film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Simon Emanuel, with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas serving as executive producers. John Williams, who has scored each Indy adventure since the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 1981, is once again composing the score.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny arrives in cinemas on June 30th, 2023.