SUPER 8 FILM REVIEW
INDIANA JONES & THE LAST CRUSADE 5x600ft (127 mins) colour/sound scope
Steven Spielberg’s 1989 outing in the Indiana Jones series sees Harrison Ford return in the title role to search for his archeologist father (played by a perfectly cast Sean Connery), whose mysterious disappearance on his lifelong quest for the Holy Grail is the focus of the story in this first rate action adventure.
This was the last (currently) of the Indiana Jones movies which started in 1981 with ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. A milestone picture which spawned many clones; ‘Romancing the Stone’ being the most obvious. In the sequel ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ much of the magic had been lost and there was little to differentiate this from many other pictures in the same genre. It was also particularly gruesome in places which spoilt a lot of the fun. So when it was decided that a third film would be made it was logical to return to the roots of the original and George Lucas came up with a story outline surrounding the Holy Grail. The same humour returned but with the addition of the interplay between Connery and Ford as father and son which really is spot on!
The film begins in 1912 with an extended introduction akin to a James Bond pre-title sequence. A youthful Indy (played by River Phoenix) stumbles across a group of tomb robbers in the mountains. According to Indy the beautifully crafted crucifix they are stealing belongs in a museum so he therefore decides to take it off them. Needless to say the boy is not particularly successful in this venture and a thrilling chase ensues before the loot is returned to the dastardly robbers. The scene then cuts forward to 1938 aboard a sinking ship and once more Indy is fighting the same villain for the same crucifix. This time he is successful.
Upon his return home he receives a strange package which transpires to be his father’s diary detailing every clue and associated information in his search for the Holy Grail - the chalice from which Jesus Christ drank during the Last Supper and is said to bring eternal life to all who drink from it. His father has disappeared while searching for the Grail under the employment of antiquity collector Walter Donovan (ably portrayed by Julian Glover) and Indy is recruited in his father’s place. Indy is not particularly interested in the Grail but is desperate to locate his father. He is accompanied in this rescue attempt by Marcus, once again played by Denholm Elliott, and they venture first to Venice where they are greeted by the lovely Dr. Elsa Schneider played by Alison Doody.
Indy is soon on the trail and he discovers a tomb in the catacombs of the city where he finds the grave of a knight from the era of the Crusades. Three knights were said to have been the guardians of the Grail and each carries a marker as to the Grail’s location. Sure enough, the marker is located just as the entire tomb is set on fire by a strange group attempting to ensure the Grail remains hidden. Our heroes escape with a copy of the marker and the location of Indy’s father in Austria courtesy of one of the mysterious villains responsible for the blaze.
Marcus is sent on ahead to the city of Alexandria in the Middle East whereas Indy and Elsa head for Austria and the castle where his father is being held. Those fiendish Nazis are back again and Elsa shows her true colours when asked to choose between the Jones’s and the Germans. The diary is now in the hands of the Nazis destined for Hitler and the Jones boys seem doomed. Needless to say they escape and head for Berlin to retrieve the diary. Following this it is action all the way as all parties concerned converge on the final resting place of the Grail. There are plenty of thrilling moments and a magical conclusion which ensures this is a worthy successor to the groundbreaking original.
The sound is mono and therefore a bit dull but nothing a Filmtek re-recording couldn’t sort out for you. The print is first class and amongst the best of the scope prints we have seen in recent years. The definition is crisp, the contrast is just right (amazing when you consider this originated from a 35mm print) and the colour is good. There is very little damage on the master with just the odd frame missing around the original reel changes; this is almost unnoticeable and certainly nothing to be concerned about if purchasing a copy.
This film cost $44m to produce but you can own it (providing you are fortunate enough to find one on a sales list) for a couple of hundred notes. A bargain considering the big screen entertainment it provides. So dust off that scope lens, clean that projector and open those tabs for another fine example of the best home entertainment system on offer to the world today - Super 8 film.
Print A Sound A John Clancy