The Ending of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Has Forever Puzzled and Fascinated Me

Indiana Jones was a myth for a long time. I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when it was first released in theaters and, since he had taken a drink from the holy grail before he rode off into the sunset, I thought he would live forever. It wasn't until years later that I realized how limited the life given by the grail was. I tell you all of this because it is one example of why I am still fascinated by the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Here is the set up for anyone who hasn't seen it in a while. Henry and Harrison Ford spent the entire movie looking for the Holy Grail. The cup Jesus used at the last supper is believed to grant eternal life to anyone who drinks from it. The Nazis are after it too, and when everyone arrives at the location, one of them shoots Henry, forcing Indy to retrieve the grail. He will have to face three challenges.

Indy bests the challenges, the Nazis die, and Dad is saved. The scene in the franchise that happens in the meantime is as weird and dense as any other scene. I am a huge fan of this movie. I love Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and everything I say doesn't change that. Normally, I don't like the level of nitpicking I'm about to do. I think about these things when I watch this movie, which is a lot in the last 30 years. I keep thinking about them. It was time to see if I was the only one. I apologize to Indy fans. Don't let anything else distract you from the fact that this movie is amazing and I love it. But here we go...

The Breath of God is the first challenge.

The Breath of God is the first challenge. If you kneel, you can only get the saw blades. Indy says a man is apenitent. We got that. How did Indy know he had to roll? I didn't know what the shot of the rope on the wooden wheel was. I thought it was the knight who stopped the blades. Indy blocking the blades is what makes it true, so that is why Donovan and Elsa are able to get through the trials. How did he know to do that quickly? It is instant. There is a rope there. Who resets it? It is a fun moment that is a bit odd, but it is the clearest of the challenges.

The Word of God is the second challenge.

The Word of God is the second challenge. It requires a person to spell out the name of God, or rather the Latinization of God's proper Hebrew name, Jehovah, one of seven in Judaism. We are told that in Latin, the beginning of the word Jehovah is "I" as Indy steps on the "J" to reveal the deadly secret. If you step on the wrong letter, you will die. Alright, got it. The real letters have huge stone pillars below them to support the person while everything else is hollow. I have always had questions about this. Have no one made a mistake in this challenge before? Is it because all the letters are still there? Would someone replace the letters if someone died in this challenge? How does the letter Indy is holding onto not break when he falls? The film shows him not holding onto a stone with a pillar under it. He gets up, starts spelling and his heel doesn't break completely. It bugged me because it was a practical effect. I could go on and on about this challenge, but I have to ask what is happening in this room. What kind of equipment was used to make these toys? Sometimes I can't control myself, how long did it take?

The Path of God is the third challenge.

There are three challenges, one of which is The Path of God. Oh boy, that's right, The Path of God. You all know where I am going with this one, right? The chasm is too long for a human to jump, so Indy has to take a leap of faith. Wouldn't you know that he just puts his foot out? There is an invisible bridge. I know this is a movie about impossible things and supernatural beings, but an invisible bridge? What the hell. How did the people who built this room figure this out? Was it something special? An optical illusion done with mirrors? Mirrors were not around centuries ago. Did they use ancient paint or clay to color it? How did it blend so perfectly? Is it there at all?

We assume that the bridge is always there, but it is hard to detect, so anyone who is willing to step out onto it has faith. That is the story. The scene around it is not perfect. It is clear when Indy enters the space either there is nothing there or it is completely invisible. The bridge appears almost out of nowhere after he takes a step. Was it always there or not? How does this place know if you believe or not? If there was no chance of Indy getting over the bridge, these questions wouldn't matter. It is in the space. Indy throws sand over it, and it is invisible again. I have been watching this for 30 years and have no idea how it works. The fact that you can argue either way plays into the mystery of it, but it is very confusing.

The final challenge was selecting a cup.

Things are plausible once Indy, Donovan, and Elsa get to the room with all the cups. Save for the fact that Donovan is obsessed with the grail, and that he has an idea of what it could look like, then he lets Elsa pick a cup that is no prettier or more ornate than any other cup in the room. She grabs the one that is closest to her. With his life on the line, you think he would have taken a bit more time and consideration, even though it has been clear for years that he is just betraying Donovan. The point is no, he doesn't, he is a dumb Nazi who deserves what he gets. I'm nitpicking if I'm doing something wrong. He said that the knight's rules are clear: "The grail cannot pass beyond the Great Seal." That is the price of immortality. It could be interpreting that in two different ways. The real meaning is that the seal is the boundary of immortality, and only the grail can go past it. I don't blame my 9 year old self for not getting it immediately when he watched the movie.

How does immortality work? The knight is weak and old. Not hundreds of years old, but still. Is he still aging like that? What happened when he lost his strength? Maybe he doesn't get to move much. I would have liked to see the Knight walk backwards through the challenges at Indy. Does he have a secret route? How often does he walk around the other rooms? He doesn't have to stay in the room. He could hang out in the other rooms over the centuries. People aren't coming for the grail every day. How do they kill someone if they come? Do they have to fight outside?

You see? I have thought about the 10 minutes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade a lot. It is fascinating. I think it is a bit silly, but you could make a movie series out of it. I don't care if Last Crusade doesn't make sense. I still watch and think about it decades after it was released.

Wondering where our feed went? The new one can be picked up here.