I decided to review Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as there was a main part set in the City of Venice. Even before watching the film, I had the idea of religion in my head, as I previously reviewed religion in Venice I believed there would be some connotations of religion.
The main summary is as follows: Indiana Jones famed adventurer and archaeologist acquires a diary that holds clues and a map with no names to find the mysterious Holy Grail- which was sent from his father, Dr. Henry Jones, in Italy. Upon hearing from a private collector, Walter Donavan, that the mission for the Holy Grail went astray with the disappearance of his father, Indiana Jones and museum curator Marcus Brody venture to Italy in search of Indy’s father. However, upon retrieving Dr. Henry Jones in Nazi territory, the rescue mission turns into a race to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis do- who plan to use it for complete world domination for their super-race. With the diary as a vital key and the map with no names as a guide, Indiana Jones once again finds himself in another death defying adventure of pure excitement. [ⁱ]
The story starts out religious, with young Indiana finding thieves stealing out of an old cave, I wasn’t surprised when he saw a large gold cross being stolen. So straight from the beginning, the elements of how important religion is in this film become apparent.
Before Indiana starts his quest to find his father, the Holy Grail is mentioned along with the story behind it; 3 knights were entrusted with it, but only 2 came out of the dessert alive. They were 150 years old when they left, but only 1 survived and managed to tell his story. Whilst watching the film, the mention of Knights not only reminded me of religion (medieval times; religion being extremely important) but also of the Renaissance theme of people dressing up in the carnival. Throughout the next few scenes there is an extreme amount spoken about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Grail etc.
When Indiana and his friend Marcus reach Venice, the scene is quite picturesque. The main things I picked up on was the architecture, the river, the boats but also how classy the scene was. The only people around were classy ladies in fitted dresses, elbow length gloves and hats and all the men were in fitted suits. I then started to ask the questions of is it because of the era the film was set (1989) or was that the image of Venice which the producers felt they wanted to convey?
The scene then moves onto the pair meeting, the obviously beautiful, Dr. Elsa Schneider. The scene then becomes romantic with him giving her a white rose which happened to be on the side of the river (probably with connotations of how romantic Venice is as there are very few places in the UK with roses by canal and river sides). The two exchange quite romantic words whilst in the sunlight with the backdrop of a beautiful canal emphasizing the beauty and romance of Venice. When she directs them to a library Marcus’s response was “it’s not a library, it looks like a converted church” signifying the religious attachments on the City. There’s then certain phrase spoken such as it being built on holy ground and it being an actual converted church which shows the significance of Christianity within the film and the City.
During the next scene of Indiana and Dr Schneider finding the tomb underground, they are pursued by some gentlemen which, by looking at them, you see them protecting something religious. They’re dressed in dark suits and all with hats. They all appear to be quite menacing and determined and the colours of Red, white and black all connote ideas of the Christian religion. When Indiana comes face to face with one of these men, the scene becomes powered by commitment; the man’s commitment to his religion. When he is being questioned by Indiana, his response is they’re after him because he’s looking for the Holy Grail. The most significant part in this scene is when he is moments from death and instead of begging for his life he simply says “my soul is prepared to die” which emphasises his dedication to his faith.
Once this mob like scene is complete the final scene in Venice is in Indiana’s apartment with Dr Schneider. She looks beautiful and is wearing silk; connoting ideas of sex and romance. The scene ends with them kissing and with a rather comical ending from Indiana with a smile on his face; “Aaahhh… Venice”.
Right from the beginning of the movie the Holy Grail and the Knights the producers are already stereotyping Italy and more specifically Venice as being religious. Along with the connotations of romance throughout the scene with beautiful women, beautiful scenery, my only thought was as the film is so religious based, why they didn’t think to set it in Rome.
[ⁱ] Summary taken from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097576/plotsummary