Thursday, July 24, 2014

Late To The Party: Nitpicking Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade

Last weekend I re-watched Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade for the twentieth (at least) time. I've always considered it almost as good as the first film, and definitely better than the second. What's that? How's it compare to the fourth film, you ask? I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about. There are only three Indiana Jones movies.

Anyhow, something occurred to me while it watching it this time, nearly a quarter century (!) after if premiered. At the end of the film, Indy's finally found the resting place of the Holy Grail, but in order to grab it he has to make it safely through three trials. 

Let's examine these trials in obsessively over-critical detail, shall we?

Presumably these trials are there to protect the Grail so no one breaks in and walks off with it. They require an above average knowledge of Christianity, archeology and religious lore in order to pass them. Otherwise they wouldn't be very good trials, right?

In the first trial, Only The Penitent Man Shall Pass. This one seems pretty simple, as it consists of just a narrow, spider web-choked corridor. Indy's Nazi enemies force several grunts through the passage, without much success. They're all decapitated by an unseen force.

Indy, being a biblical scholar, correctly surmises that "Penitent Man" means he has to kneel before God. He does so, and a spinning blade just misses him as it sails over his bowed head. Only Indy, with his fancy book learnin' could have made it through.

In the second trial, Only In The Footsteps Of God Shall He Proceed. This one consists of a small room with a floor covered in lettered tiles. Indy deduces he has to cross the chamber by stepping only on the tiles that spell out "Jehovah," the name of God. If he steps on any other tiles, they'll collapse and he'll plunge to his death thousands of feet below.

Because of Indy's superior religious smarts, he knows that in Latin, Jehovah is spelled "IEHOVAH" and successfully takes the right path, passing the second trial. Again, Indy's specialized knowledge saves him, as, let's face it, Latin ain't something the average person knows.

Then we get to the third trial, Only In The Leap From The Lion's Head Will He Prove His Worth. It consists of a ledge on one side of an impossible-to-jump bottomless abyss. Indy appears stumped here, as there's seemingly no way to cross.

Eventually he realizes that this trial is a leap of faith. He summons his courage and steps off the ledge...

...and lands on a stone bridge that's camouflaged to look invisible.

Visually it's a very cool scene, but... c'mon! ANYONE could have passed this trial! The first two required specific knowledge about biblical lore and Christianity in order to pass them. Few people would have had the knowhow to make it through. I definitely wouldn't have made it, and neither would you. 

This one didn't require any special smarts. It's a stinking stone bridge! Any lummox could have blundered their way across it. It's not like it could disappear if it sensed your faith was lacking. 

I feel like the Grail Knights who made the three trials kind of dropped the ball with this last one. Maybe they figured the first two would take care of any intruders and they kind of coasted on this last one.

Also, since the bridge is painted to blend in with the background, it would only work from one specific angle. If Indy had moved his head even an inch either way, he'd have been able to see there was something there. As I said it definitely looks cool, but there's no way it could work in reality. Parallax shift and all that.

Once Indy makes it to the other side, he throws a handful of sand onto the bridge so that it'll become visible to the group following him. Um... that bridge has already been there since the Crusades. Wouldn't it already be covered in a foot of dust? Or does the Grail Knight come out of his cave and dust it now and then?

"You have blogged... most unwisely."

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