Friday, February 5, 2016

Favorite Scene Friday! Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Escaping Castle Brunwald

We've done over 150 Favorite Scene Fridays, and somehow, I've never done one on my favorite franchise of all time. That changes today! The Indiana Jones films have always held a special place in my heart. Someday I'll tell you all the story about how I shadowed an actual archaeologist in high school (it basically crushed my dreams of being a real-life Indiana Jones - let's just say actual archaeology is very boring).

To set the scene for today's...scene, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) has gotten swept up in a search for his father and his diary, which contains clues to the location of the fabled Holy Grail. It's led him and Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) to a castle in Germany, a Nazi occupied castle I might add. Here Indy finds his dad (played perfectly by Sean Connery), but the two are quickly captured by the Nazis - and the double crossing Dr. Schneider.

While trying to escape, the Joneses accidentally set the castle on fire, and so begins our scene. And I have to say straight away, I absolutely love the "'Dad?' 'What?' 'Dad?' 'What?' 'DAD!' 'WHAT?!?'" exchange at the beginning. It’s really what I was looking for in the first place, but I found this longer version instead (but why not, right?).  I could probably make an argument that this brief exchange is the funniest bit in all of the Indy films (unless you count unintentional comedy, then that might be any number of moments from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). I feel a bit silly focusing so much on one simple line of dialogue, but Connery's "WHAT?!?" is perfect.

I think that's why Last Crusade is my favorite of the Indiana Jones films - Connery. Not only is it awesome that he's playing Indy's dad - Spielberg took inspiration from James Bond when he came up with the adventurer - he completely nails the role of the elder Jones. Connery could have easily just played an older Bond, but he made Henry more of a scholar and someone who couldn't quite be bothered with adventures and his own son's heroics.

But back to the scene. Of course this castle has a secret fireplace passage. But it leads to more Nazis and an "out of the frying pan and into the fire” situation, except in this case, the frying pan was literally fire. I really love the little exchange the Joneses have with the Nazi leader as well, trying vainly to smile their way out of trouble.

Dave Perillo via GeekTyrant

After tricking the Nazis into thinking they'd escaped via the river ("We're not going on the boat?!"), The Joneses eventually abscond on a tandem bike. While Professor Jones isn't impressed with the escape, it leads to one of the best action sequences in the entire franchise. Indy's improvised battering ram moment is great, and elicits a rare smile from Henry. This whole sequence proves you don’t need millions of dollars and endless green screens for a good action scene. The action culminates with Indy flipping the remaining biker, but his dad still isn't amused. I wish I had a pocket watch to wind whenever I disapprove of something.

I also love how this scene wraps up. There's some genuine emotion when our two heroes discuss Indy's mom, and the zoom in on the road signs - the sounds of goose stepping and a Nazi book burning building in the background - is perfectly ominous.

What's your favorite scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?

What's the funniest moment in the Indiana Jones franchise?


  1. For me it's all about that rotating wall in the fireplace, specifically during the fight, with a Jones either side of it. Indy fighting a Nazi on one side rotating into the secret room, leaving Henry Sr. on the other, trying to hide against the wall, and it rotating to reveal a knocked-out goon and allowing the Joneses to escape. It's some of Spielberg's trademark economic storytelling/camerawork, and I love it.

    Crusade takes a very close second to Raiders for me, but it is really, really close. And now I'm very tempted to go home and watch it tonight.

  2. The rotating wall is so fun. "Our situation has not improved,"/the Joneses hiding up in the wall and dropping down/jamming it up with a bust of Hitler/everything you mentioned.

    Raiders is great and I even like Temple of Doom more than when I was a kid. Hopefully the Disney reboots work out. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jables!