Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Stephen Spielberg's 1989 film Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, although set in 1912 and primarily in the late 1930s; draws from medieval concepts and stories surrounding the Holy Grail. As noted from popular stories, Spielberg's film follows the search for the Holy Grail. According to stories that have existed since thoughts of this famous artifact, the search for Holy Grail has been attempted by many but has never actually been discovered. The discovery of this artifact, according to the stories entailing its existence, is that drinking from this chalice grants one eternal life. With that being said, the concept of the Holy Grail and the chance of eternal life has been popular throughout world culture, such that searching for this artifact has become crucial in some societies.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989):
With further reference of popular culture the 1989 film The Last Crusade addresses the desire for eternal life, through which the Nazi soldiers of 1938 seek possession of this artifact by the means of increasing their power and advantages for world domination; which they could use in the conflict that is to come. Essentially, by 1938 major powers knew there was going to be another World War, and Nazi Germany wanted to ensure their advantage. In 1938, this moment in time was when Nazi Germany was truly beginning to increase in power, and within the film, the possession of the Holy Grail leads to further establishment of their power and abilities. However, with this chance at immortality there is somewhat of an issue.
The person who consumes water from the Holy Grail is only granted immortality inside the Temple of the Sun. With that being said, Nazi Germany’s desire for power is unrealistic because they are not actually able to leave the temple. Essentially, due to the greed of Nazi Germany and reluctance to attempt leaving the temple, their desire for immortality fails. The web page for the 1989 film states: “The Holy Grail was a Biblical artifact said to have supernatural powers, specifically the ability to grant immortality. A man or woman who drank water from the True Grail would be granted eternal life. However, their eternal life would last so long as they did not cross the Great Seal of the Temple. Passing the Great Seal would cause the drinker to regain his or her mortality.” In the context of stories told within the film, the Holy Grail only grants immortality to those who drink from the artifact inside the temple. Also, the holy water would have to be from the correctly chosen chalice. If one were to drink from the wrong cup, it would result in death, (which audience members witness several times).
The Last Supper:
Drawing from the middle-ages is the story of the Last Supper. This story involves Jesus Christ with the Twelve Disciples, sharing a meal as Christ prepares for his crucifixion. The chalice used to share the wine is thought to be the Holy Grail, which had been blessed by Christ Himself. The significance in the search for this artifact also corresponds with the usage by Jesus Christ during his final meal before his death. With that being said, the idea of Jesus sacrificing his own life for the people, consumption from the Holy Grail grants the possibility of eternal life. By making this comparison, Christ sacrificed his life so the people could live better lives. Keeping that in mind, the idea of immortality from an artifact that has been blessed by Christ is a pragmatic one.
With this sacrifice for the people, this allows members of society in the future to live the best life possible due to, essentially, a new opportunity for life being established. The Holy Grail possesses miraculous power and abilities transmitted by the holiness of Jesus Christ. The water inside the chalice was blessed by Christ in the story, and results in the concept of eternal life. Essentially, major sacrifice provides greater opportunity for the lives that follow. The story which Spielberg acknowledges in the 1989 film draws from aspects of the middle-ages, in which the story of the Holy Grail comes from the medieval world and dates back to the death of Jesus Christ. Although the cup was used during the Last Supper, the Holy Grail also serves another purpose. As the web page states, “It was also used to catch Christ's blood at his crucifixion, after the Spear of Longinus pierced his side.” With the addition of Christ’s blood making contact with the Grail, this also demonstrates the meaning of sacrifice and human survival. Christ was a quite holy figure, such that his miracles were of almost supernatural abilities. Furthermore, the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ is depicted when he was mortally wounded and his blood made contact with the Grail .With his death, Jesus Christ granted the immortality of those who drank from the Grail, because of the nobility and holiness of the man during his lifetime.
This story existed throughout the middle-ages, and even continues today such that Stephen Spielberg was influenced by the concept of eternal life, and medieval stories of Christ. Although the film The Last Crusade was released in 1989, the major themes and representations within the film date back to the middle-ages. With that being said, the sacrifice of those who fought during the Second World War is comparable to the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. When considering this concept, one should acknowledge that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life in order to create a better world for the people within it, despite how sinful the world was at the time.
In reference to sins of the world, during the time of World War Two, there were many major issues at the time. For instance, by the means of comparing Christ’s sacrifice to more recent acts; one should consider the soldiers during the Second World War. Much like Jesus Christ, these soldiers risked their lives and left home from their families in order to protect what was significant to them, and create a better future. These men from 1939 to 1945, not only those who survived but even the fallen played a major role in the establishment of the idea of a better future for civilization. With that being said, fallen soldiers during the Second World War also made a major sacrifice, such that their willingness to protect and preserve what they held as significant compares to the acts of Christ during the middle-ages. Much like Jesus and his belief in his faith, soldiers during the Second World War knew the danger of fighting the opposition. With that comparison, Stephen Spielberg and his 1989 film Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade draws from the medieval stories of sacrifice by a means of creating a better vision of humanity.
The Modernist Son