Indiana Jones and the Wise Choice

At the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jones and his rival Walter Donovan1 make it past three riddle-based traps….

By the way, who the heck maintains all these traps? I’d love to see one of these sorts of adventure stories where the hero manages to get past the traps because each and every one of them is broken. The springs have rusted, dirt and dust have gummed up the works, mice and rats have chewed up all the ropes… Oh, and the piles of bodies give away the presence of all the traps…

Where was I? Oh yes. They find themselves in a room filled with dozens of cups and chalices, and a very old knight who is acting as a last-ditch guard on the hidden Grail.

The final challenge? Choose the True Grail from among the false ones.

Donovan, who got their first, has his assistant Dr. Elsa Schneider make the choice. She picks out an ornate golden one which she assures him is “first century Aramaic”. Donovan takes it, fills it from the font that is conveniently there, takes a drink, and turns to dust.

Indiana arrives in time to see all this, and gets to go next. In a hurry to use the healing powers of the Grail to save his dying father, he looks for a “carpenter’s cup”2, and picks a simple wooden cup. It turns out to be the True Grail. “You have chosen wisely”, says the knight.

Indiana rushes out with the Grail, heals his father, but no one gets to keep the Grail as the temple collapses around them when Schneider tries to escape with it. She and the Grail wind up being buried in the ruins.

Here’s my problem with this whole scene.

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Indiana Jones and the “Top Men”

There’s a scene at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” that’s always bugged me a little. No, not the one where the crate containing the Ark is being hidden away in that huge warehouse (along with all the other crates containing things the Government wants to keep from us – the cancer cures, evidence of alien life, super-efficient energy technology, etc.), but the one just before that where Indiana slams the government agents at whose bequest he recovered the Ark:

Indiana: Fools. Bureaucratic fools!
Marion: What’d they say?
Indiana: They don’t know what they’ve got there.

Dr. Jones, the dedicated archaeologist that he is, wants the Ark to be studied and analyzed so that all its secrets can be learned. He suspects, with good reason, that the inept bureaucrats in the government will either botch the study or worse, bury it again.

Maj. Eaton: We have top men working on it right now.
Indiana: Who?
Maj. Eaton: Top… men.

But I really think that the government really does know what it’s doing, and hiding the Ark away like they did is most likely the best option.

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