INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989) – Complete Score Analysis

(Please note that this article was written in 2001 and therefore does not reflect the expanded edition released as part of the Indiana Jones: The Soundtrack Collection Box Set)

Additional material by Bill Williams
(SUMMER 2001)

Dedicated in memoriam to
(alias Dr. Marcus Brody)
(our young Indiana Jones)

Rest in peace.


Three action adventure stories, set in Earth’s Golden Age…all centered around o­ne man’s quest to find what he wants. Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade have been the most successful action films in entertainment history. And at the center of it all has been the music of John Williams.

Of the three Indiana Jones movies done so far, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade remains the most ambitious sequel score John Williams has done. It is also the most majestic Indy sequel score. While Raiders Of The Lost Ark was mainly a minor-key score, and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom had an Eastern background, “Last Crusade” brings a more forceful and dramatic

feeling to the film’s storyline, Indy’s (Harrison Ford) quest to find his father, who is seeking the most elusive of all artifacts…the Holy Grail, the cup of Jesus Christ. But along the trail lies the Nazis, the Cult, and betrayal.

Like the earlier sequel, John Williams used a studio orchestra to record his score for “Last Crusade”. If the London Symphony Orchestra was not chosen to be used this time around, the studio orchestra sure did a good imitation of it. The sound and the orchestrations brought the score out in full glory… one listen and you might think you’re listening to the LSO, when in fact you’re not! Nonetheless, “Last Crusade” marks Williams’ best studio orchestra work in years.

Just as Indiana Jones and his Papa were obsessed with finding the Holy Grail, soundtrack fans have been finding a Holy Grail of their own…the complete soundtrack score to “Last Crusade”, a score that has lately taken o­n some kind of cult status. The original soundtrack album was released in 1989 by Warner Bros. Records. The 50-plus minute album featured most of the major cues, and while slightly out of film order, the OST did not suffer the “jumbled” construction of other Williams soundtracks. All individual cues were presented complete as they were heard in the film, as opposed to segments of cues mixed out of order to form o­ne composite cue (example: the original Star Wars and The Phantom Menace albums).

As it turned out originally, o­nly about half the original score was represented o­n the OST.

But many years later, bootlegs of the unreleased music began to surface. “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade Vol. 2: The Unreleased Music” contained a good portion of additional music, much of it from the film’s midsection and finale (in addition to a short suite from “The Mission” episode of “Amazing Stories”). And in 1999, still more bootlegs were issued with even more music not heard outside of the film. And with the advent of the MP3 (as well as the infamous Napster search engine), people have been collecting sound files of all the “Last Crusade” music to make their own CD-R version of the complete score.

With “Last Crusade”‘s status as the most popular score of the “Indiana Jones” trilogy, I am now prepared to tackle this award-nominated score in-depth. We will do so by first listing the major themes, followed by a cue-by-cue rundown of the score itself, including alternates.


  • The Raiders March — The central theme for the entire saga that needs no further mentioning.
  • Papa Jones’ Theme — Jaunty hop-a-long theme for Indy’s father Henry Jones Sr.
  • The Holy Grail Theme — Minor-key theme for the central figure of search in this film, the Cup of Christ.
  • March Of The Nazis — Short minor-key theme for the enemies.
  • The Scherzo — Which we hear in short passages in the first half of the film and later in the motorcycle sequence.
  • The Last Knight Theme — Not a love theme if you look at it another way, but a theme for the keeper of the Holy Grail.


Here is a cue-by-cue rundown of the entire score in the order they would have appeared in the actual film. Some of the cue titles are taken from the OST, while others from the bootlegs are o­nes most Indiana Jones fans have identified with over the years. I have re-titled many of the cues myself to reflect the action o­n the screen.

Notations: * indicates tracks from the OST; + indicates tracks from the bootleg releases; ++ indicates tracks that remain unreleased to the public.

1. Indy’s Very First Adventure (8:10)* — The main title music starts out slow (similar to the “Mynock Cave” music in The Empire Strikes Back) as we meet our young hero Indiana Jones (now played by the late River Phoenix) as he begins his quest for the Cross of Coronado (a central sub-plot for the first act of the film). The music soon picks up speed in a passage very similar to “The Forest Battle” from Return Of The Jedi as young Indy’s adventures lead him o­n a circus train. The cue ends as young Indy drops into a cab where a lion awaits.

2. The Circus Train/Stealing the Cross (aka “Dunn & Duffy Circus Train”) (3:48)+ — Picks up where the previous track left off as young Indy confronts the lion, then escapes the train with the Cross of Coronado. The bootleg release presents this as originally recorded and intended with a 15-second drum roll-and-horn prologue (details o­n the alternate film version in “Alternate Versions”). As young Indy heads home to tell his dad about the Cross, we are introduced to the Holy Grail Theme as Papa Jones begins work o­n his lifelong project while he ignores his son. Young Indy is visited by the authorities who steal back the cross, but as a reward for his hard work, Indy is given the hat which he will wear o­n his adventures the rest of his life, the scene seguing into the adult Indy years later…this is represented by a bold statement of the Raiders March, which will lead directly into the next piece.

3. The Cross of Coronado (aka “The Portugese Coast”) (2:19)+ — The story moves up a few years as the now-adult Indy (played now by Harrison Ford) completes, for better or worse, his initial adventure to obtain the Cross of the cue’s title. The Cross motif dominates this piece as Indy survives the hurricane and subsequent destruction of the boat that will claim the life of the Cross’ original owner. The Raiders March is used here to signal Indy’s triumph. This piece, represented o­n most bootlegs, is presented exactly as was composed and recorded, but when the sequence became longer in George Lucas’ final film edit, the music was re-edited and extended to fit the film.

4. Packet from Dad ( 0:55)+ — In this short variation o­n the Raiders March, Indy secretly leaves the school with the packet from his Dad o­nly to be approached by men who will escort him to Dr. Walter Donovan’s house.

5. Inscription on the Rock (aka “The Legend Of The Holy Grail”) (1:02)+ — Takes place during the meeting between Indy and Dr. Donovan, as our hero is shown the rock with the inscription that will provide a clue to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. The Grail Theme is the predominant variation here.

6. Ransaked House (aka “The Diary Of Professor Jones”) (2:24)+ — A better title for this cue would be “Ransacked House” (a title erronously given a cue o­n the first bootleg version) as Indy and Marcus return to Papa Jones’ house to find it in a wreck, and another clue found in Papa Jones’ diary. Opens with Papa Jones’ theme, then goes into the Grail Theme as Indy and Marcus make their decision to find their father, who they believe is in Venice.

7. X Marks the Spot (3:08)* — Picks up immediately where the previous cue left off as Marcus and Indy begin their quest for the Holy Grail, and Papa Jones. It is actually a two-part cue, with the first part ending when Indy meets Elsa Schnider, and the second part beginning in the library where our heroes find the “X” of the cue’s title.

8. Secret Entrance ( 0:45)++ — Short bridging music that comes between the previous cue and the o­ne that follows this. This cue has never been released in any format.

9. The Catacombs (aka “Into The Catacombs”) (2:41)+ — First part of a long cue where Indy and Elsa explore the bowels of the library and the “Catacombs” of the cue’s title where they are confronted with dangers ahead. This cue contains a back-reference to Raiders Of The Lost Ark represented by a reprise of the “Ark Of The Covenant” theme from “Raiders”.

10. Ah, Rats (3:37)* — Cue similar to the previous o­ne where Indy and Elsa come across a watery grave, and a petroleum file that will lead them underwater to their escape.

11. Escape from Venice (4:21)* — This is a fast-paced action cue in which our heroes are pursued by a group of men which, as it turns out, are representatives of a “Brotherhood” cult that are willing to protect the Holy Grail at all costs. The fast-paced music leads to a choppy motif (slightly re-edited and extended in the final film) as Indy and Cult Leader Kazim escape rotating blades that destroy their boat. The music becomes quiet as a passage of the Grail Theme represents the Cult Leader’s true identity, as well as that of the location of where Papa Jones is being held. The OST presents this cue exactly as originally recorded and intended, without the four opening notes which we’ll talk about later in “Alternate Versions”.

12. To the Castle (aka “To Castle Brunwald”) ( 0:40)+ — Very brief piece that accompanies Indy and Elsa to their next stop, the Castle Brunwald where Papa Jones is being held hostage.

13. Searching for Dr. Jones (aka “Nazi Stronghold”) (1:48)+ — Another brief cue, as Indy continues his search for his father, amidst the stronghold of the Nazis.

14. Papa Jones (aka “The Two Joneses”) (2:09)+ — The Grail Theme is heard as Indy is reunited with his Dad, but finds the Jr. has made a big mistake bringing the diary. As the cue ends, Indy tries using his old tricks, but to no avail. The first bootleg version presents this cue as recorded and intended with a more suspensful ending reminiscent of music for a TV movie fading out for a commercial (see “Alternate Versions” for the rest of this story).

15. Elsa’s Betrayal (aka “Put Down The Gun”) (2:02)+ — Opens with the prelude for the Scherzo that will be heard in full later in the score as we learn of Elsa’s real plan to betray Papa and Indy Jones. At the midway point, the March of the Nazis is introduced as we learn of the Nazi’s participation in the entire story The cue ends as we find Donovan waiting for the Joneses.

16. Escape in the Truck (aka “Marcus In Iskenderum”) ( 0:50)+ — At this point in the story, Marcus is in Iskenderum seeking an old friend, o­nly to be taken away by truck by the adversaries. The March of the Nazis opens this piece, followed by a passage of Papa Jones’ theme, followed by a short reprise of the Nazi march. Almost the entire cue is not heard in the film, except for the final nine seconds where Marcus is captured (the Nazi march reprise).

17. The Jones’ Tied Up (aka “The Kiss”) (2:39)+ — Papa and Indy are tied up, waiting to be burned with the rest of the castle, but not before Indy gets o­ne final kiss from Elsa… and a punch in the cheek from a Nazi.

18. Fire! (2:50)++ — Indy and Papa Jones try and find a way to escape the firery danger while the chairs revolve into the Nazi room in this cue, which remains unreleased and not available in any format.

19. Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra (3:50)* — Full-fledged presentation of the Scherzo that underscores Indy and Papa’s escape from the burning castle, first by boat, then by motorcycle. The Raiders March is heard o­n occasion whenever Indy manages to pull another o­ne of his feats. This cue was shortened for the film yet is heard o­n the OST in its complete form.

20. Blasphemy/The Road to Berlin (1:07)+ — After Indy uses the Lord’s name in vain in front of his father, the two take off for Berlin where their quest for the Holy Grail will continue. The last notes of this were dialed out in the film from the actual recording, cross-fading into “Der Koniggratzer”.

21. First Flight from Germany (aka “The Berlin Air Terminal”) (2:04)+ — The source music heard during the ‘burning book’ sequence drowns out this cue in the actual film, the music there beginning at the point when Indy and Henry arrive at the German airport. The first bootleg version is erroneously titled “Ransacked House”.

22. No Ticket (2:48)* — Indy and Papa Jones’ misadventures o­n the Zeppelin as Indy disguises himself in order to pass himself off as a valid passenger. Hilarious cue, typical of Williams’ “Home Alone” themes. This cue was edited by about half in the final film, as it is dialed out from the final film o­nce the zeppelin departs, yet it is heard in the OST in its complete form.

23. Biplane Escape (aka “Leaving the Zeppelin” & “Flight To Austria”) (1:27)+ — Opens with the Grail Theme, but segues into the Nazi March as the Jones’ make good their escape from the Zeppelin. The first 35 seconds of this piece are dialed out in the final film; the track begins in the film at the point where Indy realizes the Zeppelin is returning to Germany.

24. Keeping Up With the Joneses (3:36)* — This original recorded version as heard o­n the OST was meant to underscore the section of the film from Indy and Papa Jones’ plane escape to the infamous “birds of Charlemagne” section where the Jones’ use the birds to stop some enemies. This is an otherwise well-executed full fledged presentation of the Papa Jones theme, constructed like a concert arrangment. This version was replaced in the final film with a significantly shorter version (see “Alternate Versions”), save for the last 20 seconds or so of the OST arrangement.

25. Brother of the Cruciform Sword (aka “Reunited With Sallah/The Tank”) (1:54)* — Our heroes are reunited with Sallah, an old friend from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. This piece has an Far Eastern flavor to it.

26. Death of the Messenger from God (2:25)+ –Donovan and his cronies meet up with the dying Cult Leader Kazim, whose last words warn them of the danger of the Holy Grail. Meanwhile, our heroes are about to begin the most challenging phase of their quest for the Grail. The music represented o­n most bootlegs contains the music as originally recorded and intended with an ending similar to the ending of “Keeping Up With The Joneses” (see “Alternate Versions” for the rest of this story).

27. Belly of the Steel Beast*/The Pen is Mightier than the Sword+ (8:58)–There is a very interesting story behind this cue which underscores the “tank chase” sequence. It is actually a condenpendium of two separately recorded cues that were re-edited and combined for the final version. SWC music consultant Bill Williams put together a hybrid of the two cues to re-create as much as possible the final film version. Before we discuss the final result, let’s talk about the cues…

“Belly Of The Steel Beast”, found o­n the OST, is the original, unedited recording of the “tank chase” sequence. When the sequence became longer in George Lucas’ final film edit than the music that was originally recorded, an entirely new piece of music was recorded to fit the extra time…this became what the orignal bootleg called “The Manuscript” (but we’ll call it “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword”). The uncut recording of “The Pen…” found o­n most bootlegs opened with a reprise of the Raiders March (not heard in the film), then goes into the music as heard in the film. It ends with a reprise of the Papa Jones theme before rejoining the “Belly…” cue in progress. For those who are technical about such things, “The Pen…” (from its :11 mark) begins at the 2:28 mark of “Belly…”, and when we get to the Papa Jones reprise, “Belly…” resumes where it left off.

After Bill Williams put together his “Belly/Pen” hybrid and comparing it to the music in the film, we found that this hybrid is actually an alternate cue different from the final film version (see “Alternate Versions” for the rest of this story).

28. The Canyon of the Crescent Moon (4:11)* — Edited slightly for the final film, it begins as Indy emerges from the mountain while his friends think he’s dead. That will now set the stage for the climax of the story, as our heroes make their way to the Grail Temple. They are already met by Donovan and company as his many “volunteers” are beheaded during their quest for the Grail.

29. Papa Jones is Shot (2:56)+ — The title sequence opens the first of a four-part cue that will help bring the story to its climax. Donovan warns Indy that o­nly the Grail will save his father, so it now falls to the junior Indy to remember what he read in the diary in order to successfully recover the grail. This cue ends as Indy begins his dangerous phase in reaching the Grail.

30. The Penitent Man Will Pass (aka “The Name Of God/The Leap Of Faith”) (3:20)* — Indy passes several more tests before realizing he has to take a magical “leap of faith” in order to cross the bridge that will lead to the room where the Grail is hidden. The Grail theme is used throughout. A triumphant original passage ends part two of a four-part climactic cue.

31. The Keeper of the Grail (aka “The Last Knight”) (3:22)* — As Indy enters the room, he is confronted by the Last Knight who has waited for the man who would recover the Grail. The Knight explains the rest of the story of the Jones’ quest as we are formally introduced to the Knight theme. Elsa and Donovan then arrive to seek the Grail as part three of the four-part cue ends.

32. The Wrong Chalice/Papa Jones is Healed/Past the Great Seal (4:34)+ — Fourth and final part of the film’s climactic music picks up where the previous cue left off. This mostly dark cue underscores Elsa seeking the chalice for Donovan. Shrieking music is heard as Donovan drinks from the wrong chalice, its power causing his hair to grow, turn gray, and finally turning himself into an exploding skeleton. The cue continues as Indy picks the proper Grail, but the Knight warns him that the Grail cannot go past the “Great Seal”, in accordance with the law of God. The Grail Theme is reprised as the water from the Grail saves Papa Jones’ life. After Papa Jones is recovered, Elsa rises with the Grail and goes past the Great Seal, causing an earthquake which will lead to her death.

33. Temple Destroyed/Illumination/End Title (aka “End Credits (Raiders March)” and “Elsa Falls/Illumination/End Credits”) (10:36)* — The final piece of music begins as Elsa falls to her death. Indy hangs o­n trying to reach the Grail, but Papa Jones convinces him to “let it go”. Papa Jones’ theme is heard as Indy rises to his feet, which will segue into the Grail theme as the Grail Temple is destroyed. The Knight theme underscores Papa Jones explaining to Indy the rest of the story of the Jones’ quest for the Grail, and the truth about Elsa. The Raiders theme brings the main plot and the comical subplots to a conclusion as our story ends. As the final credits roll, we reprise the Raiders march, followed by a medley of the Knight Theme, the Nazi March, the Scherzo, and finally the finale to the Raiders march. The OST presents this unedited, as it was slightly shortened for the final film.


1. The Circus Train/Stealing the Cross (Film Version) (aka “Dunn & Duffy Circus Train”) (3:48)++ — This is the actual film version of the continuation of young Indy’s first adventure, with a different opening, represented by the fast-paced music heard in the previous “Indy’s Very First Adventure” cue. This version has never been available in any format.

2. Escape from Venice (Film Version) (4:21)++ – This version of the cue as heard in the final film not o­nly includes the first four notes dialed out from the OST but also features a different arrangement of violins and strings not present in the OST selection. The choppy motif was slightly re-edited and extended in the final film while Indy and Cult Leader Kazim escape rotating blades that destroy their boat.

3. ‘Papa Jones’ end tag (0:10)+ — This short reprise of the Raiders March is the ending to the “Papa Jones” cue actually heard in the film and represented o­n most bootlegs independently from the version in the film.

4. Keeping Up With the Joneses (Film Version) (aka “The Birds Of Charlemagne”) (1:48)+ – Represented o­n most bootlegs, this actual film version of the cue underscores Indy and Henry’s car crash and the “birds of Charlemagne” segment. It is based largely o­n the Papa Jones theme and incorporates the last 20+ seconds of the music from the OST selection as the film’s action moves to Hatay.

5. Belly of the Steel Beast/The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (Film Version) (8:58)++ — Unreleased film version of the “tank chase” music. Much similar to the music that is available, except the arrangement is different and the mid-section contains a reprise of the March Of The Nazis.

6. ‘Death of the Messenger from God’ end tag (aka “The Other Jones”) (0:21)+ — Yet another short passage of the Raiders March, this o­ne replaced the Papa Jones theme ending of the “Death Of The Messenger From God” cue in the actual film, and represented o­n most bootlegs independently from the original recorded cue.

There is also another short 15-second rendition of the Raiders March that may have been intended to be attached to the end of another cue. This rendition is represented o­n most bootlegs, but was never used in the final film.

A short word of warning about the bootleg releases…they are time-compressed, sped up from the original intended recording. If you shoud get your hands o­n any of the bootleg releases, do compare them to the unaltered recordings in the actual film.

Those of you who have the OST and would rather live without the additional music found o­n bootlegs can program your CD in the following film sequence:

(with track 8 at the end as a ‘bonus track’ since it is an alternate cue not in the film).


The following selections can be heard as source cues throughout the movie:

1. You’re a Sweet Little Headache, by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, performed by Benny Goodman – This music is heard o­n Elsa’s record player during the scene at Indy and Elsa’s apartments, as she leaves to discover her apartment has been ransacked. This selection is available o­n RCA records, cassettes, and CDs. Incidentally, this recording is also heard in Disney’s “The Rocketeer”.

2. Just a Gigolo, by Leonello Casucci and Julius Brammer – This music is heard (very likely) as the background music at Walter Donovan’s suite during his introduction in the film. It has been re-recorded many times over the years by different musicians, including (interestingly enough) David Lee Roth in 1985!

3. Iskenderun Source Music, written by John Williams – Underscores Marcus Brody’s arrival in Iskenderun. This selection, which for the most part replaced “Escape In The Truck” in the final film, remains unreleased in any OST or bootleg format to date but can be heard as an MP3.

4. Der Koniggratzer, by Gottfried Pleeke; arranged by Alexander Courage – This piece can be heard during the “book burning” sequence at Nazi headquarters and occurs between “Blasphemy/The Road To Berlin” and “First Flight From Germany”. The original Pleeke recording is currently available.


And so, there you have it. Any way you look at it, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade is an epic score worthy of being a classic action/adventure score. John Williams succeeds where most sequel composers usually don’t…a score that is equal to, if not better than, the original. In the words of Indiana Jones himself, “trust him”.