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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
1989 Warner

1997 Edoya

2008 Expanded Set

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Williams

Labels and Dates:
Warner Brothers Records
(May 23rd, 1989)

Edoya (Japan)
(April 16th, 1997)

Concord Records (Set)
(November 11th, 2008)

Also See:
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Audio Clips:
1989 Warner Album:

1. Indy's Very First Adventure (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

5. Escape from Venice (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

7. The Keeper of the Grail (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (150K)

13. End Credits (Raiders March) (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

The 1989 Warner album was a regular U.S. release. The 1997 Japanese import with identical tracks and cover art was available through online stores but has since disappeared.

The 2008 set (called "The Soundtrack Collection") is a regular commercial product with a retail price of $60 but initally sold for $43 to $45 at primarily major online outlets.

  Nominated for an Academy Award and a Grammy Award.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

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Buy it... on the inadequate 1989 album if you are willing to tolerate substandard sound quality and only half of the impressive, but not overwhelming music written by John Williams for the film.

Avoid it... even on the 2008 expanded, remastered edition if you absolutely demand the complete score for the film, because that set is missing more than 20 minutes of material.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: (John Williams) With the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones film franchise long in the works, the final chapter of the story for two decades remained Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, perhaps the most humorous entry in the original trilogy. The introduction of Henry Jones (Indy Jr.'s father) produces laughs sadly missing from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, while the object of the chasing and searching in The Last Crusade is nothing less than the Holy Grail itself. The film would mark the tenth collaboration between director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams, and the two were anxious to move the musical identity of the franchise towards more mature structures that would further distance it from the reliance on the famous "Raiders March" theme from the original film. There were plenty of fresh storylines with which to inspire Williams to write several new themes and motifs for the never-ending chasing of the Joneses. The religious elements of the story provide the same opportunity for grandeur that Williams had employed with great effect for the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the presence of Henry Jones allows Williams to explore the more personal and distantly sensitive side of the main character, and the Nazis are treated to their own new and robust theme. Missing no opportunity to make a splash, Williams writes several cues with stand-alone identities throughout the middle of the score that themselves have become concert pieces. As such, the music for The Last Crusade wanders in almost as many directions as Hook would the following year (though with fewer actual themes, of course), and there are many similarities in its fragmentation of attention to the composer's much later Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In both franchises, Williams would branch out so effectively from the base identity of the original film that the newly created identity would share only a few of the aspects that made the original so memorable.

In The Last Crusade, Williams has lost the magic and sheer enthusiasm of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but has maintained his usual high standard of action writing to such a degree that the score is still entertaining. Williams and Spielberg decided that any extended use of the original march would be a symbolic pushing of the "cheap thrill" button, and thus the only substantial presentation of that theme exists in the customary end credits suite of all the themes from the film. It's easy to understand why the country (and the world, in fact) was becoming tired of the "Raiders March," for it had received endless airtime in concert halls and public address systems through the 1980's. But with its diminished role in The Last Crusade, also absent is the charming and exuberant element of the music's impact on the film. By moving further from that addictive flair, the franchise had almost musically recognized that it was tired, a characteristic that wasn't lost on critics and audiences. To compensate, Williams does try to continue the tradition of putting some humor into the mix, though none of the brighter cues in The Last Crusade can still touch "The Basket Chase" from the original film. Williams marks the early days of Indy's adventures at the outset of the film with a playful theme that shares all too many elements in rhythm and instrumentation with his obnoxious Ewok music from Return of the Jedi. Later, "No Ticket" is a more successful play on sharp, deliberate string rhythms in a stand-alone piece. A somewhat humorous, but fascinating cue remains "Scherzo For Motorcycle and Orchestra," perhaps the ultimate chase cue to end all chase cues for the beloved archeologist. Embodying the more formidable Nazi theme for The Last Crusade, this cue is the highlight of the score in its frenzy of action that perfectly merges the sophistication in movement for Henry Jones, the impending danger from the Nazis, and the light-heartedness of Indy's creative methodology.

The Nazis themselves received a somewhat fragmented identity in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and with The Last Crusade taking audiences into the heart of their country and technology, Williams invents a grand motif in the style of a descending fanfare for their posturing. This theme's integration into both the scherzo and later cues is remarkably handled and, in many ways, it is the most memorable aspect of the score. The theme for the Grail, or better yet for its mystique, is appropriately ancient in its progression, but is also quite simple, perhaps an attempt by Williams to mirror the appearance of the Grail and its basic representation of goodness. A sub-theme within the mould of the music for the Grail is actually the Henry Jones theme, which is also a smart move by Williams given that Indy's father is so obsessed with the artifact. Often performed by woodwinds and strings after a statement of the Grail's theme, Henry's theme is sympathetic, but never truly engaging, an effective method of extending the separation within the family. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the religious music from The Last Crusade is the lack of consistent use of a choral element. While the choir was an incredibly vital part of Raiders of the Lost Ark's "Map Room at Dawn" cue (and other representations of the Ark's power), Williams allows most of the similarly rendered visuals on screen in this film to pass with only the orchestra. His Grail theme is still effective, but the lack of depth, especially compared to the engaging single choral moment in "The Penitent Man Will Pass," is puzzling. More so than in the other Indy scores, Williams seems to introduce snippets of motifs in several places that are never fully realized. In doing so, each major cue has its own personality traits, and some are more effective than others. In the middle of "The Canyon of the Crescent Moon," for instance, Williams utilizes a sudden, soft woodwind solo that is never placed in proper context. Part of this confusion is caused by a general lack of clarity of the Henry Jones material.

As is to be expected in any score of this franchise, two chase cues stand out; both "Escape from Venice" and "Belly of the Steel Beast" rely on propulsive rhythms, though neither seems to build the same steam that listeners heard in "Desert Chase" from the first film. The cue for the chase in Venice is playful in its instrumentation, though sparse in the depth of those specialty contributions (the film version of this cue does not exist on either the 1989 or 2008 albums). While "Ah, Rats!!!" intelligently uses whining strings for the rodents, the intriguing part of the music below Venice is Williams' reprise of the Ark's theme from the first film as Indy and Elsa see its likeness inscribed on a wall. On the whole, The Last Crusade is a competent and interesting score, but it fails to extend the bold enthusiasm of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the exotic attractiveness of Temple of Doom. The lack of choral use, as well the absence of a sultry romance theme for the villainess (Williams rarely lets a score like this go by without giving due time to the sloppy kisses), could make you leave the score for The Last Crusade wanting more. Two important detractions from the score on album prior to 2008 are significant to note, because they were factors in some of the problems described above. First, the recording quality of The Last Crusade, especially on the original 1989 album, is very unsatisfactory. There is no dynamic vibrancy to the recording, with the snare drum mixed annoyingly front and center, and with a sound so dry that the effectiveness of the religious climax is sadly flat. Some of this problem could be related to the recording of an 85-piece ensemble in Los Angeles rather than the arguably more accomplished performers and recording studios in London. In several of the most pertinent cues during the score's latter half, the ensemble sucks the life out of Williams' original ideas with performances that contain none of the nobility or grandeur that the writing demands. The most popular piece for concert performances from The Last Crusade is, obviously, the lengthy "End Credits" suite, but if you get a chance to hear several of the other cues from within the middle of the score performed by other ensembles with more current and advanced recording technologies, you will almost always be impressed by those presentations.

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Some of these problems with The Last Crusade were mitigated upon the 2008 release of a set of all four scores in the franchise (including significant portions of additional, previously unreleased material from the first three scores) by Concord Records, the group responsible for the commercial album for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A longtime disappointment for fans of the franchise was the lack of proper treatment of both The Last Crusade and The Temple of Doom on album. The latter never received a full release in the first place, and the hour from The Last Crusade on the commercial 1989 album not only suffers from the aforementioned flat recording quality, but is also missing almost an hour of music from the film (some of which quite memorable). A late-1990's Japanese import of the album offered the same selections, but with improved sound quality. Bootlegs of the complete score began surfacing in 1997, though the sound quality of these, believe it or not, was even worse than that of the commercial product. The Concord set helps alleviate consumer angst, though with some string attached. The set's remastered sound quality for The Last Crusade is clearly superior, finally solving that nagging problem. Roughly 33 minutes of additional material from The Last Crusade is available on the set, 18 of which actually inserted amongst the previously available material for a more rounded listening experience. Some fans will quibble with the arrangement over two CDs or the editing of cues back into their original recorded forms, though the score is still well served by this set. The added material includes notable performances of the Grail theme (in "Father's Study" and "Wrong Choice, Right Choice") and especially the Nazi theme ("Alarm!," "Marcus Is Captured/To Berlin" and the remainder of the blimp scene cues). Otherwise, however, the additional music isn't strikingly memorable. There is still 15 minutes of major cues missing (along with 5+ minutes of other, less significant bridge or source recordings), leaving the door open for another product in the future to clean up the mess and collect more money from fans. Ultimately, some of those fans will cling to their more complete bootlegs, but Concord's selection of music, despite forcing them to spend $45 for all four scores, is long overdue and welcome. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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 Track Listings (1989 and 1997 Albums): Total Time: 58:16

• 1. Indy's Very First Adventure (8:11)
• 2. X Marks the Spot (3:07)
• 3. Scherzo For Motorcyle and Orchestra (3:49)
• 4. Ah, Rats!!! (3:36)
• 5. Escape from Venice (4:21)
• 6. No Ticket (2:42)
• 7. The Keeper of the Grail (3:21)
• 8. Keeping Up with the Joneses (3:35)
• 9. Brother of the Cruciform Sword (1:53)
• 10. Belly of the Steel Beast (5:26)
• 11. The Canyon of the Crescent Moon (4:16)
• 12. The Penitent Man Will Pass (3:23)
• 13. End Credits (Raiders March) (10:36)

 Track Listings (2008 Concord Set): Total Time: 91:11

CD3: (76:16)

• 1. Indy's Very First Adventure** (12:00)
• 2. The Boat Scene* (2:23)
• 3. X Marks the Spot (3:12)
• 4. Ah, Rats!!! (3:40)
• 5. Escape from Venice (4:22)
• 6. Journey to Austria* (0:38)
• 7. Father and Son Reunited* (1:49)
• 8. The Austrian Way* (2:40)
• 9. Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra (3:53)
• 10. Alarm!* (3:06)
• 11. No Ticket (2:45)
• 12. Keeping Up With the Joneses (3:37)
• 13. Brother of the Cruciform Sword (1:57)
• 14. On the Tank* (3:38)
• 15. Belly of the Steel Beast (5:29)
• 16. The Canyon of the Crescent Moon (4:17)
• 17. The Penitent Man Will Pass (3:24)
• 18. The Keeper of the Grail (3:24)
• 19. Finale & End Credits (10:40)

CD5: (51:46)

• 2. Interviews with John Williams, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas - hosted by Laurent Bouzereau (17:58)
• 6. Father's Study* (2:27)
• 7. Marcus Is Captured/To Berlin* (1:55)
• 8. To the Blimp* (2:04)
• 9. The Blimp Turns Around* (1:30)
• 10. Death of Kazim* (2:27)
• 11. Wrong Choice, Right Choice* (4:36)
(Other five tracks from Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom)

* Previously unreleased
** Includes previously unreleased material

(total time reflects only music from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, not the other scores and interview on the set)

 Notes and Quotes:  

None of the inserts for the 1989 or 1997 products contain extra information about the score or film.

The 2008 Concord set contains bloated packaging with extensive photography and short notes from the composer and director, but it surprisingly contains no analysis of the music itself.

  All artwork and sound clips from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are Copyright © 1989, Warner Brothers Records, Edoya (Japan), Concord Records (Set). The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/29/97 and last updated 12/28/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.