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The penultimate draft by Jeffrey Boam, dated March 1, 1988



The published draft, which reflects an undated "Amblin" revision and a rewrite by Tom Stoppard (under the pseudonym Barry Watson) dated May 8, as well as changes made during production and editing.



Jeffrey Boam's credits include The Dead Zone, Innerspace, The Lost Boys, Funny Farm, Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.


Sir Tom Stoppard's credits include Brazil (Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay), Empire of the Sun, The Russia House, Shakespeare in Love (Oscar winner for Best Screenplay), Anna Karenina, and Parade's End.  His theater credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tony Award for Best Play), Travesties (Tony Award for Best Play), The Real Thing (Tony Award for Best Play), Arcadia, The Invention of Love, The Coast of Utopia (Tony Award for Best Play), and Rock `n' Roll.


My intention is to illustrate screenwriting lessons, not dissect who conceived of which ideas.  The Boam draft inherited much from a preceding draft by Menno Meyjes, as well as ideas from Lucas, Spielberg, Sean Connery, and even elements from the original story conference for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.  The undated "Amblin" revision undoubtedly contained alterations by Spielberg and Lucas.  Key changes were made during production and post, such as the expansion of the tank battle (by Spielberg and storyboard artists), the addition of the motorcycle chase, and various cuts.  For convenience, however, I will refer to the drafts as "Boam" and "Stoppard".


General information cited from the book The Complete Making of Indiana Jones by J.W. Rinzler, 2008, Del Rey Books.




We may define the three acts of LAST CRUSADE as follows:


              Act 1, "Find Dad"

              Act 2, "Find Grail (before Nazis do)"

              Act 3, "Save Dad"


Act 1 kicks off (omitting the prologue, which is virtually irrelevant to the main plot) with Indy being told by Donovan that his dad Henry is missing.  Act 1 consists of two main movements: Venice, where Indy searches for the Knight's tomb hoping it will lead him to Henry, and Castle Grunwald, where Indy rescues Henry.  Act 1 twists into Act 2 upon the reveal that Elsa and Donovan are both working for the Nazis.


Act 2 consists of two main movements: Germany/Austria, where Indy and Henry escape the Nazis (with a side trip to retrieve the diary from Berlin), and the desert, where they rescue Marcus Brody from the Nazis and follow the Nazis to the grail temple.  Act 2 twists into Act 3 at the moment when Donovan shoots Henry and declares that only the grail can save him.


Act 3 consists of two main movements: Indy's passing through the challenges, thereby attaining the grail to save Henry, and the final escape from the temple in which Henry saves Indy by convincing him to let the grail go.



Before we get to the spreadsheet that dissects 90 notable differences between the scripts, here is an overview for those who don't share my fascination with the minutiae of screenplay revisions.


Vast enhancements were made to every element of the story - character, plot, pace, humor, action, tone, clarity, dialogue.  The result is a markedly more coherent, charming, and enduring script that truly belongs in a museum.  I suspect that, absent the final revisions, this film would have been regarded by audiences as inferior to its antecedent sequel THE TEMPLE OF DOOM in tone, wit, and entertainment value.

REBALANCING THE STRUCTURE:  One main effect of the revisions is to shorten Act 1 and expand Acts 2 and 3.


In Boam's draft, Act 1 runs from pages 1-85 (of 138*), or 62% of the script. Act 2 runs from pages 85-129, or 32% of the script. Act 3 runs from pages 129-138, or 7% of the script.


In Stoppard's draft, Act 1 runs from pages 1-60 (of 123), or 49% of the script. Act 2 runs from pages 60-110, or 40% of the script. Act 3 runs from pages 110-123, or 11% of the script.


*The Boam draft ends on "page 134" but due to added pages (15A, 15B, etc.) it is actually 138 pages long.

Here is a more detailed graph of how the story sequences compare:

PLOT ENHANCEMENTS:  Dozens of changes improve plot-related elements such as goals, obstacles, stakes, pacing, structure, foreshadowing, and other aspects of drama.  The most common changes were done to increase tension, suspense, or character obstacles.


TIGHTENING:  The revised draft is 15 pages shorter, though material was not arbitrarily removed just to cut pages.  I found 19 instances of scenes or beats being cut, 6 superfluous characters removed, several jokes deleted, and dialogue often pared down.  Each of these extractions had a clear purpose to it, whether streamlining the plot, quickening the pace, avoiding redundancies, or simply that the material in question was superfluous and distracting.   Note that the revised draft has also ADDED a substantial amount of new scenes, beats, jokes, and dialogue, so in order to counterbalance the new material and cut 15 pages, an ample sum of script was removed.


SIMPLIFICATION:  The reasons behind these changes are various (pace, clarity, character) but the impact is significant.  Details, beats, scenes, and entire plot segments are simplified.


DIALOGUE:  One of Stoppard's most obvious revisions is to vastly refine the dialogue, and only by reading both drafts side by side is it possible to study those differences.  I would ballpark that 80% of the lines have been substantially changed.


HUMOR:  This manifests largely in the dialogue, but also in sight gags, character actions, edit points, and streamlining moments to make the jokes land with more precision.  The quality of humor is also refined, by removing coarse innuendo and making the jokes smarter and less predictable.


CLARITY:  Of plot, character goals and motivations, and small details.


CHARACTER IMPROVEMENTS:  Refining the arcs of characters, making villains more unsavory, deepening backstory.


ALTERING THE TONE:  Though this franchise has a certain pulpy charm to it, the earlier draft of LAST CRUSADE is noticeably more cartoonish than the final draft.  Factors contributing to this shift include the refinement of humor, the removal of silly character traits, the repair of illogical character motivations, and enhancing grail-related details to add an air of historical legitimacy to the quest.





Some of the more notable changes:


  • Streamlining the first half so that Henry enters the story sooner.


  • Simplifying the steps needed to find the Knight's tomb.


  • Changing Kazim's motivation so that he strives to protect the grail, as opposed to working for the Nazis.


  • Adding the scene where Brody gets captured.


  • Adding the motorcycle chase scene.


  • Greatly expanding the tank fight scene and bringing Henry and Brody into it.


  • Adding the second and third challenges inside the temple.


  • Swapping around the deaths of Donovan, Elsa and Vogel.



Character name changes:  In the Boam draft, Donovan is named Chandler and Kazim is named Kemal.



This list by no means encompasses every single script difference, and contains only those that caused a definable change to the story, big or small.


You can SCROLL through this spreadsheet using the scroll bar on its right side.  To SEARCH within it, use the search window at its top right - this will then limit the speadsheet to only those items that include your search phrase... you must then clear the search window to return to the full list.


To view this chart as a Google Doc, click here.

Or download as a .PDF by clicking this icon below:

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