INDIANA JONES IN VENICE
Even three decades after the first lash, an iconic ‘Indiana Jones’ series of adventurer movies still inflames and inspires our imagination with the revelation of treasures and the ancient mysteries. The first two movies have already destined our brave hero to visit Peru, USA, Nepal, Egypt, Greek islands, China and India. As in the case of the 007 agent, the worldwide travel did become an essential part of the Professor’s adventures in the same manner of importance as his hat, a whip and his spinous sense of humor.
Led by a tone of adventures, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opens with a retrospective of 16-year-old Henry Jones JR. within a National park in Utah. He resumes his chase across at the very shore of Portugal and takes a short break back at home, in the USA. Professor Jones receives an ‘invitation’ to join a party of James Donovan, a well-known art and history patron. This investor of the expedition to find a Holy Grail unveils both a unique archaeological finding and the fact that Indiana’s father is regarded to be missing. Professor Indiana Jones finds support in Marcus Brody, his close friend, and companion. While the legendary soundtrack accompanies the ‘map scenes’, two adventurers lead their way to Venice to find Henry Jones.
BEHIND THE INDIANA JONES VENICE SCENES
The principal photography of the “Last Crusade” can be easily attributed to a four-month period between May and September 1988. Despite the obvious 20-minutes Venice span in the movie, the film crew honored the famous city with one’s presence for only a one day, on August 8, 1988. In very deed, by the time the filmmakers disemplaned in ‘Aeroporto Marco Polo di Venezia’, the majority of the ‘Venice scenes’ had been already shot within Elstree studios near London. These ‘pre-Venice’ shootings included the scenes in a library, in the catacombs, as well as a boat chase. Robert Watts, the producer, prevised Steven Spielberg from shooting in Venice in August, at the height of the tourist season. The challenge was to depict Venice as it was back in 1938.
In the face of all difficulties, the film crew did visit Venice on August 8 to shoot a number of outdoor scenes. The local authorities did succeed in assistance to bring water traffic to a standstill for four important hours to shoot the scene of arrival. Being experienced in recreating the Cairo of 1930s in the first movie, the producers were concerned about the modern ‘attributes’ of the 1980s within panoramic shots of Venice, satellite antennas in particular. A virtuoso work of the cameraman with specific camera angles dispersed clouds of doubts, and the world cinema has gained its famous Indiana Jones sites in Venice.
INDIANA JONES VENICE FILMING LOCATIONS. GEOGRAPHICAL SPREAD
Although 80% of the ‘Venice’ scenes had been already shot back in the UK, the film crew selected a number of exterior locations to ensoul the movie with a unique Venice spirit. As is often the case with the filming locations in Europe, such as Rome, Paris, Prague, Vienna, the actual location of the sets generally at odds with the movie order. In regards to ‘The Last Crusade’, filming locations in Venice tend towards the city center, yet distanced a Grand-Canal. For instance, it takes you half an hour to cover a distance between the ‘Salute’ pier (a scene of arrival) and the Barnaba church (library exterior). And the direction of walking, depicted in a movie, varies from the actual geography of Venice.
An enthusiastic movie walk along the main Indiana Jones filming locations in Venice will take you approximately two hours with a significant water transport proportion. I have made a unique map with all the locations based upon my own travel to Venice in October 2018.
INDI AND MARCUS ARRIVE IN VENICE. SALUTE PIER
“AH, VENICE” commemorates doctor Jone’s fascination after a long flight with three stops from the USA and Italy. Indiana and Marcus Brody find themselves on a pier of Venice, guessing a look of doctor Schneider until a young woman hails two guests.
I knew it was you – You have your father’s eyes.
And my mother’s ears. But the rest belongs to you.
This first outdoor scene was a cause of great concern, only a mastery of the cameraman and the traffic stop made the authentic atmosphere of Venice to become real. The camera angle reveals a ‘SALUTE’ inscription which in fact accord with the real locations. SALUTE pier, a one-stop before the famous San Marco square, is included in the Venice Vaporetto route №1. The far distance panorama of the scene includes ‘Campanile di San Marco’ 99-meters high tower. This very panorama has changed a little since the 1930s and August 1988, when Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade had a shooting in Venice.
It’s a matter of intrigue to notice differences within the SALUTE pier itself, which changed a lot for the last thirty years. The modern-state pier near Palazzo Grassi is made of concrete and the wooden one depicted in a movie, has lost in size and today only takes gondolas, rather than a Vaporetto (Venice water taxi). A stone narrow promenade behind doctor Elsa Schneider is known as Fondamenta Salute. This tight space could be a bit of a challenge for the film crew with all the men and shooting devices. Unfortunately, the reverse-plan shots of Indiana and Marcus do not depict the gorgeous Santa Maria Della Salute Basilica, in fact, side by side to the movie scene. Your early movie travel along the filming locations can gratify you with an incredible sunrise.
INDY, MARCUS AND ELSA WALKING ACROSS VENICE LOCATIONS
Indiana Jones, Marcus Brody, and Elsa Schneider satisfy an exchange of soft words and jokes at the SALUTE pier and lead their way along the narrow streets of Venice. The next scene reveals a distance panorama of our characters, walking in the line of an authentic street alongside the water artery in the very heart of a city. This second filming location is spaced 30 minutes of walk away from the pier.
Fraulein — will you permit me?
I usually don’t.
I usually don’t either.
This cozy street alongside the water is known as Fondamenta Alberti with its 200 meters of length. The promenade has so much in common with dozens of streets of the same appearance, yet leads our central figures to the Ponte Dei Pugni bridge. Doctor Jones skilfully ‘borrows’ a flower to make Elsa smile. The bridge passes into Fondamenta Gherardini, which brings three characters to Campo San Barnaba square. Being adventured within the library and the catacombs, Indy and Elsa find their way out by means of a sewer hatch and run back along the Fondamenta Gherardini.
INDIANA JONES VENICE LIBRARY (SAN BARNABA CHURCH)
Making the first steps towards a cozy city square, our adventurous trio of characters wise up to that the expected-to-be-seen library looks like a converted church. Elsa confirms that she had seen Henry Jones for the last time here on his final effort to reveal a new pass marker to find the Holy Grail.
This building of a true historical appearance indeed constitutes a church with a museum nature. CHIESA DI SAN BARNABA (Church of Saint Barnaba) glorifies an early Christian Saint of the I century A.D. praised as the religion founder of the Cyprian Christian tradition. The site witnessed its first church back in the IX century and later was burn down and rebuild from scratch. Chiesa di San Barnaba gained its modern-state appearance in 1776, yet the bell-tower at the back sends us back to the XIV century as one of the oldest in Venice. The spacious installment to the left once placed a gambling house for noble citizens. San Barnaba now exhibits the scientific inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.
Minding from the whole San Barnaba complex of buildings, only a square and the front-side of the church is of a movie interest for us, fascinated with the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie. At the moment when our brave trio acknowledged the appearance of the church, all the ‘church scenes’ had been already shot in Elstree Studios back in the UK. In this respect, the interior with its remarkable stained-glass windows, a marble floor with the X symbol, is no more than a studio set and has a little common with the in-fact San Barnaba.
In addition to the church-library interior scenes, the catacombs were designed and built with the efforts of professional decorators. There are now underground catacombs beneath the San Barnaba square or church, as well as the sewer system as it was depicted in a movie. Even the famous sewer pitch was ‘included’ to the square for the shooting use and the famous ‘’AH, VENICE”. On the other hand, a street cafe indeed locates itself within the square, at least four cafes in fact. I have chosen one of these cafes to have my morning cup of coffee close at hand to the legendary filming location.
KAZIM GOES ASHORE
It took doctor Jones and his opponent a water chase through Venice with casualties to figure out that they are not enemies and play the same game of preserving the historical importance of the Grail. Once survived the clash, two men initiate a dialogue on the destiny of Henry Jones.
Let me get off at this jetty.
Ask yourself, why do you seek the
Cup of Christ? Is it for His glory?
or for yours?
I didn’t come for the Cup of Christ.
I came to find my father.
We should keep in mind that the water chase scenes were not shot in Venice. These extras were footage within the Tilbury Docks, on the outskirts of a city with the same name, to the East of London. Consequently, only a scene change gives us Venice back with the characters making their way along the Grand Canal. The camera successively shows Kazim and doctor Jones with the Grand Canal between S. Maria del Giglio and Academia pier at the background. We can use the same water taxi №1 which has already got us to the Salute Pier. In fact, the distance between the first location and this one with Kazim is less than half a kilometer. We can observe ‘Collezione Peggy Guggenheim’ gallery in the background, later depicted in ‘The Tourist’.
The pier itself is a part of the Palazzo Barbaro palace. An architectural ensemble of two buildings of the XV century was in the ownership of the Barbaro family for four hundred years. Over the years this residence was home for a gorgeous ball hall, a library, and an art gallery. The pier which has become a part of movie history thanks to Indiana Jones, is still accessible for a means of private water transport and the Vaporetto route №1 trim the shore so tide that you can have a number of photos. Palazzo Barbaro was restored in the years since 1988 and the front-side of the complex looks more luxurious than it was in a movie. ‘Ponte dell Accademia’ bridge also gives a panoramic view over the pier a hundred meters aside.
‘Hotel Danieli’ is generally described as the location which once gave its interior look, including the view from the window to the ‘Last Crusade’ movie. Marcus and Indy analyze the sketch drawing from the tomb of the knight and reveals Alexandretta as the next pass point on their search of the Holy Grail. A few moments later doctor Jones finds both his and Elsa’s room in a complete mess. They intercommunicate with playful epithets and kiss each other with a picturesque window view on the background.
How dare you kiss me
Leave me alone. I don’t like fast women.
And I hate arrogant men.
When I finally found the ‘Hotel Danieli’ and circuited it by all accessible means of direction, I figured out the very different panoramic views, vary from the movie scenes. The movie background gives us a distanced panoramic view over a tower, which has a lot in common equally with two towers in Venice: Chiesa di San Pantalone and San Sebastiano. Both in-fact towers are far apart from the ‘Hotel Danieli’ and we should keep in mind that the film crew had only one shooting day in Venice. The most probable explanation involves Elstree Studios as the indeed set of the scene in Elsa’s room. A window view was created as a means of combining the closer perspective objects, such as flower pots and the background, only based on Venice panorama.
I am still unsure whether the walking scene (with the flower) is Fondamenta Alberti. The large structures in background (towers, domes) are different from shot to shot and neither seem to be the same as shows on Google street view. That being said, they could have used multiple streets to accomplish this bit all with the purpose of representing Venice iconically. Thanks for the article. Fun. Going to Venice soon and will walk the walk !