The Making of a Master Script: Indiana Jones Edition

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was one of the most popular films of the 1980s. In fact, the Last Crusade was the highest grossing film in the world in 1989, making $474,171,806. The film’s success can be credited to director Steven Spielberg, second unit director Michael D. Moore, and co-writer George Lucas. There are many interesting and well known facts about the Last Crusade, such how the producers ordered the production and breeding of 2,000 rats to ensure they were disease free and could be used in the film. What many do not know, however, is that Pepperdine University owns the original copy of the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade script.

If one took time to look at the script, it is almost certain that they would develop a new appreciation for Pepperdine’s resources and for the work that went into writing the script. Each page of a script includes characters’ lines as well as more specific details regarding it. Two examples of the details included are who the person is talking to, if talking to someone else, or an instant in which something happens. For example, if Indiana Jones is saying something to someone else, the script will say, “INDIANA,” then below that say, “(to Henry).” For some scenes, following a character’s line will be a narration of what is happening. An example of this in the film is when HENRY says to Indiana Jones “I can’t leave it behind” and then the script reads “Indy nods, but takes only several steps before the GROUND BEGINS TO SHAKE.” As one may also observe, part of this line is spelled in all capitals. According to Ken Miyamoto, a former Sony Pictures script reader/story analyst, all capitals are used for character names, props, and in the case of this scene, action. In the context of an action sequence, he states, “You just want to use the CAPS when you want something to really stand out” (Miyamoto). From this, one can concur that Lucas wanted this to be a moment of intensity. As seen, quite a bit of work, such as specific details and emphases on certain moments, goes into the original creation of a script.

After the original draft of the script is finished, the editor comes into play. The editor will “examine the script and provide an analytical overview of the work. They will identify any problem areas and assess where the script is working and where and why it is not; and they aim to help the writer get on, stay on track” (Griffiths). When comparing the original and edited version of the script, the biggest difference between the two are the formats. While the original includes the speaking lines and a narration of what is to happen, the edited version only contains the narrations and the changes made to them. For some scenes, it may say what is cut or changed, and in others, it will say if things stayed as they were. In his article “Writing is Deleting: Script Editing Techniques For Screenwriters,” Matt Giegerich states “Re-read your script with an objective eye. Often times, you’ll find huge chunks of screenplay that can be deleted or re-arranged. Does every scene move your story forward? If not, cut it” as advice for how to edit what needs to be cut or changed in a script (Giegerich). In the Last Crusade script, there are multiple instances of these scenarios. In one of the scenes where things do not change, it reads “INT. ZEPPELIN LOUNGE” and below this, “Scene as is.” On the other hand, in a scene where something is cut, it says, “EXT. SULTAN’S PALACE” and right below it, the words “Scene is CUT.” The script changes offer the reader a look into the differences between what scenes or instances were kept from the original version, and what parts were cut or changed.

The script of the Last Crusade has provided a strong insight to the readers on the content and creativity that goes into making a movie. The audience now knows that a script consists of character lines, narrations of action, such as running or other body movement, and edits of certain scenes. For some, this new understanding of a script’s details may also change their perspective on movies altogether; the audience can now watch every scene of a movie knowing that each movement made had to be accounted for on the script. The Boone Special Collections Library offers all a first-hand experience with other artifacts, and should be utilized by Pepperdine students, Pepperdine staff, and the Malibu community.


Works Cited

Folden, Tony. “Formatting A Spec Script: What Needs to Be in ALL CAPS?” The Dialogue Architect, 2 Mar. 2015,

Giegerich, Matt. “Writing Is Deleting: Script Editing Techniques For Screenwriters.” Movie Outline – Screenwriting Software,

Griffiths, Karol. “Art of Script Editing : a Practical Guide.” Perceived Ugliness: an Update on Treatment-Relevant Aspects of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. (Article, 2011) [Pepperdine University], Hatfield : Oldcastle Books, 2016.,

Original piece of script from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade


Edited piece of script from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade