The Costume Detail That Adds Authenticity to the German Soldiers in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’

Photo Credit: Zayne / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Zayne / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) is among the most popular films within the Indiana Jones franchise. Set just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, it sees the title character facing a formidable foe, the German military, with an SS official hellbent on finding an item that Indiana is also searching for. While the action and mystery help make the movie interesting, it’s the costumes worn by the German soldiers that really add some authenticity to this Indiana Jones feature.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Harrison Ford and Alison Doody as Indiana Jones and Elsa Schneider in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989. (Photo Credit: ash595 / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

The third installment in Steven Spielberg‘s Indiana Jones franchise, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, sees the title character, portrayed by Harrison Ford, set out on a search for his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery), who goes missing while hunting for the Holy Grail. His captors: the German military.

Indiana has also been recruited by an art collector to search for the Holy Grail, which leads him to Venice. While in the Italian city, he comes across clues that lead him to Austria, where his father is being held. Along the way, he meets Elsa Schneider, an archaeologist, and SS commander Col. Ernst Vogel, who also wants the mystical item.

Taking place a few years after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), the film was a success at the box office, earning an impressive $474.2 million on a $48 million budget. It received generally positive reviews from both critics and audiences, and it was nominated for three Academy Awards, ultimately winning the Oscar for Best Sound Editing.

It would take nearly three decades for the follow-up release, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), to hit theaters.

How authentic are the costumes worn by the German soldiers?

Michael Byrne and Alison Doody as Ernst Vogel and Elsa Schneider in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989. (Photo Credit: Zayne / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

One of the most interesting details about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the costumes the German soldiers wear. While the majority of World War II-era movies fabricate uniforms to make them look like the real thing, this particular film managed what many could call an unexpected feat: finding clothing from the time period. This means the actors dedicated viewers see on screen are actually wearing German military uniforms.

After being given reference photos and drawings, co-designer Joanna Johnston traveled to Eastern Europe in search of real-life uniforms and just so happened to come across some in a newly-discovered cache. This meant she and designer Anthony Powell had to spend much less time making replica costumes for the popular Indiana Jones feature.

It’s been reported that the real-life military uniforms weren’t used throughout the entire film. Instead, they primarily featured in the book-burning scene, which itself was filmed in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, not in Berlin, where it happens in the actual movie.

More from us: The ‘Saving Private Ryan’ Detail Most Viewers Missed – It Changes Our View of the Film

We can only imagine how uncomfortable it must have felt to wear such a uniform, given the heinous crimes committed by the German regime during the Second World War. That being said, it adds a major point of authenticity to a film where the focus otherwise doesn’t necessarily fall on ensuring things are as realistic as possible.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

Writing Portfolio
Stories of the Unsolved