Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Michael Salda, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



I focus here on The Natural (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and The Fisher King (1991). These three are clearly Grail-oriented stories that have different definitions of what the Grail truly is and means, but all have characters with internalized quests to find both greatness and peace within themselves. I used a literary approach to analyzing the films’ plots, themes, and motifs. Being a narrative analysis, the study focuses on the plot, characters, and content. Certain visual aspects of the films are also important to these narrative components, but the visual will be discussed insofar as it supports each film’s narrative dimensions. By analyzing the Grail in these ways in these films, the pervasiveness and the adaptability of the legend become apparent.

The films’ source materials were not included in the analysis for two reasons. First, whatever source the original writer’s vision or inspiration came from never makes it through the filmmaking process entirely intact. The collaborative nature of the filmmaking process makes it virtually impossible to pinpoint one or two definitive sources of inspiration. Second, when the Grail legend is being retold, it is usually a conflation of several sources rather than a faithful representation of one source.