In 1938, Schneider, a rising star in the Nazi party, was assigned the task of retrieving the Holy Grail for Adolf Hitler. With the help of American industrialist Walter Donovan, she enlisted the unwitting assistance of Grail scholar Dr. Henry Jones, Sr., becoming his lover as well. In Venice, Henry became aware of her true motives, and Schneider had him taken to the Castle of Brunwald on the German-Austrian border for interrogation. Schneider and Donovan then attempted the same ruse on Jones' son Indiana, himself an archaeologist of some repute.
Schneider met Jones and Marcus Brody after they arrived in Venice, and guided them to the library where she had been working with Henry when he "disappeared", receiving a flower that Indy stole from a street vendor. In the library, she helped to ensure that the group would be unhindered by the library's closing. After realizing that the Knight's tomb was underneath the library, as it was a former church, Schneider accompanied Jones into the catacombs through a hole in the floor.
Passing through several chambers, they eventually discovered the flooded tomb of the knight and discovered that the knight's shield was the second marker. Their discovery was threatened by an oil fire set by the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword. Jones' quick thinking saved Schneider, though a rat climbed in her hair, and they were able to escape via the sewers. Back on the piazza, the two were chased by more men from the Brotherhood, and they took a motorboat to escape. When their attackers boarded their boat, Schneider took the helm while Indy fought with the men. In a communications misunderstanding, she steered their boat between two freighters being docked alongside each other, but managed to avoid being crushed. A pursuing boat was not as lucky. After their boat's engine was shot up, Indy jumped to another boat, and started attacking Kazim. When they ended their fistfight before that boat was shredded by a freighter's propeller, they both jumped back into Schneider's boat and went to a dock where Kazim revealed Henry's location in captivity: Castle Brunwald.
The two returned to their apartments to clean up. While Jones was showering, Schneider searched his room, leaving it a mess, then also trashed her own room, and pretended to draw a bath with the phonograph playing so Jones would not hear the ransacking. When Jones discovered that his room had been searched, he sought out Schneider, who acted surprised on seeing her room torn about. He revealed that he had the Grail Diary, and she became furious that he hadn't revealed his possession of it before. Indy turned the tense situation into an afternoon of passion.
Later, Schneider drove with Jones to the Austrian border, while Brody was sent to Iskenderun. She played the role of an art collector's assistant when Indy tried to bluff his way past the butler who answered the door. Sneaking around the castle, they discovered a room likely to be holding Indy's father, and Jones left her in a side room. After Jones had rescued his father and started shooting the Nazis in the castle, the father and son returned to the side room, where Vogel held Schneider hostage. While the elder Jones knew of Schneider's true allegiance, the younger Jones believed her act and surrendered to Vogel. Free of Vogel's gun, she sauntered over to Indy and took the Grail Diary from him.
In the castle's dining room, the Joneses learn that Donovan was also working for the Nazis. When Indiana and his father are tied up, Schneider told Donovan to keep both them alive in case they couldn't get Marcus Brody, who made off with map pages from the grail diary. Minutes later she mockingly kisses Indy, much to the annoyance of Henry. She received a telegram from Berlin, requesting that her presence was sought there, she took the grail diary with her, to show as a progress report on the quest for the Grail.
At Berlin's Institute of Aryan Culture, she attended a bookburning rally with Adolf Hitler, where she felt torn between her ideology and the destruction of knowledge. As she was leaving, Indy, in the disguise of a Nazi officer, grabbed her and threatened her life until she returned the diary. After Indy left, she alerted the Nazis, who began a manhunt for Indy and Henry.
She met up with Donovan and Vogel in Republic of Hatay, and helped to lead the expedition to find the Canyon of the Crescent Moon using the map from their captive, Marcus Brody. On the way, the convoy of Nazi and Hatay soldiers came under attack by Kazim and the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword. As Kazim lies dying, he gave a final warning to Schneider and Donovan that the Grail would bring them death. While Indy attempted to rescue his father and Brody from Vogel's tank, Schneider and Donovan proceeded to the Temple of the Sun, where they sent Hatay soldiers to attempt to navigate the temple's defenses.
When Indy, Henry, Marcus and Sallah showed up, they are captured, resulting in one final confrontation between Donovan and the Joneses. Henry was shot by Donovan, forcing Indiana to pass the three trials in order to reach the Grail Chamber in order to save his father. After he passed through the trials, Schneider and Donovan followed into the final chamber, where the Grail Knight presented with the challenge of choosing the one true Grail among many false grails. Schneider intentionally selected a false grail for Donovan, who drank from it, and began rapidly aging. Recognizing Schneider's treachery, he attempted to attack her, but only terrified her as he withered away into death.
Indiana chose the correct grail and used it to heal his father's bullet wound back at the entrance of the temple. After Indy had set it down, Schneider picked up the grail and, ignoring the warnings of both the Grail Knight and Indiana, tried to remove the Grail from the temple, claiming she planned to share it with Indy. As she stepped across the Great Seal, the temple began to quake. Elsa lost her footing, causing the grail to roll away from her grasp as she hit the ground. Elsa lunged forward to try to recover the chalice, but in doing so, she knocked it into the splitting floor. Elsa could not maintain her hold on the rising earth, and fell on to tilted ground, sliding towards the chasm. Indiana dove to grab her hands just in time.
Elsa held on for her life, but before Indy could pull her up, she wrenched one of her hands free to reach the Grail after realizing it was right below her. Elsa's hand was just inches short of reaching the cup, and Indiana pleaded for her to save herself. Elsa ignored Indiana's warnings, greedily insisting she could reach it. All the while, the glove on her other hand was slipping off. Elsa continued to stretch her arm out, but before she could manage to touch the grail, her hand slipped from its glove. Elsa lost her life when Indiana was unable to catch her as she fell into the misty chasm below. After they escaped, Henry told Indy that Elsa didn't believe in the Grail, that she thought she had found a prize.
Behind the scenes Edit
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Elsa Schneider was portrayed by actress Alison Doody.
- Alison Doody was only twenty one when cast as Elsa, making her the youngest Indy girl. She was twenty five years younger than Harrison Ford and thirty seven years younger than Sean Connery.
- The character's claim of competing and winning the silver medal in the 50 meter freestyle at the 1932 Summer Olympics for the Austrian swim team may be considered an anachronism; the event wasn't introduced in the real world Olympic Games until the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
- In the LucasArts graphic adventure game adaptation, Elsa can live after the end of the game, if the player gets Indy to catch the Grail with the whip before she tries to reach it. If she survives, when it is revealed that Indiana's name was taken from the dog, and Marcus shares that his father had a cat named Marcus, Elsa recalls that her father had a secretary named Elsa.
- Elsa's role in Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures and the Taito adaptation for the Last Crusade are both considerably reduced. In both, she only appears in Venice, which is an optional mission in the Taito game, and her affair with Henry Jones, Sr. and affiliation with the Nazis are omitted completely. In Greatest Adventures she was still mentioned as working with Henry before his disappearance though. Because of Elsa therefore not being at the Temple of the Sun, Walter Donovan independently chooses the wrong cup to drink from.
- In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Elsa grabs the Holy Grail from Brody but then falls into a hole that opens up beneath her. The sequel, however, shows that Elsa was not in the temple but rejoined Indy and his father in the end.
- Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (First appearance)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade novel
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade junior novel (1989)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade junior novel (2008)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade comic
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade game
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure
- Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead (Mentioned only)
- Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Non-canonical appearance)