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Walter Donovan

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"He chose...poorly."
The Grail Knight, upon Donovan's demise[src]

Walter Donovan was a wealthy American industrialist and collector of antiquities who allied himself with the Nazis in order to get the Holy Grail, which he sought for its fabled gift of immortality.


"Didn't I warn you not to trust anybody, Dr. Jones?"
Walter Donovan[src]

In the years prior to 1938, American multimillionaire[1] Walter Donovan had made several generous contributions to the National Museum. His copper mine engineers discovered a stone tablet in Turkey. He and his wife lived in a fancy apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan[2] where he kept the tablet, as well as a manuscript that contained a Franciscan friar's account of the story of the three knights who had found the Grail.

He hired Henry Jones, Sr. to track down the location of the Grail and paired him with Dr. Elsa Schneider to find the location of a grail knight's tomb in Venice. When the senior Jones realized Schneider's Nazi affiliation, he was made to conveniently 'disappear'.

Donovan used the disappearance of Jones to lure the man's archaeologist son Indiana into helping him find the vital clues leading to the location of the Grail. After Indy detoured to rescue his father at Castle Brunwald, Donovan revealed himself as a Nazi ally. When reports of Marcus Brody's apprehension by Nazi agents in Iskenderun were given, Donovan traveled with Schneider to Hatay to find the Grail.

With Dr. Schneider, Donovan arrived at the Grail Temple and proceeded to send soldiers into the temple's traps. When Jones and his allies arrived, they were captured and Donovan forced Indy to figure out how to get through the set of booby traps by shooting Henry. After Indy reached the inner sanctum where the last of the Grail knights kept watch over the sacred chalice - and several more false chalices - Donovan and Schneider followed in safety.

Donovan with false grail

Donovan agrees with following doctor's orders.

Upon seeing the visitors looking at the grails, the knight guardian explained that only by drinking from the true Holy Grail would grant a person eternal life, while drinking from a false Grail would forfeit their life. Faced with this dilemma, Donovan surveyed the potential Grails. Dr. Schneider volunteered to pick one for him. She gave Donovan a golden grail, with gemstones implanted on its sides. Donovan drank from that Grail, and to his horror found himself aging rapidly and eventually decomposing. Realizing that he had been tricked, he tried to attack Schneider, but Indiana Jones kicked the near-skeletal form of the doomed Donovan against a wall where it shattered into dust.

Personality and traits Edit

Walter Donovan was a ruthless, arrogant and greedy man though he was able to hide it under the mask of a warm, genial and understanding person. He was also somewhat hypocritical, as he told Indiana not to trust anybody but immediately trusted his equally ruthless colleague, Elsa Schneider, to pick out and deliver the correct Grail for him. An example of his ruthlessness was his desire for items of great historical significance: Henry Jones Senior regarded Donovan as a man willing to sell his own mother for an Etruscan vase. His desire for eternal life meant he had no regard for others; when two soldiers were beheaded by a trap trying to reach the Grail, Donovan merely ordered another forward despite knowing what would happen and later shot Indy's father so the former would have to get the Grail.

Behind the scenesEdit

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Donovan was played by Julian Glover, who - despite playing an American - is actually British.

During the development of the film's script, Donovan was named Walter Chandler by writer Jeffrey Boam. Chandler was to die falling with the tank in Hatay (a fate which would later go to Vogel). Tom Stoppard changed the character's surname to Donovan in his revisions.[3]

Donovan death

Walter Donovan ages rapidly.

The effect of Donovan's rapid aging and explosion into ash was dubbed "Donovan's Destruction" by the ILM staff and marked a technological breakthrough in effects work as the first shot completely computer composited and then scanned to film. ILM used life-size articulated puppets of Donovan's head in different phases of decomposition. Images were scanned into a computer where they were processed to form a seamless transformation.[4]

Donovan is the final boss in the game Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures. Rather than perish upon drinking from the false Grail, he becomes an undead monster who can dislodge his body parts and must be put out of commission by Jones. (In this version it is stated instead of Elsa, he makes his own choice, as the subtitles say "Donovan grabs a cup and drinks. But that was not the Grail and in fright he begins to transform into a skeleton").

In the non-canon game LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Donovan independently chooses the wrong Grail; he is shown eagerly running to that grail and just immediately drinks from it. Indy never kicks him into a wall, either: Donovan simply ages to death in a somewhat comical manner. Donovan can be unlocked as a playable character in three versions: his tuxedo, his blue-gray suit and of course his undead form (DS version only, although buildable as a custom character in other versions).

In the sequel, Donovan is super-powered by a whirlwind, which can only be destroyed through use of a bazooka and silver objects.

In the LucasArts graphic adventure game adaptation, Donovan gets his head chopped off instead. However, Indy will suffer Donovan's original fate if he drinks from the wrong Grail.



Notes and referencesEdit

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