Friday, 8th January 2010
There’s a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indiana and his father are trying to escape from Nazi Germany. Indiana buys tickets on the first flight out of the country, and we see that it’s an airship.
I saw the film in the cinema on its release in 1989, and I distinctly remember that when the airship is revealed, it’s identified as the Hindenburg. (Either you saw a mooring post with the name, or it was painted on the airship itself.) There was also a dramatic, doom-laden music cue that played at that moment.
On all subsequent releases, the name of the airship has been removed, although the music is still there (and now seems a little OTT without the visual “uh-oh!” gag).
Perhaps they cut the name because the Hindenburg crashed in 1937 and the film is set in 1938, or perhaps the filmmakers wanted to remove the potentially insensitive joke. (This is actually plausible: after the initial theatrical distribution, they also removed the word “Jewish” from the line “donated by the finest *Jewish* families in all of Germany”, so there was clearly a point where they were removing some of the film’s politically rougher edges.)
Or perhaps I’m misremembering it, and the name was never there. Perhaps somebody in the cinema said “It’s the Hindenburg,” when the airship is revealed, and my memory recorded that visually instead of aurally. But it’s listed in the alternative versions section of IMDb, and now the Wikipedia entry for the Hindenburg cites the mention on IMDb… so if it wasn’t true to start with, it is now.