So let me ease your mind by saying that the Easter egg in question didn’t have anything to do with snakes. Instead it was something that was in front of all of our faces. It was a moment in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade that this Easter egg popped up, literally. Do you recall Indy making his way forward into the ancient tomb where a few men had already been willingly sacrificed by the bad guys attempting to reach the next leg of the journey? Recall the headless body that we saw and the poor guy’s head looking up as though in dumbfounded surprise.
Indiana had his father’s diary to lead the way, but the clues were so horribly vague that it was hard to make sense of them. But if you really look at it closely the first trap that would lead to the Holy Grail has to do with the penitent man. The penitent man is humble before God. The penitent man knows that he must respect God, and therefore the penitent man must…..kneel!
Indy figures this out just as a large, circular saw comes whirring out of nowhere, the wind of its passage disturbing the amassed cobwebs all around and nearly taking his head off as he kneels to the ground. That might have been close enough, but then another saw comes out of the ground right where he’s kneeling! Most of us just think that this was a cool addition and didn’t really bear any more thinking, but let’s stop and ponder a bit.
Why in the world would a trap made in ancient times involve a secondary feature that would require a person to be a tumbling artist? For all intents and purposes the ancient texts say nothing about Jesus being a gymnast, though he was a carpenter and could have come up with this kind of insidious design. But really, look at it. Now look at how people pray. If the penitent man knew any better he would simply stop and kneel and be safe from the second blade, which might scrape his knees but do nothing else. Now if a Muslim, who bows low before God, was to enter, then they would be sheared in two.
You might think that this is a very messed up turn of events in a film that was supposedly slightly more sensitive to such subjects. But then you’d need to think about who sat at the end of the maze, and what he represented. The Grail was taken by the Knights Templar, an order that opposed the Muslims throughout the Crusades and were notoriously brutal to Muslims as well. As a Templar hiding place the traps would necessarily be designed to trip up anyone that was not strictly aligned with their faith. That means the penitent man would know to stop and kneel in the presence of God but remain upright upon his knees rather than going to the floor.
In this day and age that little tidbit seems kind of wrong and horrifying to contemplate, but back then it was used as another way to keep the action flowing.