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Big budget account of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas. Released in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery. Shows the disastrous effects the Europeans had on the original inhabitants, and Columbus' struggle to civilize the New World. Written by
Screenwriter Rose Bosch got the idea for the project when she discovered millions of untranslated parchments while researching an article on Columbus. After joining forces with a French film executive, she finally found an interested director in Ridley Scott, who had always wanted to make a movie about Columbus. Scott agreed to direct the film on one condition: Columbus must be played by Gérard Depardieu. Depardieu was contacted, and eager to take the part. See more »
Visible on a modern ship, after the camera circumnavigates the "Santa Maria" See more »
Young Fernando Columbus:
Of all the words my father wrote - and there were many - I remember these the most: "Nothing that results from human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. And those who are enlightened before the others are condemned to persue that light in spite of others."
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The perils of working towards an anniversary and trying to beat a rival project to the screen are all too evident in 1492 Conquest of Paradise. It's easily Ridley Scott's most beautiful looking film, designed and shot with real love and care. With almost every shot gorgeous enough to take down and frame, it's like walking through an art gallery at times. Unfortunately that's never enough to compensate for a terrible screenplay by Roselyne Bosch that seems to have been written on the bus to work and stumbles from cliché to cliché. Carry On Columbus has better dialog at times, not to mention a better grasp of history. Worst of all, it throws away the real dramatic potential in Columbus' life for an unconvincing slice of class warfare wouldn't you know it, it was really all those pesky upper class Euro trash aristo types like Michael Wincott that screwed up paradise, not Columbus' own incompetence and incredible cruelty while painting him as the 'chosen one.' At one point when the Inquisition ask our compassionate visionary if he is comparing himself to Christ, there's even a dramatic pause as he thinks it over in that he-is-you-know tipping the nod to the audience way. The result is a film that wants to be up there with Herzog's Spanish nutter in the jungle movies but is too expensive to allow its protagonist to go all Klaus Kinski on it and run the risk of alienating the audience, leaving us with more excuses and special pleading than drama.
Strangely, no-one in front of or behind the camera seems to notice just how bad the script is ("Excuse me, but you're the only queen I know," Columbus tells Isabella, soliciting the even more unlikely reply "You're the only navigator I know, so that makes us even."), and both performances and technical standards are all worthy of a much better film. Still, sometimes looking good is good enough but not good enough for 154 minutes. It's a shame that they didn't read Kirkpatrick Sale's excellent historical biography instead of just using the title.
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