1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) Poster

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Ridiculously inaccurate
mid-levels11 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The real story of Columbus is an adventure story with plenty of plot twists and interesting characters. So there was no need to fabricate history in this film. We have Columbus' journals that tell us what happened when he landed in the new world and the events that followed. This film set an agenda to make Columbus out to be a visionary who against the odds made good and the only problem was that everyone else didn't have his insight. Ridiculous! Columbus did something quite amazing in sailing to the new world but that doesn't mean that he didn't have serious flaws. For one, in the film he speaks about a "New World" but Columbus died believing he actually had found a passage to Asia so for him there was nothing new about it. The first encounter with the natives is also ridiculous in the film. In Columbus' journal we see that naked villagers came out onto the beach and that Columbus claimed the land for Spain and then took out his sword and tested the natives' knowledge of weapons. They had none and Columbus actually cut them. In the movie, Columbus is just walking through the jungle and he is approached by hostile natives ready to fire their arrows at him. He tells his men who are about to open fire to stop and that they must act peacefully. So Columbus becomes the peacemaker when in reality the natives were peaceful and he drew his sword on them. There are tons of these moments in the movie that make this movie a joke in terms of history. If directors are going to use real historical figures they need to represent them accurately. If they want to imagine or reimagine the colonial experience then they should use fictional characters.
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probably my favourite movie ever
damienmuldoon27 November 2005
In 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the New World was marked with a deluge of movies, documentaries and T.V. dramas. Not only is this the best of those commemorative re-tellings, it is also a lesson in how good historical movies should be made. Ridley Scott's direction and Gerard Depardu's leading performance gives us a genuine feeling of what must have faced Columbus and his crew as they set off on a voyage that, in their time, was more dangerous than space travel. This movie does more than tell their story however. It recreates an epoch in a way that few other historical dramas ever have. Fifteenth century Spain is every bit as vivid as the unchartered jungles of Latin America. And it is a testament to Scott's skill as a director that he beautifully contrasts the splendor of Queen Isabella's court with the insect infested, monsoon ridden "New World". And yet we also see that while the hand of civilization has made Isabella's Spain so resplendent, it has also tainted it with corruption. No such corruption exists in the virgin forests of San Slavador. Not until the European's arrive that is.

Every single scene in this film is loaded with symbolism. Behind the dialog and interaction of characters, there is an abundant subtext that just craves to be explored. It is a film that you come to appreciate the more times you see it and come to understand better, the older you grow. Critics have been unenthusiastic and even dismissive of it. Don't dare listen to them until you have watched it at least three times yourself. It would also be careless of me to comment on this film without mentioning the brilliant score by Vangellis. Hovering between the atmospheric and the pure scary, it blends with the general aura of the film brilliantly. Pure magic.
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On Creating Worlds
OttoVonB18 September 2002
1492 casts a long shadow over my filmgoing life. It is one of the first films I remember seeing where I started thinking of all the activity that went into making a film. My young mind did not process a lot of the plot - and in retrospect I can partly blame the makers of this film - but I did notice shots, sounds, music. Perhaps the music more than anything.

So fast-forward a decade and a half at least... 1492 was massive in Europe when it came out. Ridley Scott, director of Alien, Legend and Blade Runner, was telling the story of Christopher Columbus, starring the venerable Gerard Depardieu, all to a score by Vangelis which flew off the shelves faster than any film score since, well, Blade Runner. What did they have to show for it.

We know the story, or we think we do: Columbus, an Italian immigrant, gets a grant from Queen Isabella of Spain to map a shorter route to India, sailing West. What he discovers is a whole new world, the Caribbean islands. But the "new world" experiment fails badly and before long utopia becomes a stage for jealousy, manipulation, superstition and even genocide.

It took several studios to co-finance this massive undertaking, based on a screenplay by journalist Rose Bosch. Supposedly, Scott immediately had his sights set on Depardieu, which paradoxically leads us to both the film's greatest asset and liability.

Depardieu exudes a very un-Hollywood brand of charisma: grounded, vulnerable, but also prone to hardness and anger. His Columbus is a tragic idealist, likable even when carried away by his own arrogance. It's hard to imagine anyone else in the role. It is a pity then that his English was nowhere near good enough to carry the film.

For many years, I had been warned and had only seen the film dubbed in my native French (it did help that Depardieu dubbed himself, as did supporting actor Tcheky Karyo), but upon seeing the film "as intended" I was simply baffled. This, coupled with a script that leaves a few motivations unexplained and sometimes gets bogged down, severely undermines a film that is otherwise brimming with first-rate craftsmanship.

Despite the odd heavy-handed use of orange gradient filters recalling the younger Scott brother's feature-length Air Force commercial, the film is littered with unforgettable imagery. Vangelis' music, though even more effective listened to on its own, plunges you headfirst into another world, one of infinite possibilities.

The net result is a very imperfect film, but as an exercise in world-creation, an admitted Ridley Scott hobby, you'l be hard pressed to find its equal.
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a good movie
gayromeo200015 October 2003
I think this movie got a score it doesn't deserve. First of all the story is about an adventurer who discovered America and who was rejected the honour for his efforts, it is all in the movie. It shows how Columbus went from being a hero to a nobody, it was his sons who had to fight for his honor after his death. The movie really presents this perfectly, all from Columbus' dreams until after he discovered America, got mocked and became a laughing stock. So this is not the typical hero movie you have seen, but it is rather true to its real story, at least as true as you can get in a movie lasting 2 hours from a story which goes over a period of 30 years out of an extraordinary man's life. The other movie made the same year about Columbus was more the typical hero movie, where it ended when Columbus discovered America. And the music in this movie is so good, it catches the moods in this movie so great, this music is as perfect to its story as the music in 2001. I want to recommend people to see this movie again and this time with another view, and try to remember what their seeing.
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The Best Columbus Film Ever Made
dentonsfarm16 October 2005
Ridley Scott's masterpiece, 1492: A Conquest of Paradise, is a visually compelling film and well acted. Those who gave low viewer ratings in the viewer comments obviously do not see the beauty of epic films. Epics are supposed to be kind of lengthy. It is, to me, the best depiction of Columbus I have ever seen. True, the lead actor is a Frenchman, but if you set that aside you can see that he looks and acts like what one would picture Columbus to be. Durring the sailing scenes it almost made you feel as though you were sailing along with Columbus. I think that the people who are down on the historical accuracies and "inaccuracies" of this film do not cease to realize that Columbus was out for more than spices from India but also a conquest to spread the Gospel to the people of the Far East. The other inaccuracies of the film have only been brought to light years after the films release. They discovered that Columbus was probably not from Genova.
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1492 is AWESOME!
Chris99714 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Simply an amazing look into the life of Christopher Columbus. We discover who he was, what made him tick, we see what he accomplished and how it really backfired on him. This film shows us largely what Columbus had to do to accomplish his discovery of the New World. It shows us that Columbus didn't know where he would wind up, some thought that they would fall off the edge of the world. Columbus didn't seem to think so, he already knew that the world was probably round. What he did not know was that they were not venturing on a new found, easy way to the Asian continent. Instead they were headed to an unfamiliar place, a place full of surprises, wonder and beauty. A gorgeous, lush, tropical, plant filled paradise. The scene where Columbus comes in contact with a new kind of people, the Indians, is simply well filmed and photographed. That scene captured the surprise Columbus had when he discovered that he was merely just a guest, in a foreign place. Somebody already intruding on a land that has already been conquered, by the Indians who inhabit Columbus's dream. It soon turns into his own nightmare, as he trys to accomplish his dream and the natives rebel against him and his men. Near the end of the film a hurricane hit's his New World, basically surprising him and shattering his dreams. Even before the hurricane the film demonstrates to us that his dream was already being ruined. Moxica a spanish nobleman who tallied along with Columbus on his second voyage back to the New World, basically causes havoc for him there. As a result, there are wars and battles that brew, murder, Indians become his slaves, everything falls apart for Columbus. The film not only captures the essence of Columbus's hardtimes, but it also captures some of the remarkable things he did accomplish. Like the raising of a bell in the New World, his first voyage through the vast Atlantic Ocean, his friendship with an Indian native named Utapan, the love he had for his wife and his kids. This film is a special film with excellent performances from Gerard Depardieu who plays the man Columbus. Also the supporting cast is great (Sigourney Weaver, Michael Wincott, Armand Assante, Fernando Rey, Tcheky Karyo). Ridley Scott who directed Gladiator, Blade Runner, Alien, Thelma and Louise, hit's a home run here and wins. Vangelis's musical score is excellent and adds an extra sense of wonder, to a film that is already full of it.
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An excellent film
CJ-3210 January 1999
This is a great film, I really enjoyed watching it. We watched a small amount at school, and I just had to go out and borrow the video to watch it all. Gérard did a great job of playing Christopher Columbus, this film is also very informative and I did learn from it. I would recommend that everyone go and get this film on video and watch it.
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Great Historical account , with minor inaccuracies
leftyguns223 February 2005
As an avid historical buff I definitely consider this film a must see.

Unlike other film which are simply based on history, Conquest was more realistic than others. In most aspects anyway. I will discuss to some degree where I feel that "artistic license" was used.

The scene where victims of the inquisition, were executed many of them Jews was quite accurate. Contrary to popular belief, most were strangled before set on fire. The film showed that in detail.

The encounter with the natives took place on the beach according to most accounts, not inland as in the film , This is one of the first inaccuracies.

Another inaccuracy was that Sanchez , brilliantly portrayed by Armand Assante. According to histirical texts went on the voyage. His assignment to safeguard th e Spanish crown's share of any riches seized. another historical inaccuracy.

Later came the Moxica character portrays by Michael Wincott. He cut of the arm of a native who hadn't found any gold. This was very accurate the natives were given quotas of gold the had to find and give to the Spaniards as tribute. Those who didn't comply were often mutilated. Also many of the early colonists rose in rebellion against Columbus.

But the most profound dialogue in the entire movie was when Friar Rojas mentioned to Sanchez, referring to Columbus " what a waste of a life" Sanchez replies " If either of our names are ever remembered it will only be because of his" A must see for anyone who appreciates history.
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Good action, Bad History.
coqui568316 April 2002
I have rarely seen a big budget historical film filled with so many inaccuracies. One would think that a film of that caliber could have hired a writer who would have known that Columbus left Hispaniola with only two ships, since the Sta. Maria was destroyed. The film shows 3 ships departing. There is never a mention of a third or fourth voyage, nor of the discovery of Terra Firme. Further, there is not a single mention of the name Hispaniola (or La Española) in the film. The dramatic scene of landfall at Guanahaní is ruined by the appearance of the island. Watling Island is low and scrub covered, not hilly and forested. The birds on the island and the fauna are more proper of Costa Rica. The scene of the death of a crewmember from a snake bite is a comical sham. Not only were are there no poisonous snakes in the Caribbean, there are no snakes at all on Watling. The budget of the film could have bought a lot more! What a waste...
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History is an orange for some
drlarue-124 April 2005
I first saw this movie in 1992 after hearing that I had missed something special from a friend who did see it in the theater. As one always interested in history since childhood, I looked into the history portrayed in this excellent film. Actually, it is adopted from Columbus's son's own memoirs and what is factually known. Columbus did strike out to find Asia, we all know that. But he actually did become idealistic and wish to create a New World for those weary of the old - and many were. This theme continued right into the development of the U.S., which may (or may not) be the best example of that intention. What many do not realize is how much this history intersects with the Knights Templar's search for a place to headquarter permanently after loosing it's hold in Europe in 1307-14. Sound crazy? Check the details! In Spain, the Templars were converted into an order called "Knights of Christ" and retained that famous cross that everyone is familiar with as present on the Santa Maria, but with no understanding. Prince Henry the Navigator was one and Columbus was made one. There is new (old) evidence that French Templars who settled in Scotland after 1314 made it to what is now Rhode Island (two archaeological evidences exist there, as well as evidence in Scotland). Some theorize (and this is much more theory than the aforementioned) that the hole on Oak Island was a stash created by the French Templars of the mysterious treasury that never has quite been accounted for and has given rise to numerous theories of Templars treasures in France and elsewhere. (Even the book - The Da Vinci Code utilizes parts of this foil in its plot). If you traced it truly, the diligent researcher will find that the Templars had its continuance as the Freemasonic brotherhood. The U.S. was founded by intention by French, American, and yes, British Masons. A strange coincidence? What has this to do with Columbus? Am I way off the subject. Well, no,... I would argue. That this movie is a visual and auditory masterpiece is without question. That the acting is everywhere from adequate to brilliant, (yes, who could play Moxica better, and how can anyone seeing this movie in English be so arrogant to complain that Depardieu has a French accent??) Columbus used the plans of Da Vinci (is a light going on?) for an ideal city for his ideal New World. That he had problems with his ideals becoming reality is more than commonplace for anyone who has tried to do something extraordinary, but especially when power is involved. His plan had to fail, even the weather was against it. No one in Europe understood hurricanes then.

I could go on, but there are dozens of points of historical discussion that this film prompts, including a thorough study of the Roman Catholic Church, the Reformation, the history of "Witch Trials" anti-Semitism in Europe, The Thirty Year War and the Wars of Religion, The Age of Reason, the rise of Science, etc., etc., etc! What a film packed with potential historical departures this is!! I pity those who miss all this richness.

When I read such negative reviews by those who claim the history is all wrong, I wonder what stereotype of history they think they were taught. It is no surprise to me that they seem to think the scene with the orange was about an orange! They didn't pay attention to this film long enough to understand the simplest scene! I gather they don't really pay much attention to history either, but have popular historical assumptions that they have been fed or imagined. This is a film that ought to be shown in every classroom in the New World as well as Europe, if nowhere else. And for those who claim they were bored - rent an Arnold shoot-em up and stay home during elections, your opinion is just that valuable.
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