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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.
I think this movie got a score it doesn't deserve. First of all the story
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
laughing stock. So this is not the typical hero movie you have seen, but
is rather true to its real story, at least as true as you can get in a
lasting 2 hours from a story which goes over a period of 30 years out of
extraordinary man's life. The other movie made the same year about
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
another view, and try to remember what their seeing.
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.
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.
The flaw is Gerard Depardieu's English: too often does it undermine an otherwise magnificent movie. Why would I go through the effort? Because I speak perfect French and when you watch this film dubbed (and the dubbing is perfect, since it is Depardieu and Karyo dubbing themselves!) you realize what an awesome one it is. Ironically, I cann't imagine anyone other than Depardieu in the role, except maybe Russell Crowe (but at the time he was an unknown Hollywood!). The script is fantastic (sure it lingers in some places but it all happened SLOWLY in those days. One could argue that seven Samurai and Lawrence of Arabia are slow in places, well go rent a Steven Seagal picture, for all the good it will do you!), the performances are great (though betrayed in the English version by accents) and two combined elements set this appart from any other film in existence: the symphonic mix of photography and music! Ridley Scott has always had an awesome visual flair, but in that sense this must be the top of his game (yes, even counting Blade Runner, Legend and Gladiator). Then there's that score by Vangelis! I love movie music and always pay attention to it, but I have yet to hear more astonishing a theme (or any tune of the score, the whole CD is a masterpiece, unlike most of it's peers) than that of 1492: Conquest of Paradise. So if you master any other language than English, see this, on a big screen with good sound. That's when a flawed epic turns into a true work of art!
*** This review may contain 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.
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
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
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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