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George C. Scott,
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Thomas Haden Church
Genoan navigator Christopher Columbus has a dream to find an alternative route to sail to the Indies, by traveling west instead of east, across the unchartered Ocean sea. After failing to find backing from the Portugese, he goes to the Spanish court to ask Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand for help. After surviving a grilling from the Head of the Spanish Inquisition Tomas de Torquemada, he eventually gets the blessing from Queen Isabella and sets sail in three ships to travel into the unknown. Along the way he must deal with sabotage from Portugese spies and mutiny from a rebellious crew. Written by
If any story should make a fascinating movie, it's the story of Columbus: a voyage across the ocean and landing on a hitherto unknown continent. His colonization of the Americas set the stage for Europe's domination of the world.
So how did they make such a lame-brained movie about it? Let's see: they cast Tom Selleck as King Ferdinand (whose idea was that?!) and gave the characters lines that sound more like something out of an Ed Wood movie. I understand that the Indians were initially planning to protest "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery", but when they saw how moronic it was, they realized that there was no need to protest it! The real irony is seeing Marlon Brando in the movie. He had come out in support of the American Indian Movement and famously sent a woman dressed in tribal regalia to accept his Oscar for "The Godfather". So why did he star in this?
Basically, you'll feel tempted to make the sorts of comments that Mike, Servo and Crow hurl at the crummy movies on "Mystery Science Theater 3000". While the characters were walking through what appeared to be a torture chamber, I said "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" If you ask me, something that should get emphasized is the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain, and how the confiscation of their property financed the expeditions to the Americas. To say nothing of the Inquisition itself.
If the movie has any points of interest, it's the early appearances of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Benicio Del Toro. Everyone had to start somewhere. Nonetheless, the best movie dealing with Columbus's landing on Hispaniola (NOT discovery) is "Even the Rain". I also recommend James Loewen's book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong".
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