1492: Conquest of Paradise

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1492: Conquest of Paradise
1492film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ridley Scott[1]
Produced by Alain Goldman
Ridley Scott
Written by Roselyne Bosch
Starring Gérard Depardieu
Sigourney Weaver
Armand Assante
Fernando Rey
Music by Vangelis
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Edited by William M. Anderson
Françoise Bonnot
Les Healey
Armen Minasian
Deborah Zeitman
Production
company
Gaumont Film Company
Légende Enterprises
France 2
Due West
CYRK Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
(United States)
Pathé
(United Kingdom and France)
Release dates
  • 9 October 1992 (1992-10-09) (United States)
  • 12 October 1992 (1992-10-12) (France)
Running time
142 minutes
Country United States
France
Spain
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $47 million
Box office $7,191,399

1492: Conquest of Paradise (in French, 1492 : Christophe Colomb) is an epic 1992 European adventure/drama film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Roselyne Bosch, which tells the fictionalized story of the discovery of the New World by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (Gérard Depardieu) and the effect this had on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

The film was released by Paramount to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage.[2]

Plot[edit]

The film tells the story of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the effect this has on the indigenous peoples of the Americas, starting with his solicitation of Queen Isabella I (Sigourney Weaver) to gain the necessary funding. In the beginning, Columbus becomes obsessed in making his trip westwards to Asia, but lacks crew and a ship. The Spanish council also heavily disapproves of it, and are not keen on any act of independent thought. After continuous warnings at the monastery, he becomes involved in a brawl with the monks, ending up lying in the monastery courtyard to pay penance. His eldest son, Diego, one of the monks, looks on disapprovingly. As Columbus continues his penance through a vow of silence, he is approached by a representative of an interested party who wishes to fund the journey. Columbus meets with the queen, who grants him his journey in exchange for his promise to bring back sufficient amounts of riches in gold.

Columbus tricks many crewmen by telling them that the voyage would only last seven weeks. He goes to confession at the monastery to absolve his sins, and the monk reluctantly gives him absolution, as he is unable to inform the crewmen without breaking his oath. The next morning, three ships leave for the trip to Asia, with the flagship being the Santa Maria. During the voyage at night, one of the crewmen notices him navigating by the stars, a skill previously known only to the Moors. Columbus then happily teaches him the secret. Nine weeks go by and still no sign of land. The crew becomes restless and the other captain turns against Columbus. He tries to reinvigorate them, to let them see the dream that he wishes to share. While some of the crewmen were still not convinced, the main sail suddenly catches the wind, which the crewmen see as a small act of God's willingness. At night, Columbus notices mosquitoes on the deck, indicating that land is not far off. Some days later, Columbus and the crew spot an albatross flying around the ship, before disappearing. Suddenly, out of the mist they see the first sign of land — an island with lush vegetation and sandy beaches, the first discovery of the New World.

They befriend the local natives, who show them gold they have collected. Columbus teaches one of them Spanish so that they are able to communicate. He then informs them that they are to return to Spain momentarily to visit the Queen and bring the word of God. They leave behind a group of crewmen to begin the colonisation of the New World. Columbus receives a high Spanish honour from the Queen and has dinner with the Council. They express disappointment with the small amount of gold he brought back, but the Queen approves of his gifts. On return to the island, however, all the crewmen left behind are found to have been killed. When the tribe is confronted by Columbus and his troops, they tell him that other strangers came and savaged them. Columbus chooses to believe them, but his commanding officer is not convinced. They begin to build the city of La Isabela and eventually manage to hoist the town bell into its tower, symbolising the arrival of Christianity in the New World.

Four years later, the commanding officer cuts the hand off one of the natives, accusing him of lying about the whereabouts of gold. The word of this act of violence spreads throughout the native tribes and they all disappear into the forest. Columbus begins to worry about a potential war arising, with the natives heavily outnumbering them. Upon return to his home, he finds his house ablaze, confirming his unpopularity among a certain faction of the settlers. Soon, the tribes arrive to fight the Spaniards and the island becomes war-torn, with Columbus' governorship being reassigned with orders of him to return to Spain. After being informed about the discovery of the mainland by an Italian, he is sentenced to many years in prison, but is bailed out by his sons soon after. When summoned by the Queen about seeing the New World again, he makes a case for her about his dream to see the New World. She agrees to let him take a final voyage, on the conditions he does not go with the brothers of his crew, and that he never return to the colony. The closing scene shows him old, with his youngest son writing down his tales of the New World.

Cast[edit]

Music[edit]

Renowned Greek composer Vangelis composed the score. Its main theme, Conquest of Paradise, was used by former Portuguese Prime-Minister António Guterres at his 1995 election and is used by the Portuguese Socialist Party as its anthem since then.[citation needed]

The theme is also used at the starting line of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc ultramarathon. The German boxer Henry Maske (former world champion (IBF) in the Light heavyweight category) used the main theme as his official entry theme during his professional career. Other usages of the theme include New Zealand Super 15 Rugby franchise the Canterbury Crusaders, as they run onto the field, often accompanied by actors dressed as knights and riding on horseback, and rugby league team Wigan Warriors who play in Super League, as well as being played before the start of every match in the 2010 and 2014 cricket World Twenty20 championships as well as the 2011 Cricket World Cup. In these events the theme was played right before the national anthems of the two competing nations, as the flags of the two nations were carried into the ground, accompanied by the players of the two teams. The theme was also played in the Top Gear: US Special

Despite the film's dismal box office intake in the United States, the film's score became a successful album worldwide.

Release and reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

1492: Conquest of Paradise opened in theatres on 9 October 1992. It was rated PG-13 in the United States because of violence and brutality. The film was not a success, debuting at No. 7, and ultimately grossing far below its $47 million budget.[3]

Critical[edit]

Overall, the film got mixed reviews,[4][5][6][7][8] with the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a "rotten" 39% rating based on 18 reviews. However, respected film critic Roger Ebert said in his review that the film was satisfactory, stating "Depardieu lends it gravity, the supporting performances are convincing, the locations are realistic, and we are inspired to reflect that it did indeed take a certain nerve to sail off into nowhere just because an orange was round."[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Berkman, Meredith (16 October 1992). "Coming to America". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Mathews, Jack (3 May 1992). "MOVIES : Voyage of Rediscovery : With '1492,' director Ridley Scott and writer Roselyne Bosch aim to portray Christopher Columbus not as a legend but as an extraordinary though flawed person". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  3. ^ Fox, David J. (13 October 1992). "Weekend Box Office A Bang-Up Opening for `Under Siege'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "Columbus As A Hollywood Hustler". Newsweek. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  5. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Washington Post. 9 October 1992. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  6. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Variety. 31 December 1991. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  7. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Dessert News. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Entertainment Weekly. 16 October 1992. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  9. ^ 1492 Review by Roger Ebert

External links[edit]