National Treasure (film)

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National Treasure
Movie national treasure.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Jon Turteltaub
Screenplay by Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Cormac Wibberley
Marianne Wibberley
Story by Jim Kouf
Oren Aviv
Charles Segars
Starring Nicolas Cage
Harvey Keitel
Jon Voight
Diane Kruger
Sean Bean
Justin Bartha
Christopher Plummer
Music by Trevor Rabin
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by William Goldenberg
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates November 19, 2004 (2004-11-19)
Running time 131 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100 million[1]
Box office $347,512,318

National Treasure is a 2004 American adventure/heist film produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was written by Jim Kouf, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Cormac Wibberley, and Marianne Wibberley, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by Jon Turteltaub. It is the first film in the National Treasure franchise and stars Nicolas Cage, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Justin Bartha, and Christopher Plummer.

Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a lost treasure of precious metals, jewelry, artwork and other artifacts that was accumulated into a single massive stockpile by looters and warriors over many millennia starting in Ancient Egypt, later rediscovered by warriors who form themselves into the Knights Templar to protect the treasure, eventually hidden by American Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War. A coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence points to the location of the "national treasure", but Gates is not alone in his quest. Whoever can steal the Declaration and decode it first will find the greatest treasure in history.


Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is an American historian, amateur cryptologist, and the youngest descendant of a long line of treasure hunters. While his father Patrick Henry Gates (Jon Voight) discourages him from following in the family line, Ben is driven on by a written clue given to him by his grandfather, John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer): "The secret lies with Charlotte." According to family history, the clue—entrusted to the family by Charles Carroll of Carrollton in 1832—could lead to the fabled "National Treasure" fought over since Ancient Egypt and hidden by the Founding Fathers and Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War.

On an expedition led by Ben with computer expert Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and the expedition's financier, Ian Howe (Sean Bean), the aforementioned team track down a colonial ship trapped in Arctic ice - the Charlotte. Inside the ship, Ben discovers a meerschaum pipe hidden in a barrel of gunpowder in the cargo hold. On the stem is an engraved riddle which he believes refers to an invisible map written by Timothy Matlack on the back of the Declaration of Independence. When Ian reveals he is willing to steal the Declaration, Ben takes a stand against him. In the ensuing fight, spilled gunpowder is ignited. Ian and his accomplice, Shaw, escape the ship, with the former locking Ben and Riley inside. Unknown to the others, Ben and Riley manage to escape the ship through a smuggler's hold before it explodes. They return to the United States determined to stop Ian.

When Ben and Riley report Ian's plan to steal the Declaration and the clue on the back of it to various authorities, including the FBI and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) at the National Archives, their claims are dismissed, stating that it is impossible and there is no clue. Ben then decides to steal the Declaration himself in order to prevent Ian from stealing it. Despite Riley's description of the security system guarding the document, Ben reveals his plan and convinces Riley that it can be done. After researching the system, Riley tests it by hacking in and activating the heat sensors triggering an alarm and a mechanism that lowers the Declaration to a subterranean Preservation Room. To gain the access code to the Preservation Room, Ben sends Abigail one of George Washington's original campaign buttons coated with invisible ink as a gift from a friend, knowing that when she types the access code, the invisible ink will mark the keys.

That night, Ben sneaks into a gala at the National Archives disguised as a janitor and obtains Abigail's fingerprint from a champagne glass, which he uses to access the elevator to the Preservation Room's hallway. After Riley disables the security cameras, Ben discovers her password by using chemicals to reveal the invisible ink on the keyboard. While Ben removes the Declaration from its case, Ian's team arrives, hacks the security system, and shoots at Ben who manages to escape via the elevator. At the gift shop upstairs, he is spotted with the Declaration by a cashier who thinks he's trying to steal one of the store's replicas. Ben is forced to pay for the document with his credit card. As he leaves, Abigail sees him and follows him outside, where she learns of their plan and quickly takes the Declaration from him and is kidnapped by Ian and his men who believe she has the Declaration. During the chase, Ben rescues her from Ian who soon realizes he has bought a replica along with the real one. Abigail still wants the Declaration to be returned, but Ben and Riley were able to force her to work with them to examine the clue.

While the FBI track Ben's identity through his credit card purchase, Ben, Riley, and Abilgail drive to Ben's father's house in Philadelphia, much to his father's surprise and dismay. When they examine the Declaration, Ben and Abigail discover an Ottendorf cipher on the back, which Ben believes to reference the Silence Dogood letters written by Benjamin Franklin. Ben's father once possessed these letters, but recently donated them to the Franklin Institute. Ben and Riley head to the museum, where they decode the message, which points to the steeple of Independence Hall—the original location of the Liberty Bell; however, Ian also makes the same deduction and heads there with his men. They enter the steeple at the time shown on the reverse side of a one hundred dollar bill—2:22. A shaft of sunlight points to a spot where Ben discovers a pair of spectacles with multiple colored lenses hidden inside a brick. The spectacles reveal an additional clue on the back of the Declaration—"Heere at the Wall"—which Ben believes is a reference to Wall Street and Broadway. When they notice Ian's men, they decide to split up.

Abigail and Riley lose the Declaration to Ian, and Ben is captured by FBI agent Peter Sadusky (Harvey Keitel). Abigail contacts Ian and offers him the next clue in exchange for his help rescuing Ben from the FBI. Under the pretense of an exchange, Ian lures the FBI to the USS Intrepid in New York City, where one of Ian's men intercepts Ben's mike, causing the FBI to lose track of him and allowing him to escape by jumping overboard where another one of Ian's men helps him bypass the FBI. Ian returns the Declaration and pipe as promised. When Ben fails to reveal the entire clue, Ian shows that he's captured Patrick, forcing Ben to reveal additional information that points to Trinity Church. Inside the church, Ben reexamines the document and discovers yet another clue: "Beneath Parkington Lane." They soon discover a secret tunnel in the basement, which leads to a large shaft with an old staircase and elevator system. The staircase collapses as the group narrowly escape with their lives at the cost of Shaw's.

At the bottom of the shaft, they find a room lit by a lantern, which Ben and Patrick use to convince Ian that it signifies Paul Revere's Ride—a clue pointing to the Old North Church in Boston. Ian and his men leave Ben, Riley, Abigail, and Patrick stranded as they ascend to the surface, unaware that they've been given a false clue. Ben then pushes a button engraved on the wall of the "unfinished pyramid the all-seeing eye", which opens a passage to an empty room. Patrick sympathizes with Ben and admits that the treasure is real, and soon Ben discovers a panel on the wall with an engraving in the shape of the Charlotte pipe, which he uses to open another passage that leads to a vast chamber containing the National Treasure (which contained the scrolls from the Library of Alexandria) and stairs leading to the surface.

When the four ascend back to the church, Ben calls in the FBI and learns that Sadusky is a Freemason. The two arrange a deal: the Declaration will be returned in exchange for him, Riley, and Abigail being cleared of wrongdoing, and the Gates family and Riley being given credit for the discovery of the treasure to be distributed among the museums of the world. With the help of Ben, Ian and his men are captured by the FBI at the Old North Church and charged with kidnapping, attempted murder, and trespassing on government property.

Sometime later, Riley berates Ben for not accepting all of the 10% finder's fee that he had been offered while sarcastically complaining about his own compensation of 0.5%. Ben and Abigail are in a romantic relationship and purchase a mansion with their undisclosed share, and Riley purchases a Ferrari with his. As Riley drives away, Abigail hands Ben a map she's created (presumably, to their bedroom), smiles, and runs off, with Ben chasing after her into the mansion.



Filming locations[edit]

Film set for the underground chambers beneath Trinity Church

National Treasure was filmed in the following locations:


Critical reception[edit]

The film received a mixed reaction from critics, some of whom lauded it as a fun, straightforward family adventure, while others ridiculed its numerous implausibilities and unbelievable plot twists. Roger Ebert gave National Treasure two stars (out of four), calling it "so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line."[3] Academic David Bordwell has expressed a liking for the film, placing it in the tradition of 1950s Disney children's adventure movies,[4] and using it as the basis for an essay on scene transitions in classical Hollywood cinema.[5]

The film currently holds a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The sites consensus reads: "National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot."[6]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box office success, grossing over $173 million domestically and $174.5 million around the world to a total of $347.5 million worldwide.

Home video releases[edit]

Collector's Edition DVD[edit]

A special collector's edition, two-disc DVD set of the movie was released on December 18, 2007.

Blu-ray Disc[edit]

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released Blu-ray Disc versions of National Treasure and its sequel, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, on May 20, 2008.[7]


National Treasure
Film score by Trevor Rabin
Released November 16, 2004
Recorded 2004
Label Hollywood
Producer Trevor Rabin

All songs written and composed by Trevor Rabin

No. Title Length
1. "National Treasure Suite"   3:17
2. "Ben"   4:03
3. "Finding Charlotte"   1:04
4. "Library of Congress"   2:27
5. "Preparation Montage"   4:53
6. "Arrival at National Archives"   1:54
7. "The Chase"   4:22
8. "Declaration of Independence"   1:43
9. "Foot Chase"   3:34
10. "Spectacle Discovery"   3:18
11. "Interrogation"   4:30
12. "Treasure"   3:39


National Treasure: Book of Secrets[edit]

Although the DVD commentary stated that there were no plans for a sequel, the film's box office gross of an unexpected $347.5 million worldwide warranted a second film, which was given the green light in 2005. National Treasure: Book of Secrets, on the DVD as National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, was released on December 21, 2007.

National Treasure 3[edit]

Director Jon Turteltaub said that the filmmaking team will take its time on another National Treasure sequel,[8] but Disney has already registered the domains for and[9] Though the second film ended with the question about page 47 of the President's book of secrets, the new movie may or may not be a sequel about the "Page 47". Turteltaub responded in a press interview that the idea was not set in stone as the basis for National Treasure 3.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Box office statistics for National Treasure (2004), Box Office Mojo, retrieved April 10, 2007 .
  2. ^ "Locations for National Treasure". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "National Treasure". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  4. ^ Bordwell, David (5 January 2008). "Your trash, my Treasure". Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  5. ^ Bordwell, David (January 2008). "The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema". Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "National Treasure". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  7. ^ "Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Announces the Disney Blu-Ray Title Wave Coming 2008". High-Def Digest. August 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  8. ^ Kirkland, Bruce (2008-05-30). "'National Treasure 3' in works". Jam!. CA: Canoe. 
  9. ^ Sciretta, Peter (2008-02-01). "Disney Plans For National Treasure 3 &". SlashFilm. 
  10. ^ "National Treasure 3: Page 47". Hits USA. 2007-12-22. 

External links[edit]