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
Editing by William Goldenberg
Studio Walt Disney Pictures
Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Junction Entertainment
Saturn Films
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 a historian and amateur cryptologist, and the youngest descendant of a long line of treasure hunters. However, Ben's father Patrick Henry Gates (Jon Voight) tries to discourage Ben from following in the family line. Young Ben is encouraged onward by a clue "The secret lies with Charlotte" from his grandfather John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer) in 1974, that could lead to the fabled "National Treasure", that had been fought over since Ancient Egypt, hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States and Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War that was entrusted to his family by Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Terrence Cullier) before his death in 1832.

In the present, on an expedition led by himself and Ian Howe (Sean Bean), Ben and his friend, computer expert Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), track down a Colonial ship trapped in Arctic ice, the Charlotte. Aboard the ship, they discover a meerschaum pipe hidden in a barrel of gunpowder in the cargo hold, upon the stem of which is engraved a riddle that Ben determines to refer to an invisible map written by Timothy Matlack on the back of the Declaration of Independence. When Ian reveals he will go to any lengths to find the treasure, including stealing the Declaration, Ben takes a stand against him. A fight ensues, during which spilled gunpowder is ignited. Ian and his partner Shaw escape the ship, with Ian locking Ben and Riley inside. Ian and the rest of his accomplices flee the area, and 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 to various authorities, including the FBI, and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) at the National Archives, they dismiss their claims, considering the Declaration impossible to steal. Ben then decides to steal it himself, however Riley has already been convinced that it is in fact impossible. However, Ben reveals to him his plan and convinces him of its plausibility. They then concoct the plan, with Riley hacking into the Archives' security, and activating the heat sensors guarding the document, causing it to be moved to the Preservation Room (where documents are stored when undergoing maintenance). Ben sends Abigail one of George Washington's campaign buttons, having dipped it in invisible ink, prior to the document's relocation, causing her fingerprints to be left on the keyboard outside of the Preservation Room. During a gala at the Archives building, Ben sneaks in by disguising himself as a janitor. He obtains Abigail's fingerprint from a champagne glass, giving him access to the elevator to take him to the Preservation Room's hallway, whose security cameras Riley configures to show a playback. Ben discovers her password by revealing the invisible ink on the keyboard, and gains access to the room. While Ben is drilling open the document's case, Riley loses his video feed after Ian's team arrive and hack security as well. Ben takes the document into the hallway, and is confronted and shot at by Ian's team while waiting for the elevator. He escapes and removes the document, however it is seen by a cashier in the gift shop, who believes he is attempting to steal a replica, forcing him to charge it to a credit card. Abigail, suspicious of Ben's presence at the gala, becomes caught up with Ben and Riley as they escape from Ian and the authorities. Ian then kidnaps her, believing she has taken the document from Ben. Ben rescues her in a car chase, however Ian steals the document, which turns out to be a duplicate purchased alongside the original.

Ben's identity is tracked to the theft, and the three are forced to go to Ben's father's house in Philadelphia, much to Patrick's surprise and dismay. Ben and Abigail discover an Ottendorf cipher on the back of the Declaration, which Ben has determined leads to the Silence Dogood letters written by Benjamin Franklin. Originally believing these letters were possessed by his father, he is disappointed to discover his father has donated them to the Franklin Institute. They leave Patrick's house, and Riley goes to the museum. Decoding the message, it points to the steeple of Independence Hall, the original location of the Liberty Bell. They sneak into the steeple at a specific time, 2:22, which they discover on the reverse side of a one hundred-dollar bill. Ben discovers a pair of spectacles with multiple colored lenses in a brick on the roof, which reveal an additional clue on the back of the Declaration, Heere at the Wall. They split up, and Abigail and Riley have the Declaration taken by Ian, while Peter Sadusky (Harvey Keitel) captures Ben, still with the glasses.

Abigail contacts Ian to make a deal with him to rescue Ben from the FBI in exchange for the next clue. Ian, under the guise of a prisoner exchange, lures the FBI into a sophisticated plan aboard the USS Intrepid in New York City, allowing Ben to escape by jumping overboard. Ian returns the Declaration and pipe, as he promised. When Ben fails to reveal the entire clue to Ian, Ian reveals that he has also captured Patrick, forcing Ben to give him the rest of the information, which is that they must go into Trinity Church. Ian forces Ben to further examine the document, which leads to the discovery of another clue, Beneath Parkington Lane.

They discover a secret tunnel in the church's basement, which leads to a large shaft with a staircase and elevator system. The staircase collapses under Shaw as they descend, and the rest of them narrowly escape when another portion of the staircase collapses. At the bottom of the shaft, they find a room lit only by a lantern, which Ben and Patrick trick Ian into thinking refers to Paul Revere's Ride, and indicates the treasure to be at the Old North Church in Boston. Ian and his men strand Ben, Riley, Abigail, and Patrick as they ascend to the surface, unaware that Ben and Patrick have purposely given them a fake clue. Ben then pushes a button engraved on the wall of the unfinished pyramid and the all-seeing eye, which reveals a passage that leads to an empty room. Patrick sympathizes to a disappointed Ben and admits that the treasure is real. The four then agree to continue looking for the treasure. Ben discovers a panel on the wall with an engraving in the shape of the body of the pipe from the Charlotte, which he uses to reveal another passage that leads to a vast chamber containing the treasure, and stairs to the surface.

When the four ascend back to the church, Ben calls in Agent Sadusky, who reveals he is a Freemason. Ben and Sadusky arrange a deal: the safe return of the Declaration in exchange for the clearing of Abigail's name, the credit going to the entire Gates family with the assistance of Riley, and the treasure being distributed among museums throughout the world. 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.

The film ends with Riley berating Ben for only accepting a 1% finder's fee, despite having been offered 10%. This still allows he and Abigail to purchase a mansion, and Riley a Ferrari. Riley continues to complain about only receiving half of 1%, and drives away. Abigail gives Ben a map and refuses to tell him where it leads, and he chases her to 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 & 4". SlashFilm. 
  10. ^ "National Treasure 3: Page 47". Hits USA. 2007-12-22. 

External links[edit]