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 $347.5 million

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 story told by his grandfather, John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer). According to John, a clue - the phrase "The secret lies with Charlotte" - was entrusted to the family by Charles Carroll of Carrollton in 1832, and would lead to the fabled "national treasure", a wealth of artifacts dating from Ancient Egypt and secretly hidden by the Founding Fathers and the Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War.

Ben discovers evidence that Charlotte refers to a colonial ship trapped in the Arctic ice, and arranged an expedition financed by Ian Howe (Sean Bean). With help of his computer expert and friend Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), they successfully find the ship, and within its hold, a meerschaum pipe which is engraved a riddle. Ben concludes that the riddle indicates the presence of a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. When Ian suggests they steal the Declaration to get the map, Ben holds fast and wanting to acquire the document legally. They fight, and gunpowder in the hull is ignited; Ian and his team leave Ben and Riley to their fate, but the two are able to escape safely.

Ben attempts to alert the government to the imminent threat, including the FBI and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) at the National Archives in Washington D.C. where the Declaration is held, but their claims are dismissed. Ben decides to steal the Declaration themselves before Ian can. Ben secretly obtains Abigail's fingerprint and a password that allow them to steal the Declaration during a gala dinner while the Declaration is placed in storage, but Ben absent-mindedly walks into a gift shop and is spotted by a cashier who thinks he is trying to shoplift a replica of the Declaration, forcing him to pay with his credit card since he doesn't have enough cash. Abigail becomes aware of Ben's actions, but as she approaches them during their escape, Ian and his men arrive. Ben, Abigail, and Riley escape in a car chase. The FBI, led by Peter Sadusky (Harvey Keitel), discover the missing Declaration and begin to trace Ben's identity through the purchase of it, while Ian and his men work to locate Ben.

Ben, Abigail, and Riley go to Patrick's home in Philadelphia. Despite Patrick's protests, Ben and Abigail start to review the Declaration, and find a Ottendorf cipher written in invisible ink on its back. The encrypted message references the Silence Dogood letters written by Benjamin Franklin; while Patrick once held those letters, he recently donated them to the Franklin Institute. Ben, Abigail, and Riley use schoolchildren to acquire the key words from the letters, with a message pointing them to the bell tower of Independence Hall where the Liberty Bell was originally located. There, they find a hidden cache with a pair of spectacles with multiple colored lens, which when used to read the back of the Declaration, reveals a clue in an older area of New York City. They become aware that Ian and his agents have been following them, and the group splits up. Ben is arrested and interrogated by the FBI, while Abigail and Riley attempt to flee with the Declaration but lose it to Ian. Abigail is able to convince Ian to help them rescue Ben from the FBI in exchange for the next clue. Ian agrees, and arranges a meeting at the USS Intrepid during which they engineer Ben's escape.

Ian then returns the Declaration and demands Ben provide the next clue, but Ben remains coy. Ian reveals they have captured Patrick, coercing Ben's cooperation, and directing them to the Trinity Church. Inside, they find a passage that leads deep underground. A room at the bottom is lit by a single lantern, which Patrick asserts refers to Paul Revere's Ride—a clue pointing to the Old North Church in Boston. Ian and his men ditch Ben, Abigail, Riley and Patrick and race to Boston; Ben soon reveals they lied to Ian, and finds a means of opening a secret door by an engraving of the all-seeing eye. Inside, they find a notch which the pipe from the Charlotte fits, opening onto a large chamber containing the national treasure, as well as a secondary passage to the surface. Once out of the church, Ben contacts Sadusky, and learns he is a Freemason; Ben returns the Declaration and the location of the treasure in exchange for their names being cleared of stealing the Declaration. Ben also informs Sadusky of his bluff to Ian, and the FBI are able to ambush Ian and his men and charge them with kidnapping, attempted murder, and trespassing on multiple government properties.

Later, Ben and Abigail have started a relationship, while Riley is somewhat upset that Ben turned down the 10% finder's fee for the treasure and accepting a much smaller amount that still has netted them all significant wealth.



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]