1492: Conquest of Paradise

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1492: Conquest of Paradise
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRidley Scott[1]
Written byRoselyne Bosch
Produced byAlain Goldman
Ridley Scott
CinematographyAdrian Biddle
Edited byWilliam M. Anderson
Françoise Bonnot
Les Healey
Armen Minasian
Deborah Zeitman
Music byVangelis
Distributed byGaumont (France)
Lauren Films (Spain)
Guild Film Distribution (United Kingdom)
Release dates
  • 8 October 1992 (1992-10-08) (Spain)
  • 12 October 1992 (1992-10-12) (France)
  • 23 October 1992 (1992-10-23) (United Kingdom)
Running time
156 minutes
United Kingdom
Budget$47 million
Box office$59 million[2]

1492: Conquest of Paradise is a 1992 epic historical drama film directed and produced by Ridley Scott, written by Roselyne Bosch and starring Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante, and Sigourney Weaver. It portrays a version of the travels to the New World by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and the effect this had on indigenous peoples.

The film was released to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage.[3] The premiere debuted less than two months after Christopher Columbus: The Discovery by John Glen, often leading to confusion between the two films. The film received mixed to negative reviews, with particular criticism aimed at the film's historical inaccuracies.


Aware that the world is round, Christopher Columbus lobbies for a trip westward to Asia, but lacks a crew and ship. The Catholic theologians at the University of Salamanca heavily disapprove of Columbus's plan, not being keen on ideas that go against the writings of Ptolemaeus. Columbus is approached by Martín Pinzón, a shipowner from Palos, who introduces him to the banker Santángel, to whom Queen Isabella I owes money. 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 deceives many crewmen by telling them that the voyage will only last seven weeks. Three ships pass. Nine weeks go by with no sign of land. The crew becomes restless and edges toward mutiny. He tries to reinvigorate them with an inspiring speech, coinciding with a fast wind, which goads the men to return to their duties. At night, Columbus notices mosquitoes on the deck, indicating that land is not far off. Suddenly, out of the mist they see the lush vegetation and sandy beaches of Guanahani.

The Europeans 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 he will return to Spain, which will be followed by the arrival of many more Europeans. Columbus leaves behind a group to begin the colonisation of the Americas. Back in Spain, he receives a high 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 the second expedition, Columbus takes 17 ships and over 1,000 men with him 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 another tribe came and killed them. Columbus chooses to believe them, but his commanding officer Moxica is not convinced. They begin to build the city of La Isabela and eventually manage to hoist the town bell into its tower.

Four years later, the natives are being forced to mine for gold. Moxica punishes one who fails to find any gold by cutting off his hand. 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, with the natives heavily outnumbering them. Upon return to his home, he finds his house set ablaze by Moxica and his followers, 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 for him to return to Spain.

Columbus is accused of nepotism and offering administrative positions to his personal friends, thereby injuring the pride of the nobles such as Moxica; he is replaced by de Bobadilla. Columbus returns to Castile to be imprisoned, but is bailed out by his sons. When he is summoned by the queen, she is reluctantly convinced to allow him to make another voyage, with the proviso that he neither take his brothers nor return to the colonies. As an old man, Columbus is virtually forgotten in Spain, with the discovery of the New World being credited to Amerigo Vespucci. Columbus's son Ferdinand asks his father to tell him his story so he can transcribe it.



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 it was used by the Portuguese Socialist Party as its campaign and rally anthem,[4][5][6] although it was replaced by the main theme from Gladiator (another Ridley Scott film) since the first José Sócrates legislative elections campaign,[7] which doesn't prevent the theme from still being deeply associated with the Socialist Party.[8]

Russia used it in the 2nd round of the 1996 Russian presidential election.[9][clarification 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 the 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 and became a signature piece for World Professional Champion figure skaters Anita Hartshorn and Frank Sweiding. Despite the film's dismal box office intake in the United States, the film's score became a successful album worldwide.


Box office[edit]

1492: Conquest of Paradise opened on 66 screens in Spain, grossing $1 million in its first five days[10] ($2.2 million today).[11] In the United States and Canada, it was released by Paramount Pictures on 9 October 1992 in 1,008 theaters. The version released there was edited to 150 minutes, with some violence and brutality removed in order to achieve a PG-13 rating.[12] The film was a flop in the United States, debuting at number 7 with a gross of $3,002,680 (about $6.5 million today),[11] worse than the opening of Christopher Columbus: The Discovery earlier in the year, and went on to gross just $7 million[13][14][15] ($15.2 million today).[11] It opened in France on 12 October 1992, grossing $1.46 million for the weekend ($3.2 million today)[11] from 264 screens.[10] In its second week in Europe, it was the highest-grossing film with a gross of over $7.7 million ($16.7 million today),[11] including $1.77 million in its opening week in Germany ($3.8 million today)[11] from 213 screens. It did not open well in Italy, with only $261,800 in its opening weekend ($568,400 thousand today)[11] from 33 screens.[16][17] By the end of 1992, it had grossed $40 million internationally ($86.8 million today),[11], including $17 million in France and €3 million in Spain,[18][19] for a worldwide total of $47 million[20] ($102 million today).[11] It went on to gross $59 million[21] ($128.1 million today).[11]

Director Ridley Scott later blamed the movie's failure on Americans not understanding European accents: "They don't hear shit unless it's from Texas or America, right?" and reflected: "It's one of my favorite films. What's interesting, they didn't know how to release it in America. But in Europe, it clocked $57 million."[22]

Critical response[edit]

Overall, the film received mixed to negative reviews from critics,[23][24][25][26][27] with the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a 32% rating based on 22 reviews with the critical consensus: "Historically inaccurate and dramatically inert, Ridley Scott's retelling of Christopher Columbus' exploits is an epic without grandeur or insight".[28] However, film critic Roger Ebert said that the film was satisfactory, and that "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."[29] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B+" on scale of A+ to F.[30]

The film was accused of promoting the Spanish black legend.[31][32][33][34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berkman, Meredith (16 October 1992). "Coming to America". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  2. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise: Box Office / Busieness for". IMDb. Retrieved 13 October 2015. [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ 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". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  4. ^ Conquista do Paraíso, Hernâni Matos, blog Estremoz Net, 24 July 2013 (Portuguese)
  5. ^ A Conquista do Paraíso, neves, aj, 19 August 2010, blog Voz do Seven 2 (Portuguese)
  6. ^ [Da avaliação de Passos Coelho], cbs, blog La force des choses, 10 April 2011 (Portuguese)
  7. ^ Bandas Sonoras, blog À Espera de Godot, 13 September 2011 (Portuguese)
  8. ^ Da avaliação de Passos Coelho, cbs, blog La force des choses, 10 April 2011 (Portuguese)
  9. ^ "КАШИН". Telegram.
  10. ^ a b Groves, Don (19 October 1992). "Smooth sailing for '1492' in debuts". Variety. p. 60.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  12. ^ 1492: Conquest of Paradise at the American Film Institute Catalog
  13. ^ Cohn, Lawrence (19 October 1992). "National B.O.". Variety. p. 10.
  14. ^ Fox, David J. (13 October 1992). "Weekend Box Office A Bang-Up Opening for 'Under Siege'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  15. ^ 1492: Conquest of Paradise at Box Office Mojo
  16. ^ "Top 10 Europe's Big Pics". Variety. 26 October 1992. p. 31.
  17. ^ Groves, Don (26 October 1992). "Italians snub their local hero at B.O.". Variety. p. 40.
  18. ^ "Statistics". Screen International. 26 March 1993. p. 34.
  19. ^ "1492: LA CONQUISTA DEL PARAISO". The Spanish Film Catalogue. Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  20. ^ "U.S. pics at home and abroad". Variety. 4 January 1993. p. 56.
  21. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) - IMDb". www.imdb.com.
  22. ^ "Ridley Scott interview on House of Gucci, Lady Gaga, and dropping out of Dune". 26 November 2021.
  23. ^ "Columbus As A Hollywood Hustler". Newsweek. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  24. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". The Washington Post. 9 October 1992. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  25. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Variety. 31 December 1991. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  26. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Deseret News. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  27. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Entertainment Weekly. 16 October 1992. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  28. ^ "1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)" – via www.rottentomatoes.com.
  29. ^ 1492 Review by Roger Ebert
  30. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 20 December 2018.
  31. ^ "Los errores históricos de '1492: La Conquista del Paraíso'". Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  32. ^ Olaya, Vicente G. (7 May 2019). "La leyenda negra española que ha difundido Hollywood". El País. Retrieved 7 May 2023 – via elpais.com.
  33. ^ "Cinco películas anglosajonas cargadas de Leyenda Negra y errores históricos sobre los españoles". abc. 7 April 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  34. ^ "Cine y Leyenda Negra: España en el banquillo". ELMUNDO. 9 September 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2023.

External links[edit]