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 Jim Kouf
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
Production
company
Walt Disney Pictures
Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Junction Entertainment
Saturn Films
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date
November 19, 2004 (2004-11-19)
Running time
131 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100 million[1]
Box office $358.5 million

National Treasure is a 2004 American adventure heist film produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was written by Jim Kouf and the Wibberleys, 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.

A sequel, titled National Treasure: Book of Secrets, was released in December 2007.

Plot[edit]

Benjamin Franklin Gates is an American historian, cryptologist, and treasure hunter. As a child, his grandfather John told him of a story that Charles Carroll of Carrollton passed on a secret to their ancestor in 1832 of a fabled national treasure hidden in America by the Founding Fathers and Freemasons. The clue leading to the treasure is the phrase “The secret lies with Charlotte”. While Ben is convinced by the story, his sceptical father Patrick dismisses it as nonsense.

Thirty years later, Ben leads an expedition with Ian Howe, and his friend, Riley Poole, a computer expert, to find the Charlotte, a ship lost in the Arctic, which holds the first clue to finding the national treasure. They find a meerschaum pipe, which has a clue implying the next is on the Declaration of Independence. When Ian suggests they steal the Declaration of Independence , Ben opposes, causing a fight to ensue resulting in a massive fire fueled by gunpowder, and the group split in two. Ian and his men escape the ship while Ben and Riley take cover just before the ship explodes.

Ben and Riley return to Washington D.C. and report the potential theft of the Declaration to the FBI and Dr. Abigail Chase of the National Archives, but Abigail dismisses their claim. Ben decides to steal the document himself from the Archives’ preservation room during a gala event. Obtaining Abigail’s fingerprints, Ben successfully obtains the Declaration but is spotted by Ian’s group just as they break in to steal it. Ben tries to leave via the gift shop but has to buy the Declaration when the clerk mistakes it for a souvenir copy. Abigail, suspecting something is astray, pursues Ben and takes back the document. Ian kidnaps her, but Ben and Riley rescue Abigail, tricking Ian by leaving behind a purchased copy of the Declaration. FBI Agent Sadusky begins tracking Ben down.

Going to Patrick’s house, the trio study the Declaration and discover a Ottendorf cipher written in invisible ink. The message refers to the Silence Dogood letters written by Benjamin Franklin. Patrick formerly owned them but donated them to the Franklin Institute. Using a school boy to acquire the letters’ key words, Ben, Riley, and Abigail discover a message pointing to the bell tower of Independence Hall. They find a hidden cache containing a pair of glasses with multiple coloured lenses invented by Benjamin Franklin, which, when used to read the back of the Declaration reveal a clue pointing to the symbol of Trinity Church where is located in Wall Street and Broadway in New York City.

The group are chased by Ian’s associates. Ben is arrested by the FBI, while Abigail and Riley lose the Declaration to Ian. However, Abigail convinces Ian to help them rescue Ben in exchange for the next clue. Ian agrees, arranging a meeting at the USS Intrepid where they help Ben evade the FBI.

Ian returns the Declaration and asks for the next clue, but when Ben remains coy, Ian reveals he has kidnapped Patrick as a hostage. They travel to the Trinity Church where they find an underground passage but it appears to lead to a dead end lit by a lone lantern. Patrick claims it is referencing to the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, pointing Ian to the Old North Church in Boston. Ian leaves the Gates trapped in the chamber, heading for Boston. Patrick reveals the clue was a fake. They find a notch which the meerschaum pipe fits into, opening a large chamber containing the treasure. Ben contacts Sadusky, actually a Freemason, surrendering the Declaration and the treasure’s location in exchange for clemency. Ian is later arrested when Ben tips the FBI off.

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.

Cast[edit]

Additionally, David Dayan Fisher appears as Shaw, Stewart Finlay-McLennan as Powell, Oleg Taktarov as Victor Shippen, and Stephen Pope as Phil McGregor (all four being Ian's henchmen); Annie Parisse, Mark Pellegrino, Armando Riesco, and Erik King play agents Johnson, Dawes, Hendricks, and Colfax, respectively. Jason Earles portrays Thomas Gates.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Early 1999, it was revealed that Jon Turteltaub was developing National Treasure based upon an idea developed by Oren Aviv and Charles Segars two years earlier, with the script penned by Jim Kouf.[3] By 2001, the project was relocated to Touchstone Pictures.[4]

In May 2003, Nicolas Cage was cast as lead in the film.[5] New drafts were written by nine scribers, including Cormac and Marianne Wibberley,[5] E. Max Frye and Jon Turteltaub.[6] By October, Sean Bean was cast.[2]

Filming locations[edit]

Film set for the underground chambers beneath Trinity Church

National Treasure was filmed primarily in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Utah. Most scenes were filmed on location, with the exceptions of the Independence Hall scene, which was filmed at the replica of Independence Hall at Knott's Berry Farm, and the Arctic scene, which was filmed in Utah.[7]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

National Treasure received mixed reviews from critics, some of whom lauded it as a fun, straightforward family adventure, while others ridiculed its numerous implausibilities and unbelievable plot twists. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 44%, based on 169 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's consensus reads, "National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 39 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[9]

Roger Ebert gave the film 2/4 stars, calling it "so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line."[10] Academic David Bordwell has expressed a liking for the film, placing it in the tradition of 1950s Disney children's adventure movies,[11] and using it as the basis for an essay on scene transitions in classical Hollywood cinema.[12]

Box office[edit]

National Treasure grossed $173 million in the United States and Canada, and $185.5 million in other territories, for a total of $358.5 million against a $100 million budget.

In its opening weekend the film grossed $35.1 million, finishing in 1st place at the box office, beating out fellow newcomer The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie ($32 million).[13]

In Japan National Treasure beat out the double-billing MegaMan NT Warrior: Program of Light and Dark and Duel Masters. : Curse of the Deathphoenix by grossing $11,666,763 in its first week. It remained number one for three weeks.

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.[14]

Soundtrack[edit]

National Treasure (Original Score)
Film score by Trevor Rabin
Released November 16, 2004
Recorded 2004
Genre Stage & screen
Length 38:45
Label Hollywood
Producer Trevor Rabin
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[15]

All tracks written 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

Sequels[edit]

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,[16] but Disney has already registered the domains for NationalTreasure3.com and NationalTreasure4.com.[17] 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.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Box office statistics for National Treasure (2004), Box Office Mojo, retrieved April 10, 2007 .
  2. ^ a b Feiwell, Jill; Harris, Dana (October 13, 2003). "Sean Bean". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ Cox, Dan; Carver, Benedict (February 22, 1999). "‘Treasure’ found". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  4. ^ Fleming, Michael (July 31, 2001). "Helmer digs for ‘Treasure’". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (May 27, 2003). "Cage unearths ‘Treasure’". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ The Wibberley's (April 9, 2003). "National Treasure Draft" (PDF). Patriot Resource. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Locations for National Treasure". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  8. ^ "National Treasure". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 23, 2012. 
  9. ^ "National Treasure". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2015. 
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger. "National Treasure". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  11. ^ Bordwell, David (January 5, 2008). "Your trash, my Treasure". Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  12. ^ Bordwell, David (January 2008). "The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema". Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  13. ^ "National Treasure". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved May 23, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Announces the Disney Blu-Ray Title Wave Coming 2008". High-Def Digest. August 17, 2007. Retrieved September 27, 2007. 
  15. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Trevor Rabin, National Treasure (Original Score)". AllMusic.com. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ Kirkland, Bruce (May 30, 2008). "'National Treasure 3' in works". Jam!. CA: Canoe. 
  17. ^ Sciretta, Peter (February 1, 2008). "Disney Plans For National Treasure 3 &". SlashFilm. 
  18. ^ "National Treasure 3: Page 47". Hits USA. December 22, 2007. 

External links[edit]