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 discovery/[2]adventure/heist film produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was written by Jim Kouf, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, 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, entitled National Treasure: Book of Secrets, was released in December 2007.


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.

Thirty years later, Ben leads an expedition along with Ian Howe (Sean Bean), and his friend, computer expert Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) to find the Charlotte, a ship trapped in Arctic ice, which is believed to be referenced in the clue. The group discovers a meerschaum pipe hidden in a barrel of gunpowder in the cargo hold. Ben discovers a clue is engraved on the stem of the pipe, which he concludes indicates the next clue to be on the back of the Declaration of Independence. When Ian suggests they steal it, a fight ensues, during which spilled gunpowder is ignited. Ian escapes the ship, along with his accomplice Shaw, locking Ben and Riley inside. Ian and the rest of his accomplices flee the area, while Ben and Riley escape through a smuggler's hold.

In Washington, D.C., Ben and Riley report Ian's plan to the government, including the FBI, and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) at the National Archives, where the document is stored, however, their claims are dismissed on the grounds that it is impossible to steal and there is no clue. Ben decides to steal the document himself, although Riley has been convinced that it is in fact impossible. When Ben reveals to him his plan, however, he is convinced of its plausibility. The two then prepare the plan, which involves getting the document moved off of display to the preservation room (where documents are stored when in need of work) and hacking into the security cameras, in order to steal it during a Gala being held at the Archives. Ben sends Abigail one of George Washington's campaign buttons, having dipped it in invisible ink, causing her to leave fingerprints on the keyboard that gives access to the preservation room. At the gala, Ben gains access by disguising himself as a janitor. He then poses as an invitee, and obtains Abigail's fingerprint from a champagne glass, using it to access the preservation room's hallway. He applies light to the keyboard, revealing Abigail's fingerprints, and discovers the password to be "valley forge" while Riley disables the security cameras. In the middle of the heist, Ian and his team arrive, also in an attempt to steal the document. Ben is confronted by them in the hallway and is shot at, but escapes. Before leaving, a clerk in the gift shop notices the document in his jacket pocket, believing he is attempting to steal a souvenir duplicate, forcing Ben to pay for the document with a credit card. Leaving the building, he is followed by Abigail, suspicious of his presence at the gala. Ian's team kidnaps her, believing she has obtained the Declaration from Ben. Ben and Riley rescue her during a car chase, but Ian retains the document, which turns out to be a duplicate purchased alongside the real one. Agent Sadusky (Harvey Keitel) and a team of other FBI agents begin tracking Ben through his credit card purchase. Having left a trail, Ben, Riley, and Abigail are unable to return to the former's apartment, and instead begin to travel to Patrick's house.

Ben, Riley, and Abigail arrive at Patrick's home in Philadelphia. Despite Patrick's protests, Ben and Abigail start to review the Declaration, stating that it is simply a piece of animal skin, and find a Ottendorf cipher written in invisible ink on its back. The encrypted message references the Silence Dogood letters written by Benjamin Franklin, which Ben believes are owned by Patrick. When he asks Patrick for the letters, however, he discovers that he has 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 lenses, which when used to read the back of the Declaration, reveal a clue: Heere at the Wall. 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, unaware that the clue was fake. Ben opens 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]

National Treasure received mixed reviews from critics, with 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 165 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."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 39 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[5]

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."[6] Academic David Bordwell has expressed a liking for the film, placing it in the tradition of 1950s Disney children's adventure movies,[7] and using it as the basis for an essay on scene transitions in classical Hollywood cinema.[8]

Box office[edit]

National Treasure grossed $173 million in North America and $174.5 million in other territories for a total of $347.5 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).[9]

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.[10]


National Treasure
National Treasure Soundtrack.jpg
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,[11] but Disney has already registered the domains for and[12] 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.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Box office statistics for National Treasure (2004), Box Office Mojo, retrieved April 10, 2007 .
  2. ^ "Discovery (observation)". 
  3. ^ "Locations for National Treasure". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ "National Treasure". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  5. ^ "National Treasure". Metacritic. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "National Treasure". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  7. ^ Bordwell, David (5 January 2008). "Your trash, my Treasure". Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  8. ^ Bordwell, David (January 2008). "The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema". Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "National Treasure". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  10. ^ "Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Announces the Disney Blu-Ray Title Wave Coming 2008". High-Def Digest. August 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  11. ^ Kirkland, Bruce (2008-05-30). "'National Treasure 3' in works". Jam!. CA: Canoe. 
  12. ^ Sciretta, Peter (2008-02-01). "Disney Plans For National Treasure 3 &". SlashFilm. 
  13. ^ "National Treasure 3: Page 47". Hits USA. 2007-12-22. 

External links[edit]