- uploaded: Feb 23, 2013
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1492: Conquest of Paradise (in French, 1492 : Christophe Colomb) is an epic 1992 European adventure/drama film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Roselyne Bosch, which tells the story of the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus (Gérard Depardieu) and the effect this had on the indigenous people. The film was released for Paramount to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage.
Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the effect this has on the indigenous people, starting with his solicitation of Queen Isabella I (Sigourney Weaver) to gain the necessary funding. In the beginning, Columbus becomes obsessed in making his trip westwards to Asia, but lacks crew and a ship. The Spanish council is also heavily disapproving of it, and are not keen on any act of independent thought. After continuous warnings at the monastery, he becomes involved in a brawl with the monks, ending up lying in the monastery courtyard to pay penance. His eldest son Diego, one of the monks, looks on disapprovingly. As Columbus continues his payment to penance through a vow of silence, he is approached by a representative of an interested party who wishes to fund the journey. 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 tricks many crewmen by telling them that the voyage would only last seven weeks. He goes to confession at the monastery to absolve his sins, and the monk reluctantly gives him absolution, as he is unable to inform the crewmen without breaking his oath. The next morning, three ships leave for the trip to Asia, with the flagship being the Santa Maria. During the voyage at night, one of the crewmen notices him navigation by the stars, a skill previously known only to the Moors. Columbus then happily teaches him the secret. Nine weeks go by and still no sign of land. The crew becomes restless and the other Captain turn against Columbus. He tries to reinvigorate them, to let them see the dream that he wishes to share. Whilst some of the crewmen were still not convinced, with all of a sudden the main sail catches the wind, which the crewmen see as a small act of God's willingness. At night, Columbus notices mosquitoes on the deck, indicating that land is not far off. Some days later, Columbus and the crew spot an albatross fly around the ship, before disappearing. Suddenly out of the mist they see the first sign of land. An island covered in lush vegetation and sandy beaches, the first discovery of the New World.
They befriend the local natives, who show them some of the gold they had collected. Columbus teaches one of them Spanish so that they are able to communicate with the tribes. He then later informs that they are to return to Spain momentarily to visit the Queen and bring the word of God. They leave behind a group of crewmen to help in the colonisation of the New World. Columbus receives a high Spanish 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 is approving of his gifts. On return to the island, all the crewmen are found to be dead. When the tribe are abruptly confronted by Columbus and his troops, they tell him that other strangers came and savaged them. Columbus chooses to believe them, but his commanding officer is not convinced. They begin to build the city of San Salvador and eventually manage to holster the town bell into its tower, symbolising the arrival of Christianity in the New World.
Four years later, the commanding officer cuts the hand off one of the natives, accusing him of lying about the whereabouts of gold. The word of this act of violence spreads across all the natives and they all disappear into the forest. Columbus begins to worry about a potential war arising, with the natives heavily outnumbering them. Upon return to his home in San Salvador, he finds his whole house ablaze with fire, showing his unpopularity amongst a certain faction of the settlers. Soon, the tribes arrive to fight the Spaniards and San Salvador becomes war-torn, with Columbus' governorship being reassigned with orders of him to return to Spain. After being informed about the discovery of the mainland by an Italian, he is incarcerated for many years, to be bailed out by his sons soon after. When summoned by the Queen about seeing the New World again, he makes a case for her about his dream to see the New World. She agrees to let him take a final voyage, on the condition he does not go with the brothers of his crew and to never return to San Salvador. The closing scene shows him old, with his youngest son writing down his tales of the New World.