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1492: Conquest of Paradise

As on 23 July 2013

Taken from: Wikipedia - 1492: Conquest of Paradise


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 Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (Gérard Depardieu) and the effect this had on the indigenous people.

The film was released by Paramount to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage.[2]


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 navigating 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 gold they have collected. Columbus teaches one of them Spanish so that they are able to communicate. He then informs them 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 begin 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 approves of his gifts. On return 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 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 throughout the native tribes 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 house ablaze, confirming his unpopularity among 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 sentenced to many years in prison, but is 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 that he never returns to San Salvador. The closing scene shows him old, with his youngest son writing down his tales of the New World.


- Gérard Depardieu as Christopher Columbus
- Armand Assante as Gabriel Sanchez
- Sigourney Weaver as Queen Isabella I
- Loren Dean as Older Ferdinand Columbus
- Ángela Molina as Beatriz Enriquez de Arana
- Fernando Rey as Antonio de Marchena
- Michael Wincott as Adrián de Moxica
- Tchéky Karyo as Martín Alonso Pinzón
- Kevin Dunn as Captain Méndez
- Frank Langella as Luis de Santángel
- Mark Margolis as Francisco de Bobadilla
- Kario Salem as de Arojaz
- Billy L. Sullivan as Younger Ferdinand Columbus
- John Heffernan as Brother Buyl
- Arnold Vosloo as Hernando de Guevara
- Steven Waddington as Bartolomeo Columbus
- Fernando Guillén Cuervo as Giacomo Columbus
- José Luis Ferrer as Alonso de Bolaños
- Bercelio Moya as Utapán
- Juan Diego Botto as Diego Columbus
- Achero Mañas as Ship's Boy - Fernando García Rimada as King Ferdinand V
- Albert Vidal as Hernando de Talavera
- Isabel Prinz as Dueña
- Jack Tayloras de Vicuña
- Ángela Rosal as Pinzón's Wife
- Silvia Montero as Pinzón's Daughter (uncredited)


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 is used by the Portuguese Socialist Party as its anthem since then. The theme is also used at the starting line of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc ultramarathon.

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 Super League, as well as being played before the start of every match in 2010 ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament as well as the 2011 ICC 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 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.

Despite the film's dismal box office intake in the United States, the film's score became a successful album worldwide.

Release and Reception

Box office

1492: Conquest of Paradise opened in theatres on October 9, 1992. It was rated PG-13 in the United States due to violence and brutality. The film was not a success, debuting at No. 7, and ultimately grossing far below its $47 million budget.[3]


Overall, the film got mixed reviews,[4][5][6][7][8] with the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a "rotten" 39% rating based on 17 reviews. However, respected film critic Roger Ebert said in his review that the film was satisfactory, stating "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."[9]


1. Berkman, Meredith (1992-10-16). "Coming to America". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
2. Mathews, Jack (1992-05-03). "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". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
3. Fox, David J. (1992-10-13). "Weekend Box Office A Bang-Up Opening for `Under Siege'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
4. "Columbus As A Hollywood Hustler". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
5. "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Washington Post. 1992-10-09. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
6. "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Variety. 1991-12-31. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
7. "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Dessert News. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
8. "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Entertainment Weekly. 1992-10-16. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
9. 1492 Review by Roger Ebert