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1492 Conquest of Paradise


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1 new from CDN$ 189.90 3 used from CDN$ 57.99 1 collectible from CDN$ 79.01


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One of Ridley Scott's most wrong-headed films, this one (like all of his movies) looks fabulous and sounds utterly ridiculous, almost from the beginning. His first mistake was casting the wonderful Gerard Depardieu as Columbus and forcing him to speak English, which Depardieu does with decided difficulty. After spending way too much time on the ocean with Columbus's three ships (you kind of wish they would sail over the edge of the world), they arrive in the West Indies, only to turn around and sail back. The rest of the film deals with the not particularly comprehensible politics of Columbus's venture, which leads to the violent slaughter of trusting natives by a band of cardboard villains. Depardieu, who radiates sympathy, looks like he's at sea with this material. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Freeman on March 19 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Okay, kids, let's forget all about the "Columbus was a bad dead white male" business and get to the real reason why this film had "lackluster" performance at the box office.
"1492" is loaded with gratuitous and gruesome violence. It was clear from the first reviewers a decade ago that the images of burning at the stake, garotting, the beheaded sailor with the harelip, and the guy leaping to his death and having his bones poke through the skin (what's up with that?) were not easy to forget. What was easy to forget was the rest of the movie, because much of it is boring (oh, almost neglected to mention the Spaniard with the bloody urine...sorry). Forget about the use of Spanish in the film, most of it is in "furry English", courtesy of Depardieu and his Euro cinema pals.
Cool, 15th century adventure stories are not well served by hangups with "a more brutal time", or politically correct references to the Carib indians or "the Moors". If you want to have them in furry English, you may as well have them speak Spanish and Italian (and Carib?) and just use subtitles.
Better luck with the movie version on the 600th anniversary of the Columbus voyage? Don't hold your breath.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Oct. 19 2003
Format: VHS Tape
1492: Conquest Of Paradise, is a beautiful, and wonderful looking movie. Not only that, but it's perfect from my standpoint. People would be able to see this film again if a DVD is released. And alot of people would grow to love this movie. Yes, it's about Christopher Columbus, but the movie is about a little more than just him. History wise, I don't know that much about Christopher Columbus, other than just some of the historical facts about him, and the film presents them all reasonably well. History facts aside, the movie does it's job to entertain the viewer, and presents to us a fair interpretation of Columbus and what he accomplished through his life. Ridley Scott, uses the world Columbus inhabits and achieves glorious results, along with working with Vangelis, what we have here is a rare breed of film where the soundtrack and the images, in some scenes in the film work together to make the viewer think about the subject matter. Like in 2001: A Space Oddessy, this is about equal to it, the soundtrack is amazing. Gerard Depardieu provides us with a solid, enjoyable performance, he is so fun to watch on screen in 1492. For a French actor, he is believable as an Italian, because his nose helps, and his accent is abstract and different from the people he associates with to accomplish what he did in Spain at the time. The movie is incredible, it makes you think about life. I think a DVD release by, I think, Paramount, is not just a good idea, rather a necessity, since this film covers such important subject matter for because of Christopher Columbus, we call our home America. I think it's crazy that the studio hasn't released this on DVD yet.
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Format: VHS Tape
"At least Columbus had the wit, in his madness, to mistake Venezuela for the outskirts of Paradise. But he remarked on the availability of cheap slave labor in Paradise." -- Ursula K. LeGuin
True to our colonial tradition of valorizing conquerors, this film ignores the inconvenient facts of New World History: the genocide of the Tainos (Columbus himself led an attack against them), their decimation and starvation, the repartimiento and encomiendo slave systems set up by the Columbus brothers on Hispanola, and all the rest of the sordid story. A ruthless opportunist who loved wealth and titles, Columbus went to the New World for two reasons: he saw himself as a "Christ-bearer" (his own term) to primitives, and he wanted something he mentions dozens of times in his diary: gold.
Were all the whites evil and all the Indians good? Of course not. But it is not an exercise in black-and-white thinking to remember those who perished in the gold mines, who starved to death on the roads, and who fell down in fear before the cannons brought to intimidate them into obedience. It is their stories that the victors have silenced, glamorizing instead their persecutors and colonizers.
Until someone makes a more honest film about the man responsible for so much death that his actions with the Indians shocked even the Spanish crown, here are a few quotations taken directly from his own journals:
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...Having banished all the Jews from all your Kingdoms and realms, during this same month of January Your Highnesses ordered me to go with a sufficient fleet to the said regions of India.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Oct. 25 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I had to watch this movie for my University history class. I thought that the videography was great, beautiful scenery etc, but I ended up having to rent this one again just so I could rewind to catch all the parts I couldn't understand due to Gerard Depardieu's accent. Why do did they have a Frenchman playing an Italian in Spain, but speaking English. We as a class decided that there was a lot of Historical inacurracy, not only in events as they happen in the movie, but also in the character of Columbus as well. Sorry folks. He was the not NICE GUY that this film makes him out to be. I also felt that they needed to explore a bit more into the tensions of the crew during the voyage and after landing. This would have made those scenes much better. I recommend this film for the beautiful scenery and the good acting (albeit hard to understand sometimes), but I would not recommend it if you are a stickler for historical truth.
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