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DVD Reviews: 1492: Conquest of Paradise

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Dean Malandrini
Review Date: 10 March 2003
Distributed by:
The AV Channel
Running Time: 156 Minutes

1492 Conquest of Paradise is based on the story of Christopher Columbus’ exploration of “the new world”.  In order for Columbus to get not only permission but also funding to reach the new world he must address a university of prestigious nobles.  At this time many people believed that the world was flat and to believe other wise would be blasphemy which put Columbus in a bit of a predicament.  His attempt at getting permission to venture into the west to reach China instead of going east as routes have been cut by vicious rivals, Columbus is trying to begin trading with china as quickly as possible to put an end to the lack of spices. 

There was one man, a very influential man at that meeting who liked Columbus’ ideas.  Getting an interview with Queen Isabel of Spain, Columbus has been able to secure 3 ships and crew.  On the trip to China the crew is getting very worried as they have been at sea for a long time, on the verge of a mutiny Columbus addresses the crew giving a speech on how close they are to land, just as the crew is ready to rip the commanders apart the wind phenomenally picks up at the crew must get back to work to get out of the extremely long still they have encountered on the ocean.  Later that night Columbus is sleeping on deck when he his attacked by……..a mosquito, looking up at the lamp Columbus notices hordes of mosquito’s flying around the lamp, the true sign that land is near. 

Knowing that land is near, the crew rejoices,  disembarks on what they believe to be China though after a short exploration of the land, the crew has found some friendly natives.  The natives takes the crew into their village and starts worshiping them as gods and teaching them their culture. One of the crew, a young man with a hair lip is “transformed” into a native, shaving his head and painting his face, the young man is now accepted as part of the tribes’ hunting party.  Columbus is excited by the new adventure and the innocence of the country, he ventures back to Spain with many treasures planning to come back with many settlers to populate the country and to claim it for Spain. 

Upon arriving home he must appoint two advisories as Columbus is now going to be the governor of this new island, Columbus chooses his two brothers, he is forced by the powers that be, to take a mean noble along with him.  Arriving back at the island Columbus tries to contact the 35 men he left behind to take care of the island so that no-one else claimed it, only to find them beheaded. 

Contacting the chief of the tribe and questioning him, he’s told that warriors from the sea came and destroyed the village that harbored the men, Columbus and the nobleman do not believe him though Columbus forbids revenge to keep the peace.  Now that the Spanish out number the villagers, Columbus has erected a town and a church the tribesmen now pay a tax of gold that they pan for.  Until one day a villager has not found any gold and can not pay his tax, the nobleman believing that the tribesman has stolen it or is hiding it, lops his hand off for stealing.   This act of violence turns all the tribes on the island against the settlers and they disappear into the wilderness.  The nobleman is imprisoned for his crime, though believing he is innocent. 

Only days later the tribes return to kill the settlers and destroy the newly erected town. Columbus’ forces fight off the attacks, but in the confusion the nobleman escapes and kills himself.  The priest that was staying there urges Columbus to let him go back to Spain as he no longer has any intention of staying in this godless land, Columbus lets the priest return not knowing that he was the nobleman’s friend. Thinking that Columbus killed the nobleman he informs the Queen and Columbus’ rule is revoked and a new governor was sworn in. 

When Columbus returns to Spain his career as an explorer has been stained and the mainland has already been discovered, only two weeks sail from where the island was.  The discovery of the mainland was announced in court though Columbus gets no recognition for his discovery or struggle.  Years later his youngest son writes about his fathers exploits and is rewritten into the history books. 

A very good movie one of those movies you’d expect to see on Sunday afternoon a good portrayal of Columbus’ story though I do feel bad for the guy, as his last days were lived in poverty and as an outcast.

The struggle between a good man whose intentions are good and a society that only wants to take over and destroy any culture it encounters.  The age old story of paradise destroyed by mans ambition for power. 

The sound quality was of the highest, picture quality was flawless without any trace of artifacts that I could see. Black colouring was depicted well without fluctuating as well. Extras on the DVD were interviews with Ridley Scott, Gerard Depardieu, and Alain Goldman. Whilst informative, I did not find them intriguing enough to watch in one sitting. Also on the DVD was the original trailer and of course trailers of other movies Umbrella are releasing on DVD.

1492: Conquest of Paradise Features

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Interviews with Ridley Scott, Gerard Depardieu and Alain Goldman
  • Umbrella Propaganda


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