Rated: PG-13 Due to violence. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: October 9, 1992 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation
Director Ridley Scott carries Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic with vibrant sunsets on the rim of the ocean, brilliant light flashing on the water and clear blue skies which burn the skin of all the sailors in three small wooden boats to the new world, where paradise was to be found. Scott compares Columbus to NASA's moon shot astronauts; in reality the astronauts knew far more about their destination than the small band of men Columbus led.
The saga begins in Spain, a country in the grip of the inquisition. Sinners were burned at the stake and the church as in control. From that atmosphere Columbus, after years of pleading, got his small fleet to sail the 700 leagues to China. He found a paradise where the word sin did not exist and he and his men began immediately to change it.
Gerard Depardieu plays the sad hero adventurer who is revered as the founder of the new world or at least the European explorer who opened the Atlantic crossing to future immigrants. He never did reach what is the United States. He sailed around Cuba, never knowing he was 90 miles from the large North American continent.
With all the obvious effort to deal with Columbus in a realistic manner, Scott has created a long plodding film with little glory; it is a fact painful to watch. One expects the depiction of the sea voyage to be long, but scenes on San Salvador are dragged to the extent that they become dull. Little of the beauty of the Caribbean Islands is shown. They immediately become wet, muddy and the scenes of violent battles.
Perhaps we want to see the faults in leaders today and all human beings have faults and failures but where is the joy? Columbus is remembered 500 years after his trip in a little wooden boat. He was jailed by the powers that be in Spain, yet he continued to believe in his goal. His son Fernando wrote of his adventures which may be why he is remembered at all.
The pain of change to the native population in the Caribbean, the greed of the military, the pain of an oppressive church, and the sadness of Columbus are all played out well, but there is no pleasure in watching 1492 - Conquest of Paradise.
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