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Film / 1492: Conquest of Paradise

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1492: Conquest of Paradise is a 1992 film, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the official discovery of the American continent by Europeans and taking the form of a Biopic of Christopher Columbus. It was directed by Ridley Scott, stars Gérard Depardieu as Christopher Columbus and Sigourney Weaver as Queen Isabel of Castile. Vangelis composed the soundtrack.

The movie starts in 1485, when Columbus had already been refused once by the King of Portugal the means to try crossing the Atlantic Ocean, sailing to the West. He turns to Castile and travel to Granada to meet the Queen, who, after another refusal, finally allows him to sail away, on August 1492.

What happened then... is history.


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1492: Conquest of Paradise provides examples of:

  • Age Lift: Columbus' sons : Diego was only 5, yet is played by 17 years-old Juan Diego Botto, and Fernando is played by Billy Sullivan, aged 10, while the real one was actually not born yet when we see him in the introduction, and was only 4 when Columbus first left.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • For Columbus character, see Historical Hero Upgrade.
    • For Columbus' sons, see Age Lift.
    • Santangel was much more important than depicted in introducing Columbus to the Queen. He wasn't a banker, he was the finance minister of Castile.
    • The movie uncritically parrots the old ideas about Columbus "proving" the Earth isn't flat. Nobody in the 15th century with half a brain cell thought the earth was flat. Oddly, this is contradicted within the film not much later when the Spanish only object to Columbus' plan because of his gross miscalculation of the Earth's circumference.
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    • Columbus wasn't the first European to discover America. Leif Eriksson was. And of course the native Americans knew that the place they lived in actually existed!
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Columbus gets crowned Viceroy and Governor of the Indies after he returns from the first trip.
  • Bold Explorer: ..hang on.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After the storm, Columbus reaches it.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Columbus is often wearing white. Wicked nobles are wearing red or black, like Moxica.
  • Historical-Domain Character.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Columbus is depicted as a calm, kindly explorer who is fascinated by the Native peoples he encounters when he reaches San Salvador. In reality, as deduced from Columbus' own writings, the man was aggressively religious to the point of fanaticism (which is never shown in the film note ) and considered the Native people he met to be an "intrusion of nature"-he had absolutely no respect for them, and as a governor of San Salvador would commit various atrocities against these people later, including massacring and enslaving them.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Given to The Spanish Inquisition.
  • The Mutiny: Only rumblings of it, during the first trip.
  • Politically Correct History: The story of Christopher Columbus is presented here with significantly less genocide than as it actually happened.
  • Scenery Porn: It's a Ridley Scott film. The highlight is the New World unveiling itself from a dense mist - which is what a dying Columbus remembers most of his travels.
  • Tantrum Throwing: In the monastry, Columbus loses it and start throwing around manuscripts.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Hispanic style, but not Dashing Hispanic for realism.


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