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Movie Reviews

1492: Conquest Of Paradise  

UK/ USA/ France/ Spain 1992
Directed by Ridley Scott.
Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Wincott.


In 1992 Christopher Columbus was going to be honoured. It was then 500 years since he discovered new territories westwards across the Atlantic. Two movies were made about the great event, but both of them failed to be successful. "1492-Conquest of Paradise" attracted most attention and is clearly the best of them. It describes how Columbus (Gérard Depardieu) after repeatedly attempts, at last allows to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. He sailed in Spanish service with a view to find a short cut to Asia, there gold lay and waiting for them. Now he didn´t came to Asia, and he didn´t found any gold either. Despite several voyages he only came to the islands outside of Americas coast. But he was totally convinced that he landed up in India. When Columbus got problems in ruling the colonies he found, and later on when another explorer found America, was his days as a seafarer over. He became forgotten and died as a nobody. It wasn´t until far later that Columbus was remembered as the man who discovered America.

I must admit that I´m very dissociated at this review. Technically "1492-Conquest of Paradise" is a brilliant film. With its imagery it describes the period in a highly impressive way. Ridley Scott has always been noted for creating lyrical movies, and "1492" is certainly not an exception. Vangelis smarting beautiful music exist in the background, and the result of all this is a complete visual experience.

The problem with "1492" is that it is far too long. It takes slightly more than half an hour before Columbus sail away with his men, and when he later on returns again is there a new dead period. It might had been reduced an hour without losing too much contents. It actually doesn´t heat up until Columbus make his second trip. Then steps the evil nobleman Moxica into the picture (phenomenally played by Michael Wincott). Moxica stir the blood on the natives, and makes them see red. Here is Ridley Scott in absolute top, and I forget temporarily the boring parts I earlier slumbered me through. Then the film ends up with a long drawn-out final, which draws down the overall impression quite a lot.

Many think that "1492" is too long-winded, but there are also some fanatics who maintain that it is the best movie that been made. As usual when it comes to such love or hate films, I´m not sure which leg I will stand on. I have given a proportionately low rating, but you who haven´t seen it yet should not be frighten away. "1492-Conquest of Paradise" is in reality much better, and should be checked up.

Kent Palmgren

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