Critic Reviews



Based on 21 critic reviews provided by
Flawed, certainly, but by no means the horror-show its paltry box-office performance would suggest.
In its own way and up to a certain point, 1492 is a satisfactory film. Depardieu lends it gravity, the supporting performances are convincing, the locations are realistic, and we are inspired to reflect that it did indeed take a certain nerve to sail off into nowhere just because an orange was round.
1492 is not a terrible film. Yet because it is without any guiding point of view, it is a lot less interesting than the elaborate physical production that has been given it. Only a very great writer could do justice to all the themes the Columbus story suggests. Ms. Bosch may be a very good researcher, but she's not a very great writer. She can't even squeeze in many relevant facts, much less define the relevance of those she does include.
Both Scott and screenwriter Roselyne Bosch provide absorbing period detail. You learn about garrotings and massacres, Indian hairstyles and Spanish royal gowns. But this cinematic scrapbook of Columbian highlights is as beautiful as it is empty.
All Ridley Scott's vaunted visuals can't transform 1492 from a lumbering, one-dimensional historical fresco into the complex, ambiguous character study that it strives to be.
Washington Post
To director Scott and screenwriter Roselyne Bosch, the atrocities against the natives came about not as a product of evil but through Columbus's ineptitude as a political leader. Still, this failure -- and his frustration over never actually reaching mainland America -- renders him a tragic figure. Though he was the dreamer and pioneer who first set foot in the New World and brought treasures and territory to Spain, he died all but forgotten. The movie, alas, for all its wondrous beauty, is destined to suffer a similar fate.
Time Out London
In attempting to explore the man, Roselyne Bosch's script also embraces the myth, most obviously in some initial exchanges laden with significance. Vangelis' thunderous, intrusive score doesn't help; even more tedious is foppish villain Wincott, fashion victim and confirmed sadist.
The New World is a disaster, moans Queen Isabella. Yes, that's about right.
At 2.5 hours, 1492 is even harder to sit through than last month’s schlock extravaganza Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. In each case the filmmakers have fallen into a similar trap. Out of some vague mixture of historical ”duty” and commercial myopia, they’ve presented Columbus as the same cardboard visionary we learned about in school.
A lumbering journey that conveys none of the joy or mystery of exploration. Star Gerard Depardieu's unintelligible line readings and director Ridley Scott's murky mise-en-scene make it a hard film to hear and see, let alone like.

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