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So how did they make such a lame-brained movie about it? Let's see: they cast Tom Selleck as King Ferdinand (whose idea was that?!) and gave the characters lines that sound more like something out of an Ed Wood movie. I understand that the Indians were initially planning to protest "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery", but when they saw how moronic it was, they realized that there was no need to protest it! The real irony is seeing Marlon Brando in the movie. He had come out in support of the American Indian Movement and famously sent a woman dressed in tribal regalia to accept his Oscar for "The Godfather". So why did he star in this?
Basically, you'll feel tempted to make the sorts of comments that Mike, Servo and Crow hurl at the crummy movies on "Mystery Science Theater 3000". While the characters were walking through what appeared to be a torture chamber, I said "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" If you ask me, something that should get emphasized is the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain, and how the confiscation of their property financed the expeditions to the Americas. To say nothing of the Inquisition itself.
If the movie has any points of interest, it's the early appearances of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Benicio Del Toro. Everyone had to start somewhere. Nonetheless, the best movie dealing with Columbus's landing on Hispaniola (NOT discovery) is "Even the Rain". I also recommend James Loewen's book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong".
This film is more of a dramas than an action movie. And it's most certainly way more true in depicting how the long sea trip took place, as well as how it all got to get that far. I found the waiting for them to see land as exciting as the action which is probably what was the reason critics didn't like it back in 1992. It was also said the acting was bad back them. That's pure crap. The acting is good.
The way the film depicts the bad parts of the conquering is simply great. It goes down through the bone marrow. Sometimes critics just follow each other like a flock of seagulls. And all around the world they copy what's been said "over there". This premiered in USA and Germany 14 days before the rest of the world, which just followed up the bad critics. This was before the world had seen much of Internet.
It shows Columbus as a kind, but also hard man. He is not shown as a pure hero. He steal the gold and silver from the Indians, and he lets crime happen. He also took slaves back, and forced the Christian religion upon them, to show how good the Indians were when brought back to Spain. It was purely awful. It's grim in many ways. No wonder it was seen upon as a travesty back at the 500 years anniversary.
See it. See a much more true story than the other films, though it has no happy ending! Just as it was. The modern world ruined the Central Americas in an awful way.
Or Rachel Ward playing Queen Isabela as a shallow minded slut who gives Columbus money because she was horny for him. Seriously, this film claims that! Try and reconcile that with the real life history: Isabella was a sharp, powerful queen who presided over the uniting of her nation, and one of the most devout Catholics to ever be on the throne. There's good reason she's called Isabela La Catolica and the Defender of the Faith.
And Columbus as a supposed charming rake? (Actually this actor comes across as a conceited ass in love with his own reflection.)Oh yeah, and showing his wife as a hot young thing...Columbus married a widow older than him, for her money.
Please! Columbus was a driven, obsessed religious fanatic who thought the world was coming to an end in hislifetime, a believer in The End Times who thought he would play a role in Arrmageddon.
Which, of course, is the worst thing the film does. It whitewashes genocide, doesn't show Columbus as the man who killed at least 800,000 Taino Indians, chopping off hand if they didn't give him enough gold, handing over Indian girls for his soldiers to rape as rewards for jobs well done, feeding Indian bodies to his dogs, and personally raping Indian women and enslaving both Indians and Africans. And he went to prison in Spain, for falsely imprisoning and torturing Spaniards.
Skip this travesty and see the far better films, Surviving Columbus or Columbus Didn't Discover Us. And unlike this sanitized fiction, these two films are the truth. And you can find them for free on Youtube.
In other words, this film is nothing like Ridley Scott's politically correct pile of rubbish about the discovery of America.
This Columbus is confident, unapologetic, full of spirit. He does not weep and doubt himself in every scene. He's not a confused, indecisive fat git. Nor is he an evil murderer. He represents the spirit of Europe. He feels proud just as the filmmakers want us to feel proud of being Europeans.
That's why I give it ten stars. On purely artistic grounds, it's no great achievement, despite its budget and solid cast.
In pretty much every department from casting (Tom Selleck as the King of Spain. Why?) through writing ("Admiral Colon, you have won our respect and our admiration. Now where's my gold?" Note: In spite of the title, the legendary seafarer is correctly referred to as Cristobal Colon throughout... except when someone calls him "Christopher Columbus" at one point) to "special" effects, on top of an ending that leaves a really bad taste in the mouth - we cut from the misery left behind in the New World to our hero exulting as Cliff Eidelman's wildly over-the-top music bursts forth - the movie's embarrassing, shoddy and offensive. Not that the other Columbus movie didn't have its own faults (the exceptional dullness is only one of its problems) but at least Ridley Scott and Co. studied it with a bit more depth than this tosh.
Funny how Catherine Zeta-Jones never mentions this one.
"What do you look for in a bad Movie? Lame script? Laughable casting? Crappy acting? CC has it all. George Corraface (who?) is the revisioned Chris, now a swashbuckling, knife wielding Errol Flynn kinda hero. Apparently, Chris not only discovered America, he also invented the mullet. Tom Sellick gets the Sophie Coppola Casting Award for his role as King Ferdenand (nice pageboy 'do, Tom). This film isn't even worth seeing for the topless natives scenes, where the gods apparently bestow generous breasts only upon the Chief's daughter."
Now, to find a copy of 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE...
This is a deadly dull and ruthlessly routine costume drama that didn't need to call the main character Christopher Columbus because you never feel that you are watching a real human being, you feel that you are watching fashion model in a perfume ad. The title role belongs not to an Italian but to a French actor named George Corraface who is a good looking guy who has his eyes more on women then on his journey.
The rest of the cast is and exercise in miscasting. Get this: Tom Selleck plays King Ferdenand, Rachel Ward plays Queen Isabella and Marlon Brando plays Torqaumada with so little energy that I expected him to doze off in the middle of his big scene. These are good actors but seeing them in these costumes and in these roles is just baffling. Christopher Columbus is a role that requires a very introspective actor, one who could act with his face and portray the frustration and anguish that probably haunted Columbus for most of his life both in America and back in Europe.
Then there is the ending in which the movie ends after a short stay in The New World and its back to Europe. I sometimes complain when movies are too short but this time I think the filmmakers did us a favor.
The story is fit for a historical drama. There are good bits and pieces but the overall is not that good. It looks inferior. This came out around the same time as "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Neither are terribly good movies but at least 1492 has the look of an epic. Tom Selleck has no business playing the Spanish king. He's basically Magnum, P.I. with a jewel bedazzled coat. It's laughable. By comparison, Marlon Brando is nowhere near as bad. Georges Corraface is functional but he isn't the biggest name. There are a couple of familiar faces like Zeta-Jones and Benicio Del Toro. There is limitation to the intensity. This is not quite good enough.