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1492 (1992) Case

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492 is a 1992 film about the ambitions, accomplishments, and fall of Columbus. The film is directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Alain Goldman and Scott. It stars Gerard Depardieu as Columbus, Sigourney Weaver as Queen Isabella I, and Armand Assante as Gabriel Sanchez, Treasurer of Aragon. The film was released to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage.

The film starts with Columbus getting funding from the Queen. The Spanish council disapproves, and he even fights with monks. Finally, through a representative, the Queen lets him go on the journey as long as he can bring back gold. He leaves for "Asia," tricking the crewmen that the journey would take only seven weeks. After a futile nine weeks, the crew becomes restless, but Columbus revives their motivation. Finally they see the lush New World. They befriend the natives, get gold, and return to Spain. Columbus receives high honor. However, when he returns, the crewmen he left behind are found killed. The tribe tells Columbus that strangers came and killed them. Not wanting war, Columbus chooses to believe the natives, despite the doubts of his commanding officer. They build San Salvador. Four years later, the commanding officer accuses the natives of lying about gold. War is on the wake. Columbus also finds his house set on fire by settlers. San Salvador is war torn, Columbus' commanding officer takes over the position of governor, and Columbus is ordered to be sent back to Spain. Moreover, after Amerigo Vespucci discovered the mainland, Columbus goes to prison. However, he shows his passion for the New World and the Queen grants him to see it for one last time.

A huge historical inaccuracy is that Columbus actually took four voyages, not two. However, it's understandable that a director would want to compress a film for the sake of time. Additionally, Columbus never punished Moxica, his commanding officer, for cutting off a native's hand (Columbus' own policy). Rather, he was punished for challenging Columbus's own authority and wealth. Columbus also never considered any native as an equal. However, this change is also understandable because any filmmaker would want to portray the protagonist as a "good" character. Columbus never served time in prison, either. Here, Scott probably wanted to put Columbus through more trouble, to create more drama.

The scenery in the film is absolutely beautiful. However, the Spanish camp was not as pretty as the film shows. The movie has billowing curtains and sparkly-clean tables with silver candlesticks, while it was actually filthy, poorly-situated, extremely dirty, and filled with Spaniards ailing with tropical diseases and their own syphilis. However, the clothing was quite accurate. My favorite settings are the ships; they are not only portrayed well, but the darkness suits the scene and describes actual "ship" conditions.

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