1492: Conquest of Paradise  

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1492: Conquest of Paradise is a 1992 epic historical drama film directed and produced by Ridley Scott and starring Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante, and Sigourney Weaver. It portrays a version of the travels to the New World by the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus and the effect this had on indigenous peoples.

The film was released to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage. The premiere debuted less than two months after Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, often leading to confusion between the two films.


Aware that the world is round, Christopher Columbus lobbies for a trip westwards to Asia, but lacks a crew and ship. The Catholic theologians at the University of Salamanca heavily disapprove of Columbus's plan, not being keen on ideas that go against the writings of Ptolemaeus. Columbus is approached by Martín Pinzón, a shipowner from Palos, who introduces him to the banker Santángel, to whom Queen Isabella I owes money. Columbus meets with the queen, who grants him his journey in exchange for his promise to bring back sufficient amounts of riches in gold.

Columbus deceives many crewmen by telling them that the voyage will only last seven weeks. Three ships depart. Nine weeks go by with no sign of land. The crew becomes restless and edges toward mutiny. He tries to reinvigorate them with an inspiring speech, coinciding with a fast wind, which goads the men to return to their duties. At night, Columbus notices mosquitoes on the deck, indicating that land is not far off. Suddenly, out of the mist they see the lush vegetation and sandy beaches of Guanahani.

The Europeans befriend the local natives, who show them gold they have collected. Columbus teaches one of them Spanish so that they are able to communicate. He then informs them that he will return to Spain, which will be followed by the arrival of many more Europeans. Columbus leaves behind a group to begin the colonisation of the Americas. Back in Spain, he receives a high honour from the queen and has dinner with the council. They express disappointment with the small amount of gold he brought back, but the queen approves of his gifts. On the second expedition, Columbus takes 17 ships and over 1,000 men with him to the island; however, all the crewmen left behind are found to have been killed. When the tribe is confronted by Columbus and his troops, they tell him that another tribe came and killed them. Columbus chooses to believe them, but his commanding officer Moxica is not convinced. They begin to build the city of La Isabela and eventually manage to hoist the town bell into its tower.

Four years later, the natives are being forced to mine for gold. Moxica punishes one who fails to find any gold by cutting off his hand. The word of this act of violence spreads throughout the native tribes and they all disappear into the forest. Columbus begins to worry about a potential war, with the natives heavily outnumbering them. Upon return to his home, he finds his house set ablaze by Moxica and his followers, confirming his unpopularity among a certain faction of the settlers. Soon, the tribes arrive to fight the Spaniards and the island becomes war-torn, with Columbus' governorship being reassigned with orders for him to return to Spain.

Columbus is accused of nepotism and offering administrative positions to his personal friends, thereby injuring the pride of the nobles such as Moxica; he is replaced by de Bobadilla. Columbus returns to Castile to be imprisoned, but is bailed out by his sons. When he is summoned by the queen, she is reluctantly convinced to allow him to make another voyage, with the proviso that he neither take his brothers nor return to the colonies. As an old man, Columbus is virtually forgotten in Spain, with the discovery of the New World being credited to Amerigo Vespucci. Columbus's son Ferdinand asks his father to tell him his story so he can transcribe it.



Renowned Greek composer Vangelis composed the score. Its main theme, "Conquest of Paradise", was used by former Portuguese Prime-Minister António Guterres at his 1995 election and it was used by the Portuguese Socialist Party as its campaign and rally anthem, although it was replaced by the main theme from Gladiator (curiously another Ridley Scott film) since the first José Sócrates legislative elections campaign, which doesn't prevent the theme from still being deeply associated with the Socialist Party.

Russia used it in the 2nd round of the 1996 Russian presidential election;

The theme is also used at the starting line of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc ultramarathon. The German boxer Henry Maske (former world champion (IBF) in the Light heavyweight category) used the main theme as his official entry theme during his professional career. Other usages of the theme include New Zealand Super 15 Rugby franchise the Canterbury Crusaders, as they run onto the field, often accompanied by actors dressed as knights and riding on horseback, and rugby league team Wigan Warriors who play in the Super League, as well as being played before the start of every match in the 2010 and 2014 cricket World Twenty20 championships as well as the 2011 Cricket World Cup. In these events the theme was played right before the national anthems of the two competing nations, as the flags of the two nations were carried into the ground, accompanied by the players of the two teams. The theme was also played in the Top Gear: US Special and became a signature piece for World Professional Champion figure skaters Anita Hartshorn and Frank Sweiding. Despite the film's dismal box office intake in the United States, the film's score became a successful album worldwide.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "1492: Conquest of Paradise" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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