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Mathews, Jack (3 May 1992). "MOVIES : Voyage of Rediscovery : With '1492,' director Ridley Scott and writer Roselyne Bosch aim to portray Christopher Columbus not as a legend but as an extraordinary though flawed person". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 October 2010. Theatrical release poster Directed by Ridley Scott Produced by Alain Goldman Ridley Scott Written by Roselyne Bosch Starring Gérard Depardieu Sigourney Weaver Armand Assante Fernando Rey Music by Vangelis Cinematography Adrian Biddle Editing by William M. Anderson Françoise Bonnot Les Healey Armen Minasian Deborah Zeitman Studio Gaumont Film Company Légende Enterprises France 2 Due West CYRK Films Distributed by Paramount Pictures (United States) Pathé (United Kingdom) Release date(s) 9 October 1992 (1992-10-09) (United States) 12 October 1992 (1992-10-12) (France) Running time 142 minutes Country France Spain United Kingdom Language English Budget $47 million Box office $7,191,399
Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the effect this has on the pueblos originarios, starting with his solicitation of Queen Isabella I (Sigourney Weaver) to gain the necessary funding. In the beginning, Columbus becomes obsessed in making his trip westwards to Asia, but lacks crew and a ship. The Spanish council is also heavily disapproving of it, and are not keen on any act of independent thought. After continuous warnings at the monastery, he becomes involved in a brawl with the monks, ending up lying in the monastery courtyard to pay penance. His eldest son Diego, one of the monks, looks on disapprovingly. As Columbus continues his payment to penance through a vow of silence, he is approached by a representative of an interested party who wishes to fund the journey. 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 tricks many crewmen by telling them that the voyage would only last seven weeks. He goes to confession at the monastery to absolve his sins, and the monk reluctantly gives him absolution, as he is unable to inform the crewmen without breaking his oath. The next morning, three ships leave for the trip to Asia, with the flagship being the Santa Maria. During the voyage at night, one of the crewmen notices him navigating by the stars, a skill previously known only to the Moors. Columbus then happily teaches him the secret. Nine weeks go by and still no sign of land. The crew becomes restless and the other Captain turn against Columbus. He tries to reinvigorate them, to let them see the dream that he wishes to share. Whilst some of the crewmen were still not convinced, with all of a sudden the main sail catches the wind, which the crewmen see as a small act of God's willingness. At night, Columbus notices mosquitoes on the deck, indicating that land is not far off. Some days later, Columbus and the crew spot an albatross fly around the ship, before disappearing. Suddenly out of the mist they see the first sign of land. An island covered in lush vegetation and sandy beaches, the first discovery of the New World.
They 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 they are to return to Spain momentarily to visit the Queen and bring the word of God. They leave behind a group of crewmen to begin the colonisation of the New World. Columbus receives a high Spanish 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 return 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 other strangers came and savaged them. Columbus chooses to believe them, but his commanding officer is not convinced. They begin to build the city of San Salvador and eventually manage to holster the town bell into its tower, symbolising the arrival of Christianity in the New World.
Four years later, the commanding officer cuts the hand off one of the natives, accusing him of lying about the whereabouts of gold. 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 arising, with the natives heavily outnumbering them. Upon return to his home in San Salvador, he finds his house ablaze, confirming his unpopularity among a certain faction of the settlers. Soon, the tribes arrive to fight the Spaniards and San Salvador becomes war-torn, with Columbus' governorship being reassigned with orders of him to return to Spain. After being informed about the discovery of the mainland by an Italian, he is sentenced to many years in prison, but is bailed out by his sons soon after. When summoned by the Queen about seeing the New World again, he makes a case for her about his dream to see the New World. She agrees to let him take a final voyage, on the condition he does not go with the brothers of his crew, and that he never returns to San Salvador. The closing scene shows him old, with his youngest son writing down his tales of the New World
Main article: 1492: Conquest of Paradise (album)
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 is used by the Portuguese Socialist Party as its anthem since then.The theme is also used at the starting line of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc ultramarathon.
Overall, the film got mixed reviews, with the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a "rotten" 39% rating based on 18 reviews. However, respected film critic Roger Ebert said in his review that the film was satisfactory, stating "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."
The final approach to the shooting location requires a sweltering quarter-mile tromp through thigh-high dried grass and around huge mounds of cow dung. In a dry riverbed, the crew has constructed an elaborate replica of La Navidad, the first Spanish settlement in the New World. For today's scene, depicting Christopher Columbus' return to Hispaniola in 1493, the fort has been burned to the ground — the original, most historians believe, was destroyed by Indians — with scattered skulls the only sign of the 39 men Columbus left behind as a garrison.
But the logistical problems that trail a high-tech film crew into a tropical climate are the least of Scott's concerns. While he toiled in the jungle, Superman producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind were working on a rival version of the story, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (the $47 million film was released by Warner Bros. in August, earning a dismal $8 million)The bigger question hanging over the movie is whether American audiences will buy the French actor Depardieu — whose 80 previous films have included only one major role, in 1990's Green Card, in which he spoke English — as the Italian explorer.
And just which Columbus is he supposed to be? The entire production is geared to having the film ready for a unique international release — 3,000 theaters, about 30 countries — on or about Oct. 9, just three days shy of the 500th anniversary of the explorer's New World landfall. But the quincentennial has been dogged for years by revisionist historians' attacks on the conventional view of Columbus as a stalwart hero. Instead, many blame him for the ''cultural genocide'' that decimated Native American peoples as Europeans took possession of the western hemisphere. Scott has promised that 1492 will present a balanced image of Columbus. But can one film possibly integrate such wildly divergent views?
''We're not talking here about some kind of very dusty story that happened a long time ago,'' says French journalist-turned-screenwriter Roselyne Bosch. Seated at a picnic table at the production's base camp, she looks utterly Parisian in a short black dress. ''We're talking about feelings that are completely modern,'' she says of Columbus' motivation, ''like trying to imagine a different world and fighting conformism.''
Bosch began studying Columbus in 1987 for an article about the quincentennial. After seeing copies of letters written in the explorer's own hand, she became obsessed with the idea of dramatizing Columbus' full story — his ultimate defeats as well as his discoveries — in an epic film. By 1990, Bosch and her partner, French producer Alain Goldman, had made a deal with Scott's Percy Main production company to coproduce the film independently.
Known primarily for the richly saturated visual style of movies like Blade Runner (1982), Black Rain (1989), and Thelma & Louise (1991), the British Scott seems a somewhat surprising choice to make the kind of epic normally associated with, say, Richard Attenborough. But Bosch says Scott was always on their wish list. ''Ridley Scott is like Columbus,'' she says, absently brushing away the flies that buzz around her blond head. '' He is able to imagine the future and give reality to something that doesn't exist.Ridley is pure energy.''
''The effect Columbus really had, in one sweet, simple statement, is 'He changed the world,''' says Scott, seated in his director's chair at the edge of the jungle. As he speaks, he pays close attention to the production assistants arranging skulls and charred bones on the ground. ''I wanted to show who the man was, his standards,'' he says. ''I think he's so unusual, that kind of person who is so full of everything. But someone driven by a certain kind of passion is also naive.''
Take away the film crew and the ships and you have a show that nature has been repeating for millions of years. Take away just the film crew and your view could be exactly that of a man standing on the beach in Spain, say 500 years ago, advancing the concept to his small son that the ships disappearing over the horizon were proof that the world was round.
That scene occurs at the beginning of Ridley Scott's "1492," one of two big-budget movies being readied for release during this, the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' first voyage to America. Now, at the end of a long day, Scott's camera is pointed west, capturing the most rehearsed scene in history on film.
"The sun sets at exactly eight minutes past six," says Scott, a former TV commercial maker whose sleek images have driven films as diverse as "Blade Runner" and "Thelma & Louise," which earned him an Oscar nomination. "There's going to be a nice afterglow, a burn-back. I think it's going to be quite good."
The quiet at dusk here, 15 miles south of the resort town of Jaco, is deceiving. An hour earlier, the three ships were anchored just off shore and the film crew was smack in the midst of a 15th-Century Spanish army. Rows of overdressed soldiers lined the beach, while officers on horseback paced nervously between the ranks, and cannoneers stood over their ponderous weapons waiting for the order to fire.
In front of them all, his thick torso covered by a leather vest and his long hair blowing in the breeze, stood Columbus himself . . . or Danton, or Cyrano de Bergerac, whichever larger-than-life character you associate with Gerard Depardieu. Maybe you just know him as Andie MacDowell's shaggy French roommate in "Green Card."
All day long, Depardieu and the 400 Costa Rican extras repeated the scene, which will consume only seconds in the movie itself. Half the day, the extras lined up to the south of Scott's three cameras, and stood there while Columbus marched up from the surf to the sand, turned his head left and right, and ordered the cannoneers to fire. Then, they all moved up the beach, the cameras were turned around, and the scene was repeated with a northern exposure.
"Columbus had 1,500 men with him facing the Indians on the beach that day," Scott explained, as this scene from Columbus' second--and most violent--voyage to America was being set up. "I only have 400 extras, so I'm using them twice. I guarantee you it'll look like 1,500 men on the screen."
When the shadows became too long to continue, everyone left except Scott, cinematographer Adrian Biddle and a few other technicians who stayed to gather evidence for what many people, for many centuries, considered the main lesson of Columbus' adventures--that the world, son, \o7 is\f7 round.
But the question many people are raising during the quincentenary of Europe's discovery of America, as they ponder the flaws of our shrunken planet and attempt to fix blame, is which of those images best represents the truth of Columbus' deeds, the spirit of adventure felt by a man staring longingly at the horizon, or the spirit of conquest seen in the eyes of a man leading a modern army against Stone Age natives?
"Very little is actually known about Columbus," says Scott, who has little patience with those who see Columbus as the symbol for all that has gone wrong with the world. "He was a visionary and he was certainly a man with a conscience. But most of all, he was a man of his times, and the times were different."
"For a long time there was the cliche of the hero," says Roselyne Bosch, the French journalist who wrote the screenplay, "and now I'm afraid there is the cliche of genocide. The truth is in between. He was not Cortes, he was an explorer. He imposed his view once he got here, but to blame him for the massacres that followed is like blaming Christ for the Inquisition."
The 31-year-old Bosch says she became interested in Columbus while researching a 1987 article on Spain's long-range plans for celebrating the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage. It was a light feature compared to the kinds of stories she'd been doing for the French newsmagazine Le Point--reporting on baby smuggling in Sri Lanka, flooding in Bangladesh--but she became fascinated by the man and continued to pore through material written by and about him.