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1492: When The Great Men Discovered Paradise

1691 words - 7 pages

In the year 1992, the five hundred year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the New World sparked major controversy all over the world. The voyage was being re-examined which led to a rise of new questions and analyses of who Christopher Columbus was and what his voyage was like.1 Although there were protests against celebrating this landmark anniversary of discovery, many chose to continue their plans to honor Columbus. This was done through festivals, publications of new literature, and film. Director Ridley Scott sought to honor and celebrate the anniversary by producing the film 1492: Conquest of Paradise.
1492: Conquest of Paradise was Ridley Scott’s attempt to, ...view middle of the document...

People are guaranteed to have at least a sense of what happened at critical points in our world and in our history. It also allows for a portion of the historical truth to be told as it can give attention to the details and facts of a few events of people in great detail, compared to a broader sense of what occurred. Approaching history in this way makes sense for a modern day audience because it meets the fast-paced and attention-deficit world we live in. However, it can be argued that this limited exposure is a avoid telling the whole truth about the past. This raises concerns, for both those portraying the history and the audience taking it in, as it does not provide a complete understanding of the past. It also takes away from other events and people who played a role in making the world what it is today.
Filled with graphic, intense scenes and a major focus on a few great people, 1492: Conquest of Paradise was also from an elitist approach. By doing so, the film suffered the consequence of feeding into one of the greatest myths of the Spanish Conquest; the myth of exceptional men.3 In other words, the idea that the Spanish Conquest was accomplished by only a handful of great men. Societies in fifteenth century Europe make this myth, on a basic level, seem reasonable. This is because this was a time when most men were too busy and concerned about making a living to think or worry about much else. They could not be bothered with thinking about the worlds beyond them and did not have the time in their day to pour over maps or seek funding for their dream voyages. That left a very small part of the population to become explorers.4 If examined more closely, it becomes evident that the explorers did not come up with their plans or discoveries on their own. Instead these men relied on previous accounts of explorations, discoveries, theories, and technologies developed by others. Therefore, not one man can be accredited with having the brain power behind an exploration. However, the film fails to mention the accomplishments of others before Columbus or show Columbus using the work of others to help him. Even though his plan is harshly judged and questioned, he still comes off as the master mind behind it. The film goes as far to make it seem like Columbus was also the one to discover the earth was round by showing him holding an orange and saying, “it’s round.”5 Failing to honor those before Columbus is failing to recognize those who were crucial in the Columbus voyage and discovery to occur. As a result, it takes a way a piece of history that would otherwise explain how Columbus, and our world, came to be.
A explorer also needed to accompanied by fellow explorers to serve as other leaders and crew members to successfully carry out a voyage. Columbus’s crew is shown throughout the film. Except they always appear to be in the background of Columbus and come off as if they are beneath Columbus. Insert the scene from the moviev. By failing to...

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