1492: Conquest of Paradise: In 1992, two films about Christopher Columbus were made, some 500 years after his time.
There was the laughable Christopher Columbus: The Discovery with George Corraface in the title role, plus other showings from Tom Selleck, the overhyped Marlon Brando and the then-not-a-big-star Catherine Zeta Jones.
1492: Conquest of Paradise had the bigger budget, splendid landscapes and better direction and went the more serious route, but even still it plods along a bit with Gerard Depardieu in the main role as he goes about with his plan to set sail across the world and ends up discovering America, as you do. Support comes from Armand Assante, Frank Langella and Sigourney Weaver as Queen Isabella.
The widescreen ratio of the film is given as 2.20:1, a rather odd choice for a format and the Internet Movie Database claims it was shot in a 2.35:1 Panavision ratio, so have we been short changed or is that inaccurate? It’s certainly not 2.35:1 on the disc.
Three big no-nos are worth mentioning when it comes to the transfer: it’s a very poor NTSC-to-PAL conversion that shows its faults easily when someone moves, particularly with close-up faces, as they judder onscreen; it’s not anamorphic and that leads to the third – whoever put the subtitles onto the disc didn’t place them within the 16:9 centre frame, treating the screen as a 4:3 canvas, so when you zoom the picture in on a widescreen TV, not only do they get cut off at the bottom, but when you raise the picture, as can be done on some widescreen televisions, it’s still not possible to get the picture AND the subtitles onscreen. D’oh! The average bitrate is 5.39Mb/s, occasionally peaking over 8Mb/s.
Dolby Surround is as far as the soundtrack goes. Vangelis have put together a decent score, but none of it really delivers anything in the striking fashion you’d expect for such an epic tale.
The only extra is a 100-second Trailer in 4:3 pan-and-scan, which is not worth a great deal either. There are 30 chapters to the film and the menus are static but play a short looped part of the film score.
Running time: 87 minutes
Studio: Pathe Entertainment
Cat.no: P 8701 DVD
Released: April 23rd 2001
Region(s): 2, PAL
Subtitles: English (for the hard of hearing)
Disc Format: DVD 9
Director: Ridley Scott
Producers: Ridley Scott and Alain Goldman
Screenplay: Roselyne Bosch
Christopher Columbus: Gerard Depardieu
Sanchez: Armand Assante
Queen Isabel: Sigourney Weaver
Santangel: Frank Langella
Older Fernando: Loren Dean
Beatrix: Angela Molina
Marchena: Fernando Rey
Moxica: Michael Wincott
Pinzon: Tcheky Karyo
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.