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Film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery

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    Christopher Columbus: The Discovery was released in 1992, and was directed by John Glen, who is famous for his earlier James Bonds works. This was the last project of the father and son production team of Alexander and Ilya Salkind and it was based on the famous historical voyage of Columbus, an Italian-born Spanish navigator, as he discovered the New World in 1492.

    Columbus (1451 – 1506) is famous in world history as a navigator, colonizer and one of the first European explorers who ventured to the Americas after the Vikings. While he was not the first to actually reach the Americas from the European side of the world, his voyages remain famous because they opened up the Americas to Europe, land because the cause of increased awareness and knowledge about this region in Europe. It also led to successful establishment and penetration of European cultures in the New World, which was the term the Europeans coined for the Americas, as they previously believed the world to comprise just of Europe, Asia and Africa, collectively known as the Old World.

    Christopher Columbus embarked on his journey westwards of the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to search for a direct sea route to Asia for spice trade but became famous for ‘discovering the Americas’ instead. Through his voyages commenced a European attempt to explore and colonize the Western Hemisphere. His first voyage of 1492 has been accorded a lot of prestige in history, but it must be remembered that it was in his third voyage that he actually reached the South American mainland. In his attempt to find a way to India, he unintentionally landed on the San Salvador Island and this is the reason why Native Americans were called “Indians”.

    Additionally, European history contains accounts of explorations in Americas before the voyages of Columbus and before 1492, European transatlantic contact had already taken place. The Vikings from Scandinavia had briefly made their settlements in the parts of the North American coast which are known as Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada as early as the 10th and 11th century.

    However, Columbus’ voyages remain significant in our historical and social context because of the impact that they had on the world. Explorations prior to his did not leave as much of a mark in global economic history as did his: his voyages took place at time crucial for economic growth as national imperialism was on the rise and developing states and countries were beginning to get highly competitive in their quest for generating wealth through establishing trade routes and colonies. This one man had such an influence on global societies that before he arrived to introduce the Americas to Europe, the era was known as “Pre-Columbian” to signify a time when peoples and cultures of the world had not been assimilated and European influence, un-furthered west of the Atlantic Ocean.

    In the Post-Columbian era, the Western hemisphere was exposed to European colonization, which had both positive and negative effects: Trade opened up and there were exchanges of plants, animals, ideas and cultures between two radically different worlds, but at the same time, the negative effects of war, forced labor and disease combined with the positive consequences to change the world forever.

    This is the reason why Glen felt it necessary to make this movie as a tribute to this legendary figure. In the movie, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, the central character is played by George Corraface, who rejected the old theories of a flat world by proposing the in fact, the world was round. In an attempt to prove his theory right he sets out eastward to reach India, across the un-chartered Ocean sea and is ridiculed by his fellow Italian countrymen who think his mission is preposterous.

    He tries to get someone to finance this expedition but the Portugese refuse to help him, after which he travels to the Spanish court. He asks Queen Isabella, played by Rachel Ward and King Ferdinand, represented by Tom Selleck in the movie, to help him. But before they can, he must undergo a thorough inquisition by Tomas de Torquemada (Marlon Brando). After getting the sponsorship he requires, he sets sail into the unknown East, in three ships. The movie then provides a comprehensive account of his journey, where he faces a number of tumultuous events along the way, such as sabotage attempts by Portuguese spies and mutinous revolt from a rebellious crew. Then after he successfully counters these difficulties, he reaches a mysterious land, America, and encounters its strange Indian inhabitants, who have a society completely different from that he had been exposed to in Europe.

    John Glen, who was previously known for movies such as Octopussy and Iron Eagle 3-Aces has directed this movie in the true style of 1940”s adventure movies. The Oceanic footage as well as that of the various scenic locales is simply breathtaking and his depiction of Columbus as a modern man, who was passionate in his belief that the world was not flat and that a new route to the East could be discovered, but was not a perfect man as later accounts have shown, gave this movie an unconventional approach. The acting of seasoned veterans like Marlon Brando and relative new comers such as Benecio Del Toro and Catherine Zeta Jones is commendable. This movie succeeds in presenting the historical and social saga of Christopher Columbus in an action-packed adventurous light, which is both informative and entertaining.


    1. Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 15, 2007 from:
    2. Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992). The The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 15, 2007 from:
    3. Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992)
    4. Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992). The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 15, 2007 from:
    5. Christopher Columbusa. Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2007 from:
    6. Christopher Columbusb. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 15, 2007 from:



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