Conquest Of Paradise Essay, Research Paper
1492, Conquest of Paradise: The misrepresentation of the Film
The movie, Conquest of Paradise is very inaccurate in its portrayal of Christopher Columbus and what he brought to the so called “New World”. The movie shows Columbus to be the first person to discover America and to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it is known that others had accomplished this miracle years before he did. Also, the movie doesn’t completely show the difficulty of the first voyage and the fears of the never reaching land after losing wind. Third, the movie shows the Spaniards and the Natives getting along peacefully and as one when in actuality the Natives were very unfairly mistreated. Lastly, the movie only shows the good things that Columbus brought to the islands and doesn’t show how diseases were brought by the Spaniards.
The movie portrays Columbus to be the first person to set foot on the Americas which is not true. Fabers writes, “Other explorers, notably Norsemen from Norway, Greenland, and Iceland, touched the shores of America many years before Columbus. More importantly, when Columbus first came ashore, he was greated by people he called “Indians.” How could anyone “discover” a land where people already lived.” (ix). Although Columbus was the first to cross the ocean and keep a written journal of his day to day travels many give him far too much credit and mistake him to be the discoverer America. In the movie Conquest of Paradise, the first voyage is shown much shorter and simpler than it was. In Roger Eberts review of Conquest of Paradise, he says, “What disappoints me a little about Scott’s version is that he seems to hurry past Columbus’ actual voyage of discovery. There is intrigue in the Old World and adventure and violence in the New, but the crucial journey that links them seems reduced to its simplest terms: The three ships sail, the crews grow restless, Columbus quiets them, and then land is sighted” (*http://www.mrqe.com*). The actual first voyage took over three month and was much more difficult and agonizing than shown by the movie. “On August 6, four days after departing, the fleet suffered its first mishap when the rudder of the Pinta jumped its gudgeons. This had been claimed as a deliberate act of sabotage by the caravel’s owner, Christobal Quintero, or by some of her crew who had already lost their enthusiasm for a long voyage in strange and dangerous seas” (Rienits 38).
The movie shows the Spaniards and the Natives getting alone well and working together as one without prejudice. In the movie they say they claim to come in peace and with honor, that they don’t look at them as savages, that they will treat them as if they are their own wives and children, and the they respect the beliefs. In actuality, the Natives were severely mistreated and viewed as uncivilized beings for not believing in the same God. Many of the Indians were often enslaved or killed for no reason, and the women were captured and raped. Sale tells how Columbus was, saying, “We have seen how he conquered and ruled the Indians by force, killing fellow beings with no more compassion than a butcher for his beasts. (201)” The Natives who didn’t agree with Columbus on his
building a colonial outpost were called “very wild”. Those who were decided ate human flesh were called “brutish faces”. The Natives of Jamaica who helped many of the sick Spaniards giving them food and drinks, Columbus wrote that he was “surrounded by a million savages full of cruelty and our enemies.”
Finally, in the movie, Conquest of Paradise, Columbus and his men are shown bringing many good things to the islands when he really brought more bad than good. The movie shows the Spaniards bringing all good things such as carpenters, priests, noblemen, laws, horses, cattle, foods, and the word of God. The bad they brought actually out-weighted the good also bringing diseases, starvation, crime, slavery, and harsh cruelty towards the Natives. In less than fifty years after the arrival of the Spaniards the Natives were already suffering great losses. “In Hispaniola, the cruelty policy begun by Columbus and disease brought by the Spaniards resulted in genocide-the mass deaths of the kindly, peaceful Taino people. In 1492, the population was estimated at two hundred and fifty thousand. By 1538, only five hundred Taino people were still alive” (Faber 56). The Natives had no real enemies until the Spaniards arrived. Once they arrived the Natives felt that their land and beliefs were being stolen from them and viewed the Spaniards as beasts. The Natives that did try to protect their land were only killed because their weaponry consisting of mostly bow and arrows didn’t even closely compare to the advanced weapons of the Spanish such as guns, knives, and swords.
In conclusion, the movie Conquest of Paradise, falsely represents the actual story of Christopher Columbus and his voyages. The movie shows the brighter sides of the story and doesn’t show quite how hard it was to cross the ocean and how the Spanish really were once the reached the islands. Most importantly, the movie doesn’t show the way the Natives were severely mistreated, enslaved, and killed by battles and disease.
Ebert, Roger. 1492: “Conquest of Paradise”. 9 Oct. 1992
Faber, Harold. Discovers of America. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1992.
Rienits, Rex and Thea. The Voyages of Columbus. New York: Crescent Books, 1989
Sale, Kirkpatrick. The Conquest of Paradise, Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy. New York: Knopf, 1991.