Essay, Research Paper: Conquest Of Paradise


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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" (**). 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.BibliographyEbert, 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.
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