1492 CONQUEST OF PARADISE

(Welcome to Seeing Double, a series where two strangely similar films released around the same time are put head-to-head. This time: 1992’s Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and 1492: Conquest of Paradise.)

Hollywood is a land of mystery. Who killed the Black Dahlia? Was Marisa Tomei the real winner of 1993’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar? Are TV shows just really long movies?

One of the less salacious and controversial mysteries to come out of Hollywood though involves the occasional appearance of “movie doubles” – films from rival studios with highly similar plots/subjects that are released in close proximity to each other. Think Volcano and Dante’s Peak or Deep Impact and Armageddon. There’s little upside to both studios sticking to their guns and moving forward with the production as history shows that, more often than not, one of the pair falls by the wayside at the box-office, so why even head into production on a film you know another studio has already begun? Are original ideas that hard to come by in Hollywood? (This is a rhetorical question.)

This year is the 25th anniversary of both Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and 1492: Conquest of Paradise, two films released in 1992 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the famed adventurer’s voyage and “discovery” of America. Comparing the films reveals the expected similarities, but they still have their individual pros and cons. You’re probably already feeling pretty confident in thinking which of the two came out on top – because odds are many of you don’t even remember the other one – but that memory might be somewhat deceiving.

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