"1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE"
September 23, 1991 Draft
CREDITS AND MUSIC OVER:
INT. AUDIENCE ROOM - GRANADA - DAY
We start on a man's elegant slipper. He is seated in a
splendid chair. Moving up the stocking leg, we pass the garter
of Castile, coming to rest on a pair of delicate hands. His
fore finger impatiently plays with a large topaz ring. Over
this, we hear distant footsteps, echoing on marble floors.
A Castilian face: aquilaine profile, olive complexion, dark
eyebrows and meticulously sculpted beard. This is TREASURER
A door slams somewhere, the footsteps getting closer. We can
now here a subdued conversation.
TREASURER SANCHEZ stands up as:
The door opens at the far end of the large gilded room. A
WOMEN, magnificent in somber taffeta, enters. QUEEN ISABEL
OF SPAIN moves towards him.
He bows slightly as she sits at the end of the large table.
She is followed by a PRIEST, BROTHER BUYL, and three
dignitaries of Church and State.
All sit beside her. TREASURER SANCHEZ takes a document and
starts to read aloud.
On screen the words: GRANADA - SPAIN - 1500
Your Majesty would wish to know the
true facts concerning the island of
Hispanola, our first settlement in
the New World, and the activities
there of your servant, Christopher
Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea,
Governor of that Island. You will
remember with what hopes and promises
he beguiled us -- the truth is that
he now presides over a state of chaos,
degradation and madness beyond
SANCHEZ punctuates each word carefully.
From the beginning, Columbus proved
himself incapable of managing the
affairs of the island. He appointed
his brothers to important positions,
at once injuring the pride and dignity
of the nobles who had gone with him.
He promised to build a city, the
City of Isabel, named after Your
Majesty. What he actually built was
nothing but a collection of huts,
and that in the wrong place, for all
of it was easily swept away by rain
and mud. Is that not so, Brother
The PRIEST nods.
Yes, Your Honor.
He promised gold. Not finding the
easy quantities he promised, Columbus
commanded each Indian to pay an annual
tribute. Most being unable to, they
were barbarously punished, against
the express wish of Your Christian
ISABEL lowers her eyes.
Since provocation and injustice never
ceases, many of the Indians have
fled to the forests, or have begun
to slay the Christians.
ISABEL looks over at BROTHER BUYL.
Could it be so?
Yes, Your Majesty.
But there is worse. From the
beginning, he forced the nobles to
undergo physical labor, treating
them equally with the Indians, all
of them reduced to slavery. When the
nobleman Adrian de Moxica protested
against such treatment...
...he was executed.
Is that not true also, Brother Buyl?
Yes, Your Honor. It is all true. All
of it. I saw it with my own eyes.
He has lost control. His great
arrogance has led him into depravity.
He encourages our soldiers to marry
the native women. He promised a
paradise, but he has made a hell
full of all its horrors.
Is that the man I knew, Treasurer
Yes, Your Majesty.
INT. HUT - ISLAND - DAY
CLOSE ON the FACE: COLUMBUS is stretched on a bed, sweating
heavily in fever, clearly delirious. Insects crawl over his
face, he makes no effort to swat them away. There is a
dripping sound of water.
Of all the words my Father wrote and
there were many, I remember these
the most. "Nothing that results from
human progress is achieved with
Rain is falling into the room over documents spread on a
table. COLUMBUS stands up and moves to the table. Some of
the walls have been blackened with smoke and flames. A lizard
scuttles into the shadows.
"And those who are enlightened before
the others are condemned to purse
that light in spite of others..."
COLUMBUS stares down at the documents, moving them away from
the rain drips. He stares out by the window, and we see:
A devastated landscape. Flooded roads, half-destroyed huts,
broken trees... A dog picks its way through the mud.
There was a time when the New World
EXT. OCEAN - DAY
A vast stretch of ocean. It fills the screen. Unbroken,
infinite, luminous, mysterious -- it stretches away, meeting
and blending with the sky in pale ribbons of pearl and misty
...The sun set in the west on an
ocean where no man had dared to
venture. And beyond that, infinity...
Pulling back, we discover:
A TEN-YEAR-OLD BOY and a strongly built man in his middle
thirties, are riding a mule. The MAN'S weather-beaten face
frames unusually bright eyes.
On the screen these words: ANDALUSIA, 1491
COLUMBUS AND HIS SON are following a windthrashed path at
the top of the hill. COLUMBUS hums a song, and FERNANDO looks
up at him in adoration.
Once I asked my Father where he wanted
to go. And he replied: "I want to
travel all over the seas. I want to
get behind the weather..."
FERNANDO laughs. He then starts to hum along with his FATHER.
EXT. HILLSIDE APPROACH TO LA RABIDA - DAY
A rugged landscape, remote and steep, with lines of stone
walls and thousands of sheep.
FERNANDO, rushes down a slope, barking like a dog, chasing
the sheep who fan out in droves in front of him. High-
spirited and wild, FERNANDO laughs and tumbles over.
COLUMBUS rides his mule along the narrow track, watching his
SON'S antics with amusement. In the distance, the solitary
figure of A MONK SHEPHERD.
COLUMBUS calls out to his son:
FERNANDO runs over. COLUMBUS lifts him up onto the mule.
As they move along the track we now see, perched on a distant
hill, isolated and austere, the Monastery of La Rabida, their
EXT. CLOISTER - LA RABIDA - DAY
As they dismount and walk into the quiet cloisters, FERNANDO
suddenly spots a familiar FIGURE, standing under the ROMAN
He rushes over, full of joy, to kiss his BROTHER -- an
adolescent dressed in the novice-robe, with a solemn, delicate
face. DIEGO'S response is constrained.
Diego! Aren't you going to kiss your
DIEGO smiles a little, and kisses FERNANDO -- who is
immediately distracted by a procession of hooded MONKS,
hurrying to the refectory, as a bell begins to chime.
The MONKS all turn to greet ANTONIO DE MARCHENA, a white-
haired, elderly man -- and a monk cosmographer. MARCHENA'S
gesture is broad and elegant as he opens his arms to greet
COLUMBUS. He pats FERNANDO'S head and turns to DIEGO.
Diego, take Fernando to the dining
hall. He must be hungry.
Both CHILDREN leave under the arched roof. COLUMBUS and
MARCHENA begin to walk across the cloister.
Diego is a bright boy -- a pleasure
to teach -- but so serious... Brothers
should be raised together, Colon.
Even brothers from different
Father, I am doing what I think is
the best for him. And he has the
teacher I would have chosen for
MARCHENA laughs at the compliment.
Just be careful you don't lose him.
They have crossed the cloister. MARCHENA pushes open a door.
INT. A HUGE LIBRARY - LA RABIDA - DAY
Hundreds of books lined up on the shelves, displaying the
miracle of printing, a recent German discovery. Several MONKS,
perched on high stools behind lecterns, are busily
"ILLUMINATING" some of these massive volumes, delicately
painting around the letters in bright colors and gold leaf.
Rays of light fall diagonally through high openings,
projecting geometric patterns on the tiled floor. As MARCHENA
and COLUMBUS move forward their conversation is punctuated
by light and shadow.
(fumbles in a pocket
under his robe)
I have something for you.
Almost casually, he hands COLUMBUS a letter.
You will be heard at the University
COLUMBUS stops dead in his tracks. Almost frantically he
tears open the letter, hardly able to believe his eyes.
God... That's in a week!
That's what it says.
How did you manage it?
With some difficulty. I had to promise
them you were not a total fool.
MARCHENA pushes open a second door, hidden behind a wooden
INT. STUDY - LA RABIDA - DAY
MARCHENA is not a tidy man. Books are piled up on the floor,
the desk, on every shelf, along with maps, instruments of
astronomy... the visible evidence of an inquiring mind.
With practiced familiarity, as if they had done this a hundred
times -- which indeed they have -- MARCHENA sits behind his
desk, and COLUMBUS opposite him. MARCHENA lights a candle
and considers the mess. Then methodically, he slowly sweeps
it from in front of him with his sleeve, exposing a large
When he looks up again, there is a new severity in his
expression. He turns over an hourglass.
Why do you wish to sail west?
To open a new route to Asia. At the
moment there are only two ways of
He leans forward, and points to the map spread out on the
By sea, sailing around the African
Continent -- the journey takes a
His finger traces the journey, from west to east.
Or by land...
We are CLOSE now on the map, as we watch his finger tracing
a line between Europe and the Far East.
...But the Turks have closed this
route to all Christians. Trading
with the Orient has become arduous,
if not dangerous.
There is a third way...
We notice that the outline of the European continent is
familiar. But we also notice that, in that great expanse of
ocean, the whole American continent is missing.
By sailing West across the Ocean
CLOSE ON MARCHENA'S FACE, touched by the mystery.
How can you be so certain? The Ocean
is said to be infinite.
Ignorance! I believe the Indies are
no more than 750 leagues west of the
How can you be so certain?
The calculations of Toscanelli Marin
de Tyr, Esdras...
Esdras is a Jew.
So was Christ!
MARCHENA throws his quill in the air in frustration. He
glances at the hourglass:
Two minutes... and already you're a
dead man. Don't let passion overwhelm
I'll try to remember that, Marchena...
Passion is something one cannot
You get so carried away when you are
I've been contradicted all my life...
Only God knows the meaning of such
words, my son.
EXT. COURTYARD - LA RABIDA - EVENING
DIEGO and FERNANDO wait in the courtyard. COLUMBUS appears
and lifts FERNANDO onto the mule. DIEGO turns to go.
COLUMBUS walks over to him, squats down so their eyes meet.
He looks at his SON for a moment.
Would you like to come and stay with
Uncomfortable with the proposition, DIEGO cannot find an
I'll do whatever makes you happy.
I am happy, Father.
COLUMBUS reaches out -- and touches his shoulder.
He climbs up behind FERNANDO, who waves back to his BROTHER
as they ride off.
EXT. CADIZ - STREETS AND CATHEDRAL SQUARE - NIGHT
COLUMBUS leads the mule, carrying the sleeping FERNANDO,
through narrow streets. There's a clamorous noise in the
air. Suddenly a large group of YOUNG MEN, shouting with
excitement, run up the street and brush past them. Then more
people. FERNANDO sits up straight. The noise grows, rowdy,
rumbling, sharp with excitement and violence.
Huge CROWDS have thronged the massive old square outside the
cathedral. Holding the mule by its reins, COLUMBUS tries to
push his way through... Suddenly, as a gap opens in the crowd,
we see the cause of the excitement: in the center of the
square stand three pyres, already alit. HOODED EXECUTIONERS
are busy around the fires.
Before COLUMBUS can stop him, FERNANDO has slipped off the
mule and into the crowd.
But the BOY has been swallowed into the mass of people.
COLUMBUS tries to follow him. Flames leap into the night sky
with a terrible crackling, lighting up the square with a
lurid glow. Prayers are being chanted somewhere.
FERNANDO has elbowed his way to the front of the crowd.
A PRIEST brandishes a crucifix in front of the face of a MAN
bound to a post. The heretic wears the "sambenito", a robe
made of coarse fabric on which his sins have been crudely
illustrated -- we see cabalistic signs, indicating that the
man is Jewish.
THE MAN'S eyes are mad with fear. But he refuses to kiss the
crucifix, as a sign of his repentance.
FERNANDO is transfixed by the scene, but still doesn't realize
what is happening. He is too close to the platform to see
what is in the flames of the other pyres.
He motions to his son, takes the BOY'S hand, and drags him
away from the scene. But FERNANDO looks back. The distance
now allows him to see inside the flames.
A HALF-CHARRED FIGURE -- THE MAN'S face is distorted in a
silent scream... The neck snaps like burning wood, and the
head falls on one shoulder. Then the whole body collapses
into the fire.
INT. BEATRIX'S HOUSE - HALLWAY AND STABLE - NIGHT
COLUMBUS and FERNANDO lead the mule into the white-washed,
stone-floored hallway of the modest house. FERNANDO is mute,
shocked by what he just witnessed. COLUMBUS takes the mule
into its stall, and as he does so, his mother, BEATRIX,
appears from the kitchen to greet them. She is a beautiful
woman in her twenties, a calm, strong, domestic personality.
COLUMBUS tousles the BOY'S hair. FERNANDO glances at his
MOTHER but looks subdued and doesn't say anything.
INT. BEATRIX'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT
COLUMBUS joins BEATRIX in the kitchen, where a MAID is
cooking. He explains Fernando's subdued manner.
Executions. In the square.
BEATRIX nods. He goes to the stone butt and pours water on
They've agreed to see me in a week.
BEATRIX puts the candle on the table. Her face lights up
with a smile. He walks to her, and kisses her.
I could be gone for years.
I haven't given you much of a life.
Well... that's true. I have a child
by a man who won't marry me! Who's
Are we going to argue?
I'd love to argue with you sometimes.
But you're never here!
They laugh and kiss.
Perhaps I was never meant to live
with a woman...
(still kissing him)
I find that hard to believe.
INT. BEATRIX'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT
They are eating around the table, and FERNANDO is unusually
silent and thoughtful. COLUMBUS pours a little wine into
FERNANDO'S water, to distract him. FERNANDO looks up at him,
surprised. COLUMBUS smiles, then looks over at BEATRIX.
Fernando, don't you think we are
lucky to live with such a beautiful
He winks at FERNANDO. BEATRIX smiles.
INT. BEATRIX'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT
The room is dark. As COLUMBUS approached the bed with a
candle, it illuminates the naked body of BEATRIX. BEATRIX
looks up at him intently. A drop of wax falls on her skin.
She flinches, murmurs...
They make love.
EXT. SALAMANCA UNIVERSITY - DAY
A medieval "campus". Students-novices are playing "pelote",
with basket-gloves and a hard ball. They run with their robes
tucked around their waist, revealing white legs. Others are
studying, reading, hurrying to their class.
We find COLUMBUS watching the game from the steps above the
court. Others are waiting with him. A MONK comes from a door,
and looks around the group.
INT. AUDIENCE ROOM - UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA - DAY
An El Greco painting. A tableau of twenty MEN sitting on
dark, sculpted seats. Candles throw a gloomy light on their
faces. Some are Churchmen, others are dressed in bourgeois
Only one of them is richly dressed in the grand Spanish
fashion -- he is SANCHEZ, Treasurer of the House of Aragon.
A MONK (Don AROJAZ) holds a stick with an ivory claw at the
top. Languidly, he scratches his back -- his off-hand manner
only makes him more impressive than his peers.
You say Asia can be found by sailing
Yes, your Eminence. The voyage should
not take more than six or seven weeks.
Unfortunately, Don Colon, that is
precisely where our opinions differ...
Are you familiar with the work of
Aristotle? Erathostene? Ptolemeus?
I am, Your Eminence
Then you cannot ignore that according
to their calculations, the
circumference of the Earth is
(he leans forward)
22,000 leagues or more. Which makes
the ocean... uncrossable.
He leans back, satisfied, and pauses for effect.
But you may have found new evidence
proving that these men of knowledge
are totally mistaken!
A ripple of mirthless laughter.
Your Excellencies are aware of the
statements of Marin de Tyr?
HERNANDO DE TALAVERA
Then you are also aware that his
theories contradict Ptolemeus... De
Tyr believes the Ocean to be only
A murmur of protest spreads among the members of the
Commission. But Columbus is determined to press his theories.
The Florentine Toscanelli and the
French Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly both
think that Marin de Tyr is accurate
in his calculations. And therefore,
that the ocean can be crossed.
Indignant and amused murmurs. DIEGO DE DEZA raises his voice
to quiet the assembly.
DIEGO DE DEZA
Gentlemen, let us suppose Marin de
Tyr is right...
(the laughter subsides)
Are we here to examine this proposal
DIEGO DE DEZA
In your opinion, how long would the
Seven weeks. Six, during the summer
The murmur increases.
Marin de Tyr is wrong -- and has
been corrected many times over the
centuries by the finest geographers.
Your voyage, Don Colon, would take a
A MAN of simple bearing, that COLUMBUS identifies as being a
How would the crew survive without
being able to land for fresh water?
Water is undrinkable after six weeks!
You'd never be able to turn back!
We wouldn't have to turn back! We
would find land at this point!
Senor Colon, an experienced captain
such as yourself will understand our
concern with the crew. I am not
willing to have on my conscience the
loss of men who would have relied
upon our judgment.
Excellency, you are right.
Instantly, the protests stop.
I am a seaman, not a scholar... But
as a simple man craving for knowledge,
I have read all the work of these
renowned geographers and discovered
that none of them could agree on the
exact width of this ocean...
He pauses, and starts walking in front of the experts, as a
lawyer before a grand jury.
Therefore, as a modest man, I wonder:
who is right?
The experts listen. CLOSE ON SANCHEZ'S FACE, impressed by
Who is right? This question remains
He walks and stops before TALAVERA, and catches the look of
SANCHEZ, sitting just behind him.
Your Eminence, there is only one way
to settle the matter. And that is to
make the journey.
(to the assembly,
I am ready to risk my life to prove
Your life, and that of others!
If they agree to follow me, yes.
Suppose you cross this ocean. Suppose
you reach Asia. What would Spain do
Conscious of a friendlier voice, COLUMBUS sees the Treasurer
SANCHEZ, an imposing man in his fifties.
Trade, Your Excellency. According to
Marco Polo, the Kingdom of China is
one of the richest of the world.
Even the meanest buildings are roofed
Is that all that interests you? Gold?
No. The Portuguese have already
discovered black-skinned people. I,
too, will find other populations --
and bring them to the word of God.
THE MONK smiles thinly.
Christopher -- Christo Ferens -- the
Bearer of the Cross!
And Colon -- the one who populates!
Another small rill of laughter.
If God intended our proximity to
Asia, do you believe he would have
waited for you to show it to the
Did He not choose a carpenter's son
to reveal Himself to the world?
A hum of interest. CLOSE ON SANCHEZ -- watching COLUMBUS
intently, a hint of an admiring smile on his lips.
So you consider yourself the chosen
Don't you realize your words could
be considered heretical?
Blind faith is what I consider heresy!
The murmur turns to an audible gasp. AROJAZ gets to his feet
and leans forward, threateningly, the flame of a candle only
inches from his face.
There is absolute silence. COLUMBUS meets the MONK'S gaze
Asia can be found to the west -- and
I will prove it.
EXT. TERRACE - UNIVERSITY - DAY
The JURY is alone to deliberate. Food and wine has been laid
out on tables. In the distance, students' cries carry over
The Treasurer of Spain honors us
with his presence.
SANCHEZ bows slightly.
The State has some reason to be
interested in this man's proposition,
The Judgment is ours!
Naturally. But I would really deplore
the loss of such a potential
opportunity for Spain for a... dispute
over a point of geography.
SANCHEZ helps himself to some grapes, looks round at the
other members of the committee, who pretend not to be
He is a mercenary! Did he not already
try to convince the King of Portugal
of his absurd notions?
Indeed. The world is full of
mercenaries -- and states often make
use of them, when it benefits them.
My only concern is the welfare and
prosperity of Spain.
AROJAZ understands the hint, and stops smiling.
You would use your influence to assist
SANCHEZ reaches for a decanter of sherry.
You know, Your Eminence, the
fascinating thing about power, is
that what can be given so
He offers the decanter to AROJAZ, who automatically lifts
his glass. But instead, SANCHEZ pulls back the decanter,
pours himself a drink, and replaces it on the table, leaving
AROJAZ staring at his own empty glass.
...can so easily be taken away.
And he drinks with a smile.
INT. LA RABIDA - MARCHENA'S STUDY - EVENING
MARCHENA reads aloud the Commission's letter.
...and therefore nothing could justify
the participation of Your Highnesses
in the venture that relies upon such
feeble assumptions, and which any
man of knowledge would take to be
impractical... if not impossible.
He shakes his head, puts the letter down. COLUMBUS looks
They didn't listen. They didn't want
He paces about the book-lined room.
You mustn't give way to despair. You
Wait! I've waited seven years already!
How much longer do you want me to
If God intends you to go, then you
MARCHENA is shocked.
Damn all of you! You all set up
theories based on what? You never
leave the safety of your studies! Go
out! Find out what the world is about
and then tell me something I can
He seizes a beautiful book from MARCHENA'S desk.
These don't mean anything! They're
full of assumptions! Out of the heads
of old men who've never been past
the end of their gardens!
He hurls the book across the room. MARCHENA is horrified.
No...! My books...!
COLUMBUS seizes more books from the shelves, just sweeping
them to the floor.
All of them! Just lies!
MARCHENA tries to stop him. In his fury, COLUMBUS accidentally
knocks the poor old MAN to the ground. His cries bring three
MONKS rushing into the room.
As COLUMBUS continues to rage and scatter books everywhere,
they try to stop him, struggling with this big, powerful man --
to almost comical effect. Finally, a short, muscular MONK
delivers a quick punch that sends COLUMBUS crashing to the
INT. CHAPEL OF LA RABIDA - EVENING
COLUMBUS lies face down on the stone floor. He is dressed in
a homespun robe. His arms are stretched out in penance.
FERNANDO and DIEGO look down at him.
Sssshhhh...! One can't speak to a
man doing penance.
What can you do?
Nothing. That's the point, Fernando.
A pause -- and then FERNANDO lies face down on the floor
beside his FATHER, and stretches out his arms in the same
way. DIEGO is left looking on, unable to bring himself to
EXT. CLOISTER - LA RABIDA - DAY
Along the cloister, maps are drying, hanging like laundry in
the light breeze. COLUMBUS pins up a new addition. Another
MONK works nearby, in silence.
COLUMBUS turns, to see a small, stocky MAN approaching: a
middle-class gentleman. He nods.
Ah, thank God! I've been looking all
over Seville for you! Never expected
to find a sailor in a monastery, eh?
He laughs. COLUMBUS smiles, but doesn't say anything.
PINZON is clearly a little surprised.
Name's Pinzon, by the way. Martin
Alonzo Pinzon. I'm a ship owner from
COLUMBUS glances around cautiously, and walks a little way
down the cloister, away from the other MONK, gesturing for
PINZON to follow him. PINZON is yet more surprised by this
(indicating the monk)
Is he a spy?
COLUMBUS shakes his head. PINZON stares at him, perplexed.
What is it? Are you a Trappist?
COLUMBUS shakes his head again.
Vow of silence...? Penance?
COLUMBUS nods vigorously.
Jesus! Just my luck!
He takes off his hat, wiping his forehead with a silk cloth.
Listen. I'll do the talking for both
of us. You just nod. Agreed? Just as
I do with the wife.
I know that the Commission turned
you down, right? What do you expect?
You're a foreigner... But I want to
COLUMBUS gives him a glance like one throws a question in
You wonder why I believe in you?
Hey, I am a seaman. And we don't
like to be told where to go, and
where not to go.
COLUMBUS looks at him, and bursts out laughing. The other
MONK looks round severely. COLUMBUS ducks behind a map, PINZON
following him. PINZON lowers his voice.
I don't look like it, but I have
friends at the Court. The Treasurer
of Aragon, for example. He finances
me. His name's Santangel. Ever heard
COLUMBUS shakes his head, but looks increasingly interested
by what he's hearing.
He can get you an audience with the
Queen! You know why...? She owes him
money. That's how it is. You -- me --
the Queen -- the world and his
mistress -- agreed?
So. What do you say?
COLUMBUS looks around, catches the disapproving face of the
MONK, crosses himself, then speaks:
Where can I meet this man?
(indicating with a
COLUMBUS turns and sees an elegant Lord in his fifties,
examining the maps.
EXT. STREETS OF GRANADA - DAY
A huge Islamic Crescent being pulled down from the minaret
of a mosque. SOLDIERS are holding back a crowd at the foot
of the tower. To the ecstatic cries of the crowd, a Cross is
hoisted up in its place... Astride horses, COLUMBUS and the
Treasurer SANTANGEL are watching the scene.
They push through an extraordinary scene. The city of Granada
has just been reclaimed from the moors after several years
of siege. All around them, SPANISH SOLDIERS are herding,
bedraggled columns of the defeated MOORS, bearing only a few
possessions. Ragged, half-starved men, women and children.
These people built Granada...
Centuries ago! It is a great victory
over the Moors, Don Colon -- and yet
what a tragedy it is!
The THREE HORSEMEN pass a procession of grateful PENITENTS,
who are crawling on their knees, chanting psalms and
flagellating themselves. At the head of the procession, HOODED
PRIESTS carry a statue of the Virgin Mary swathed in silk
The gates of the Alhambra Palace are in sight.
Is this a good time to meet her?
It couldn't be better. Victors can't
Bells are pealing triumphantly. The noise is tumultuous.
They ride towards the magnificent palace.
EXT. ALHAMBRA PALACE - GARDENS - DAY
Fabulous Moorish gardens: ponds filled with golden carp;
exotic bird cages hang from lemon trees... The distant sounds
SANTANGEL and COLUMBUS walk through the gardens, escorted by
HALBERDIERS. SOLDIERS pass by, carrying coffers or piles of
As they approach the inner sanctum, however, there are fewer
people. They stop by the Lion's Fountain, where several
DIGNITARIES are waiting patiently for an audience.
SANCHEZ appears. They bow. SANTANGEL approaches to murmur a
Your Excellency... truly grateful...
your help... as ever...
SANCHEZ protests softly, and looks over at COLUMBUS, a half-
smile forming on his lips. Then a DUENA appears, and motions
for COLUMBUS to follow.
INT. ALHAMBRA PALACE - THRONE ROOM - DAY
An ornate Moorish door is pushed open by the DUENA'S hand.
We enter the Throne Room -- sculptured colonnades, mosaics...
At the far end, windows open onto a view of Granada's
Against this dazzling light, the delicate silhouette of QUEEN
ISABEL OF SPAIN. The light in her blonde hair creates a halo
around her head as she turns. COLUMBUS falls to his knees.
Rise...! Come forward!
He approaches the window, stopping close to her. ISABEL
scrutinizes him quickly.
I should not even be listening to
you, since my council said no. But
Santangel tells me you are a man of
honor and sincerity... And Sanchez,
that you are not a fool.
No more than the woman who said she
would take Granada from the Moors.
ISABEL smiles, enjoying the lack of obsequiousness.
The ocean is uncrossable?
What did they say about Granada before
That she was impregnable.
ISABEL smiles again.
I cannot ignore the verdict of my
Surely you can do anything you want.
A direct challenge. She doesn't know what to make of this
How little you know.
This little hint of vulnerability subtly reverses their
positions for a moment. Now we sense COLUMBUS scrutinizing
May I speak freely?
(with a smile)
You show no inclination to speak
I know what I see. I see someone who
doesn't accept the world as it is.
Who's not afraid. I see a women who
thinks... "What if?"...
(amused at his
A slight pause.
Forgive me... but you're the only
Queen I know.
She bursts out laughing.
Then we are equal... since you are
the only sailor I know!
How old are you, Senor Colon?
Thirty seven, Your Majesty... And
Once again taken off guard, ISABEL flushes, and turns away
slightly to hide it.
You will be informed of our decision.
COLUMBUS bows and goes to leave. As the DUENA opens the door
for him, he turns back.
Actually, I thought you were younger
And he goes out, leaving her stunned.
EXT. SANCHEZ'S ESTATE - TREE-LINED ROAD - DAY
A chalk white road, lined with trees. Two liveried SERVANTS
are walking down the road, one carrying a large silver tray,
the other a smaller tray.
They are overtaken by an ADMINISTRATOR who hurries along the
road, with documents under his arm.
EXT. SANCHEZ'S ESTATE - STABLE BLOCK AND PADDOCK - DAY
The CLERK enters an imposing stable block.
In the paddock, SANCHEZ is training a magnificent young horse,
making it step sideways, bending it to his will. The
ADMINISTRATOR watches him, unable to interrupt.
Behind him the two SERVANTS can be seen bringing in the silver
trays, with covered dishes of food, a decanter of wine.
They begin to lay them out on a table.
EXT. SANCHEZ'S ESTATE - STABLE BLOCK AND PADDOCK - LATER
SANCHEZ pours himself some wine, tucks into his his food,
while the ADMINISTRATOR, clearly working himself up into a
frenzy, reads from a document.
...and he demands... he DEMANDS to
be made a Knight, with the right to
bear the Golden Spurs! He will receive
the title of Don Cristobal Colon --
which will be extended to his
descendants for ever more...
The ADMINISTRATOR looks up. He is reading the contract that
COLUMBUS has proposed. SANCHEZ, his mouth full, gestures for
him to continue.
He will be named Great Admiral of
the Ocean Sea. Viceroy of the West
Indies... Governor of all islands or
lands discovered or as will be
discovered with his help...
The ADMINISTRATOR looks up again.
The highest titles of nobility, Your
Excellency! To an immigrant sheltered
SANCHEZ gestures for the document. Wipes his mouth. Continues
Furthermore he will receive one eight
of all wealth or monies, precious
gems, pearls, metals, spices and
other lucrative sources conquered
within the boundaries of his
He smiles, hands the document back.
It's very underdone.
Underdone! It's monstrous, Excellency!
No, the pheasant. It's almost raw.
And he carries on eating.
You worry too much, Carvajal... The
man will have to lower his demands.
Believe me, he WILL!
INT. ALHAMBRA PALACE - A RECEPTION ROOM - DAY
Close up on COLUMBUS.
A WOMAN'S HAND quietly, carefully opens a cover of a spy
hole in the wall. Two beautiful eyes peer through a grille,
into the next room.
WHAT THEY SEE:
SANCHEZ and COLUMBUS together. COLUMBUS is visibly upset.
We have considered your -- demands
very carefully, Senor Colon... Your
expectations are... excessive, in
COLUMBUS tightens his fists, tries to remain calm.
If I am right, my requests are fair!
SANCHEZ holds up a document.
We have prepared our own contract...
He offers the document to COLUMBUS, who takes it, scans it
quickly, shakes his head.
NO...! I have waited too long, fought
too hard. Now you expect me to take
all the risks while you take the
profit! No... I will not be your
The eyes behind the screen -- the mouth, forming a little
I remind you, Senor Colon, that you
are in no position to bargain with
I'm not bargaining!
Then you are too ambitious.
COLUMBUS leans over the table, faces him.
And were you never ambitious,
Excellency? Or is ambition only a
virtue among the nobles, a fault for
the rest of us?
If you won't accept our proposal,
we'll simply find someone who will.
If you can do that, Excellency --
I'll become a monk!
He turns, strides towards the door. We hear a WOMAN'S muffled
As COLUMBUS goes out, ISABEL appears through a secret door.
ISABEL goes over to the window and looks out.
You were right, Don Sanchez... His
demands could never be granted.
Never, Your Majesty. Although...
She turns, questioningly, towards him.
...Although one may always renegotiate
a contract. Especially signed by
EXT. ALHAMBRA PALACE GARDENS - POV - DAY
SANCHEZ joins ISABEL at the window. They see COLUMBUS striding
out and away.
INT. ALHAMBRA PALACE - A RECEPTION ROOM - DAY
BACK TO SANCHEZ
...Into a monk...
(with a smile)
Yes. It would be a pity, wouldn't
(turning to Sanchez)
Call him back!
EXT. STREET - EVENING
Teeming life. COLUMBUS pushing his way through crowds.
He is expressionless and distracted.
He looks around him, stops walking. And then, unexpectedly,
All heads turn as if he were totally insane. He walks on as
if nothing happened.
INT. BEATRIX'S HOUSE - NIGHT
COLUMBUS is sitting at the kitchen table, by himself, with a
glass of wine. There is a movement behind him. BEATRIX is
standing at the foot of the stairs, in a night-shirt.
COLUMBUS turns and looks at her, almost sad.
She said yes.
She smiles. But he seems to be unable to share her happiness.
If I ever come back, I swear I will...
She crosses to him quickly, placing her hand gently on his
I'm not asking you to swear to
I don't want you to wait for me.
That's something you can't decide.
COLUMBUS kisses her.
INT. CORRIDOR - BEATRIX'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Strange, unearthly music... A flickering light in a dark
tunnel. FERNANDO, holding a candle in front of him, walks
slowly down the dark corridor.
Quietly opening a door, he walks into COLUMBUS' study.
INT. COLUMBUS' STUDY - NIGHT
CLOSE ON: A huge illustrated map of western Europe and Asia.
FERNANDO'S candle moves slowly across the Atlantic Ocean, to
the edge of the map. There, the illustrator's imagination
has created monsters: terrifying demons; creatures half-human,
Sitting at his desk, COLUMBUS is looking at the map.
You can't go there!
Turning, COLUMBUS finds his son beside him.
FERNANDO points at the monsters. He pulls the boy to him.
There aren't any monsters, Fernando.
The only monsters are in here...
(he taps his own
He takes a pen, and draws a smile on one of the terrible
monsters, transforming it at once. FERNANDO laughs
I want to go with you!
There'll be a time.
(Columbus nods his
Do you swear on St. Christopher...?
FERNANDO pulls the chain with the St. Christopher medal from
under COLUMBUS' shirt.
Do you swear on all the Holy Saints
Yes... Yes, I do... On all of them!
And he hugs his SON tightly.
EXT. HILLSIDE AND GATE - PRE-DAWN
A luminous procession passes through a Moorish stone gate,
down to the harbor. We see the faces of the SAILORS and their
FAMILIES -- COLUMBUS, PINZON AMONGST THEM -- We sense the
fervor and apprehension of the departure. The procession is
lead by MARCHENA and four young NOVICES carrying the Madonna.
All hold long, burning tapers, saying the rosary. A SAILOR
pushes through the crowd, and kisses the Madonna's feet.
EXT. PALOS HARBOR - DAWN
Hundreds of candles flicker in the pre-dawn light, held by
the FAMILIES and FRIENDS of the SAILORS.
The SANTA MARIA the PINTA and the NINA nestle against the
quayside. Dwarfed by the hulls, a flotilla of smaller fishing
craft, returning from night fishing, accidentally witness
EXT. MAKESHIFT CONFESSIONAL - DOCKSIDE - DAWN
MARCHENA sits on a barrel and crosses himself. Behind a
curtain sits COLUMBUS.
In Nomine Patris et Filius, et
Forgive me, Father. For I have sinned.
MARCHENA recognizes COLUMBUS' voice.
I am listening, my son.
Father, I have betrayed my family. I
betrayed my men. And I betrayed you.
What are you saying?
I lied. The journey will be longer
than I said.
I am not sure... It could be twice
May God forgive you...! You must
tell them! You must tell your men!
If I tell them, they won't follow
me. You know that I am right, Father.
You trust me...
My son, my son...
(he shakes his head)
Your certitudes are sometimes
Christopher, you must speak to them.
And if you don't I will.
You are bound by an oath, Father.
A long silence.
I believed in you...
Give me absolution.
Give me absolution, Father!
Devastated, MARCHENA reluctantly makes the sign of the cross.
EXT. HARBOR AND SHIPS - PALOS - DAWN
COLUMBUS walks over to where BEATRIX and FERNANDO are waiting.
He kisses and hugs FERNANDO.
Ispo Te Absoluto. May God forgive
you and have mercy on your soul,
Christopher Columbus. Go in peace.
EXT. HARBOR AND SHIPS - DAWN - LATER
The CROWDED QUAYSIDE. COLUMBUS stands in front of FERNANDO.
Be good to your mother, Fernando. Do
FERNANDO nods, tears in his eyes. Then COLUMBUS embraces
BEATRIX tightly. She whispers into his ear.
Speak to Diego.
But COLUMBUS and DIEGO are unable to find words, and instead
they clumsily hug. Someone taps COLUMBUS' shoulder. He turns
around to see SANTANGEL. Wordlessly, they hug.
Activity on the ships, orders are being shouted, ropes fore
and aft are cast off, splashing into the water... Now the
SHIPS are slowly moving parallel to the quayside. The CROWD
starts walking abreast to the VESSELS. WOMEN holding up
babies, blowing kisses, old PARENTS crying... BEATRIX, HER
SONS, AND SANTANGEL are among them.
COLUMBUS suddenly unties the chain around his neck, and throws
it at DIEGO.
DIEGO catches it. Opening his hand he looks at the medallion.
Then looks up at his FATHER, elated.
THE SANTA MARIA is now two meters from the QUAY.
SANTANGEL is now opposite COLUMBUS.
Take care of my investment, wherever
I have to tell you Santangel. I don't
know where on earth I am going!
They both laugh.
A FISHERMAN, standing in his shrimp-boat lets his hand slide
gently along the gigantic hull. He stares up at the SAILORS
leaning on the rail.
Vaya con Dios! (Go with God!)
They wave back.
MARCHENA walking towards the Moorish gate. He finally turns,
sad and distraught. He sees:
EXT. SHIPS AT SEA - WHALES - DAY
THREE SHIPS ON A BOUNDLESS OCEAN.
The sea resembling a DORMANT MONSTER, holding its breath.
A living being, all powerful, capable of unpredictable
metamorphosis. Music reflects the loneliness, the anxiety of
the crew, the fear of the unknown...
ENORMOUS WHALES moving slowly alongside, surging majestically
through the waves. Sinking back, disappearing, their cries
taking precedent over the music.
EXT. DECK - DAY
A SHIP'S BOY is throwing buckets of water on the deck.
A SAILOR is busy clearing the ropes around the mast.
A COOK is blowing life into a brazier, in preparation of the
TEN MEN heaving on a heavy rope, raising the top sail,
punctuating their efforts with a sailor's chant.
EXT. SANTA MARIA - NIGHT
The crystalline north star -- as if seen through an
COLUMBUS' silhouette, by an oil lamp, standing at the prow.
Holding a quadrant he is aiming at the stars.
SOME SAILORS are watching with curiosity. One of them is
ALONSO, a rough, stocky Basque.
Near COLUMBUS, on a tressel, various books and charts. He
makes an entry in the log. Then goes back to his quadrant.
He senses MENDEZ standing next to him.
Due west, Captain Mendez. And may
God be with us...
God be with us admiral.
MENDEZ doesn't move, continuing to observe COLUMBUS.
What is it Mendez? Speak!
MENDEZ is hesitant. He nervously clears his throat.
Well... It's the men, Sir. They wonder
how you know our position. We've
lost sight from land days ago...
(still taking readings)
And what do you think Mendez?
Well, I surely know what a quadrant
is! But I've never seen it used at
Come over here.
MENDEZ hesitates, then motions to COLUMBUS. The SAILORS are
watching, and some approach to hear the conversation.
Now, find the North Star. Do you
The picture swims across the heavens, until we see the north
Steady yourself...! Keep the plumb
The picture steadies.
MENDEZ nods -- and loses equilibrium. The plumb line swings.
Don't move! A mistake of one degree
and we'll be off 6,000 leagues!
MENDEZ tries again.
What do you read?
MENDEZ turns to COLUMBUS.
That's it. The twenty eighth parallel.
And we'll follow it until we reach
ALONSO does not seem convinced.
How do you know land is on the twenty
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DECK - DAY
A blazing sun. The ship is like a furnace, its brass fittings
too hot to touch, the blistering heat making the air shimmer
over the decks.
Desperate for shade, sailors are sheltering under the sagging
The SHIP'S BOY throws an empty bucket attached to a rope
over the side and hauls it back up again, brimming with water.
As he turns, we see his face, disfigured by a hair lip. He
drenches himself... From the shade, ALONSO watches him.
The others laugh. The BOY, ashamed, tries to ignore them.
ALONSO'S hand accidentally touches a brass fitting; he reacts
like he was burnt.
He sucks his blistered fingers.
I never seen heat like this! Not
even in Las Minas!
The water's going putrid in the
You'll be drinking your own piss...
For the glory of Spain... and Admiral
The SHIP'S BOY glances round at them.
What are you listening to, chicken
Ah, leave him alone. He's doing no
With a face like that?
I don't want you looking at me. You
The BOY turns away, dropping the bucket back into the sea.
He's the devil's child...
We'll all go crazy...
The BOY throws more water over the deck. A SAILOR takes his
guitar, and starts singing an improvised song.
Culo de galina es el hijo del
demonio... (Chicken ass mouth is the
devil's child... Born from the loins
of a stinky old goat etc...)
They all laugh. The BOY, hearing this, climbs to the crow's-
nest like a monkey.
EXT. SANTA MARIA - RIGGING AND CROW'S-NEST - DAY
We experience a sense of vertigo as we near the top of the
main mast, high above the rolling deck.
The BOY curls like a fetus in the swinging crow's-nest,
exhausted by the heat, and scared. His eyes are turning white.
He begins to piss himself...
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DECK - DAY
Piss is dripping on the deck. THE SAILORS do not seem to
care. THE COOK takes a chicken from a cage. He breaks its
neck, and starts plucking it. The OTHERS continue their bitter
We should have seen land.
We left three weeks ago, Alonso.
Can't be that near.
Can't be that far, I say. Also, I
don't like the smell of the sea around
here. Smells like a cunt. Bad sign...
The COOK starts laughing. They turn to him.
(shaking his head)
Of course it smells like it! That's
why sailors take to the sea!
They all laugh. Alonso looks up at COLUMBUS standing on the
poop deck, scrutinizing the horizon, waiting for the land to
And why does this one take to the
sea? Nobody knows. Never says a
MENDEZ has sensed the danger of this lack of respect. He
To your post! At once!
They split in silence.
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DECK - NIGHT
The SHIP is plowing on, pushed by a hot wind -- SAILORS sleep
The SHIP'S BOY is singing to himself. Despite his hair lip
he has a pure, melancholy voice...
COLUMBUS, leaning over the prow rail, staring ahead, hears
it carry over the darkness.
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DECK - DAY
CLOSE UP ON AN HOUR-GLASS, nearly through its time.
The SHIP'S BOY throws an "ampoulette" over board. We follow
the bulb attached to a rope, passing the full length of the
hull. As it reaches the poop deck, another SAILOR shouts
"MARK". A very primitive system of calculation for distance
Sitting near the SHIP'S BOY, COLUMBUS is making entries in a
log-book, watching the hourglass.
Mark. Twenty nine, Sir!
THE HOUR-GLASS runs out. COLUMBUS converts the mark into a
daily average for distance and speed.
Six hundred and twenty nine.
THE SHIP'S BOY cups his hands to his mouth to shout.
EXT. PINTA - DAY
PINZON, his OFFICERS beside him, looks across at the SANTA
Six hundred and twenty nine!
AN OFFICER turns to PINZON to repeat the message.
Six hundred and twenty nine, Sir!
PINZON does not seem too pleased.
THE OFFICER examines his own calculations.
Captain, I don't understand.
I think I do.
He goes back to his cabin.
EXT. SHIPS - SARGASSO SEA - DAY
ABSOLUTE STILLNESS. A FURNACE. The three ships like dots, on
what seems to be a prairie of weed.
The caravels are being towed by three rowing boats.
CLOSE ON THE MEN, rowing, drenched with sweat.
FROM THE PROW, COLUMBUS is staring at the horizon.
ALONSO pulling at his oars stares at COLUMBUS' distant figure
with hate and resentment.
ALONSO suddenly ships his oars, throwing the whole boat into
Total silence. MENDEZ and ALONSO stare at each other.
ALONSO defiantly stares at MENDEZ. He then starts to beat a
rhythm on the hull with his fist, followed by the others. In
the two other boats, the MEN begin to follow suit, beating a
rhythm of protest on the hulls.
MENDEZ looks up to COLUMBUS, in panic.
ON BOARD PINZON'S SHIP, an OFFICER cups his hands to his
Captain Pinzon requests permission
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DAY
INT. COLUMBUS' CABIN - DAY
PINZON enters. He looks furious.
You lied! You cheated! We're way
past 750 leagues!
Six days ago, yes.
You must be mad...!
We have to keep the hopes of these
We're on the verge of a mutiny, Colon!
You think I don't know that?
The land is there. I know it!
You don't know anything! Listen Colon,
these are my ships, right? So I'm
telling you we're turning back!
And then what? Half of the water has
gone, the rest is nearly putrid! You
Jesus Maria! I should have never
listened to you!
You never did. You did all the talking
for both of us, remember?
Pinzon, Pinzon... All we can do now
is go forward! Think about that!
You tell that to them!
You're right. Let the men decide.
COLUMBUS moves to the door. As an afterthought, he takes his
scarlet-embroidered jacket from a hook.
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DECK - DAY
Most of the men are now back on board.
They go silent as COLUMBUS appears. He walks slowly over to
them. All, including ALONSO, are surly, threatening...
Who gave you the order to come on
He looks up and down the line, finishing on ALONSO. They
stare at one another.
God doesn't want us to cross the
ocean...! This voyage is cursed!
Some of the MEN murmur their agreement.
We set sail for greed. God has
abandoned us. The voyage is cursed.
There are signs...
ALONSO glances towards the SHIP'S BOY, with his hair lip.
The BOY lowers his eyes. COLUMBUS moves towards him, pulls
him forward, stands him in front of ALONSO.
This boy has the voice of an angel.
What comes out of his mouth is
blessed, Alonso. What comes out of
your is evil.
Some of the men laugh at this statement. ALONSO is ill at
ease. COLUMBUS pauses, looks around at all the MEN.
Listen to me! Every man is afraid
who does something for the first
time. But those who overcome their
fears, will find their rewards. I do
not know if it is God's will that we
cross this ocean -- but I am certain
it is the devil who puts fears into
The MEN are listening. We sense a subtle change of mood...
This jacket to the first man who
sights land! I want a man up that
mast day and night.
COLUMBUS points at the SHIP'S BOY.
You start first.
The SHIP'S BOY rushes up the mast. As he climbs, the mainsail
starts to fill with wind. The deck begins to move under their
This movement under their feet seems to imperceptibly erase
the fears and the angers.
Alonso! Jaime! Don't let this wind
CRIES from the other ships, as the sails snap taut, filling
with wind. MEN rush to their posts. PINZON stares at COLUMBUS,
shaking his head in disbelief.
You lucky bastard...
COLUMBUS walks away to his cabin, then turning back to PINZON.
Pinzon, the more I sail, the luckier
Turning abruptly, he enters his cabin.
EXT. SANTA MARIA - PROW - MISTY NIGHT
COLUMBUS is seated, isolated at the prow, wrapped in his
cape, struggling against the sleep. MENDEZ approaches him
with a bowl of soup.
Shall I take my turn?
COLUMBUS shakes his head no, and starts drinking from the
COLUMBUS' head nods lower and lower to his chest. He is
asleep. We become aware of a sharp buzzing sound. It becomes
louder as we move closer to COLUMBUS' face.
A mosquito lands on his temple. COLUMBUS reflexively slaps
it. He wakes up, and looks at his fingers -- a spot of blood,
a crushed mosquito. He stares at it for a moment. Then slowly
gets to his feet.
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DECK - NIGHT
In the luminous moonlight, COLUMBUS is standing, staring up
at thousands of insects that wheel around the mast lantern.
We hear the flutter of their wings and see the bats as they
swoop and dive in a feeding frenzy.
COLUMBUS turns, stares into the darkness, desperate to see
the land that must be close.
He kneels by MENDEZ, wrapped in a blanket. He touches his
MENDEZ grimaces, and opens one eye.
EXT. SHIP - DAWN
An opaque dawn. COLUMBUS, riveted, staring forward as if to
pierce the mist. The entire crew are clinging to the rail,
and standing on the shrouds.
Suddenly, the SHIP BOY'S voice cracking with emotion.
COLUMBUS strains his eyes; he still can not see anything.
The entire CREW stand and stare, silent, holding their breath.
As the sun begins to rise, the fog dissipates -- slowly,
exquisitely, revealing a single palm, so close it seems almost
as though they could touch it. Then a white slash of beach.
Near COLUMBUS, a SAILOR falls to his knees and burst into
tears. Others laugh with joy. COLUMBUS watches this vision
in disbelief, his mouth open as if it were difficult for him
to breathe. Tears come to his eyes. He closes them. Then
opens them again. The land is there -- a green paradise.
On screen the words: OCTOBER 12, 1942. GUANAHAN ISLAND
EXT. BOATS - DAY
Three row boats plunging through the surf towards the beach.
COLUMBUS stands in the prow of the first boat. MENDEZ is in
the second. PINZON the third. They stare entranced at the
lushness of the foliage, and the blue clarity of the water...
As the first boat beaches, COLUMBUS leaps out and wades
ashore. Behind him the rest of the landing party splash
through the sun-dazzled water, carrying the banner of Castille
EXT. BEACH - DAY
They stand on the beach, almost in a dream. There is silence.
The ROYAL NOTARY, ludicrously overdressed, now wet through,
stumbles over to COLUMBUS and holds out his contract and a
pen. COLUMBUS scrawls his name.
The MEN stare at him, filled not only with new respect, but
with something amounting to awe.
COLUMBUS turns to them, tries to speak.
By the... by the Grace of... God...
He swallows. Tears have sprung to his eyes. He is so moved
he cannot continue. Coming to his rescue -- THE SHIP'S BOY
starts to roll the drum. He then stops.
In the name of their Gracious
Majesties of Castille and Aragon,
and by all the powers vested in me,
I claim this island and name it San
The MEN cheer as the flags are rammed into the sand, flapping
in the wind.
COLUMBUS starts to walk towards the jungle, and in silence
the rest follow.
EXT. JUNGLE - DAY
Immediately they are met by an incredible wall of SOUND!
The jungle is filled with NOISE. The impossibly-loud CRIES
of EXOTIC BIRDS, the CHATTERING of MONKEYS. The SPANIARDS
They move forward. Rays of sunlight pierce through the high
canopy of leaves, like the roof of a magnificent cathedral.
The sounds and smells intoxicate their senses.
They are filled with wonder.
Then PINZON stops. He has seen something. Another stops,
then a third, staring ahead of them...
Several of them raise their weapons to their shoulders,
pointing them into the jungle.
From COLUMBUS' POV we slowly scan the face of the thick jungle
ahead. For a moment we don't see anything -- and then, with
a shock, we see the first INDIAN. Naked, painted like an
idol, carrying a hunting lance.
As if they had materialized from nowhere: the rest of the
HUNTING PARTY, with their bows and spears. Silent.
Watchful. They stare back at us.
The SPANIARDS nervously finger their weapons.
COLUMBUS slowly lifts his hand into the air: a clear signal
not to fire. Then, removing his sword, he drops it on the
ground, and starts to walk forward, fixing his gaze upon the
first INDIAN he saw.
COLUMBUS ignores him, even though some of the INDIANS have
raised their weapons. He stops in the no-man's land between
them. The INDIANS don't move -- but something excites them.
The SHIP'S BOY, wearing COLUMBUS' embroidered jacket and the
drum, has followed COLUMBUS and now stands close to him. He
is the cause of their interest. COLUMBUS puts his arm around
the BOY, and this gesture of affection seems to put the
INDIANS at their ease. They start talking and pointing. They
come forward slowly, start to tentatively touch the BOY'S
jacket. Then, now laughing, they touch COLUMBUS, pulling at
his beard. COLUMBUS laughs too.
Sensing their innocence, the rest of the MEN lower their
weapons. Some of them laugh.
An apparition: a beautiful young INDIAN GIRL, totally naked,
walks out of the jungle.
She is pregnant and holds a child. We begin to hear Indian
music, played on a flute.
EXT. INDIAN VILLAGE - DAY
A large post is lifted from the ground by two SPANIARDS
pulling on ropes. The post is fixed into position -- and
then we see that it is a large wooden cross... The INDIAN
VILLAGERS watch the ceremony with some interest and amusement.
COLUMBUS looks over at the men and gestures at the INDIANS.
We have come here in peace, and we
will behave with honor. They are not
savages and neither will you be.
Treat these people as you would your
own wives and your own children.
Neither are you free to take what
you will; for a seashell you give a
bandana. You will respect their
beliefs. Pillage will be punished by
the whip. Rape by the sword.
EXT. VILLAGE - SUNSET
The smoke from fires. Laughter. Music playing. The INDIANS
have prepared food for the SPANIARDS, who are drinking and
enjoying themselves in this strange world.
COLUMBUS sits with MENDEZ, PINZON, the INDIAN CHIEF, ELDERS
OF THE VILLAGE. Other INDIANS stand around, smiling, curious.
The INDIANS talk among themselves. The ELDERS smoke primitive
cigars -- and offer them, with good humor, to their guests.
The SPANIARDS cough and choke at first... and laugh. In
return, they offer the INDIANS wine...
Dogs roam around the campfires. The WOMEN openly suckle their
babies. The MEN are entranced.
PINZON draws out attention, for the first time, to a small
gold ornament on the nose of one of the INDIANS. He points
to it, indicates his interest in it.
The INDIANS says the word in his own language, laughing. We
see that some of the other INDIANS also have small gold
PINZON repeats the INDIAN word for gold. The INDIAN removes
the ornament from his nose, gives it to PINZON, who indicates
that he wants to have it. The INDIAN nods
-- but points to PINZON'S dagger, indicating that he wants
it in return. PINZON shakes his head, stops the INDIAN from
Give it to him!
PINZON looks at him, about to argue -- but COLUMBUS insists.
PINZON takes out the dagger and offers it to the INDIAN.
By God! That's the worst trade of my
His friends laugh. Innocently, the INDIAN has taken it by
the blade. He yelps, looks down at the blood welling up... A
moment of tension... Then MENDEZ laughs at his clumsiness,
and the ELDERS laugh too... and the INDIAN laughs.
Just outside this circle, we see the first INDIAN we saw,
squatting on his haunches, watching. This is UTAPAN.
INT. TENT - DAWN
The first light outside -- the strange, wonderful sounds of
the jungle all around. COLUMBUS writes in his journal.
October 21st, 1492. I think we have
returned to Eden. Surely this is how
the world once was, before the
beginning of time. I believe no man
will ever see this land again as we
do, for the first time...
He looks up. UTAPAN is squatting in the doorway of the hut.
He's been there all night. COLUMBUS takes more ink on his
quill and begins to sketch UTAPAN'S face in the margin of
his log-book. He draws well.
He gets up and walks over to UTAPAN and shows him the drawing.
It's an electrifying moment. UTAPAN is shocked and amazed.
At first he is rather frightened of his own image... Then he
is happy, and laughs... and COLUMBUS laughs with him and
puts a hand on his shoulder in a gesture of friendship.
UTAPAN gets up, and indicates that he too has something he
wishes to offer.
EXT. JUNGLE - MORNING
UTAPAN expertly scampering through the jungle. COLUMBUS
UTAPAN orders COLUMBUS to sit. COLUMBUS obeys. UTAPAN looks
up at the tops of the trees. The sun is rising, and filters
through the foliage. As if the time had come, UTAPAN stands
up, and COLUMBUS does the same.
A gap in the dense vegetation. Something is glittering. Gold.
A mass of gold. As they approach, COLUMBUS discovers --
A large pool of fresh water. The morning sunlight has turned
the water into liquid gold. The surface ripples with the
breeze. UTAPAN smiles. It the stranger satisfied? Isn't this
what he came for?
COLUMBUS plunges into the pool. As he emerges, he fills his
palms with liquid gold.
EXT. RIVER - DAY
Wide shot -- A flotilla of canoes are going upstream.
INDIANS AND SPANIARDS are traveling together in the canoes.
UTAPAN leads the expedition in COLUMBUS' craft.
THE SHIP BOY'S cranium is shaved like UTAPAN'S, and we notice
that some other crew members are beardless, some even wearing
EXT. RIVERSIDE - DAY
INDIAN VILLAGERS confronting the SPANIARDS, UTAPAN talks to
an ELDER MAN, watched by COLUMBUS, MENDEZ and PINZON.
UTAPAN repeats several times the word for GOLD, showing some
artifacts. The OLD INDIAN shakes his head no, indicating
another distant place.
THE OLD MAN nods, points into the distance, chatters away to
Say not here! Cuba!
What is it? A tribe? An island?
EXT. SANTA MARIA - DECK - DAY
Standing at the prow of the ship, his long dark hair floating
in the wind, UTAPAN rejoicing at the speed.
EXT. THICK JUNGLE - CUBA - DAY
Led by UTAPAN, the SPANIARDS hack their way through thick
jungle. It's hard work. The MEN sweat. This is inhospitable
terrain. Even the noises of the jungle seem somehow more
RESTING PLACE - ALONSO is seated under a tree. He takes off
his boot, and grabs his foot, examining the blisters on his
toes. As he puts his foot back into the boot, he jumps
screaming in pain.
ALONSO yelps, grasping his ankle.
CLOSE ON a snake sliding out of the empty boot.
While his COMPANIONS rush to him, a SAILOR spots the snake,
and decapitates it with his sword. UTAPAN glances at the
dead snake. He then goes and kneels -- he sees the bite on
ALONSO is quiet and silent. His eyes are looking around at
his companions. UTAPAN shakes his head. There is nothing he
ALONSO is now leaning back, supported by one of his friends.
He has grabbed the forearm of a SAILOR. His look is already
far away. His companion shouts at UTAPAN.
Do something! Help him!
ALONSO starts convulsing. HIS FRIENDS hold him, desperate in
their helplessness. Others simply move away, horrified. One
of them cries.
EXT. RIVER - DAY
Standing in the stream up to his thighs, A SPANIARD (a gold
expert) examines some stones. He then looks up at COLUMBUS
and PINZON and just throws the stones back into the water
without a word.
The group of SPANIARDS are resting, exhausted by the humidity.
Some are drinking from the river, others soak bandanas, and
tie them around their necks...
One after another, they stand up slowly -- they look
discouraged, tired, and beaten.
EXT. MOUNTAINOUS JUNGLE - DAY
UTAPAN and the SPANIARDS are trekking in the hills. Fully
armed, they are now suffering intensely from the heat and
the vicious insect bites.
COLUMBUS doggedly keeps up with UTAPAN, who tirelessly trots
Finally, COLUMBUS turns around and sees... nobody. He calls
out to UTAPAN.
UTAPAN stops obediently, and rushes back to COLUMBUS with
On their way back, they find one SOLDIER sitting, leaning
against a tree. He has removed his helmet. His hair sticking
to his forehead.
As COLUMBUS and UTAPAN walk back, they find another SAILOR,
then another, then the whole group gathered around PINZON.
Ashen, he burns with fever. He attempts a smile.
Well... You'll have to continue
COLUMBUS looks around him -- what he sees: exhausted men and
jungle, as far as one can see.
No. It's enough. What would you say
to a drop of Jerez, Pinzon?
And a nice slice of Santa Fe lamb!
I'd sell my soul for it.
(to his officer)
Help me up. I've got to piss, gold.
They all laugh as the OFFICER helps PINZON to his feet.
PINZON walks a few yards into the jungle -- starts to urinate.
It is red. Suddenly dizzy, he reels and collapses.
EXT. JUNGLE - DAY
A line of SPANIARDS and INDIANS threading their way down a
mountainside. PINZON is being carried on a makeshift
stretcher. His eyes are closed, his face thick with sweat.
They enter a village, to the surprise of the INDIANS.
UTAPAN once again at the front as the ambassador.
INT. HUT - NIGHT
A INDIAN SHAMAN is forcing a milky fluid into PINZON'S mouth.
COLUMBUS attempts a gesture to prevent him. But UTAPAN stops
COLUMBUS nods -- he obviously trusts UTAPAN.
INT. CHIEF GUARIONEX'S HUT - NIGHT
In the half-light, figures wreathed in smoke -- COLUMBUS,
MENDEZ and UTAPAN watch the CHIEF GUARIONEX putting a Spanish
helmet on his head. The helmet is too big, almost covering
his eyes. The ELDERS appraise the gift with solemn wonder.
In return, GUARIONEX hands COLUMBUS a parcel made of leaves.
COLUMBUS unwraps them. Inside: a GOLD grimacing mask. The
first real piece of gold. COLUMBUS is unable to conceal his
excitement at this first real evidence of the metal.
He waits for the CHIEF to speak, but the CHIEF only looks at
him. On the ground, we see other presents offered by the
SPANIARDS -- trinkets, and necklaces...
You come! You speak first!
Tell the Chief we thank him.
Tell him his country is very
beautiful. Tell him we are leaving
men here -- to build a fort.
Tell him we will return very soon.
Many of us.
UTAPAN translates. The CHIEF GUARIONEX asks a simple question.
Chief says -- how many?
COLUMBUS doesn't seem to understand the question. For the
first time he seems to be caught short.
To bring the word of God.
Chief says -- he has a God.
...and also to bring medicine.
He has medicine.
Tell him we admire his people.
Chief says he knows you like his...
(searches for the
And the CHIEF gets up, awards COLUMBUS with a smile, and
walks out of the hut, the ELDERS following, leaving COLUMBUS
(with a little smile)
That's a beginning...
EXT. SHORE - DAY
Watched from the shore by the INDIANS and by about forty of
the SPANIARDS, who are staying behind, the boats pull out
towards the two remaining ships.
PINZON is laid out in the bottom of the boat. COLUMBUS,
UTAPAN, and four other INDIANS are in the same boat.
March 1493... Thirty nine of my men
volunteered to stay behind. God
willing we will be back in less than
The boats continue to pull away, the figures on the shore
EXT. COLUMBUS' CABIN - NIGHT
CLOSE ON: a golden mask... the lamp in the cabin swings
violently back and forth, creating strange shadows, as if
the mask was alive... COLUMBUS is writing with difficulty in
...Several men are ill. We did not
find signs of civilization. No cities,
no temples... Nothing that resembles
Marco Polo's descriptions. My ships
are not filled with the spices and
the gold that Spain was hoping for.
But this land intoxicates the senses
like the strongest of perfumes...
And all I can think of, is to return
to these untamed lands...
Suddenly the cabin seems to lurch over. Things fall from the
table, smashing on the floor... COLUMBUS nearly falls.
EXT. SEA - NIGHT
We are in the middle of a violent storm -- of terrifying
proportions. The thunder is deafening. Light irradiates the
darkness. We see the two caravels, dwarfed by the massive
EXT. DECK - NIGHT
Five MEN are struggling to lash down the tiller. The deck
jumps and rolls. It rises five meters into the air then falls
into space and hits the water with a terrible crack.
Waves sweep over the decks. We hear desperate cries for mercy
from the terrified crew, loud enough to be heard above the
COLUMBUS and MENDEZ are crawling towards the mast, along a
(screaming to the
Get below! All of you! Go!
The MEN start to scramble below decks.
Stay with me!
The ship rolls again. COLUMBUS and MENDEZ crawl towards the
mast. Another gigantic wave crashes over them, tons of water
falling like cement. They reach the mast. The wood groans.
We may have to cut it!
MENDEZ nods... COLUMBUS grabs some rope. The ship rises into
the air again, crashes down, the deck disappearing beneath
them for a moment.
I'll stay here -- to decide if we
cut it. Help me!
With MENDEZ'S help, COLUMBUS is tied to the mast: one rope
under his arms, the other around his waist. MENDEZ hands him
MENDEZ seems to hesitate. COLUMBUS screams at him again.
I said -- below deck, Mendez!
MENDEZ crawls away.
Another huge wave washes over COLUMBUS. He emerges, almost
suffocated. The storm rages, its eerie light making it seem
at times like bright daylight. But as the lightning flashes,
COLUMBUS begins to count:
One... two... three... four...
There's an enormous thunderclap on "four" -- it indicates
how close they are to the eye of the storm.
The ship keels over again, dropping down and down, seeming
never to rise... COLUMBUS lifts his head to the heavens,
As if in answer, another flash of lightning that illuminates
the sky and the sea. COLUMBUS starts counting again.
One... two... three... four... five...
Another terrible clap of thunder on "five" -- COLUMBUS starts
laughing, knowing the storm is moving on.
Then, in the strange light, something seems to move through
the air towards him; it looks like some kind of projectile,
a craft, with a trail of vapor.
COLUMBUS stares up at it... amazed. We start to hear the "Te
Deum", majestic and heavenly.
INT. CATHEDRAL OF CORDOBA - SPAIN - DAY
COLUMBUS looks up at the vast roof, to see an incense burner,
swinging, gliding swiftly across the ceiling, trailing a
think vapor of incense.
A magnificent "Te Deum" is being sung -- in honor of COLUMBUS'
achievements and return. The whole cathedral is packed with
nobles and dignitaries in their gorgeous robes.
BEATRIX, FERNANDO and DIEGO are staring in fascination at
COLUMBUS' triumph -- somewhat separated by the grandeur of
this occasion. COLUMBUS passes by, walking proudly down the
long central alley, beside KING FERDINAND and QUEEN ISABEL
and other GRANDEES. He turns to his family, keeping his eyes
on BEATRIX until she is out of his vision.
The procession is followed by UTAPAN, and other INDIANS in
As they move through the crowds, all eyes are upon COLUMBUS.
INT. ROOM - SEVILLE (PINZON'S DEATH) - DAY
In a simple room, a PRIEST finishes giving the Last Rites
and a sheet is pulled over the head of MARTIN PINZON. His
WIFE and CHILDREN weep at the bedside.
INT. CATHEDRAL - DAY
A stool passes from hands to hands. It is placed at the Queen
and King's side. COLUMBUS sits on it -- a supreme privilege.
To one side sit AROJAZ and SANCHEZ. AROJAZ leans over to
whisper to him.
It won't be easy to get rid of your
prophet now, Don Sanchez.
On the contrary, Your Eminence. It
seems to me the man is preparing his
INT. ALCAZAR'S PALACE IN SEVILLE - DINING ROOM - NIGHT
CLOSE ON: the face of a young, SPANISH NOBLEMAN, ADRIAN DE
MOXICA. Hesitantly, he brings a lighted cigar to his lips --
We discover other people around the magnificent candle-lit
table. NOBLE MEN and NOBLE WOMEN. SANCHEZ. COLUMBUS. QUEEN
COLUMBUS takes the cigar from MOXICA. The rest watch him
with rapt curiosity. COLUMBUS inhales deeply then, to their
astonishment, blows out the smoke through his nose.
You must not inhale, but simply allow
the palate to enjoy the flavor of
He hands the cigar back to MOXICA. With a casual air, MOXICA
himself inhales deeply -- almost chokes to death. He gulps
down a glass of wine... much to the amusement of the others.
And you say this is an Indian vice?
By God! I don't see any kind of
pleasure that would make this a sin.
The Indians have no such word, Don
Do they have such thoughts?
They come and go as naked as the day
God created them...
ISABEL blushes slightly.
They don't see sin in their nakedness.
They live according to nature, in a
never ending summer. The islands are
covered with trees, filled with
blossoms and fruits. And...
Forgive me, Don Colon. But what about
COLUMBUS nods, turns and whispers something to a SERVANT
standing just behind his chair. The SERVANT goes to open the
door -- and in comes UTAPAN, dressed as a tribesman, carrying
a casket. The WOMEN around the table fan themselves furiously
at the sight. UTAPAN puts the casket down in front of the
QUEEN, and steps back.
These are gifts for Your Majesty.
ISABEL opens the casket, revealing the gleam of gold inside.
She takes out some of the little golden ornaments... a
bracelet and then the mask.
She holds it, somehow moved by its crude beauty.
ISABEL raises the mask to her face, looking across at
The image is somehow powerful enough to reduce even the
ARISTOCRATS to silence. She speaks from behind the mask.
We are more than gratified.
The guests laugh obsequiously. COLUMBUS bows a little --
looks up and meets the eyes of SANCHEZ, who is staring at
INT. ROTUNDA - DAY
A SWORD MASTER advances towards us with determination, his
sword flashing. He is fighting an adversary we do not see,
and comments his movements.
Si! Si! Muy bien! Excellente!
(Yes! Yes! Good!
We discover the SWORD MASTER is fencing with COLUMBUS. A
dozen duellists are practicing in the magnificent rotunda,
surrounded with a two-tiered colonnade.
Out of breath, COLUMBUS stops the exercise, and removes his
protective canvas padding. He bows at his teacher, who salutes
him in return.
COLUMBUS walks to a tressel laden with food and beverages.
SANCHEZ, in a fencing outfit and boots, is having a glass of
wine. Upon seeing COLUMBUS approaching, he hands him a glass.
You defend yourself admirably...
...for a commoner?
SANCHEZ laughs and raises his glass.
To your second expedition.
They drink. A short, somewhat ugly man, with some kind of
imposing energy, approach them.
Don Colon -- Don Alonso de Bobadilla.
A man who knows our laws.
I understand that you will soon be
appointing Governors for the islands?
Is it not so?
Forgive me, Don Bobadilla -- those
positions have already been taken.
May I ask by whom?
Bartolome and Giacomo Colon.
SANCHEZ looks at him in surprise. BOBADILLA reddens.
I trust they are men of quality.
BOBADILLA glances at SANCHEZ.
But we do have a lack of notaries.
You should contact my administration.
Don Bobadilla is already a judge, my
Dear Don Cristobal.
Good! We are also in need of judges.
Except there are no thieves!
A grin disfigures the face of BOBADILLA.
I see I was mistaken. Don Colon has
no need for my services...
And he walks off. SANCHEZ fills his mouth with a slice of
You seem to have a special talent
for making friends.
What...? Do I have so many already?
To rise so high, in so short a time,
is a dangerous occupation.
A little hypocrisy goes a long way.
INT. ROOM - ADMINISTRATION - DAY
COLUMBUS with two MEN: the oldest, around thirty, is a strong-
looking man. The youngest, no more than twenty five, is thin
and fit. There is obvious tension in the room. These are
BARTOLOME and GIACOMO COLON, COLUMBUS' brothers. BARTOLOME
is angry, and GIACOMO thoughtful.
You might have given us a choice!
Bartolome is stronger, more capable
than I will ever be...
I need both of you. What are you
afraid of? We are living what we
always dreamt of.
You know I never shared those dreams
Are you saying you refuse to help?
COLUMBUS looks at them with such pained surprise...
You bastard... you always had your
Let me show you something.
He opens the door to a terrace.
EXT. GALLERY - DAY
The large gallery courtyard is crowded with PEOPLE --
applicants for the voyage. As COLUMBUS appears, they all
press forward, calling out his name, trying to get his
attention, touching his sleeves as if he were a saint. They
crowd around COLUMBUS and his BROTHERS. COLUMBUS nods, murmurs
vaguely, here and there...
Of course... Of course... We'll see
to it... Yes... Thank you... Soon...
Fighting their way through, the BOTHERS press their way,
reaching the other side of the gallery. We get glimpses of
the incredible activity down below. ADMINISTRATORS,
MILITARIES, MERCHANTS are busy around tressels covered with
documents, plans, maps... preparing the second expedition.
COLUMBUS puts his arms around them.
Now -- you tell me. Who can I trust?
We're brothers! We must be a House.
A bloodline! In this country one
can't exist alone! I need you...!
Both of you!
He walks then to the balustrade. The cries from the courtyard
down below subside... some of the applicants begin to look
up, aware of his presence.
Where is the Admiral? Has anyone
seen the Admiral?
He is here! What is it?
He leans over the balcony. In the middle of the overcrowded
courtyard, the SOLDIER who was shouting is brandishing a
Admiral! The horses have arrived.
I know. I saw them! Who did we hire
ANOTHER ASSISTANT raises his eyes.
Thirty blacksmiths, twenty eight
halberdiers, twenty carpenters, a
hundred farmers, twenty miners...
and Doctor Chanca, the royal surgeon.
The royal surgeon? Then we can count
on royal health!
The whole courtyard bursts out laughing.
EXT. ORANGERY - VICEROY'S HOUSE - DAY
UTAPAN is lying in his hammock. FERNANDO turns him over.
UTAPAN falls to the ground.
COLUMBUS walks beside BEATRIX.
(looking at his son)
He's growing up!
BEATRIX smiles, nods. They walk on.
Beatrix, I want to ask you something.
(with a smile)
You don't usually ask.
(after a pause)
I can arrange for the Queen to take
Fernando and Diego into her service.
BEATRIX stops in her tracks, looks at him.
It is a great honor. We could not
hope for anything better.
BEATRIX nods, but bites her lip, and looks back at FERNANDO.
For once I wish you weren't right.
COLUMBUS puts his arm around her waist, pulling her closer,
they move away.
EXT. FAR END OF THE ORANGERY - DAY
FERNANDO is now swinging expertly in the hammock. UTAPAN is
pushing him gently. He slowly straightens up to watch COLUMBUS
and BEATRIX disappear, somehow sensing there is a dilemma.
FERNANDO noticing UTAPAN'S reaction, turns to his parents.
The arbor is empty. FERNANDO becomes pensive.
We become aware of the rustling of the jungle.
SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. BEACH AND EDGE OF JUNGLE - DAY
FIFTEEN HUNDRED MEN spread along the beach, looking towards
the jungle. COLUMBUS stands beside his BROTHERS, and MENDEZ,
MOXICA, astride a magnificent black horse, prances back and
forth across the sand. All are waiting.
A signal cannon is fired from one of the ships. Birds scatter
into the air from the jungle -- but then silence, complete
and ominous. COLUMBUS stares into the jungle.
Nothing. No one to greet them -- no welcoming party from the
MEN they left behind.
COLUMBUS glances at MENDEZ.
MENDEZ looks at him, but can't answer.
MOXICA suddenly spurs on his horse, and guides it into the
trees. The order is given for the rest to follow, fanning
out as they do so, weapons at the ready.
EXT. CLEARING - JUNGLE - DAY
Ruins. The camp has been burned to ashes. A strange sight:
arrows are stuck vertically into the ground, each with a
moldering tuft of human hair attached to the flight.
In silence the SOLDIERS pick their way through the
The ground is littered with coconuts. Kicking one over with
his shoe, a SOLDIER discovers that his coconut is actually a
human skull. The gaping mouth has been filled to the brim
But of the living, there is no sign.
Is this your new world, Don Colon?
COLUMBUS looks around in dismay. A YOUNG NOBLEMAN, HERNANDO
DE GUEVARA, takes out his sword.
These animals should be shown what
savagery can be!
Other SPANIARDS join in, repeating this last word.
Three heads for every life taken.
No mercy before God!
No mercy! Let's find them.
No Guevara. There will be no revenge.
Silence. Everyone looks at COLUMBUS.
We lost cousins, friends. We will
wash this in blood.
If you want to keep your head on
your shoulders, you'll do as I say.
They are all listening.
Moxica, I lost friends too... Thirty
nine brave men who trusted me.
He walks among them.
You want a war? Fine. We are a
thousand. They outnumber us by ten!
Who will you kill? Which tribe?
We don't need to know.
We came here to stay! To build! Not
to start a crusade. In this forest,
there is enough danger to sweep us
away in days! So we will be brave
and swallow our grief. And in the
name of those who died, we will
accomplish what we came for.
EXT. INDIAN VILLAGE - DAY
MOXICA mounted on his magnificent BLACK STALLION canters to
the edge of the deserted village and enters the village.
UTAPAN is terrorized by the absence of anything living.
All we can hear is the breathing of the horse. The animal,
an impressive mass of muscle, prances nervously.
UTAPAN calls out in dialect.
Slowly, they begin to appear, one after the other --
materializing from the jungle. Shy and scared.
They stare at this "Centaur" (the HORSE and the HORSEMAN
seem to be one -- a God).
To impress them even more, MOXICA makes the beast move
sideways and backwards, rearing, its front hoofs pawing the
air. THE INDIANS retreat in terror, except for one, who stands
his ground, brandishing his lance.
UTAPAN encourages the YOUNG WARRIOR to approach the centaur.
He places his hand onto the shoulder of the animal. The
muscles shudder. THE INDIAN jumps back comically, accompanied
by the rest of the tribe.
Without warning, MOXICA climbs down from the saddle. More
INDIANS step back in fear and absolute astonishment. Now
more have ventured from the jungle. The bravest of them
approach MOXICA, daring to touch him, and the horse,
retreating then touching until they fill the compound.
At this moment, COLUMBUS and his SOLDIERS appear all around
them, pointing their muskets, and their crossbows. A moment
COLUMBUS walks forward, towards the CHIEF (GUARIONEX) we
Ask the Chief what happened to my
The CHIEF answers.
Another tribe made war on them...
came by sea... took them away...
God have mercy on their souls...
The monkey is lying.
A pause. The SPANIARDS shifting, eager for blood.
We should kill them, Don Colon.
UTAPAN looks anxiously at COLUMBUS.
No...! You'll do it my way.
Tell the Chief we will not harm his
people, even though we have the power
to do it.
UTAPAN translates. The CHIEF listens in silence.
We will work with his people. We
want peace. Ask the Chief if he
Ask him if he will help.
EXT. WATERMILL AND DAM UNDER CONSTRUCTION - DAY
It is raining hard. COLUMBUS is floundering in the mud,
supervising a mixed work-force of SPANISH and INDIANS.
They are attempting to raise the huge wheel of a watermill.
Despite COLUMBUS' shouts of encouragement, it's clear the
wheel is far too heavy and the mud too deep.
Close by, on horseback, MOXICA watches the scene.
COLUMBUS, plastered with wet mud, clambers out of the pit
and approaches him.
Don Moxica -- we need your horse.
MOXICA looks down at the sodden, dirty figure.
We can't raise the wheel without it.
My horse doesn't work.
A beat. COLUMBUS wipes some mud from his eyes.
Don Moxica -- we all have to work.
You did not hear me, Don Colon. Not
He starts to turn away; COLUMBUS grabs hold of the reins.
Forgive me, Don Moxica. But it was
your horse I was talking about.
A beat. MOXICA stares down at an equally determined COLUMBUS.
Then, in front of everyone, MOXICA has to dismount, and suffer
the disgrace of it.
Thank you, Don Moxica.
COLUMBUS leads the horse away.
EXT. WATERMILL AND DAM UNDER CONSTRUCTION - DAY
Harnessed, the horse pulls, with COLUMBUS and the MEN. The
wheel is raised into position.
EXT. WATERMILL AND DAM - DAY
Water thundering into the new canal. The huge wheel begins
to turn. The MEN cheer and congratulate each other. MOXICA
looks at his mud-splattered and foaming horse, his eyes full
EXT. CITY OF ISABEL - TWILIGHT
A wide, high shot of the new "City", dominated by a huge
wooden cross -- no more than a muddy main street bordered by
a hundred bamboo and stone shanties, with candles burning in
the doorways. A main square with the Governor's Mansion, and
the foundations of a church.
In the twilight, COLUMBUS and the other WORKERS returning,
dirty and tired.
EXT. VERANDA OF MOXICA'S HOUSE - TWILIGHT
MOXICA and GUEVARA sit out on the "veranda", watching the
MEN return. MOXICA raises his glass in an ironic salute.
To the Governor of the Mosquitoes!
They laugh. We see the smoke and flames from a fire.
Four or five INDIANS are squatting on the earth nearby,
cooking for them, talking quietly in their own language.
MOXICA calls out something in their language, and a naked
YOUNG INDIAN GIRL comes out of the house, bringing more wine.
GUEVARA stares at her lasciviously. MOXICA, letting his hand
casually brush against her flank, smiles at him.
Do you want her?
He turns the GIRL round so that GUEVARA can admire her
properly. GUEVARA nods. MOXICA lets the GIRL go with a
peremptory order, and she disappears back inside.
GUEVARA suddenly stands up -- unsteadily -- and sweeping his
arm round in a broad gesture, says ironically:
To the new world, my friend! To the
INT. DINING ROOM - GOVERNOR'S MANSION - NIGHT
In an already Spanish-colonel dining room, COLUMBUS is having
dinner with his brothers, BARTOLOME and GIACOMO, served by
an INDIAN WOMAN -- NIMA. GIACOMO eats with gusto.
(as Nima pours the
Nima's a good cook!
She's more than that!
Seeing GIACOMO'S sudden blush and discomfort, as NIMA smiles
at him, the other BROTHERS laugh.
To cover his embarrassment, GIACOMO returns to the topic of
What is it?
Eat! I'll tell you later.
As he sees BARTOLOME stifling a laugh, GIACOMO pauses.
I'd like to know what I'm eating.
COLUMBUS eats a mouthful, glances at BARTOLOME.
A look of horror crosses GIACOMO'S face; he wretches slightly,
puts down his fork, and gulps down some wine. The BROTHERS
What wrong with it? The Indians eat
I'm not an Indian.
He wishes he were back in the
seminary. Priests always eat well.
(tasting his wine,
And they have very good cellars.
Nothing grows here! Everything rots
in the ground. The wheat and vines
wither before we can harvest them.
We've got to learn to live like the
Eat your Iguana!
Reluctantly this time, GIACOMO goes back to his dinner.
EXT. BALCONY - GOVERNOR'S MANSION - NIGHT
They are drinking and smoking cigars. From the balcony they
can see the dark mass of the jungle stretching away.
GIACOMO is already dozing in his chair. BARTOLOME sees it,
and elbows COLUMBUS. They both smile at their younger
brother's exhaustion. Then COLUMBUS gets up and leans on the
balustrade, looking down at the city, the jungle beyond.
How much gold have we found?
Not enough to justify a single
Perhaps it doesn't exist anywhere
but in my imagination.
Then let's hope not...
What will happen if we can't find
They begin to hear the sound of a flute -- a melancholy sound.
COLUMBUS looks out over the jungle, and kills a mosquito by
slapping his arm.
Then I'm Governor of the Mosquitoes.
INT. INFIRMARY - CITY OF ISABEL - NIGHT
An INDIAN is playing the flute.
In the gloomy interior of the long hut, in the most primitive
conditions, DOZENS OF SPANIARDS lie sick. On a segregated
part of the room are the INDIANS, several coughing.
They are attended by a doctor, DOCTOR CHANCA, BROTHER BUYL,
and other NOVICES.
A NOVICE attends to an INDIAN, gently lifting his head,
helping him to drink -- there is so little they can do.
BROTHER BUYL looks down at the body of a SPANIARD, covered
in open sores. The NOVICE joins him.
What kind of disease is this?
I don't know. It seems almost as if
we have exchanged diseases with the
Indians. They die of our most common
cold, and we of their plague.
God forgive us!
EXT. ROYAL HOSPITAL - COURTYARD - SPAIN - DAY
A MAN covered with sores is screaming, thrashing in his agony.
He is held down, his voice muffled. ISABEL turns away,
She is in a ward full of patients, attended by a DOCTOR,
SANCHEZ and other members of her court.
The patients are emaciated, their faces and bodies covered
with virulent sores. NUNS move between the beds.
It seems to be caused by intimacy
with the native women, Your Majesty.
Will he survive?
No, Your Majesty. They go mad --
then they die. There is nothing we
ISABEL looks around at SANCHEZ, appalled.
Every ship returns with a cargo of
sick and dying. But with no gold!
The new world proves expensive, Your
We weren't expecting immediate
profits, were we? We must have faith.
We must give time for time.
SANCHEZ bows in acknowledgement. But ISABEL, despite her
words, looks distressed.
EXT. MINE - NEW WORLD - DAY
Excavations carved into a hillside.
It is a blisteringly hot day. At the foot of the hill, GIACOMO
sits at a table beneath an awning, with MOXICA and several
CLERKS. ONE HUNDRED FIFTY INDIANS standing in line at the
In turn, they hand over a small quantity of gold. The CLERK
weighs it on a scale, and notes down each contribution.
MOXICA impatiently gestures the INDIANS to move faster with
a thonged crop. An INDIAN approaches the table. He is nervous.
He doesn't produce anything. The INDIAN shakes his head,
gesticulates, starts to speak rapidly.
He says he has not found any!
Again the INDIAN pleads and gesticulates. MOXICA hits him
across the face with the thonged crop. The INDIAN tries to
run away -- but is held by a SPANISH SOLDIER.
Bring him here!
The frightened INDIAN is brought back to the table. One of
the CLERKS slips away.
Tell him to put his hands on the
table. Like this!
EXT. OTHER SIDE OF THE SITE - DAY
At the other end of the site, the CLERK sprinting to GIACOMO,
who was talking to a FOREMASTER.
Don Giacomo, you'd better come at
EXT. MINE - DAY
MOXICA turns, looks back at the long line of INDIANS, still
Tell them I want them to watch this!
The terrified TRANSLATOR speaks to the INDIANS.
Don't Moxica! You can't...
GIACOMO and the CLERK running to the scene.
(to the clerk)
I can't? I can't?
With a single swift action, MOXICA draws his sword and cuts
off the INDIAN'S hands.
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. The INDIANS flee, disappearing into
the jungle. GIACOMO arrives at this moment. He stares at the
dismembered hands in horror.
INT. GOVERNOR'S MANSION - EVENING
A tribunal. Sitting behind a table with his brothers, and
flanked by his council, COLUMBUS presides. MOXICA stands
In one act of brutality, you have
created chaos. Tribes who were
fighting each other are now joining
forces against us! All that because
of your criminal savagery!
Savagery is what monkeys understand.
You'll be held in detention, deprived
of your privileges and possessions.
Until you are returned to Spain where
you will be judged. Have you anything
You will regret this.
He strolls to the GUARDS at the back of the room.
EXT. BARRACKS - NIGHT
Everything is quiet on the mine site.
On the terrace, TWO SOLDIERS are drinking in turn, and
cracking jokes. One of them leans against the wooden wall.
He laughs as he hears repeated banging behind him.
INT. BARRACKS - NIGHT
A THIRD SOLDIER is fucking an INDIAN WOMAN against the wall.
EXT. BARRACKS - NIGHT
On the terrace, his two COMPANIONS laugh and encourage his
A whooshing sound. An arrow embeds itself in the chest of
the SOLDIER who was leaning against the wall. He is nailed
to the wood behind him.
THE OTHER SOLDIER stares at him, transfixed, until an arrow
pierces his throat. He collapses, unable to cry out for help.
INT. BARRACKS - NIGHT
FOUR INDIANS in full warrior outfit, their faces painted,
burst into the room. Still busy with the WOMAN, his eyes
facing the wall, the SOLDIER believes the intruders to be
You animals! Can't you wait!
Discovering the FOUR TERRIFYING FIGURES staring at her, the
INDIAN WOMAN starts screaming and pushes back the SOLDIER.
He turns around, jumps off the WOMAN, and starts to scramble
to the front door, trying to put on his trousers.
THE FOUR INDIANS catch him, and force him to lay on the
ground. THE MAN struggles, his eyes rolling in terror.
TWO INDIANS force his mouth open. A THIRD ONE kneels and
starts stuffing it with gold dust. THE SOLDIER chokes and
THE WOMAN still stands half naked against the wall, terrified.
AN INDIAN takes his knife from his leggings, slowly. She
starts sobbing and imploring in her language.
THE INDIAN slowly walks to her, and plants the knife in the
lower part of her belly.
EXT. MINE - DAY
PAIRS of bloody red legs hanging still, high in the air.
PULLING BACK, WE DISCOVER:
A DOZEN SPANIARDS have been crucified on the scaffolding of
the excavations. Some hands and noses have been removed.
UTAPAN is standing, uncomfortable among the SPANIARDS.
A SOLDIER removes a huge iron nail from a wrist. One of the
CRUCIFIED BODIES is gently laid on the ground. He is still
alive -- not for long.
COLUMBUS and BARTOLOME are silent with rage.
Moxica is right. Our ways don't work!
BARTOLOME turns to UTAPAN.
Can you find them?
UTAPAN looks distraught -- this is the first time he is being
asked to do something against his own people. He looks up at
COLUMBUS for help in confusion.
You have to find them, Utapan. Look
what they did!
You did the same to your God!
COLUMBUS is caught short.
We have to stop this war.
UTAPAN nods. He walks and takes an arrow. He examines it.
Do you know them?
UTAPAN nods, uncomfortable.
EXT. HILL AND VALLEY - DAY
Around a campfire, two dozen INDIANS are squatting. They are
arguing over a musket and some woolen hats they stole from
the mine. CLICK! CLICK! The INDIANS raise their heads. All
around them, crossbows and muskets are pointed at them. Two
INDIANS try to run away. They are shot.
This sound triggers the SPANIARDS' response. They start
shooting at random. UTAPAN is horrified. COLUMBUS stands up
Stop! Stop this!
EXT. GOVERNOR'S MANSION - NIGHT
MOXICA and a group of rebels (GUEVARA among them), silently
approach the entrance of the mansion.
A GUARD is stabbed and falls on his knees with a cry.
INT. COLUMBUS' STUDY - GOVERNOR'S MANSION - NIGHT
MOXICA tears COLUMBUS' plans of the city from the wall. On
the table, the model of the future city.
Watched by the other ARISTOCRATS, MOXICA sets fire to the
parchment he has rolled up. He blows the flames from the
torch onto the model. Fire races up and down the streets of
the miniature, as if burning the city of Isabel.
A mad gleam in MOXICA'S eyes...
EXT. SQUARE OF ISABEL - NIGHT
The half-burnt remains of the Mansion. COLUMBUS stands in
the square, looking up at it. Behind him, his SOLDIERS, his
BROTHERS and about thirty captured INDIANS.
GIACOMO walks slowly across the square. COLUMBUS looks at
him in disbelief.
(through cracked lips)
EXT. RIVER BANK - JUNGLE - DAWN
COLUMBUS leads his party of SOLDIERS through the jungle,
looking for the MUTINEERS.
They reach the river -- scan the far bank. Nothing.
COLUMBUS nods. His MEN start to enter the river, led by a
Others follow, wading across, their weapons held above their
A crossbow arrow pierces the HALBERDIER. Without a cry he
falls forward into the water, and is carried away by the
Two more MEN are hit. One cries out, thrashes around in the
water, an arrow protruding from his side. The river stained
Still no sign of the enemy. COLUMBUS' MEN nevertheless start
to return fire from the bank, creating a shield... others
continue to wade across the river. A MUTINEER is shot down
from the branches of a tree...
The first MEN come ashore. Musket fire. An exchange of arrows.
COLUMBUS is now wading across. The MAN next to him is killed,
and carried away by the current.
Now, on the far shore, the enemy have shown themselves. There
is hand to hand fighting, with swords and other weapons.
MOXICA kills one of COLUMBUS' men -- but his own are
outnumbered and outmatched. Already, some are beginning to
In the midst of the fighting, COLUMBUS, sword drawn, pulls
himself out of the river: A MUTINEER lunges at him.
COLUMBUS kills him with a thrust of his sword -- and walks
forward into the jungle. He spots MOXICA at the foot of a
EXT. JUNGLE CLIMB TO CLIFF TOP - DAY
MOXICA starts scrambling up the rocks behind him, with
COLUMBUS following. The climb through the dense undergrowth
is so exhausting, they are now almost climbing in slow motion.
EXT. TOP OF CLIFF - DAY
MOXICA bursts out of the undergrowth. He is at the edge of
emptiness, swept by a violent offshore wind. He turns
frantically, to see COLUMBUS coming up behind him.
Knowing he is lost, MOXICA regains his natural arrogance.
He steps backwards towards the edge.
You know what they will say in Spain
about my death -- don't you?
He takes another step backwards, as COLUMBUS moves towards
You are nothing! You bastards will
never inherit your titles. We are
everything. We are immortal!
He smiles, and steps back into space.
EXT. ROCKS BELOW CLIFF TOP - DAY
His body falls, bounces off the rocks below, crashes into
EXT. TOP OF CLIFF - DAY
COLUMBUS stares down as his body is swept away.
EXT. SQUARE OF ISABEL - DAY
CLOSE ON COLUMBUS' expressionless face.
A MUTINEER -- his face is white, he is crying and trembling.
His arms are tied behind his back. He is held fast, a rope
is put around his neck.
COLUMBUS, sitting not far away beside his BROTHERS, gives a
Drums begin to beat. BROTHER BUYL looks on impassive.
A grimace suddenly transform THE YOUNG MAN'S face. He is
being garroted -- his throat crushed with a rope. The YOUNG
MAN'S feet dance frenziedly. We hear the choking.
The drums cease. BROTHER BUYL crosses himself and murmurs a
prayer, deeply distraught. GIACOMO has covered his eyes.
A wider view shows the bodies of three other ARISTOCRATS
from the rebellion, attached to chairs affixed to a pole,
their heads straight, the rope still tight around their necks.
Justice has been done. The members of the COUNCIL rise in
silence, COLUMBUS stands up.
EXT. ISABEL - QUAYSIDE - DAY
CLOSE ON several large wooden cages. Inside we see the INDIANS
that COLUMBUS captured. They are packed together. They stare
out with vacant eyes. SOLDIERS guard them. A ship against
the pier. BUYL at his side, COLUMBUS stares at the INDIANS.
I wish to go back with them, Don
Colon. I have no desire to remain in
this godless place.
You may do as you please, Brother
Buyl -- though your departure will
not help me to make it more Godly.
BROTHER BUYL looks at him, almost with astonishment.
You treat Christians equally with
heathen savages. You execute members
of the nobility. And what do you
offer in return?
A new world, Brother Buyl.
Nobody wants one...! Only you!
And he walks away.
EXT. ISLAND - EVENING
Against the livid horizon, three black waterspouts join the
sky to the sea. A gust of wind disturbs the roof of the
INT. GOVERNOR'S MANSION - EVENING
The wind grows stronger. Doors bang inside the building... a
COLUMBUS sits on the balcony with his BROTHERS. They are
silent. After a few moments, COLUMBUS begins to speak quietly,
almost as if he were speaking to himself.
Perhaps hope only exists in the
journey. When it begins, everything
is still possible -- every
expectation; every dream...
The BROTHERS do not answer.
This is not how I imagined it to be.
EXT. JUNGLE - NEAR ISABEL - NIGHT
UTAPAN begins to shave his head...
EXT. BALCONY - GOVERNOR'S MANSION - DAWN
The sky is dark and threatening, the wind even stronger. We
find COLUMBUS where we left him, but now alone. He has sat
here all night.
Shutters bang violently.
He looks up -- and sees a few yards from him: the naked FIGURE
OF AN INDIAN, his face and body painted, staring at him.
COLUMBUS realizes who it is...
UTAPAN is still and silent. A strange and mysterious figure
Utapan, won't you speak to me? You
used to know how to speak to me.
(sadly, in his own
You never learned how to speak my
UTAPAN is gone.
EXT. SQUARE - DAWN
The wind is whipping the trees now, stronger and stronger.
Groups of INDIANS look up at the sky. Then, above the sound
of the wind, they hear another noise. Like a collective
murmur, almost in one voice, the INDIANS repeat, over and
Urracan... Urracan... Urracan...
(the wrath of God)
With a loud thunderclap, the storm suddenly breaks. In a few
seconds it has risen to violent proportions, and the landscape
is drenched in torrential rain. The wind doubles its
strength... and all hell breaks loose...
EXT. CITY OF ISABEL - DAY
The hurricane is full force. Trees are being ripped up by
their roots. Rivers of mud are washed down from the hills,
carrying everything away in their paths: houses, carts,
EXT. MINE - ISABEL - DAY
The mine workings flooded with mud...
EXT. APPROACH TO DAM AND WATERFALL - DAY
COLUMBUS, BARTOLOME and MENDEZ struggle through the teeth of
the hurricane towards the dam.
EXT. DAM - DAY
Timbers creak and strain. COLUMBUS, BARTOLOME, MENDEZ and a
DOZEN other MEN are trying to save the dam.
Suddenly, frighteningly, the dam begins to crash.
Let it go! Let it go!
The MEN scramble away as the dam wall buckles, and burst
open. Water floods over them; a roaring torrent. From the
bank, MENDEZ, BARTOLOME and COLUMBUS survey the ruins of
INT. GOVERNOR'S PALACE - BEDROOM - DAY
COLUMBUS is stretched out on his bed, in his devastated
bedroom. A column of ants is threading its way across the
floor, each ant carrying a piece of leaf. Rain falls over a
table covered with documents.
COLUMBUS' face is covered in dried mud.
He promised us gold but has failed
to find it. He subjects the natives
to violence, provocation and
injustice. He sent them to Spain
against the express wishes of Your
INT. AUDIENCE ROOM - ALHAMBRA PALACE - DAY
We are back to the first scene. In the vast, opulent,
glittering room, ISABEL listens impassively to the voice of
SANCHEZ. Also present, other GRANDEES, representatives of
the church and state.
...But there is worse. He ordered
the execution of five members of the
Is this true, Brother Buyl?
Yes, Your Majesty. It is all true. I
saw it with my own eyes.
A pause. ISABEL seems to struggle inwardly with her emotions.
SANCHEZ waits, expressionless, but on the point of victory.
Then, what do you suggest, Don
He must be replaced.
And who would you think of, for such
EXT. QUAYSIDE - ISABEL - DAY
We see a buckled shoe -- as it rises, it slips into a stirrup.
The horse is mounted. The shoe digs into its flank. The sound
I am thinking of a man. A devotee to
Your Majesties. A man extremely
EXT. STREETS OF ISABEL - DAY
FIVE MEN on HORSEBACK, dressed in fashionable clothes, canter
down what used to be the main street of Isabel. Through some
has been rebuilt, the effects of the hurricane are still
People look at them curiously. We see them stop near the
Governor's mansion. The MEN dismount and walk into the Palace.
INT. GOVERNOR'S MANSION - DAY
One of the MEN in black clothes removes his hat and steps
forward. We recognize him as ALONSO DE BOBADILLA, the man
COLUMBUS humiliated at the rotunda.
COLUMBUS is sitting at his desk, studying plans with GIACOMO.
Some other MEMBERS of the COUNCIL are with them.
Don Alonso de Bobadilla.
Yes... I remember...
BOBADILLA turns, gestures to one of the other MEN, who comes
forward and gives him a roll of parchment, bearing the royal
My letters of appointment.
Appointment to what?
Viceroy of the West Indies.
Congratulations. Then I am free to
search for the mainland.
BOBADILLA smiles wickedly, happy to give COLUMBUS a low blow.
Didn't you learn? The mainland was
discovered. Weeks ago. By another
Italian. I forgot his name.
MAN IN BLACK
Amerigo Vespucci, Excellency.
COLUMBUS pales. Then...
How far from here?
I am not a seaman. But I heard it is
no more than a week at sea. I hope
you are not too disappointed.
How could I be? The mainland has
been found. Exactly as I said it
I am afraid this is not the worst
INT. CELL - SEVILLE PRISON - DAY
All is dark. We can just make out COLUMBUS' face as he lies
on the hard bed. He is sweating heavily; his beard is filthy
and matted, like his hair. He looks feverish.
A key turns in the lock.
The JAILER lets in two fashionably dressed YOUNG MEN.
COLUMBUS, blinking in the light, turns his head to stare at
them. His eyes are reddened with infection at the corners.
The YOUNG MEN come forward into the light.
Unable to believe it, COLUMBUS slowly sits up.
Fernando...! My God...!
He laughs, overcome with joy. Embraces DIEGO.
A man! Diego, how did this happen?
Santangel is going to see the Queen.
We are going to get you out of here.
Good! I have to go back!
DIEGO and FERNANDO look at one another, then back at COLUMBUS,
incredulously, seeing his filthy clothes, his eyes rimmed
with dried mucus.
There's a new excitement in COLUMBUS' voice. He walks over
to the table. The candlelight illuminates maps, charts,
I have to explore the mainland.
This time with me!
COLUMBUS laughs and DIEGO looks at them both in astonishment.
In your present state it is madness,
FERNANDO glances at DIEGO.
Nobody is forcing you to come with
DIEGO is hurt.
I can't go anyway.
She's very beautiful! The Queen has
very good taste. Diego is getting
DIEGO seems saddened by his brother's attitude. Once again
DIEGO feels like the outsider.
COLUMBUS hugs him.
I am happy for you, Diego.
INT. ALHAMBRA - AUDIENCE ROOM - DAY
Like Lucifer and Gabriel, SANTANGEL and SANCHEZ sit on either
side of ISABEL.
Granted his faults. Yes, a hundred
times! But the man is still
ISABEL looks at him, then at SANCHEZ, MOVED BUT CLEARLY
UNDECIDED. SANTANGEL presses his point.
All he asks is a chance to explore
It does not belong to him.
In a way, it does, Don Sanchez.
(to the Queen)
I beg Your Majesty to receive him.
To hear him... He will make no more
demands. He has changed. He is
Penitent...? He is suing us for breach
She starts to laugh.
SANTANGEL tries to stop himself laughing.
INT. AUDIENCE ROOM - ALHAMBRA PALACE - DAY
COLUMBUS is shown into the room. ISABEL is waiting for him.
He drops to his knees before her. This time she walks towards
him, clearly moved by his white-hair, and other signs of
Her hand hovers over his head, as if it means to console
him. Her hand is dying to comfort. But instead, she offers
her hand for him to kiss.
COLUMBUS gets slowly to his feet -- but his eyes, as they
meet hers, are as clear as before. ISABEL smiles with relief
to see it. He looks back at her.
Now I do look older than you.
She smiles -- then again, tries to restrain it, and keeps
We have decided to allow you to
undertake another voyage to the new
COLUMBUS starts to interrupt; she stops him with a gesture.
But without your brothers. Nor are
you to return to Santo Domingo or
any of the other colonies. You may
explore the continent.
There is one thing I'd like to
understand... Why do you want to go
back, after all this?
Your Majesty -- some men are content
to read about things. I must see
them with my own eyes. I cannot be
other than I am.
She almost bursts out laughing -- only pauses, turns slightly,
then goes out.
INT. ALHAMBRA PALACE - ROOM NEXT TO THRONE ROOM - DAY
SANCHEZ is standing alone in the next room; he has obviously
been listening. He looks at her.
I know, I should not tolerate his
Because he is not afraid of me.
INT. ALHAMBRA PALACE - CORRIDOR - DAY
SANCHEZ, in another direction, along a corridor, towards his
office. As he reaches a corner with a wide window, a hand
seizes him. COLUMBUS.
All I have to do is call the guards.
SANCHEZ looks at him -- and doesn't call. COLUMBUS lets go
I am not afraid of you. You are
nothing but a dreamer.
Look out of that window.
Surprised, SANCHEZ nevertheless turns, looks out.
What do you see?
Roofs... towers, palaces... spires...
All of them created by people like
SANCHEZ turns round again to face him.
No matter how long you live, Sanchez,
there's something that will never
change between us. I did it! You
COLUMBUS turns abruptly and walks away, vanishing down the
EXT. COLUMBUS' MANOR HOUSE - DAY
COLUMBUS dismounts in the courtyard. Everything seems
deserted. There's no one about, no sign of life...
INT. MANOR HOUSE - DAY
COLUMBUS walks slowly through the great rooms. There is
nothing left: no furniture, rugs, pictures... nothing.
He turns, sees BEATRIX standing in a doorway, looking back
at him. They are both moved.
God... you're so beautiful! I can't
believe no other man has ever taken
you away from me...
They tried... but I didn't let them.
She smiles. They don't dare to touch. BEATRIX looks round
the empty room.
They took everything...
(looking at her)
Not everything... Do you think I
care? I'm a free man again. Riches
don't make a man rich, they only
make him busier...
They laugh. There's a pause.
God, how much I've missed you!
And they throw themselves into each other's arms.
INT. DINING ROOM - MANOR HOUSE - EVENING
All that has been left is a simple table and one chair.
They are having supper by candlelight in the vast, empty
room, though the candles throw a warm, sensuous glow on the
figs and hams and wine... and on their faces, as BEATRIX
sits on his lap.
One chair. One table. What more can
a man expect, when he tries to sue
They laugh. With only a little embarrassment, BEATRIX gets
off COLUMBUS' knee. SANTANGEL comes forward, and COLUMBUS
embraces him like an old friend. BEATRIX goes to the kitchen.
I owe you everything, Santangel...
but as you see, I can't repay you.
On the contrary. It is I who owe you
everything. Through you, I have been
an adventurer, an explorer! It's
true I shall never see the new
world... but it's here...
(he points to his
(pointing to his heart)
COLUMBUS smiles. BEATRIX returns with a plate and glass for
What you are, Colon, is a sailor, a
discoverer, a man of imagination...
not a politician. You weren't meant
to govern -- You cannot be all things
to all men.
He takes the wine BEATRIX offers, and raises his glass.
I wish you could have compromised.
It would have made your life easier...
But as least we haven't been bored,
They all laugh, and drink.
EXT. SHIP'S DECK - FERNANDO'S POV - NIGHT
Night on the open sea -- the moon shines on the waves and we
hear the creaking of ropes and timbers -- the loneliness and
mystery of the night passage.
West... southwest, Captain Mendez...
Steady as she goes...
COLUMBUS walks over to FERNANDO, who is leaning against the
rail. He is smoking a cigar... as the smoke blows over
FERNANDO'S face, FERNANDO wretches... It's clear he's feeling
seasick, trying to control it.
COLUMBUS leans against the rail next to him, staring out at
the darkness. Then looks at his SON again. FERNANDO won't
give in to the sickness, but COLUMBUS knows he'd feel better
if he did.
How are you feeling, Fernando?
(in a strangled voice)
COLUMBUS nods meditatively, puffs out some smoke.
FERNANDO winces, gags slightly.
You know what I always used to do?
FERNANDO shakes his head.
Swallow a piece of pork fat on a
string. It always worked.
At the thought of the pork fat, FERNANDO jerks his head over
the side, and vomits copiously. COLUMBUS smiles, pats him on
EXT. SHIP'S DECK - DAY
As it plows through heavy seas. COLUMBUS, a coat wrapped
around him, is sitting on a chair topside, directing
operations despite an obvious fever.
Suddenly a cry from the mast head:
SAILORS and FERNANDO rush to the side of the ship, peering
through the spray. FERNANDO wipes his eyes, and then he sees
it: there in the distance, a speck of land.
FERNANDO and his FATHER stand together, watching the low
cloud formation sitting on the horizon.
FERNANDO looks excited. Discreetly, COLUMBUS watches his
SON, enjoying his happiness.
EXT. PANAMA (SURREAL IMAGES) - DAY
A most wonderful and surreal image. A heavy mist lies over
the forest. We move above it slowly.
A FIGURE emerges from the mist. At first only a silhouette --
then, slowly, a golden figure... an INDIAN, covered in gold...
gold artifacts, golden paste on his body.
The GOLDEN FIGURE turns, and points, into an unknown distance.
EXT. TREEHOUSE - DAY
From the INDIAN treehouse, COLUMBUS, FERNANDO, MENDEZ and
several INDIANS are gazing west over a necklace of magnificent
The INDIANS point and talk gently. FERNANDO has never seen
anything so fresh, so beautiful.
EXT. CAMP - SUNSET
A magnificent sunset. A fire is burning, food cooking.
COLUMBUS looks over his maps, trying to figure out where
they are. We see the outline of the continent of Asia.
An OLD INDIAN squats beside him, silent, also looking at the
map. Then, slowly and very deliberately, he takes a piece of
charcoal from the fire and begins to draw on the map. Ignoring
the Asian continent, he sketches the Panamanian coastline --
an isthmus. MENDEZ and FERNANDO gather round. COLUMBUS watches
the OLD INDIAN with initial puzzlement, then growing
What's he doing?
He's drawing an isthmus... He's saying
we're on an isthmus.
We can't be.
FERNANDO is still confused. The OLD INDIAN continues to
sketch, talking quietly all the time. An INDIAN TRANSLATOR
Tell me what he's saying.
He says -- water on the other side.
Ask him if he means a lake. A big
The TRANSLATOR asks. The OLD INDIAN shakes his head, laughs,
points to the west, way beyond the other lakes, emphatically.
No. Says those are lakes. Water on
other side big -- as wide as here.
Above and below, much land.
An ocean...? He's says it's an ocean?
I don't understand.
COLUMBUS is too stunned for a moment to explain. The INDIANS
Then COLUMBUS takes the charcoal, and begins to draw on the
map, for his son.
Here is Europe... and over here, the
continent of Asia. But there's
something in between! Another
continent! We've found... another
FERNANDO stares west, then back at his FATHER. COLUMBUS looks
very feverish, his face bathed with sweat.
There must be a passage to that other
INT. SHIP - COLUMBUS' CABIN - NIGHT
COLUMBUS, feverish, lies on the bunk. He shivers violently.
FERNANDO anxiously watches over him, bathes his eyes.
Suddenly THE TRANSLATOR enters.
A little reluctantly, FERNANDO lets him go to his FATHER.
The INDIAN crouches over the bed, takes out a handful of
leaves from a pouch. He chews the leaves himself for a moment,
until they form a sticky pulp, then opens COLUMBUS' mouth
and puts the pulp inside, encouraging COLUMBUS to chew with
the motions of his hands.
COLUMBUS chews, quickly falling asleep.
EXT. MOONLIT VISION OF VAST LAND MASS - NIGHT
We see things from COLUMBUS' hallucination. We are plunging
through layers of clouds, the speed accelerating, giving us
a sickening sensation of falling to land, closer and closer...
COLUMBUS wakes up with a jolt. Everything is silent.
COLUMBUS walks outside.
EXT. DECK - NIGHT
COLUMBUS' fever has subsided. He raises his head and stares
at the mainland passing in the night. He smiles.
EXT. JUNGLE AND BAY - HIGH WIDE SHOT - DAY
The roof of the jungle, the bay beyond, the caravel at anchor.
EXT. RIVER - DAY
Two canoes going upstream, deeper and deeper into the jungle.
EXT. JUNGLE AND VILLAGE - DAY
Smoke rises lazily above the trees.
The boats reaching the bank. THE FIRST HUTS of a village.
THE SOLDIERS spread out into the empty village.
FERNANDO, COLUMBUS and MENDEZ preceded by TWO ARMED SOLDIERS
enter one of the huts. The remains of a meal is still warm
in bowls on the matted floor.
A famished SOLDIER dips his hand in one of the bowls and
devours its contents: some kind of stew. Stepping back
accidentally, FERNANDO bumps into a large earthen jar behind
him. It rolls and crashes, revealing the remains of meat
marinating in liquid. There is something disturbing about
the appearance of the content.
Oh my God...
The remains of human beings.
He stares at the remains, stunned. THE SOLDIER stops chewing.
He drops the half-empty bowl he was still holding. He runs
at the back door, rams his fingers deep in the back of his
throat, and vomits.
Oh Virgen Maria... Oh Madre de Dios...
(Oh Virgin Mary... Oh
Mother of God...)
But as he vomits and cries, he notices:
A HEADLESS HUMAN TRUNK spread open, like a sheep carcass.
Disturbed flies rise in clouds.
Jesus, Maria, y todos los Santos...
(Jesus, Mary, and all
COLUMBUS and the SPANIARDS meet in the center of the village.
All have made the same horrific discovery.
Out! Get out!
THE SPANIARDS back out of the village, crossbows pointed at
the invisible enemy hidden in the jungle.
They are running through the dense forest for the river bank.
The CANNIBALS materialize among the trees, running alongside.
Bounding, skipping, frightening FIGURES, their brutal faces
painted in black. They release arrows at the running SOLDIERS.
A SOLDIER stops, kneels to the ground, fires his crossbow
and kills one of the CANNIBALS... but he is pierced by a
spear. TWO CANNIBALS drag him and cut his throat to finish
ELSEWHERE IN THE JUNGLE -- CRIES AND CONFUSION, SPANIARDS
and CANNIBALS moving in hand to hand combat.
A CANNIBAL comes sprinting at FERNANDO, brandishing his lance.
COLUMBUS jumps on the man, and plants a knife in his abdomen.
Blinded in sweat, he stabs the CANNIBAL, who collapses.
Frenzied, COLUMBUS stabs over and over again.
He stops and looks at his forearm -- soaked in blood.
Shocked by his own fury, he raises his hand and stares at
A GIANT BLACK BUTTERFLY alights gently on his bloody fingers,
COLUMBUS staring fascinated at its palpitating wings.
FERNANDO, screaming at his FATHER, drags him to his feet.
THE SPANIARDS, COLUMBUS, MENDEZ, FERNANDO... all running
hard to the boat. ARROWS whistle around them as they leap
into the canoes, nearly capsizing them, launching them into
SOME CANNIBALS still follow them along the riverbank. But
the canoes are faster, and soon, they are left behind.
EXT. SHIP AT SEA - DAY
Endless seascape, the caravel plowing.
EXT. SHIP'S DECK - DAY
FERNANDO is crouched on the poop deck, wrapped in a blanket.
He seems in a state of shock: he is pale and shaking. As
COLUMBUS goes and sits near his son, he hands him a flask of
Take it. Come on. Drink.
As COLUMBUS insists, brandishing the flask, FERNANDO notices
that his hands are shaking too. His FATHER'S forehead is
dripping with sweat.
FERNANDO drinks a gulp and grimaces. He drinks again and
hands the flask back to his FATHER, who does the same.
FERNANDO notices dried blood on his FATHER'S fingers.
COLUMBUS immediately hides his hand and stands.
I... I have to see Mendez.
Then, with sudden anger.
Your brother was right. I should
have never taken you with me. I'll
never forgive myself. Never!
He walks a few steps, lurches, and has to lean against the
rail. He raises his hand to his eyes, grimacing in pain, as
if they were burning. FERNANDO scrambles to his feet and
rushes to him. COLUMBUS' eyes are already fixed somewhere --
fever is eating him up.
Will you ever forgive me?
FERNANDO turns around for help.
INT. SHIP'S CABIN - DAY
COLUMBUS is lying on his couch. FERNANDO is bathing his eyes,
sweeping off the pus that continuously forms in them.
COLUMBUS is drenched in sweat.
FERNANDO is writing under his FATHER'S dictation.
I came to Your Highness with honest
purpose and sincere zeal. I did not
undertake these voyages for honor or
wealth -- that is certain. After
years of service to the Crown, I do
not have a roof to put over my head...
Your Majesty allowed me to explore
the continent, believed to be Asia.
I now believe that it is an new Land,
of unknown proportions and wealth...
Life has more imagination than we
carry in our dreams...
INT. ALCAZAR PALACE - GARDENS - DAY
The DUENA, sitting beside ISABEL, quietly continues to read
COLUMBUS' letter aloud.
"I should be judged as a Seaman who
by Divine Will discovered a New World,
and thereby placed it under the
sovereignty of Your Majesties. I
humbly beseech Your Majesties that
if it pleases God to remove me hence,
you will help the name of Columbus
to be remembered with honor... Weep
for me, whoever has charity, truth
She stops reading. ISABEL turns her face away.
INT. UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA - DAY
An ivory-sculptured hand -- the end of the back scratcher
belonging to AROJAZ -- indicates a line across a large globe:
the route between Europe and America.
The sunset route to the new continent
is now well-established...
We see a large amphitheater, filled with PEOPLE attending a
lecture of "Nova Geographica" -- the new geography.
AROJAZ stands in front of the assembly. Facing him, enthroned,
is KING FERDINAND, surrounded by COURTIERS, including SANCHEZ.
We slowly move across the arena, passing attentive faces.
...West by south west for 750 leagues
to Santo Domingo. From there, west
north west, leaving San Juan to the
north, reaching the island of
Hispanola on the northern cape of
San Raphael... Then onto the mainland,
at the Cape called Gracias a Dios...
We continue to rise up the tiers of seats...
Spain -- by Your Majesty's grace --
has confirmed for all humanity the
existence of an unknown continent...
On a highest tier, we stop on the face of CHRISTOPHER
COLUMBUS, listening impassively.
...This continent was first discovered
by a sailor commissioned by your
CLOSE ON COLUMBUS' eyes.
His name... Amerigo Vespucci...
EXT. UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA - DAY
Around the KING, on horseback, surrounded by the KNIGHTS, a
CROWD is kept back by SOLDIERS. AROJAZ is mounting his horse.
SANCHEZ is waiting for him.
COLUMBUS stands among the students at the back of the CROWD.
AROJAZ rides next to SANCHEZ. AROJAZ suddenly spots COLUMBUS
in the crowd, as they move off.
My God...! I thought he was dead.
They pass close enough to touch COLUMBUS. But he does not
You can see for yourself.
What a tragedy... what a waste of a
A waste...? Let me tell you something,
Arojaz. If your name, or mine, is
ever remembered -- it will only be
because of his.
AROJAZ looks at SANCHEZ in surprise -- then cranes his neck
round, and looks back at COLUMBUS -- now a FACE IN THE CROWD.
EXT. LA RABIDA MONASTERY - KITCHEN GARDEN - DAY
ANTONIO DE MARCHENA, a very old man now, is taking a siesta
next to his grapes. He is sitting in a simple armchair, a
rosary wrapped around his fingers.
The presence of someone wakes him. After a moment, he
recognizes COLUMBUS and smiles. Both MEN are very moved.
I suppose we're both old men now.
You'll always be older than me,
They laugh. COLUMBUS sits down. Bees drone lazily in the
Have you ever forgiven me?
MARCHENA nods his head.
Yes. I forgave you a long time ago.
You see, I was proud of you. You
were like a willful child. You
wouldn't accept what others told
you. You had to find things out for
yourself, hurting yourself -- and
others -- in the process.
MARCHENA looks at his plants, sighs contentedly.
Do you remember when you said that
people talk about the world, but
never leave their gardens.
More than ever I wonder what it is
we do achieve by leaving our
gardens... The world changes -- and
yet it seems the same. We find new
worlds, but fill them with the same
He pauses, looks across at COLUMBUS, smiles again gently.
MARCHENA, tiring, leans back in his chair, and looks up
towards the sun.
I have to disagree.
I knew you would.
New worlds create new people.
Oh? So you are a new man?
I don't know... I have the impression
that I didn't change that much. I
still can't accept the world as it
MARCHENA starts laughing.
God bless you, and those like you!
They both laugh.
EXT. BEATRIX'S HOUSE BALCONY - EVENING
FERNANDO is sitting in front of his FATHER, examining
documents and letters. COLUMBUS has wrapped a shawl around
his legs. He looks even older now, with his mass of pure
BEATRIX comes out with a tray, carrying grapes and a decanter
of water. She places it on a small table near COLUMBUS and
touches his shoulder.
As she is ready to return inside the house, he holds her
Can't you stay with us a little?
I am busy inside.
He smiles. She looks at him smiling, intrigued.
What is it, now? Tell me...
I can't keep my eyes off you. I would
like to catch up with all the moments
I didn't spend with you.
FERNANDO looks up at them above his letters, amused and
slightly embarrassed. COLUMBUS looks at him with a fake air
What are you listening to?
I am not listening, Father. But I
can't help hearing.
FERNANDO opens a letter and reads it quickly.
It's Diego... He is at the Court,
with Santangel... He says they hope
to get your privileges restored...
And maybe the house.
COLUMBUS smiles and nods -- all this seems to be of very
little importance to him now.
But how is he? And Dona Maria?
FERNANDO continues to read.
Fine, it seems. Diego is thinking of
starting a pearl trade, in Santo
Domingo... He says he received many
letters for you. Some of your men,
He opens one of them, glances at it.
This one is from Mendez!
COLUMBUS' eyes brighten with joy.
What does he say?
He asks when he can come to visit
you. He left his address.
He never had one... except aboard my
FERNANDO laughs -- then, suddenly serious.
I want you to tell me everything you
remember, Father. From the beginning.
God... I wouldn't know where to
start... and yet...
Tell me the first thing that comes
to your mind.
COLUMBUS sighs, and leans back on his chair. His eyes are
fixed somewhere, searching. Then, almost in a murmur.
We see the page. FERNANDO writes: ...I REMEMBER...
A drop of ink falls from the quill onto the page and the
FERNANDO is waiting.
EXT. BEACH AND JUNGLE - FIRST LANDING - DAY
A MOVING IMAGE, as seen from the rolling deck of a ship.
A majestic forest, resting on a slash of white sand, and
deep blue sea...
THE LONE SILHOUETTE of an INDIAN emerges from the dense
foliage. He runs down the beach towards the surf. He stops
and seems to be staring at us.
These words appear on the screen:
THE BIOGRAPHY FERNANDO WROTE ABOUT HIS FATHER WAS FOUND BY
CHANCE IN VENICE. ITS PUBLICATION IN 1571 CONTRIBUTED TO
RESTORING THE NAME OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, WHICH HAD BEEN
IN 1511 DIEGO COLUMBUS BECAME GOVERNOR OF SANTO DOMINGO.
COLUMBUS RESTS IN THE CATHEDRAL OF SEVILLE, IN ANDALUSIA.
END AND CREDITS.
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