1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE
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
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
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 Buyl?
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 Majesties…
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
Yes, Your Honor. It is all true.
All of it. I saw it with my own
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
COLUMBUS stares down at the documents, moving them away
from the rain drips. He stares out by the window, and we
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 light.
… The sun set in the west on an
ocean where no man had dared to
venture. And beyond that,
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
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 destination.
EXT. CLOISTER – LA RABIDA – DAY
As they dismount and walk into the quiet cloisters,
FERNANDO suddenly spots a familiar FIGURE, standing under
the ROMAN arches.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 map underneath.
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 you, Colon.
I’ll try to remember that,
Passion is something one cannot
You get so carried away when you are
I’ve been contradicted all my
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
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
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 his hands.
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
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
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
You say Asia can be found by sailing
Yes, your Eminence. The voyage
should not take more than six or
Unfortunately, Don Colon, that is
precisely where our opinions
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
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…
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 seaman, interrupts.
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
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
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 there?
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 with gold.
Is that all that interests you?
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
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 conversation.
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, Your Eminence…
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 this… intriguer?
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
He shakes his head, puts the letter down. COLUMBUS looks
They didn’t listen. They didn’t
want to listen!
He paces about the book-lined room.
You mustn’t give way to despair.
You must wait.
Wait! I’ve waited seven years
already! How much longer do you
want me to wait?
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 listen to!
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 floor.
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,
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
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
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 strange behavior.
Is he a spy?
COLUMBUS shakes his head. PINZON stares at him,
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
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 help you.
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 of him?
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
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 and lace.
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 say no.
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 of victory.
SANTANGEL and COLUMBUS walk through the gardens, escorted
by HALBERDIERS. SOLDIERS pass by, carrying coffers or
piles of documents.
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 compliment.
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
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
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
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
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 by monks!
SANCHEZ gestures for the document. Wipes his mouth.
Continues reading, calmly:
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
He smiles, hands the document back.
It’s very underdone.
Underdone! It’s monstrous,
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
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
As COLUMBUS goes out, ISABEL appears through a secret
door. SANCHEZ bows.
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 Royal Hands.
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,
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
If I ever come back, I swear I
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, half-animal.
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 this event.
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
MARCHENA recognizes COLUMBUS’ voice.
I am listening, my son.
Father, I have betrayed my family.
I betrayed my men. And I betrayed
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
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
Be good to your mother, Fernando.
Do you promise?
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,
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
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 evening meal.
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
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
Steady yourself…! Keep the plumb
The picture steadies.
MENDEZ nods — and loses equilibrium. The plumb line
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 land.
ALONSO does not seem convinced.
How do you know land is on the
twenty eighth parallel?
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 prow sail.
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
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 Colon…! Bastard!
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 conversation.
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.
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 appear.
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 on deck.
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 and speed.
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 disarray. Chaos.
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,
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
And then what? Half of the water
has gone, the rest is nearly putrid!
You know that!
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 our hearts…
The MEN are listening. We sense a subtle change of
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 feet.
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, 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
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
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 and Aragon.
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 are overwhelmed.
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
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
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
COLUMBUS looks over at the men and gestures at the
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,
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 taking it.
Give it to him!
PINZON looks at him, about to argue — but COLUMBUS
insists. PINZON takes out the dagger and offers it to the
By God! That’s the worst trade of
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
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
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 tribal patterns.
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
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 sinister…
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’S ankle.
ALONSO is quiet and silent. His eyes are looking around
at his companions. UTAPAN shakes his head. There is
nothing he can do.
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
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
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
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 him.
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
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
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
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
(with a little
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 his log-book.
… 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
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
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 storm.
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
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 a horn.
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
One… two… three… four…
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
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
The procession is followed by UTAPAN, and other INDIANS in
As they move through the crowds, all eyes are upon
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
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 — then pauses.
We discover other people around the magnificent candle-lit
table. NOBLE MEN and NOBLE WOMEN. SANCHEZ. COLUMBUS.
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 the Tobacco…
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
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.
Forgive me, Don Colon. But what
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! Excellent!)
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
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
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
Don Bobadilla is already a judge, my
Dear Don Cristobal.
Good! We are also in need of
judges. Except there are no
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
COLUMBUS puts his arms around them.
Now — you tell me. Who can I
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 document.
Admiral! The horses have arrived.
I know. I saw them! Who did we
ANOTHER ASSISTANT raises his eyes.
Thirty blacksmiths, twenty eight
halberdiers, twenty carpenters, a
hundred farmers, twenty miners…
and Doctor Chanca, the royal
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
(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
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
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, and UTAPAN.
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
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 with gold.
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
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
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 of tension.
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
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 of hatred.
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
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
(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 the food.
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 laugh again.
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
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
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
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 table.
In turn, they hand over a small quantity of gold. The
CLERK weighs it on a scale, and notes down each
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 passively waiting.
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 to say?
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
EXT. BARRACKS – NIGHT
On the terrace, his two COMPANIONS laugh and encourage
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 with blood.
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 surrender.
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
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
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
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
INT. GOVERNOR’S MANSION – EVENING
The wind grows stronger. Doors bang inside the
building… a melancholy sound.
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
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 over.
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, equipment, horses…
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 their dreams.
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
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 of hoofbeats…
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 visible…
People look at them curiously. We see them stop near the
Governor’s mansion. The MEN dismount and walk into the
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 seal.
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
Didn’t you learn? The mainland was
discovered. Weeks ago. By another
Italian. I forgot his name.
A 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, drawings, figures…
I have to explore the mainland.
This time with me!
COLUMBUS laughs and DIEGO looks at them both in
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 of contract!
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
He drops to his knees before her. This time she walks
towards him, clearly moved by his white-hair, and other
signs of physical deterioration.
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
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 of him.
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…
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!
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 the Crown?
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
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
COLUMBUS smiles. BEATRIX returns with a plate and glass
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
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
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 the back.
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
The GOLDEN FIGURE turns, and points, into an unknown
EXT. TREEHOUSE – DAY
From the INDIAN treehouse, COLUMBUS, FERNANDO, MENDEZ and
several INDIANS are gazing west over a necklace of
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 excitement.
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
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,
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
I don’t understand.
COLUMBUS is too stunned for a moment to explain. The
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
INT. SHIP – COLUMBUS’ CABIN – NIGHT
COLUMBUS, feverish, lies on the bunk. He shivers
violently. FERNANDO anxiously watches over him, bathes
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
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
EXT. RIVER – DAY
Two canoes going upstream, deeper and deeper into the
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
(Oh Virgin Mary… Oh Mother of
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 the Saints…)
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
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 him.
ELSEWHERE IN THE JUNGLE — CRIES AND CONFUSION, SPANIARDS
and CANNIBALS moving in hand to hand combat.
A CANNIBAL comes sprinting at FERNANDO, brandishing his
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. They run…
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 the current.
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 alcohol.
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
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 and justice.”
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,
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
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 Majesty…
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
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
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 is!
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 white hair.
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 of reproach.
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
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.