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Section Header
1492: Conquest of Paradise
(1992)
Composed, Arranged, Produced and Performed by:
Vangelis

Ensemble Vocals by:
The English Chamber Choir

Label:
Atlantic/Warner Music

Release Date:
October 20th, 1992

Also See:
Alexander
Christopher Columbus: The Discovery

Audio Clips:
2. Conquest of Paradise (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

5. Light and Shadow (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (244K)
Real Audio (152K)

11. Twenty Eighth Parallel (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (246K)
Real Audio (153K)

12. Pinta, Nina, Santa Maria (Into Eternity) (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (245K)
Real Audio (152K)

Availability:
Regular U.S. release. A European album contains two extra score tracks.

Awards:
  Nominated for a Golden Globe.









1492: Conquest of Paradise
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Buy it... if, obviously, you consider yourself any basic kind of Vangelis enthusiast or if you're a fan of new age albums in the style of the group Engima's early 1990's material.

Avoid it... if you expect to be convinced in any way that Vangelis' style is true to the settings of the 15th Century.



Vangelis
1492: Conquest of Paradise: (Vangelis) In the rush to release films marking the 500-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World, director Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise succeeded Christopher Columbus: The Discovery by a short while and is considered the vastly superior production. His examination of Columbus is far more rooted in the facts of the man's life, aided in their well-researched presentation by screenwriter Roselyne Bosch. The film explores both the magnificent heights of the man's discovery of the Americas, as well as the tragic betrayals, a final bittersweet return to America, and the dictation of his memoirs before his death. Scott collaborated famously with Greek classical and new age composer Evangelos Odyssey Papathanassiou, known to the world as Vangelis, for both Bladerunner and 1492: Conquest of Paradise, alternating between and eventually choosing Hans Zimmer as his later provider of music. Some have argued that Zimmer's electronically-laced music for Scott's films like Gladiator owe some inspiration to Vangelis, though Zimmer has far more obvious sources that have been documented to even the halls of the courts of law. The scores for Bladerunner and 1492: Conquest of Paradise are both cult classics in a sub-genre of the film score-collecting world, fueled by the extremely wide following of Vangelis, especially in his native Europe. It's hard to argue with the effectiveness of music for Bladerunner in the context of its film, for the future seems to be a remarkably apt pairing for Vangelis' style of composition and synthetic rendering. The past, however, is an entirely different issue, and while 1492: Conquest of Paradise is a far superior score in its beauty and presentation than Bladerunner, it's a simply terrible distraction within most of the film itself. Despite the score's Golden Globe nomination, critics slammed Vangelis' score almost as uniformly as they would for Oliver Stone's Alexander a dozen years later (despite, once again, an outstanding standalone piece of music written by Vangelis).

Even famed critic Roger Ebert, who only comments on the scores in the rare occasion that they actually make a significant impact on the films he watches, said of 1492: Conquest of Paradise: "Scott's version is particularly handicapped by a score by Vangelis which alternates between breathless angelic choirs and brooding jungle music. The soundtrack instructs us what to think about many of the shots; the quasi-ecclesiastical strains seem to suggest the church will indeed save many souls in the New World, while the Indian theme suggests that these simple forest people were already well on the way to inventing New Age music." All funny sarcasm aside, Scott indeed was in search of a non-traditional score when he hired Vangelis for the project. He wanted Vangelis to provide him with "something which is both appropriate for the period and is also contemporary." Vangelis did, at least, make an attempt to address the "period" side of that equation. As usual, he performs most of the score himself, using his rich array of synthetic effects and electronic keyboarding in a distinctly new age fashion. But he adds a handful of soloists to his ensemble (for the period), including roles for Spanish guitar, mandolin, violin, and a variety of flutes. The biggest impact is made by the massive vocal tones of the English Chamber Choir, for whom Vangelis writes a complex role. He alternates the male and female voices and very well employs only portions of the group for various cues, although the more memorable usage, of course, comes from the full ensemble chants and wordless crescendos. The chants specifically are performed without any particular language in mind; most of what the ensemble vocalizes is a gibberish form of pseudo-Latin. When all of these parts of Vangelis' ensemble are put together, he creates a lovely and balanced presentation that emphasizes each part well. The mix of the recording is, as usual for Vangelis' works of this size from the last two decades, extremely wet. That echoing atmosphere extends the score further into new age territory and, with the normal lack of abundant subtleties in Vangelis' constructs, helps to hide the simplicity of the music be making it sound harmoniously overwhelming.

Like his later score for Alexander, Vangelis' 1492: Conquest of Paradise is dominated by one spectacular, primary theme and populated later by lyrical motifs that share more in tone and performance style than they do in actual structure. The theme this time around is the rhythmic choral piece in "Conquest of Paradise," an intoxicatingly infectious, harmonious chant that builds in intensity to a few frenzied and victorious synthetic interludes that raise the same positive spirit as the composer's famed theme for Chariots of Fire. This cue, heard over the end credits of the film, is easily among the highlights of 1992, and alone it sold countless albums with its cross-over similarities to the music of popular new age group Enigma at the time. Like Vangelis' other popular scores, however, he would fail to adapt this theme very well into the remainder of the score. Development and reprise of thematic ideas has never been his inclination, and of the major cues in this score, only "Twenty Eighth Parallel" elaborates on this title theme. The remainder of 1492: Conquest of Paradise is far more consistent than Alexander would be, and while that would produce a better listening experience on album, it would absolutely cripple the music in the film. For most listeners, the album for this score plays like a standard new age product, each cue providing a new exploration of the same general sound. In the film, however, the score throws aside the concept of synchronization points and often disregards changes of camera angle or scene in favor of long and continuous development of one musical idea, even if the changing visuals on screen are too disparate to use the same cue. It is "stream of consciousness" music in its most beautiful incarnation, and Scott and Vangelis obviously intended for that stream to act as a free-floating element of discovery in the film. Fortunately for them, nearly every listener of the music (or reader of this review, for that matter), will only be concerned with the music as heard apart from the visuals, so a stunning album is all that matters. As a standalone experience, 1492: Conquest of Paradise is arguably Vangelis' most powerful and gorgeous work.

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There are very few detractions on the commercial album for 1492: Conquest of Paradise. Despite significant hardship in the film, ranging from introspective tragedy to a massive hurricane, Vangelis' score only marginally reflects these troubled waters. The presentation on album is passive until "Hispanola" (which still finishes with a lovely flourish of harmonious tones) and "Moxica and the Horse," which seems like a failed attempt to truly address the musical needs of the indigenous cultures. Outside of the title track's thematic highlight, the score's best moments are the immediately following "Monastery of la Rabida," which hauntingly introduces the religious element into the score, and "Twenty Eighth Parallel," which soothingly conveys the title theme with Vangelis' elegant touch at the keyboard. A resolute choral progression in "Light and Shadow" is one of the score's more ambitious moments, alternating between stark chanting and lyrical performances by the full choir while moving relentlessly forward with forbidding percussion. The solo flute mix in this cue is outstanding. A choral crescendo in the latter half of "Deliverance" is frightfully gripping. A somewhat flimsy expression of native rhythm at the outset of "Eternity" is gradually overtaken with a pretty, electronic and choral interlude that would also be thrown onto the last minute of the album for good measure (after a lengthy cue in "Pinta, Nina, Santa Maria" that would play to some slight rock rhythms for all of the players and singers). That album be a disappointment for many of the biggest fans of the score, for its contents, while mixed quite well for a limited 55-minute presentation, are missing some of the score's more varied moments. International releases of Vangelis' score would include two additional, short cues, but it would only be a matter of time before full 2-CD bootlegs would arise on the secondary market. Unfortunately, these initial bootlegs featured poor sound quality and sound effects from the film in parts. There is no doubt that 1492: Conquest of Paradise deserves an extended treatment on album, but that appeal exists because of the score's great merits on its own. Its role in the film remains, sadly, a misfire.   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: **
    Music as Heard on Album: *****
    Overall: ****




 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 4.09 Stars
Smart Average: 3.85 Stars*
***** 2135 
**** 1560 
*** 745 
** 206 
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   Enigma is not a group
  invitadodeinvierno -- 8/26/10 (5:43 p.m.)
   Re: Rip-off !!
  Edmund Meinerts -- 11/21/09 (5:22 a.m.)
   So good
  David Lounsberry -- 11/13/08 (1:20 p.m.)
   Re: 2 Disc Bootleg
  steve -- 8/23/08 (6:34 a.m.)
   Re: 2 Disc Bootleg
  ddueck -- 8/15/07 (7:33 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 54:50


• 1. Opening (1:21)
• 2. Conquest of Paradise (4:47)
• 3. Monastery of La Rabida (3:39)
• 4. City of Isabel (2:16)
• 5. Light and Shadow (3:46)
• 6. Deliverance (3:28)
• 7. West Across the Ocean Sea (2:53)
• 8. Eternity (1:59)
• 9. Hispanola (4:56)
• 10. Moxica and the Horse (7:06)
• 11. Twenty Eighth Parallel (5:14)
• 12. Pinta, Nina, Santa Maria (Into Eternity) (13:19)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert includes notes about both the film and the score. It also features a menacing, downright evil (and almost humorous) picture of Vangelis adjacent to those notes.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from 1492: Conquest of Paradise are Copyright © 1992, Atlantic/Warner Music. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/17/97 and last updated 12/31/07. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.